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.