Monday, December 28

Our Trip to the Park by Shelby

Nate has a new bike. He got it for Christmas. It is green.
When we went to the park, he went on the bike hills. Jackson and I love running on the bike hills.
I even made some smoke grenades out of dirt.
We walked Pastor Mike's dogs, saw some horses, went in the woods, and my mom and Miss Nancy went running.
We ate some bread, and I fed a little bit to the dogs.
It was super fun!

Thursday, December 17

Top Ten

We're back in Guate after an amazing 2 week trip to the States. I could get all mushy and wax poetical about our time there, but I'm pretty sure I'd end up in a fetal position, crying and singing "Auld Lang Syne" if I let myself get the least bit sentimental about it right now. It's just a little too close to Christmas....a Christmas which will be our first one without any family. Aaargh!!! Ok, time to stay in denial and attempt to be humorous. I mean, that's a perfectly healthy way to deal with emotions, right?!
So, may I present my Top Ten List of Things I Loved About Our Trip. In random order, of course:

1. The FOOD!!! Good grief! I'd forgotten how many restaurants I'd forgotten about! Every time we turned a corner, we saw a place at which we used to love to eat. P.F. Changs! Chick-Fil-A! Five Guys! Krispy Kreme! I could've gone into a food coma. However, I restrained myself to just a few trips (Per week. Maybe per day. Whatever.) to Starbucks, and the kids got to eat at their faves. Apparently, they associate all things American with Cracker Barrel, and their dream came true on the last day of our trip.
And lest I forget.....there was some fabulous cooking by our moms as well. Grits. Pecan Pie. Yum.

2. Did I mention Starbucks? Oh, I jest. Combine Starbucks with the joy of walking into a REAL. LIVE. BOOKSTORE and my life is simply complete. This happened, and apparently I was so overwhelmed by the collision of two of my favorite things that I actually walked out without purchasing a book. Never happened before.

3. Running. Now, this was a treat. I guess I should give honorable mention to some of the other runners who joined me, namely my brother Travis, Steve....and Caron and Dad O. who played bodyguards on the bike. I got to run in the damp fall leaves of Virginia (TRUE off-roading!), the oh-so-chilly hills of N.C., and finally, the frigid city of Memphis. This was the site of my third marathon, the St. Jude Memphis Marathon. Amazing what a difference water stations, port-a-potties and NO traffic will make in a race experience! Of course, the finish line being in a stadium of cheering fans, the hot showers available after, and the buffet of pizza and other goodies didn't hurt either. Randy Long, a friend from Mississippi, ran it with me. Here's to next year!

4. Friends. Speaking of Mississippi, another gift on this trip was getting to visit friends along the way. We were so excited to spend a weekend with Randy, Penny, and Ben Long. Ben was an incredible intern with us in Guatemala this summer, and has become a good friend. Randy and I ran the race (and lived to brag about it!), and the Longs invited us into their home and to their church for a Sunday. We also got the chance to hang out with Rachel and Aaron Kelly(missionary friends from Guate who were in the States, too) and her family in Nashville. Rachel and I mostly used the time as an excuse to go to Target and Starbucks TOGETHER! It was a special moment for us, but I'm fairly sure the lady we asked to take our picture at Target just didn't get it.

5. Which leads me to what is undoubtably #1 on Jackson's list....Target. I'm not sure how many times we went stock up on "essentials" of course, but I do know that every time we went, I was concerned at the rate at which my heart was beating. That can't be healthy.

6. Driving. Now, this might sound odd, but we love to travel the road. In Guate, my driving mainly consists of the mile-and-a-halfish trip to Antigua and then the fun of circling round and round the cobblestones looking for a parking spot. Or the take-your-life-in-your hands fun of driving to and from Guatemala City. So, the chance to drive a couple of thousand miles across a few states, take in some gorgeous scenery (loved those leaves!) and jam out to some good music was a journey in itself.

7. People. Maybe it was because we were in the South, but I was amazed at how friendly everybody was. In the Houston airport, the lady in one store was so helpful that I almost hugged her. But then I would've spilled my Starbucks.

8. New Places. This was a weird trip in the sense that both sets of our parents were living in new places. I've always thought of going "home" as flying to Florida, but now very little of our family lives there! My folks are enjoying their lifelong dream of running a B&B outside of Williamsburg, VA, and Steve's parents are semi-retired in NC. It actually was better than I imagined it could be. Both sets of grandparents have acres of land on which the kids could run! and explore! and get completely muddy! and although it was a different "home," it reminded me that it's the people that make it home.

9. Sightseeing. A plus of our parents NOT living in Florida was the chance to see new places. We spent one beautiful, drizzly day meandering through Colonial Williamsburg. We've done the actual Williamsburg experience before, but this time, we just toured William & Mary, poked through a few shops, checked out the fall leaves, and just enjoyed being together. What made it special for me was that both of my brothers were there, and that doesn't happen often. I'm pretty sure my mom was on happiness overload.
There was also a fun day in D.C. at the Smithsonian and a day in Memphis (Beall Street, Elvis, and Barbeque...which I smelled along the race course).

10. O.K. I am still NOT going to get sentimental. At all.
The best part of the trip was family. There's nothing like that love that has been there your whole life.
There's nothing like people who will get up at 2 in the morning, make you coffee, and drive you 3 hours to the airport only to turn around and drive 3 hours back home (thank you Mom and Justin).
There's nothing like people putting up with your ridiculous excitement about the little things you miss about America.
There's nothing like someone making a trip to the laundromat to do your dirty laundry when the washing machine breaks.
There's nothing like sitting around at midnight laughing until you hurt.
There's nothing like being together.
Can't wait until next time.

Thursday, October 29


I recently used the phrase "in full-time ministry" to describe our family.
It felt really weird, because I don't think of us that way at all.
Maybe it's because being a missionary doesn't look at like I imagined it would. All those years of sitting in a pew, watching slideshows of missionaries and their families posing next to people of varying colors of skin, in varying typical garb must have given me a lot of weird expectations.

I guess it's like being a parent. When I first became one, I kept thinking, "But, I don't FEEL like a mom."
I loved that baby more than anything, I worried about him constantly, and I lived for his toothless grins and laughs. But I kept thinking, "I'm not a grown-up. Surely someone is going to show up, smile kindly, tell me there's been some mistake, and take him away."
And then one day, I remember putting on my coat and heading out the door to run an errand. I put my hand in my pocket, and found that it was completely full of cookie crumbs. I pulled out my hand and stared at it, and that was when it hit me. I was a mom.
Being a missionary has been a lot like that. It's not until I'm telling someone new what exactly we do here that I think, oh....we are missionaries. But, when I tell them that, a lot of people seem to immediately put us on a pedestal. The most common thing they say to us, over and over, is, "I could never do that." I tell them that we are not special. We're a normal family (well, sort of!), and God can equip anyone's heart to do what He desires for them to do.

Ministry is not just a church service.
Ministry is not just living in another country.
Ministry is not just a degree from college.
Ministry is not just for the brilliant, the wise, the extremely gifted.
THIS is ministry:

Sunday, September 20

In the Park

The scene:
Parque Central, in the middle (hence the word, "central") of Antigua, a place to sit on benches, drink coffee, and enjoy the day

The characters:
Steve and Shelby, age 8
Uhhh...that would be Shelby's age. Steve's is undisclosed.

The action:
Steve and Shelby are enjoying some time together before walking our mission team to church. A little boy approaches them and asks if they'd like their shoes shined. This is a very common occurrence in Central Park.

The dialogue:
Steve: "No, gracias."
Young boy: "Por favor."
Steve: "No, gracias."
Young boy: "Por que no??"
Shelby: "Daddy, if this little boy shines our shoes, and we pay him, will he be able to eat today??"

Massive amounts of guilt being heaped upon Steve's head.

End of scene: Both Shelby and Steve leave the park with freshly shined shoes.

And a very happy little boy has 10Q in his pocket.

Wednesday, August 26

Beginning, Middle, End

Anyone can begin. That's the easy part.
We begin the school year with fresh, unsmudged notebooks, razor-sharp pencils, a lunchbox that doesn't smell like week-old crusts, a folder with everything neatly tabbed and filed.
But come Christmas break, the lunchbox isn't even used anymore, the pencils are missing all their erasers, and the folder? What folder? A backpack makes an excellent filing system, thank you very much.
We begin an exercise program with a plan, the best shoes to enhance our performance, catchy tunes on our iPod, and intensity in our hearts. A few weeks later, the snooze button is the only thing getting a workout.
We begin marriage fully convinced that OUR marriage will be the best, the most intimate, the one that defies every odd and every statistic. A few years later, we're pretty sure we married the wrong person. It must be their fault we're not happy, not feeling that first-kiss rush.
We begin parenting with great hopes, sure plans that we will never, ever raise our voice at our children, we will spend beautiful afternoons making amazing crafts, we will provide financial security for their every need, we will play boardgames every night after our delicious dinner consisting of every food group, and we will simply be the best parents ever.

Beginnings are easy. It's that tricky middle part that makes us want to quit. The middle of the school year, the long, mind-numbing miles 12-19 of a marathon, the times with our spouse when talking through things feels like too much work and too discouraging, the days of mommyhood when the clock seems surely to have broken.

I don't want to be a person who just survives the middle.
I want to begin and end well.
I don't want to always be pushing ahead to the next milestone and miss what God is doing in my heart, in my family's hearts right now. And even though some days are endless, and some days are glorious, I know that the long days, the hard days are the ones that build my character, that prove what I am made of.

Character is a rather unglamorous word. It certainly doesn't stir great emotion, but when you know someone who has it, and who demonstrates it when you need it most, you realize just how unimaginably beautiful it is.

It's often said that a marathon is a great metaphor for life, and as a wannabe marathoner, I kept thinking about that during my first 26.2-miler. There were so many times I wished that I could JUST STOP MOVING. I wanted to have my finish-line moment already. But isn't that the point? I can't stop moving. And if "just finishing" a marathon is an accomplishment in itself, what does finishing well look like?
I want to know.
And not just in a race.

Phil. 3:13-15, The Message
I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.
So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you'll see it yet! Now that we're on the right track, let's stay on it

Sunday, August 16

Same and Different

Life is life, no matter where you live it. There is a common human experience that makes it possible for us to relate to people who may not even speak the same language we do. In the interest of such experience, I'd like to answer the question most commonly asked of me:
"How do you live in a Third World Country??"
Here's how:
In the States, I went to the grocery store. In Guatemala, I go to the grocery store. The only difference is, I can only buy what I can carry in bags (or boxes) to my car, which is usually parked a couple of blocks away.
Well, there might be another difference. I am getting some lightning-fast math skills since I convert every price I see into dollars by dividing it by 8 in my head. I say "price I see," because often there is no price that I can see, and apparently whatever price the cashier assigns it that day is the final answer.

In the States, we sometimes visited our local farmers' market to buy produce. In Guatemala, I sometimes buy produce at the mercado. The only difference is, I speak Spanish, I try to haggle for a different price, and I have learned to ignore the iguanas, rats, roaches, and other wildlife I may come across.
On the plus side, the produce is so ripe and ready that it tastes exactly like it's supposed to.

In the States, I turned on my stove. In Guatemala, I turn on my gas stove, and if, perchance, it is out of gas, I call my friendly gas people and they bring me a new tank. If you run out of gas in the middle of cooking dinner, there's always cereal.

In the States, I went running. In Guatemala, I run with our IDC running club. The only difference is, in our many (hilly!) miles, we have come across all manner of animals, including snakes, pigs (large, and dead), aggressive bees and dogs. We also get the view of an active volcano puffing nearly every time we run.

In the States, I ran errands. In Guatemala, I run errands. The only difference is, I've learned to use my hand as my turn signal, cobblestoned streets don't even feel bumpy to me anymore, and I'm pretty sure I no longer remember what a stoplight means.

In the States, I swore we'd never own a motorcycle. In Guatemala, we do. Enough said.

In the States, we drove everywhere. In Guatemala, we still rely on our car a lot, but we've also taken advantage of our local transportation system, such as chicken buses, tuk-tuks, and just plain old walking.

In the States, I took my kids to the doctor. In Guatemala, I sometimes don't have to. Amoxicillin is available at our local farmacia, right over the counter. Nifty!

In the States, I used my dishwasher every day, sometimes twice a day. In Guatemala, I wash dishes by hand, in a single sink, and at the risk of sounding arrogant, I am pretty darn fast at it.

In the States, I bought fruit and ate it. I turned on the tap and used the water for cooking and drinking. In Guatemala, the only difference is I clean fruit with a disinfectant, and I use a special filter for all of the water. Because parasites are not our friends.

In the States, we went to church. In Guatemala, we go to church. The difference is.....pretty much nothing. We worship the same God, read the same Bible, have the same love for each other, feel our hearts stirred in the same way.

In the States, we were blessed. And in Guatemala, we still are.

Sunday, August 2

July in Pictures

July has been our busiest month ever. We've had teams back-to-back, and sometimes two at a time. It's easy to get overwhelmed with the work of either leading teams (Steve) or helping to cook for them (Jess), but one of the coolest parts of what we do here is that our whole family can join in with not just the work, but the fun stuff, too. Here are some of the highlights of our month...

Our family gets to love on kids at the Malnutrition Center.

...or on the pet rabbit there.

I got to run with my friends in Antigua's Las Rosas Half-Marathon, and there was nothing better than seeing my family at the finish line...

One of the teams had lots of kids with them, so we tagged along on a visit to the local coffee finka and a hike up Volcan Pacaya.

We get to be a part of an amazing bilingual body of believers.

Celebrating Communion...

...and Jackson as an angel.

So, although July has been one of the most challenging months we've experienced in our time here, it has had many friends, new experiences, lives changed.
On to the fall.....

Monday, July 20


Lately, I've been frustrated with God because I've been asking Him some questions, and I haven't gotten any answers.
There have been so many times I've heard His voice, known what He wanted, known His plan for me. But not lately.
And so, today, as I was asking Him again my questions, I got my answer.
"You keep asking because you know my answer, and you just don't like it."
In my mind, I'd already picked out my desired answer, concocted an amazing scenario in which it would all work out the way I wanted, all the while forgetting that, in fact, I am not God.
I read a quote recently in the book "Unfashionable" by Tullian Tchividjian that described the way I have made decisions in my life:
"To be a wordly person, is, in fact, to be a 'practical' or 'functional' atheist. It's someone who--despite all he professes--lives and makes daily decisions as if God doesn't exist. A practical atheist is a person who comes to conclusions about money, business, worship, entertainment, ministry, education, or whatever else without the directing influence of God and his revealed truth..."

I've been a Christian for years, and I can rattle off a list of things I believe. But in my reality, my life, I don't live this way. I make decisions based upon what I want, not upon the answer I've sought from God.
I forget that God is not capable of doing wrong. That He is the ultimate Redeemer, and that if I would just listen and then, the tricky part, obey, He will work it out.
Not in that cliche, "happily-ever-after" way that I mistakenly believed for years, but in a way that will, as it has so many times in the past,
Blow. My. Mind.
That is the way He redeems. So that He gets all the credit, and I can only stare in disbelief.
He takes my knotted-up mess that I am just so sure can never be made right and beautifully reworks it.
So, I'm gonna take that scary leap, jump that gap between what I see and things unseen.
And choose to believe that He will redeem.
"... stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." (Luke 21:28)

Saturday, July 11

Soccer & Surf...Pathways Youth Team

Just finished up a week with Pastor Andrew and the youth from our home church, Pathways. What a whirlwind of a week! What started out as a "let's get the Tourist Police soccer field cleaned up" ended up as a entirely new field, complete with heavy machinery and machetes working side-by-side.

The police were anxiously checking on the progress of the field, especially after they realized they got an upgrade from the "machete special". We got the team on the field with the police for a dedication, sharing the Gospel through a wordless book style soccer ball... and finally... a soccer game!

Next step... need some grass so this field is playable for years to come. Anybody interested in taking this on as a fund-raiser?

The week ended up with a free day, which the team chose to explore a new beach which we had heard rented surf boards and motorcycles. Well, the surf was great, and the ride out to the island by boat was a nice trip through the tallest mangrove trees we'd ever seen! The surf shop turned out to be a thatch hut with 5 short boards to pick from, and the motorcycle rentals turned out to be a restaurant owner's "clutchless" 4-wheeler, but we sure made the most of it! 4-8 foot waves pounded the beach, and we did our best to jump over (or through) them for several hours.

Oh, and on the side the team took several trips to the Malnutrition Center in San Juan, and spent an evening helping feed infants in a clinic in Antigua. Great job!

Sunday, July 5

Corpus Christi

My kids and I were flat on our back in our yard trying to make out shapes in the clouds when Nate heard some music. We all ran outside to see what all the commotion was about, and we walked right into the middle of a celebration!

Today is Corpus Christi, which means "the body of Christ". When I checked with some of my neighbors to see exactly what was being celebrated, I got several blank stares, a few "we're celebrating the body of Christ" (duh), and a few other unhelpful answers. The official catholic answer is found here, but it is the celebration of the institution of the eucharist (Protestants would call this the "Lord's Supper" or communion).

Anyways, it is celebrated in catholicism world-wide, but here in our neighborhood, special attention is given to yellow banners with symbols of a cup and bread, processionals with floats of the patron saint of our town (Saint Peter), and plenty of fireworks! Nate especially like the mortars which fired percussion shells straight up in the air, just ahead of the processinals.

Click on the picture (above) to see some highlights of the afternoon, as we followed the processional through our tiny "suburb" of Antigua (called Panorama), which ended at the town cathedral with bell-ringing, and a fair with lots of loud music.
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Sunday, June 14


The last few weeks were full of questions.
We were blessed to catch up with so many friends and family in Florida, and they all had questions as to how life is in Guatemala.
There aren't any simple answers. I think the best way I can put it is that I feel I have a heart torn in two. Not in a bad way, like a broken heart, but a heart that is stretched between two places.
On the one side, our time in Florida felt like we were being bathed in love. When we spoke at our home church and had so many people hug on us, tell us they loved us and prayed for us, press donations into our hands, we felt so supported, so humbled by their care.
When we spent 2 1/2 weeks being spoiled rotten by my mom and dad, so overwhelmed by how they just poured their hearts into letting us rest and renew, we felt so blessed to call them our family.
All of these good things made saying good-bye more painful than it's ever been. It was a reminder of how many people we love that we leave behind for months at a time. It was a reminder of the silly little comforts we stores so shiny, clean and stocked with everything.....speaking English.....Starbucks!......smooth, broad streets. All of these are unimportant, but they sure are nice to have.
And yet, now that we're back in Guatemala, although I wish I could pull up to a Starbucks drive-thru and get my favorite, and although my heart hurts if I think about the very tearful good-bye my children said to their grandparents, there is peace in knowing that this is where God has us.

No, we don't know how long we'll be here. We don't know what is next. But we know that, right now, we are obeying God's plan for our family, and even though that may cost us emotionally, the peace that accompanies that obedience is indescribable.
I've heard from other missionaries that this tearing of the heart is something that you, somehow, learn to live with. This trip to Florida was the time I felt it the most. For all the pain of missing my family, my friends, I knew that I didn't really "belong" there right now. Maybe someday, but not right now.

We shared with our church that missionaries are not "supermen" or "superwomen." They're just ordinary people following God. We've learned this year just how ordinary we are, how being a missionary is not some romantic feat. We've never wanted to glamorize it or be less than honest about it either.
Some days are really, really hard. Sometimes we wonder why we're here.
Some days are amazing. Sometimes we know why we're here.

And when you think about it, we all have torn hearts, longing for those things that we'll only know and share in eternity. No matter where God has led us, we should never really belong. One day, the tear in our hearts will be healed, and how good that will be. Until then, we want to do more than just survive. We want to live a wild adventure following the Spirit, trusting Him to care for those we love, trusting Him to bring the healing and peace we need. And He does.

Saturday, June 6

Beach Days

My mom and dad rented rooms at a charming B&B on the beach (Beachside Palms), and we had 3 wonderful days of laughing, eating, swimming, eating, running, eating, catching up, reading, napping, was great to have the whole Moore family together for the first time in more than 3 years!

Sunday, May 24

The List

Since we arrived in Florida on Friday, we have begun to check off items on my dad's famous multi-page list of things for us to do while we're here.
Interestingly enough, when Nate read the list, his response was, "It's all about food!"
Well, yes. Yes, it is.
So far: Starbucks, Dad's famous breakfast, Mom's pot roast, the Lighthouse Doughnut Store, Cracker Barrel, Mom's Chex Mix, the pool, and somehow, we even managed to go to church in between all of our eating! It was great to see everyone, to hug and be hugged. 
Better go check the list to see what's next.....

Sunday, May 3

On How We are Keeping the Local Hospital in Business...

Last week it was my turn to go to the hospital. I pride myself on my pain tolerance. I mean, I've had three kids. And a root canal. So, when I felt some intense pain that reminded me of well, nothing I've ever felt before, I woke up my hubby and informed him, quite calmly, that we needed to go to the hospital.
The first sign that things would not be boring was the fact that the hospital was totally, completely dark, and we had to buzz the intercom to get into the also-very-dark waiting area. The mumbling desk clerk gestured in the general direction of the hallway, so we assumed that was where we were to sit. 
The fact that the clerk had to call the doctor multiple times to rouse him from his slumber was apparently not enough to send us home.
However, when we both saw the ginormous rat...yes, RAT, hurtling himself down the hallway, we almost gave up. But no. We were committed.  And still in pain.
In the interest of good taste, I will not describe the noises that were coming from the patient in the first room. Suffice it to say that he or she must have been visiting the hospital due to intestinal issues. Maybe that's why the rat was running.
Anyway, when the doctor finally woke up, he proceeded to examine me. Now, I always thought that charts, writing down blood pressure, medical history, weight, etc. was kind of important, but I was very, very wrong.  I also thought that doctors checked the part of your body that actually HURT, but I have obviously never been to medical school. I'm not sure the doctor has either. 
Apparently when your appendix region is in great pain, the correct area to probe is your leg and your toe. Go figure.
I digress. The nurse eventually came in to draw blood and to have me collect a sample in a used baby food jar (hey, it had been washed. I think), and the doctor, upon exiting the room, threw out an afterthought for Steve to answer. This was in Spanish, but I will translate:
Dr.: "She's never had any children, right?"
Steve: "Um. Yes."
Dr: .......silence......
Steve: "Three."
Dr: "But of course they were natural births."
Steve: "Um. No."
Upon which the doctor had to push the nurse aside, to see for himself if this were true. It was.
We eventually did leave the hospital with no real diagnosis, but I was amazed at how quickly I began to feel better at the thought of just going home.
The best part is, we got to visit our friends at the hospital again last night, after Steve decided to see if a saw was indeed able to slice through a nail and a finger. It is.
His hospital visit was much less exciting, although we are learning so much medical information each time we go. For example, did you know that a used water bottle is perfect for pouring some sort of cleaning liquid onto an open wound? And that cotton "pieces" (formerly known as sterile cotton balls or gauze) do not have to be sterile? They can be stored in strips of brown paper bags. Awesome.
We've had some great laughs in our medical adventures, but in all honesty, we have an excellent family doctor here, and we are very thankful for our local hospital. Rats and all.

Sunday, April 26

Before we moved to Guatemala, I had been a runner, but I'd only done a 5K race and a couple of 10k Turkey Trots. That all changed when I started running with what we affectionately call the "IDC Running Club" (Iglesia Del Camino). There is just nothing like running here...we have experienced puffing volcanoes, attacking bees, dead animals on the road (from huge pigs, to snakes of every size, to a bat, and everything in between), rain, speeding chicken buses, and more. 
We have seen the mountains from every angle, in every light, cloud-topped or clear, sun-dappled or hazy. We have passed people walking or riding their bikes to the market, to work, to their villages, and when we see some of those people walking without shoes, it is a reminder of how blessed we are, and how much more there is to do here.
We have pushed our bodies to their limits and experienced the highs of meeting new goals, crossing new finish lines.
But today was the best run I've ever had, because it was the first time Nate and I got to run in his first race together. He'd been asking for months if he could do a race, and today was his day to take part in a 5K in Guatemala City. I can't even express how proud I am of him. He ran his first race in a foreign country, on a course that was fairly hot and hilly, and he was amazing! He didn't complain, and when he started to get worn out and I gave him the good ol' "Mom peptalk," he listened, and then I could hear him telling himself, "I can do this. I can do this."
We sprinted over the finish line together....I hope there are many more finish lines to come.
Oh yeah---and even though the course was mismeasured (happens all the time here!), so that the 3 miles was actually almost 4, he finished the race in 35:54, having only done ONE training run. I'm gonna have to step it up!
Thanks, Nate, for a wonderful day!

Wednesday, April 15

Day with Dick

Nate and I spent the day riding with Dick Rutgers.  For all of the time I have spent leading teams in and around the Antigua area, it was very refreshing to spend the day with someone well acquainted with the local villages and the children impacted by severe disabilities and poverty. 
Click on the photos to get a closer look.  We packed into the front seat of the 4WD and left the valley which surrounds Antigua, and went south and west towards the Pacific Coast.  Within minutes we dropped from 5,000 feet to less than 100, and the scenery changed from volcanos to sugar cane fields.   We saw miles and miles of the fields, where men earn $10 daily (only 3-4 months during season), working 12 hour shifts in extreme heat and dangerous conditions (threshing machines regularly maim or kill workers).  Several fields burned as they were prepared for harvesting.
The villages we passed were crude block or bamboo covered in tin, and the barefoot children ran in the streets.  Mosquito nets are a requirement here in rainy season (lasting 6 months), but most cannot afford them.  Kitchens are outside (pictured at left towards the bottom center).

We picked up a nurse in a town which has a relationship with the 3 families we visited.  In all cases, families of 5-7 children was the norm.  Of these, at least one had a severe handicap, and in the cruel world of extreme poverty, they are the first to die.  Dick checked on a boy with cerebral palsy, who has spent most of his 7 years in a hammock (upper left) waiting to die.  Sponsors in the States have given Dick the opportunity to buy food for him, and while thin, he looks much better than 3 months ago.  We visited another family (affected by multiple sclerosis), and Dick looked at report cards and rewarded the kids with a trip to the local fast food restaurant (packing 13 into his 4WD)...we let the kids go on the rides, and Nate played tag with the healthy kids later at their house.  

What impacted me about poverty was how "normal" kids are regardless of culture or economics.  They want to be held (even by a stranger), played with, and rewarded for being good.

The parents have a resolve to survive, and a peace and simplicity that is hard to put into words.  They have nothing, yet invite any stranger into their homes.  They love their kids.  

Days like today come once in a lifetime, and I got to spend this special day with my son Nate, who impressed me with his love for other kids, and how he hung on every word Dick shared with us.  

Sunday, April 5

Life and Death

I hope I never get numb to seeing hurting people, to seeing pain. It's easy to do, living here, because there is pain, poverty, hurt, need everywhere. I walk down the street with my kids, and I pass so many people sitting with a bowl, begging for money. I see people so drunk that they literally pass out and sleep on the sidewalk. There are homeless people sleeping in the grass. There are children who walk around the town with no shoes on their little feet.
It's easy to get hardened, to get "used" to seeing these sights. But this week brought a reminder again of why we are here. God wants us to bring His good news of healing and hope, restoration and freedom. We can't just "preach" to people without showing them first that God loves them. One way we do this is by meeting their very real physical needs, and one of the biggest ways we've been able to do that this year is through taking teams to the Malnutrition Center. This is a place for children whose parents cannot even feed them properly, or for children who, for one reason or another, simply are not thriving physically.
This has been a beautiful ministry for our family to be involved in. We've all gone there, and Nate and Shelby get so excited to play with the kids, to love on the babies, and just to help in whatever way they can. But this week, while Steve and a team were ministering there, a 7 year-old child named Benito (who weighed only 25 pounds when he was brought in), passed away.
It was devastating for my children, even though they understood that Benito is not hungry anymore, is not in pain, is playing and eating whatever he wants right now.
And it was a powerful reminder that this is why we are here, that this is no game but serious business, helping to save lives both physically and spiritually.
Matthew 19:14-15 But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.

Monday, March 23

Planting Seeds

Mission team season is in full swing here, and since Steve's main job is setting up all the logistics for those teams and then leading them in their projects and outreach events, he is very busy during this time. A cool blessing that comes with this job is the opportunity for our kids to go along on some of the projects. Both Shelby and Nate went with the group to the Malnutrition Center. They absolutely love going, playing with the children there, and loving on the babies, too. 
By the end of last week, we were pretty wiped, so we planned a family day for Saturday, just relaxing and being together. The kids bought seed packets and planted a tiny garden in the small piece of ground we call our backyard! They weren't crazy about preparing the soil, but they loved making little holes and putting those tiny seeds in, ever so carefully. 
That night at dinner, Jackson was sure his plants had already grown, and he needed to go check on them. The next morning, the kids were out the door before breakfast to water the ground. If excitement and lots of watering can grow a garden, then ours is sure to be amazing!

Tuesday, March 10

Helping Paint a House

For my birthday, I helped paint a house! The people there were: two ladies, one teenage boy, one little boy, and one little girl. There were animals, too. There were: a duck, two BIG roosters,one little rooster, and a hen. I got to hold the little rooster! I got to feed AND water the pets! I also got to play with the little kids!

Monday, March 2


Here's the latest life lesson from my five year old.
Jackson: "Mom, I think God is allergic to some people."
Wow. This is how I all-too-often live my life, my words declaring that God loves everyone, and my actions saying, "I can fake like I love you, but really? Not. even. close."
I act like there are people who God SHOULD be allergic to. So, this must mean that I can get a pass on loving them, too.
But then I read something like this, which I "stumbled" across yesterday after I was really, really ticked at someone...justifiably of course, and oh yeah, I was righteously angry, of course.
Romans 14:1, 10-12, 22-23 in The Message:
 Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do. And don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.

10-12So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I'd say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, we're all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren't going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture: 

   "As I live and breathe," God says, 
      "every knee will bow before me; 
   Every tongue will tell the honest truth 
      that I and only I am God."
So tend to your knitting. You've got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.

22-23Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don't impose it on others. You're fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you're not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you're out of line. If the way you live isn't consistent with what you believe, then it's wrong.

...And therein lies the prescription for those pesky allergies. 


Monday, February 16

Snow Days

What a week in Colorado!
It was a combination of an incredible conference (led by Stasi Eldredge, author of Captivating), breathtaking scenery, and just great fun with my friend Nancy!
Here are the highlights:
1. Getting to know Nancy's family, especially her sweet parents. They adopted me as their granddaughter, and happily enabled my Starbucks addiction! Yes!
2. Speaking of Starbucks, we went 10 times, and that was restraining ourselves. Our first morning, our jog ended at the SuperTarget Starbucks parking lot. What does that say about me?
3. Getting to meet many women at the Captivating Retreat, from all over the country. They were always shocked to hear that we were from Guatemala, and we usually ended up spending the mealtimes answering questions about where we live, what we do, etc. By the last meal, Nancy and I were ready to just say we were from Florida! Seriously, it was cool to see how interested many people were in our lives and our mission here.
4., wow, WOW!  A combination of high speed, deep snow, COLD wind, the most beautiful mountains and forests I've ever seen, and no bathrooms. Enough said.
5. Shopping at Target for the first time in 7 months. I seriously felt like I was having heart palpitations. Of course, it could have been the Starbucks espresso truffle drink in my hand.
6. Did I mention the beautiful mountains all around us? I don't think I could ever tire of staring at them.
7. The chance to just get away, not have to do the daily chores, and really sit and listen to God. I don't make enough time for that in my life.
8. Worshipping with a group of women. We don't get that often here, and it was beautiful to see and experience.
9. Speaking only English for a whole week!
10. And then, coming home to lots of hugs and love and appreciation....and a beautifully clean house! The best ending to an amazing trip.

Monday, February 2

Council Meeting

We've had an amazing year watching the church shift from a "rebuilding" mode to hitting its stride.

In November and December,  we had our first membership meetings, and explained the purpose for signing a church covenant.  Over 50 people to date have chosen to sign the covenant and become church members. 

This year started with our first Leadership Council (similar in concept to an Elder Board in many churches).  Two weeks ago, six men were challenged with the responsibility of providing counsel and advice to our pastor and senior church staff.  Yesterday, five accepted the challenge, and the sixth is continuing to pray and consider if this something he should do.

As Pastor Mike asked each man about their decision, I was awestruck to hear each one share how God had been drawing them out of the crowd, and each (in their own way) soberly accepted God's tap on their shoulder to grow closer to Him.  

Pastor Mike summed up some of the other details of the last year (including the move into our new building) and included some great pictures in his latest post...

Thank you for your prayers... there is a lot of work in the year ahead.  Please pray that we will be able to train new believers and continue to build relationships with each person so they can grow stronger in their faith!

Friday, January 23

Grillin' Guatemala-Style

We've lived in Guatemala for 9 months now, but it is not easy to think of yourselves as "at home" in a very different place when the entire fabric of your lives has been woven in America. Strangely, it's the little things that start to make us realize, "O.K., this is home now." Here's one of those things: we bought a grill. 
Propane? Who needs it!
Lighter fluid? Pshaw!
Blow dryer? Check!

And the amazing part is, in Florida, we used to cook year-round on our pretty decent propane grill. The kids never even knew it existed or cared. But when we brought out our new little cooker last night, it became a family affair. Everyone wanted to help, and everyone was spellbound by the fire! Even more amazing, those burgers were the best we'd ever made!

For all the challenges of living in a foreign country, I know that all along the way there are priceless gifts like these, moments where I realize that my family is learning to really appreciate what we've always taken for granted, to enjoy time spent together, to get really, really excited about the flavor of a burger cooked over some coals and a blow-dryer. 
Thank you, Lord for the simple things.

Saturday, January 10

Things I Learned on My Mexican Adventure

Every 90 days, we have to get our passports stamped. Every 6 months we're required to leave the country to maintain our tourist visas. On Wednesday, we took a trip to Mexico for that purpose. Here is the tale of our journey (ha..that sounds so deceivingly routine).
1. Don't travel with a child who has been sick in the last, oh, week or so. Jackson had an intestinal illness earlier in the week (that is an extremely polite way of saying that there was stuff coming out of him that should not have been). We truly thought he was over it. Wrong. Just as we crossed the border into Mexico, he got sick. All over his bus seat, his clothes. Me.
2. Bus "bathrooms" are fun. Imagine an airplane bathroom on crack. On the plus side, you get to really strengthen your muscles as you try to maintain your balance and not bang into the walls. You also learn rather quickly NOT to open the window, no matter how foul the smell is in there, because passersby on the highway do NOT want to see you in there. And bring your own tp.
3. The Mexican taxi-drivers were extremely helpful. Seriously. Not only did our driver take us directly from the bus station to the hospital (this was after Jackson became sick AT the bus station, and I tried in vain to direct people around the pile on the floor), he brought all 5 of us and our luggage inside and told the doctor what we needed.
4. Contrary to popular belief, needles for shots do NOT have to be sanitary. They can be dropped on the floor right in front of you and still be used! Cool! Also, anti-vomiting shots do not always work. 
5. Being in a hotel room in a border town in Mexico with a still-sick child really pumps up your prayer life. 
6. Relaxing at the hotel pool is pretty fabulous.
7. It's always good to make sure the room service people actually swipe your card before they tell you it's not working, causing you to spend $20 on an international phonecall to your bank only to find out the charge was never even attempted. Whew.
8. It's not that fun to lose your return bus ticket. It IS pretty fun when the driver tells you not to worry about it.
9. Make sure you get your passport stamped at the right border when crossing back in. It would pretty much cause you to wail and gnash your teeth to forget that. 

All humor aside, we came back from our trip with very thankful hearts. Over and over, we saw how God protected and provided for us. From being able to exchange money right at the border (money we'd need as soon as we got to Mexico, for the hospital), to being allowed on the bus with no ticket and no pesos left in our possession to purchase a new one, to not missing the passport stamping at the border, to our only debit card working (our other one got messed up the day before we left home), to the people in Mexico being very warm and friendly, and most of all, to our precious Jackson being healed and well again. We were amazed how God provided the clinic with a very good doctor. As I sat by my very sick boy and prayed for him, asking God to wake others to pray for us, He answered, and my mom (who had no idea what was going on) woke up several times that night praying for us. He also showed His care for us in a real way when I stood at the bus station, scared for Jack, tears rolling down my face, and a sweet lady came and felt his forehead, comforted me and told us where the hospital was.
God is so good, and we praise Him.
And this is one adventure we won't soon forget!

Monday, January 5

My Christmas Eve Miracle

It might not seem like a big deal, and I think I even tried to talk myself into believing that. So what if I didn't have a piano? I have always been grateful that my parents did everything to make sure I had one ever since I was about 6. I had owned several variations on pianos...old, older, scratched keys, gently used, etc., but I had never owned a brand-new piano until my hubby bought one for me our second year of marriage. 
I loved that Yamaha. It was electronic, but felt and sounded just like the real deal, and best of all, it never needed tuning.
It moved from Air Force base to Air Force base, to cold New York, and even lost a leg on its way to Florida, but it was a part of every home we made together for almost 14 years. I taught several children to play on that keyboard, including my own, and I knew I'd have to part with it when we left for Guatemala.
I was sad to say good-bye, but thrilled that it was going to be owned by a student of mine who loved to play and would treasure it. When we got to Guatemala, a piano had to take low priority on the list of things to purchase. When you're furnishing an entire house...and by that, I mean the oven, the refrigerator, everything.....a piano is definitely a luxury.
So, we admired a lovely keyboard or two from afar, but never were serious. 
Until Christmas Eve, when my friend Nancy forwarded me an email that a missionary needed to sell an almost-new piano. 
That just so happened to be the same kind I'd seen in the city.
Except nicer. 
And less than half-price.

Oh, and did I mention that some generous people we don't even know well picked that exact day to deposit money in our account, money that added to donations from the day before covered the cost?

Steve didn't even blink. He and my dad jumped in the car (while Mom, Mel and I were busy making Christmas Eve dinner and getting ready for church). He had to go to 5 (yes, 5!!) ATMs to get the cash (everything is done in cash here...even our rent) to get out the money, and he had to beat anyone else who wanted the piano (is that a good missionary thing to wish for?!)
Well, he did , and I spent part of Christmas Eve playing carols on my new piano. An added gift is the fact that my kids love it and are excited to "relearn" how to play. 
The best part of all was feeling loved and cared for by a personal Father who gave me a gift He knew would mean something so precious to me. I feel very treasured and humbled by His love. Thank You for my gift.