Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas With Family Part 2

After a longer than we expected drive from Lake Havasu City to North LA on Christmas Eve the kids were quite ready to get out of the van to be greeted by their Grandma Jay's open arms and exclamations of how much they have grown and changed in the past few years.

 Opening presents Christmas morning.

Jay's boyfriend, Nelson, is from El Salvador.  It's been fun to speak with him in Spanish.  Her neighbors are Venezuelan also so we've had lots of practice.  And they all have declared our kids have no accents...us on the other hand.  HA!  Our kids commented on all the people that are from other countries here in LA.  

Our time here with Jay, my "adopted" mom, though brief has been absolutely wonderful!  She hasn't changed one bit.  Which is always nice to see.  We've been having all kinds of fun playing the Wii, visiting parks, malls and even Griffith Park Observatory.  The best part though has been the time spent with Jay and her boyfriend. 

Our family with the Hollywood sign in the background. 

Tomorrow we head off to the town we grew up in, Hemet.  We'll be there for a couple days only.  And then we head back to the LA area to spend time with Scott's Mom and step-dad before we head to Nevada for a meeting.

The 3 horizontal lines at the far right are the "earthquakes" our family caused on the seismograph in the Griffith Observatory.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Our First Furlough Meeting

This is on the way to Phoenix.  Are these mountains gorgeous?!  I have always missed seeing snow topped mountains.  Nehemiah kept saying that he was going to climb these. The next picture shows the grade out of the mountain.  And then the difference in landscape.

The Bowmans are a sweet couple.  And we really enjoyed our stay with them.  They have a grand piano in the living room and Kaitlin and Beth played a few songs during our stay.  Peanuts and Snoopy were their dogs and are probably missing all the extra attention right now.  The picture below is the house across the street from where we stayed.

Our first furlough meeting went very well.  Considering all the problems we had getting our presentation done the fact that I was able to show something was a relief.  There were a few technical glitches - the projector was projecting everything in purple and the sound cut in and out a few times.  I finally have the sound balanced out and I believe the presentation is ready to burn to a DVD.

 The church has both their meetings in the morning and so we were able to have lunch with the Pastor and his family and a man in the church, then we headed off to Lake Havasu City, via the University of Phoenix stadium, to spend some time with my Aunt and Uncle and cousins.   

Christmas with Family Part 1

Me and my Aunt Bonnie.  It has been 16 years since we last saw her and my Uncle.

Their Christmas Tree...the kids discovered presents with their names on them.

Playing Catch-Phrase with the cousins.

The kids spent ALL day outside yesterday playing on the hills.  Uncle Greg also took them on two hikes.

And Silas has been driving all his cousins Barbie cars around.

Friday, December 18, 2009

"Mommy, I have to...."

Aren't those the words that every mother cringes to hear when traveling on a LONG trip?!  Maybe it is because we have 8 kids but it seems like I hear this every 20 minutes.  Especially today.  Simeon was literally telling me he had to go potty all day.  I hope he doesn't have something going on.  I do know that at least one time he played in the bathroom instead of using it.  He got to "water" a tree on the side of the road for that mistake. 

On this trip out west we've capitalized on the eating out experiences.  Yesterday we had burgers and Pizza.  Today we had waffles and real bagels for the first time in 3 years.  Our crazy kids didn't care for the waffles at all.  For lunch we had On the Border.  We can share plates between several kids because the chips will fill them up.  And tonight we got KFC chicken plus a bunch of sides.  Scott didn't have to pay for the sides at all because they were closing and they were going to throw them away.

We have been traveling on the 40 through Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico....with a little side trip on old Route 66 looking for a bathroom.  This morning at breakfast we met an older couple who are traveling the same route as we are.  They started in Manhatten, New York and they are also headed to Los Angeles for Christmas.  We were able to chat a little bit and I gave her a Christmas tract.  I am praying we meet up with them again. 

I'm off I need to eat my free KFC and get to bed!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pre Christmas Blessings

There is always a measure of unease when we visit a new church.  And there is always a feeling of not wanting to be a burden.  So when we booked our stay with this church after picking up our van I was a little unsure of what to expect.  If you have read my previous posts you know that the folks here have made up feel extremely welcome here!

Yesterday we were privileged to spend the Sunday services here.  The bus kids had a special program in the morning service and it was so neat to see that our children had been included into the program.  Though our kids didn't know most of the songs they had costumes and looked adorable.

Simeon was a riot!  He had a look of fear and uncertainty on his face yet at the same time was trying to smile and be cheerful.  He would make eye contact with us and he would beam then he would look at the rest of the church and that expression would set in. 

Isabel just stood there with her arms crossed and a pleasant look on her face.  Nehemiah was a wise man.  Adeline and Bethany were angels.

After the service we enjoyed a Chili luncheon.  Brandon jumped right in as a waiter/server.  And I was able to help get some of the bus kids their food.

One of the best parts has been the fellowship...for all of us.  Our older kids recruited some of the teens here into making a new Confused Entertainment production.  From the little clips I've seen I think it will be very good.  I was able to answer lots of questions about Uruguay for Pastor Kaighens daughter who feels called to a Spanish speaking country.

We trust this time that we have been a blessing to the people here in some small measure.  And we are so thankful for more prayer warriors for us and our beloved country of Uruguay.

Poor thing.

Saturday afternoon found us looking for a place to take a screaming Isabel.  She was downstairs in the church playing when she came back up to the prophets chamber crying from pain.  We decided a week of waiting was enough and we needed to get her seen by a doctor.  Of course it couldn't happen on a weekday.

Pastor Kaighen directed us to the children's hospital in Kansas City while another man directed us to a walk in clinic at Wal Greens Pharmacy.  Since the pharmacy was halfway to the hospital we decided to stop there first.  The wait was an hour and a half so we headed to the hospital.  Because she was presenting with severe abdominal pain they worked her up towards the top of the lost and we were back in a room in 20 minutes.

After an exam and x-rays we discovered that Isabel was extremely constipated.  She's on Miralax which should help relieve that problem.  We're supposed to increase the dose until we see the desired results.  We are going on day 3 of treatment though and we're not sure we see a difference in frequency of her bathroom visits.  Right now she's not complaining about the abdominal pain so I hope that means things are improving. 

We start traveling out west this Wednesday morning so it would be good to have her regular before then so we don't end up with emergencies.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

First Christmas Party

Last night I was able to go to a ladies Christmas party!  When I found out they were having this party while we are here I seriously considered crashing it.  Thankfully someone extended an invitation to me so when Kaitlin and Scott headed to Wal Mart they picked up a small gift and this really cute bag.

There were LOTS of yummy goodies - things with marshmallows and peanut butter and cream cheese.

Best of all was the fellowship with all the ladies.  It's wonderful to sit down with 19 other women and feel at home with them though I had just met them this week.  We had a gift exchange where we could "steal" someone else's gift, then they could steal a gift too or choose one from under the tree.  We had one round where there were 6 or 7 "thefts".  I got a really pretty candy dish and pack of M & M's.   

After that we played 2 rounds of Catch Phrase.  It was a riot to watch the different women to try get their team to guess their word.  A couple of times I wanted to use Spanish...but that would have been cheating.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Weather Outside is Frightful

Though it's not quite a winter wonderland outside it is definitely a cold blustery day.  The weather reported the temperature at 7 degrees F but it feels like -7.  BRRRR!  Thankfully the church we are staying at has a game room with carpet ball, foosball, ping-pong and a Wii in their youth room or we would be dealing with some very bored kiddos. 

The kids have loved the time to play all these games together but it sure is cold in the church with the heat turned down.  We took a thermometer into the youth room and it was 48 degrees in there.  It's hard to believe we survived cold like that throughout the winter time in Uruguay.

Last night was our first American service as a family and it was wonderful!  Pastor Kaighen here at Grace Baptist gave Scott the opportunity to share our ministry and even had a Q & A time, then he took up a love offering for us!  We still don't have a presentation but had it been done we would have been able to share that as well.  Keep in mind we are just here to pick up our rental van, we did not have a meeting set up.

It was so nice to sing in English, here the preaching in English without an interpretor and not on my iPod.  Later I bowed my head in prayer with two other ladies with no fear of mispronunciations.  And no need to think about how I would conjugate a verb or choose the correct word.  The people in this church have been so welcoming to our family.  They have provided food and meals for us.  The teens have included our teens.  The children have made friends.  And the nursery workers were patient with little Silas' Spanish and English even though his mommy (aka Me) forgot to tell them that he usually asks for things in Spanish.

It is clear to me that the Lord desires to encourage us.  He is reminding us of those years of Bible College when things were tight financially.  Our dependence upon God was strengthened during those years of not having a job while attending college.  As we prayed over everything we put into our shopping cart we learned that God had things in mind for us.  If we didn't pray and bought something on a whim we usually had a duplicate waiting for us in an anonymous bag of groceries left for us in our van.  (Although I'm sure in this case our kids would gladly accept duplicates of the things we need and the things we would like.)

I will admit it is very hard to wait on the Lord right now.  We have some definite needs and I know He will provide as He always has.  But I find myself wondering how can we do well what must be done at, what seems to me to be, the last minute.  Ah, yes, God is once again working in the 11th hour and no doubt in a way much unlike what I have planned.  And I need to trust that His will is best and His timing too!  And I need to trust that He is at work in the hearts of those who are also expecting us to do our best and that they will be understanding of our current limitations.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


Today we took the whole family to WalMart!  It was an educational trip!  Really!  Who knew that you could buy all those electronics for so cheap.  For example a Wii for $200.00 is $600.00 in Uruguay.  Food, clothing and diapers are cheaper. 

The store is as big as we remeber them to be but it was hard to get the size across to the kids.  Silas' little mouth was hanging open and his expression was stunned.  After about an hour he had enough and began saying, "Vamosh!"  We tried really hard to look normal (as normal as you can look with 8 kids tailing behind you) and Silas is speaking Spanish.  Too funny!  That got more looks than the size of our family.

It definitely has been fun to eat all those things we haven't had in 3 years.  If we don't get fat we'll have stomach aches. 

Speaking of stomach aches...Isabel complained a lot on the flights about her stomach hurting but she was referring to her abdomen.  The last flight she was absolutely miserable.  Scott was at the back of the plane with some of the kids while I was a few seats forward.  I finally took her back to him because I thought she was going to be sick.  The flight attendant said it was probably gas.  But the last two days she's still complaining.  So i any has ever dealt with this before you advice would be appreciated. 

I also have another prayer request that I would like to keep as a partial unspoken.  There is a very specific need we have but do not have the means to meet it at this point in time.  Please be in prayer that we would see God provide for this need.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Cardboard Houses

We all were extremely exhausted after a total of 33.5 hours of traveling yesterday.  It is fun to say that we traveled in planes, trains, and buses.  And here we are in our home country and loving every minute of it, so far.  It was hard to believe, though, that we were back in the USA while we were in Miami.  Literally every one of the airport workers we came across spoke Spanish.  And when they spoke to each other they spoke Spanish...it was kind of fun to have the ability to eavesdrop when they think we don't. 

As we drove the hour from the airport in Kansas City to the church that is housing us here in Missiouri we were enthralled by the possibilities of all the stores and restaurants.  Mexican food was screaming our name.  So when one of the families asked Scott what we would like for dinner we asked for Taco Bell.  And we get to go there for lunch today!!!


Another family did some grocery shopping for us.  A tremendous blessing from the Lord!!!  They felt bad for buying us so much cereal for breakfast.  They were quickly reassured that the cereal and Pop Tarts are a welcome treat!  The kids can't get over the size and type of the milk containers.  I can't forget the square cheese!  And Egg Nog!!!

The sound of the central heat kicking in through the night will take a little getting used to.  Silas had a look of shock on his face to hear it the first few times it started up.  Nehemiah still thinks it's the sound of rain.  But it sure is nice to have every room of the house nice and warm especially since it's close to freezing here.  We're expecting snow tomorrow!!!

This morning while I was in the shower Simeon knocked on the wall.  And it, of course, had a hollow knocking sound.  He looked at Scott and said, "Daddy, this house is cardboard."

The kids discovered the dish washer.  You can imagine their joy to know their chore, at least while we're here is limited to rinsing and placing the dirty dishes into the machine.  The funny thing about this is that the younger kids thought that once the dishes go in they automatically come out clean.  Simeon was thirsty and pulled a dirty cup out and was shocked that it was still dirty.

And for some reason the kids are lined up to take baths in the real bathtub. :-)  Believe me I'll be taking advantage of every bathtub I come across in these great United States! 

I'm sure the longer we are back in the states the unfamilair will become familair (again).  And these blogs will change.  I hope you are enjoying our blessings, experiences, and funnies, of furlough as much as we are. 

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Back in the States

Shortly after 5 this morning we touched down in Miami.  The trip so far has been pretty good.  Very long but uneventful. 
The flight over the Andes was absolutely spectacular!  And the kids all enjoyed the individual screens with games during the flight from Chile to the USA, until they all passed out from exhaustion.  I actually got some sleep too!

Now we are waiting for the next connection to Atlanta and from there we head to Kansas City.  While we are waiting we decided to have some Pizza for breakfast.  And it was fantastic!

Some culture shock has already hit - self flushing toilets, being able to speak English in public, Spanish spoken by all the airport workers, our favorite sodas and candies are available, books are sold in English, and favorite restaurants. 

The connection here in the airport is very slow I've tried to upload pictures but can't.  I have a lot of them.  Several people met us at the bus terminal to say goodbye.  Then we crossed paths with others in the terminal in Montevideo and at the airport. 

I would write more too but after 24 hours of travel I'm just too tired.  I keep having to delete things because I'm hitting all the wrong keys. 

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Vamos. Go.

Silas, was running around the house this morning saying screaming "VAMOS.  GO."  Poor guy must think we're going to leave without him.  He's calmed down now that everyone is sitting around.  The anxiety is clear in the whines of the littlest of our children.  And on the other hand the excitement is evident as everyone talks about seeing family, shopping at WalMart, eating Taco Bell. :-) 

So that pretty much sums up our last morning here before beginning furlough.  We have a ton of bags ready and we are all ready; each of us are wearing our Uruguay tourist shirts.  This is so we can quickly identify any lost children...or grown-ups. ha.  It is also so we can have our beloved Uruguay close to our hearts. 

Without question we'll miss Uruguay this next year!  This is our home and we love it and the people!!!  Our prayer is that God will use us during our time of furlough for the cause of Christ here in Uruguay.  We also pray He will use us on our trip back to the States. 

With 31+ hours of travel ahead of us (we are all already exhausted) your prayers for travel mercies during our flights and layovers are coveted.    Plus, I woke up this morning with a headache and twitching, tingling and numbness in my left hand and it still has not gone away.  I assume it is nothing more than I slept wrong last night.

Well, I need to close now as people are beginning to arrive to say goodbye to us.  We'll see you in a few days.

Friday, December 04, 2009

With the Lord!

Little Andrew Smith went home to be with the Lord early this morning.  Please be in prayer for his parents, Shawn and Sandy, and siblings Steven and Charis Joy, extended family, church family and friends, as they grieve the loss of this wonderful little boy. 

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Desperate for a Rest.

So I'm taking one!  I have been packing, doing laundry, packing, laundry, packing, cleaning, laundry, cleaning, packing...all day and I'm done in.  And I want some ice-cream.  Silly, isn't it? 

I'm am happy to declare that all the boys and Isabel are pretty much completely packed.  And by completely I mean all the stuff in their rooms too.  I had a mountain of laundry, literally, to get through and the last load is now in the washer.  I got all the "we're not keeping this" stuff put in a place out of the way until it can be dealt with.

I'm really hoping that tomorrow things will be much lighter as far as the packing and cleaning.  I'm also hoping the stress level will be much lighter. 

Several young people have stopped by today to visit and that has been a great diversion for our oldest kids.  And they were a big help too.  I'm so thankful for these teens who desire to be a blessing and serve the Lord through helping to clean and pack. 

Since I'm pretty much brain dead right now and have no idea what all I'm really saying (will this make any sense when I'm not so tired?) I better close this update and get myself some ice-cream.  Here's hoping Scott will read this post in the next few minutes. :-)

Andrew Smith Update.

 Below you will find an update on Andrew Smith.  The news is not what we had hoped for and we ask that you keep Andrew and his parents Shawn and Sandy, and siblings Steven and Charis Joy in your prayers!

On Sunday, November 15th, we arrived at the National Institutes of Health where Andrew was happy to be back under the care of his beloved Dr. Warren.  When we met with Dr. Warren on the afternoon of Tuesday, November 17th, she told us that the scans confirmed what we had suspected—that the tumor had progressed.  In fact the entire brainstem and much of the cerebellum are tumor.  There is also involvement of the thalamus, the hypothalamus and the temporal lobe.  It was surprising to see the scans and know that Andrew was awake, interactive, and free of pain.  In spite of the scans, Andrew qualified for the temozolomide/ABT-888 study, and we signed the papers in preparation to begin the protocol.

Over the next couple days Andrew made it clear both to us and to Dr. Warren that he no longer wanted to participate in the study.  Knowing that it was amazing that he was awake, eating small amounts of a wide variety of foods, and enjoying teasing Dr. Warren about the Celtics, we felt that as parents we could ask no more of him.

For over 25 months Andrew has been living in spite of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma.  God has been good to us along the way.  We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from family, loved ones and strangers.  We have been blessed beyond measure with a caring medical team both at the NIH and in Lansing.

We are home at Sparrow and Andrew has been enjoying visits with some of the people he loves most in the world.  He has been spending time in the playroom, eating ice cream for breakfast, and enjoying the Christmas decorations that have magically appeared in his room.  (Thank you to the Michigan State Volleyball team and to the Michigan State Police!)

We have noticed subtle changes since the trip home on November 21st, but it has been clear to us since early Wednesday morning that Andrew is declining physically.  His time with us on earth may be measured in hours or days rather than in months or years.  We continue to rest in God’s loving care, to be thankful for the blessings in our lives, and to be grateful for the gift of Andrew. 

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Phew! This is hard.

Today Scott and I stopped by the hogar (home) of Abuela Paulina and Juana to say our farewells.  It was hard to see her sad to see us leave.  She's been such a blessing to us we will miss her greatly.  But we are thankful to have her as our prayer warrior. 

Tonight was our last official service here in Colonia del Sacramento, UY.  I did great through the night.  Really.  It wasn't that I wasn't thinking of leaving because I was asked to say goodbye to the kids in NiƱos del Rey. 

As we were waiting for the prayer meeting to end Sebastian said his farewell to me, since I did great through that I thought, "Phew, this is going better than I thought it would." 

Then I entered the main building and finished passing out pictures to the ladies from the despedida.  It finally hit me when Silvia stood at the back of the church called out my name and with tears in her eyes, waved and promptly left. 

Just after that the mom of one of Kaitlin's friends who normally doesn't come to church came tonight to say goodbye.  As she was saying her farewell she gave me the biggest hug and I just lost it.  It brings tears to my eyes all over again to recall it.

Friday night's baby shower will probably be very hard to get through.  And I can't even begin to think about Saturday!

Farewell Weekend

Here we are already at the middle of the week time is in warp now.  I know I should be doing other things to prep for furlough but at the same time the need to blog a history of our last few days here before furlough can't be resisted. 

Now that much of the house is boxed up for storage we're able to focus on packing suitcases.  Not an easy task for a family of 10 but added to that is trying to figure out what to bring.  The need to bring clothes that are in decent shape but ones we can leave behind in the states after they are replaced by newer clothes is also a consideration. 

I'm beginning to run out of steam.  I never sleep well before a trip.  Even though I have lists I fret that I'll forget something....something important.

This past weekend was a good diversion for me to not fret about packing.  We had 4 farewell parties.  The one for me was on Friday night (you can read Mi Depedida post for that). 

We didn't have church on Sunday morning because of the run off elections so Saturday night we had a sleepover for Kaitlin with 11 girls.  They started off the night at the beach.  Before they left to swim the girls presented Kaitlin with a signed poster and a picture of all of them.  Then they spent the night awake - laughing and having a good time together.  I made coffee cake for them for breakfast and then they all stayed for lunch.

Sunday night was much different....we had a house full of teen guys.  And, well, we knew it by the guy odor and the exhibition of testosterone.  HA!  Not too mention they are much louder.  And they break things.  The guys played spoons and soccer and whatever else guys do.  Scott fixed them two sauce spaghetti which they all ate ravenously.  Then they broke a window with a baseball and left scared after I called out, "BRANDON SCOT".  Poor guy it wasn't even him. 

Though the broken window was an unwanted extra task Scott was once again able to make contact with the glass man.  We've said all this time, "The glass man needs to be saved."  And we've kept that guy in business for the 3 years we've lived here!  And we continue to pray for his salvation.

Monday night the couples in the church had an asado (BBQ) in our honor.  The meat was great but even better was the time of fellowship.  Things got really silly after the meal was over.  We're so thankful for people that we can laugh and have fun with!  God has blessed us richly to be able to wet our feet, so to speak, with people who have been so understanding of who we are - imperfect sinners saved by grace, learning to live in another country who make all the mistakes of those learning a new culture and learning to do the work of the ministry on the foreign field - and still loving us at the end of it all! 


Monday, November 30, 2009

5 days, REALLY???

WOW, only 5 more days until we are loaded up on the first airplane of 4 in our trip back to the USA.  My emotions run a muck right now.  I'm sad to be leaving but thrilled to be going back home!  (NOTE: The saying of "Home is Where Your Heart is." is true for me - only my heart is in two places Uruguay and America.) 

The last few months since we decided to take furlough have passed quickly and we're thankful for that because these last few weeks we all have felt very homesick.  I guess the knowledge that we will soon be with family is a trigger.  In the same instance we are feeling homesick for our friends here - in other words we will miss them terribly! 

Last night was our final Sunday night in this ministry.  And there is really nothing remarkable to note about it.  In all ways it was like every other Sunday service, except for the brief time before the bus left to say some goodbyes.  Several people reminded me that they love us and have undertaken to pray for us during our furlough and also for where God wants us to plant our first church upon our return to Uruguay!  Each day that passes I am more and more thankful for these dear believers whom God has allowed us to minister to, and them to us.

Scott finished out the focus on missions by preaching on 1 Corinthians 3:5-8.  He encouraged people here to see that they must follow after Christ not after man!  He reminded us that some plant, some water but God is the One that gives the increase!  He will give the increase in souls, in ability, in faith, in finances, in everything! 

Our desire for ministry has been, and is, for believers to know that they are solely instruments for His use.  Teaching them and training them (discipleship at its core) to do the work of the ministry themselves so that they can carry on without us.  It is important for them to know that we are not God!  Just as we must trust God to provide for their needs so must they!  God who has no shadow of turning is able to provide for believers throughout world - NOT just in, or through, the USA!  He will support His work through His people - nationality is of no importance - their faith is!  And so, it was thrilling to have a conversation with a Uruguayan who believes that support can be gained from Uruguayan churches!!!!  PRAISE GOD and GLORY to Him, this is the concept of indigenous!!!!  God is Jehovah Jireh, not America.  Pray this Uruguayan believer's faith will not deviate but will grow and that others will understand the principal of indigenous missions.

But I digress...sort of....there is a lot to get done and I probably should get off this computer and take care of the seemingly millions of things to do, like a couple dozen suitcases that need to be packed.  Thank you all for praying for us these last few days of our first term!   

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mi Despedida

I cannot believe that we are only a week away from heading back to the USA!  As we begin these last few days here in Colonia we are reminded how blessed we are to have had the opportunity to minister here.  A few weeks ago one of the ladies asked if she could organize a despedida for me. 

I had no idea what to expect but I was really excited that she would think of me and desire to do something special for me.  And the night was one of the most special times I've had in my life.  I left feeling so blessed and loved!  There have been times where the enemy has wanted me to believe I haven't had any impact here and that no one would miss me.  To listen to the testimonies last night one would have to conclude that the enemy could never have been more wrong! 

Valeria organized and hostessed my farewell party.  She is one of the ladies that I discipled as a pastor's wife.  I'm really looking forward to seeing what the Lord will do in her life as she ministers alongside her husband.

This is Silvia, our adopted Uruguayan Mom.  She has been so sweet to our family!  And such an encouragement!  The Lord has used her countless times to lift our hearts.  She's also known as the Candy lady and is always ready with a bag of candy for Simeon.  Poor thing spent most of the night crying.  Everytime I looked at her I started up again.

Abuela Paulina has been so wonderful for our family.  Our children really needed someone to think of as a great grandma and the Lord gave them Abuela Paulina.  She can't always make it to church but she is faithful to pray.  There is so much I've learned about faithfulness through this dear lady. 

Amparo arrived here to Colonia with her husband and children just a few months after we did.  In spite of the language and obvious lack of ability to communicate well we became fast friends.  God has knit our hearts together in a way I never could have imagined.  I'm so thankful for a dear friend in the ministry who can understand all that I go through, who encourages me, and who loves me in spite of my flaws.

The ladies all gave sacrificially to buy me something as a going away present.  Here I am with all three of them: a daily planner, a special memory book filled with notes from the ladies here, and a watch.

At the end of the night these two partners in crime devised a scheme that went something like this:  "Debbie, come here.  Can we have a favor?  Just one little bitty favor?  Can we pick you up for a picture"  They didn't leave me enough time to answer and before I knew it.... 
I was up in the air but I'll spare myself the embarrassment by not posting the picture of my look of surprise when they, literally, began hefting me in the air.

The teen young ladies who came to be a blessing to me.  During the testimony time Yeny, to my right, thanked me for my example and for SIGMA.

The group shot of all the ladies who came.  Minus a couple ladies who had to leave before we could take the picture.

The silly foto...I love these ladies and their fantastic sense of humor.

Thanksgiving Day 2009

Chickens in disguise as turkeys once again fooled our taste buds this Thanksgiving.  Maybe it is all the normal fixin's that help them along.  This year we had ham, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, sauteed green beans, macaroni and cheese, stuffing and rolls.  For dessert we had pumpkin pie, pumpkin rolls, carrot cake, and berry cobbler (with berries from our back yard).  The food was only a very small portion of our day.

Our special guests for the day were Daniel and Amparo Lopez and their daughters, Debora, Cesia, and Keren along with Rebeca, Sebastian and Rudy.  Juan Carlos also stopped by for some fellowship.  The guys started off watching futbol (soccer) because there was no American football to see.  Then they headed outside to fellowship.  Meanwhile the ladies were finishing up the meal...and I was setting the oven on fire.

 You know I don't do it on purpose but it has literally become a tradition for us to have some sort of fire on Thanksgiving.

After lunch we began our traditional game of Dominoes.

 Took a break for dessert.

 Played some SPOONS.

And finished Dominoes.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving week

Thanksgiving on the mission field certainly adds a new dimension to the holiday.  Some things we just have to do without, like Turkey.  As you know from reading about our other Thanksgivings here in Uruguay we replace the Turkey with large chickens...just can't get ourselves to pay the $100+ for a gobbler.  And it actually tastes like Turkey!  Don't roll your eyes...go ahead try it. :-) 

This years adaptation comes in the form of lack of a van.  As I began this post Brandon declared the Micro Macro van was here.  It turns out that we had to move to the mission field to reach the elevated status of having our food delivered.  Just kidding.  It's actually a free service they offer for purchases too numerous to load onto a moto.

I debated about having a real Thanksgiving meal this year, with all we have going on it just didn't seem possible.  It wasn't until last night that I decided I could swing it.  I'll have to get everything prepped tomorrow after our Baptist World Mission meeting in the morning because we have a full day in Montevideo on Wednesday, but it will be well worth it. Although this year will not doubt be bittersweet we are really looking forward to enjoying the meal and fellowship with dear friends! 

Please be in prayer for us this week as it is exceptionally busy:

Tuesday - School, BWM Uruguay meeting, Thanksgiving preps
Wednesday - Day in Montevideo for my MRI and paperwork errands so we can fly out with the kids.
Thursday - Thanksgiving day
Friday - School, my goodbye party
Saturday - School, Kaitlin's goodbye sleepover
Sunday - Final Sunday here, Family goodbye party in church, Brandon's goodbye camp out

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

To the Harvest Conference report.

It is indeed a thrilling thing to be a missionary serving God on the mission field.  As we served the Lord throughout our deputation ministry we used that time in churches to share our heart for the people of Uruguay.  Before that, when we didn't yet know where we were headed, we would listen intently to each and every missionary and ask God, "Is this where you would have us to go?" 

Often times, especially after a missions conference, we would become overwhelmed by the need for world-wide missions and we would chomp at the bit to get out of Bible College and to the field.  It was hard to be patient and wait on the Lord but we knew we must or we would be unprepared for what lay ahead.

This week of missions conference was very interesting, it was as though God cut a new facet into our lives as missionaries.  It certainly adds a new dimension to missionary life to have a missions conference on the mission field.  While sitting in the services listening to Pastor Daniel Lopez, missionary from Peru serving here in Colonia, share different needs world-wide I found myself praying for the Uruguayans to hear and to see and to go. 

Details are important to God and He certainly didn't hesitate to work through even the smallest things in this conference.  Our original special music schedule had to be changed and when I printed out the conference booklet all the missionary quotes ended up on different pages than I had intended.  It turned out that the changes made to both the music and the booklet fit better with the preaching.  Since we had no idea what Missionary Jeremy Estrema was going to preach it made it fun to see how the little adjustments would play out with the messages, and/or with Pastor Daniel's missions presentations.

I'm very thankful that God gave us the idea and burden to have this missions conference.  The preaching this week was some of the best we have ever heard on missions.  We trust He is at work in hearts helping them to beat along with His, giving compassion for the lost, helping eyes to focus on the need for workers in the harvest fields world-wide and loosening the grip of fear of living without money, family, and all things familiar.  Our prayer is that each and everyone of us that attended the conference would live in open handed surrender, that we will say Here am I Lord, send me, and that we will follow through.  

Kaitlin and Amparo Lopez took the kids to China via the story of Hudson Taylor.  Each child got their own "passport".  They also learned more about our guest missionaries Jeremy and Katie Estrema.

Having fun together during lunches at our house.