Tuesday, September 28

September times

Here are a few shots of what we've been up to, in between eating chilean sea bass, drinking coffee and shooting clays with some of our friends.

We went to Port Discovery, a children's museum, in Baltimore, MD. It was so much fun! Below, the kids actually have their very own diner, and can serve the parents. It even has a real jukebox (which I LOVED). My boys loved getting my order, cooking and then serving it to me.

We spent the evening with some of Steve's old work friends. Their house is a child's dream come true. Especially the trampoline, which my boys enjoyed most of the night.

Steve with my baby and the "other" baby...our newest nephew. He's a cutie, don't you think?

We spent the evening with Steve's cousin at a nearby park.

The boys playing with a cousin and second cousin at a family get together.

For our last date, we went to a truck/tractor pull (if you ever wondered what rednecks do for fun, now you know). It was pretty amazing to see how many engines these guys to strap to a beam and then call it a tractor. and was it LOUD!!!

Saturday, September 25

Fueling up

It's been 2 months since we left Nicaragua.

We've really been enjoying our time with friends and family. Catching up on what's been happening and seeing all the new changes in our friends' and family's lives has been fun and interesting.

We are adjusting to the culture here.

I no longer feel frozen when walking into air-conditioned stores.
The boys have stopped asking if hot water will come out of the faucet.
90 degrees actually feels hot.
The crickets put me to sleep.
Homeschooling is going well.
We are starting to arrive on time to events.
The limitless opportunities and resources no longer feel overwhelming.
Our stomachs have changed to adapt to a small lunch and big dinner.
I now routinely use the toaster and microwave instead of the stove top.

BUT...it started to hit us this past week.

We're tired. Very, VERY tired. Emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally.

And thinking about leaving in only a few short weeks to return to Nicaragua made us feel even more tired.

Don't get us wrong. The last 3 years have been phenomenal. Life changing. We don't regret it for a moment. but it has also been exhausting, on every level. And it is starting to hit us, as we've finally started to slow down from all our travels and visits.

So we thought...do we have to return in a few weeks? Could we stay a bit longer for a time of refreshment and renewal? And return to Nicaragua in 3 or 4 months?

So that's what we are thinking about. We don't know what it will all look like. Where we will stay, what we will drive, the financials, but the more we think about it and pray about it, the more peace God is giving to us. To our hearts. and to our spirits.

So please...

Be in prayer for us as we continue to discern God's will for us, and as we seek the rest and renewal that we so desperately need.

Also pray that we could discern God's timing for our return to Nicaragua.

Saturday, September 11

Our Partnership with World Outreach Mission

We'd like to share with you our recent partnership with World Outreach Mission. World Outreach Mission will be acting as our stateside mission and will handle our "office work", including maintaining our prayer and support list, sending out prayer letters and handling any donations that come our way. They will send tax-deductible receipts to our supporters and also offer online donations.

We have partnered with WOM for two main reasons:

1. They do not tell us what our mission should be or how to run the day-to-day. They only support us in our work, whatever that may be.

2. They provide a way to easily channel donations while giving donors a tax-deductible receipt.

If you would like to learn more about WOM, click on http://www.worldoutreach.org to see their website, and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

If you would like to support us, either through prayer or financially, please let us know. We would like to have at least 10 people committed to praying for us on a daily basis. Regarding our financial situation, we hope to be self-supporting within a few years, Lord willing. If you have questions regarding our budget or would like to support a particular area, such as schooling, rent, food, etc. or a specific project, we would be happy to answer any questions.

Thank you for taking the time to walk with us on our journey, and may God continue to bless you on yours!

THE Sale

Well, we did it.

We sold the majority of our belongings, including furniture, housewares, garden tools, linens and clothing. We had a fantastic Labor Day weekend sale, thanks to all who stopped by to support us and to those who helped tremendously with the advertisement and organization.

Was it hard going through our belongings and deciding what to sell?

Most definitely.

But I heard Jesus whisper to me those words he said so long ago, If you want to follow me, you must leave father and mother and brother and sister behind. (paraphrase). It's amazing how tightly we hold onto our material possessions, even without realizing it. I know God is calling us to return to Nicaragua, but as I looked longingly over my possessions, I thought, Am I really going to do this? So many memories, so many "nice" things. But that's exactly what they are...things. Was I really going to let a few items stop me from following God? I asked God to give me peace about all these weighty decisions, which He has. But it certainly gave me a lot to think about.

Do we follow God's calling on our life and lay aside those things which hinder us, or do we cling even more tightly to those things which offer a short and false security when we sense God calling us in a different direction than we had planned?

However, I must admit, I did keep some of my better kitchen things, things that cannot be bought in Nicaragua, in the hopes that I can find a way to bring them down and support my desire to start a bakery, and perhaps even offer classes.

This past week was the first "normal" week we've had since arriving from Nicaragua. Steve started his job, working mostly on finishing doors, and I started homeschooling Zachariah. We worked on our reading and math skills this week, and dabbled a bit with astronomy and read lots of books on dinosaurs. How I love the libraries here! However, I was disturbed to see such a difference in the night sky here. It looks like there are not as many stars and they are hard to see. The night sky has a perpetual orange hue, due to light pollution. Not so in Nicaragua. The sky in Matagalpa is so black and the stars look like a thousand jewels God flung onto a black velvety dress. It always takes my breath away.

Wednesday, September 1

THE Trip

Yes, we've made it back from THE Trip. I think that's what I'm going to call it from now on, because it was by far the longest trip we've ever taken, as a family, by car.

In 28 days, we drove about 5000 miles, through 18 states, slept in 9 different places and ate at McDonalds more times than I care to remember. I don't think I'll be able to look at any kind of fast food restaurant for a while without feeling sick. The traveling went really well. The kids did great, there were no accidents or flat tires, and the weather was fantastic. We really enjoyed visiting with our family and friends...but we are still recuperating!

In my last post, I mentioned our time in Florida (we had driven straight from PA to Florida - 19.5 hrs!) After spending some time in the sun, we drove 11 hours, made it to Kentucky and found a hotel, and practically fell into bed around 9:30 pm. The next day we drove 14 hours and made it to Steve's Aunt Cindy's house in Iowa around 10 pm. We had a nice and relaxing time with the family there. Most of the family was able to make it over and have dinner, then we showed some pictures of our time in Nicaragua. We spent a bit of time at Jean's place and enjoyed our visit there, then headed over to Bethany to meet her new hubby and see her place.

Us with Steve's maternal grandparents.

Steve's grandparents recently moved to Cindy's house as it has become more difficult to live on their own, but it was great to spend more time with them and enjoy Grandpa's jokes at the dinner table.

Me and Aunt Cindy. She kept us well-fed our 4 days there.

Nathaniel fell completely in love with a white kitten there and carried it around with him everywhere.

We left Friday morning and drove to Detroit, pulling into Shawn's house around 10 pm. (we're making a habit of arriving at people's houses around then!) We enjoyed chatting while the kids went crazy running around the house, but after 12 hours of sitting in the car, who could blame them? The next day we spent some time at a neighborhood park and enjoyed some delicious burgers and hotdogs before making our trek back to PA, coming in around midnight.

Us with Shawn and Shereen (isn't their dog cute?)

Yes, I felt pretty rough the next day :)

The boys have been giving us a break and sleeping in until 7:30 or even 8 at times, but I'm sure going to bed late and having naps has helped. Sunday we went to church at home. Literally. Steve's parents had the service in their "shed" (it's really a barn, but that's what they call it here in Central PA), and we enjoyed the service and visiting with some people, both friends and family.

The evening singing service in the "shed" (come on, isn't that the size of a barn?)

We've been enjoying walks down to the neighbor's farm, where Steve worked for 8 years milking cows. The boys love to ride their bikes down the road.

All this week we've been frantically going through our trailer of STUFF and getting it ready for our gigantic Moving Sale this Friday, Saturday and Labor Day. I'm amazed at how much stuff we had...and greatly humbled. I feel so rich, and embarrassed at the same time, when I think of my friends in Nicaragua. I've been doing a lot of thinking on necessities, "stuff" and our attitudes towards it all. Perhaps in another blog I will attempt to explain my thoughts.

Our plan after Labor day is to slow down...and relax a bit. I realized last week that we have been going and going ever since we left Nicaragua. Literally packing, traveling, unpacking and unpacking again. We're ready to not pack for a while.

We hope to get into more of a routine while we are here. I plan to start homeschooling the boys next week, and Steve will start working part-time with a cousin. I think it will do us all some good to have a school/work routine in place. I also hope to get involved with the Y here, and get the boys in some swim classes.

The sunsets have been beautiful here and the weather...HOT HOT HOT!! Feels like Nicaragua :)

At this point, we are still planning on returning to Nicaragua, although it might be a bit later than we thought, due to a few changing issues. We may return in late October. But we will keep you posted.

Pray that we could have a good turnout at the sale
Pray that we could learn how to prioritize time as a family and couple
Pray for family members that are struggling with serious health issues
Pray for wisdom and guidance as we decide when to return to Nicaragua
Pray for faith to continue trusting in God, no matter the circumstances