Some Thoughts on Self Care

So… there is something that has been on my mind for a long time that I’ve been really thinking about. I feel a need to write about this but honestly, I’m a little scared. I feel like it’s somewhat of a touchy subject and I don’t want to preach at anyone. I just want to share my thoughts and I’d really like some feedback.

Probably close to a year ago someone asked me (with the very best intentions) what I do for self care. I was stumped. I had no idea how to answer that question. Living in a land where luxury is not very accessible and where I was living a life of service I guess I just forgot about such a thing. At first I felt kind of embarrassed. You know, I had no method for self care. But the more I thought about it since then the more I’m actually glad that I don’t have a method for self care.

Okay, hang on. I’m just going to dump some of my thoughts. Why do we need to do something to pamper or make us feel better about ourselves? Why do we do self care? Are we really supposed to be focusing so much on ourselves anyway? Doesn’t the Bible tell us to deny ourselves? So then why are we pampering ourselves? I know sometimes we just need to refocus. I totally get that. I’m not speaking against that at all. I know how draining and tiring life and serving can be. Sometimes we just need a breath of fresh air. I so get that. What I would like to talk about though is what we do when we need a restart. Do we spend lots of money and go to the spa? Do we get a babysitter and go splurge shopping? Do we go to a 5 star hotel for the night? How do we use our time to recharge? Is it solely focused on pleasing ourselves and pampering ourselves? If so, how do we really feel at the end of it when it’s time to go back home and face life? Are we really that much more inspired and ready to do life after focusing so much on ourselves?

Maybe we need to take the focus off of ourselves. Maybe we need to embrace a life of constant giving and dying to self. Maybe we wouldn’t burn out so quickly if we expected to live spent. (Isn’t that kind of what it looks like to be a Christian anyway? Unselfishly giving and giving.) Maybe it’d be better to look at all of our overwhelming things as something we get to do to for the Lord instead of something we need to gruel through.

When I embrace my season of life and live with a grateful heart that’s connected to my Father I don’t feel the need for some “me time.” I’m not saying I never need breathers. I do. But what am I doing with my breathers? Am I spending it all selfishly focused on me and my needs? What if my self care, me time, breather or whatever you want to call it would be focused on God instead of me? How would that change things? Instead of going to the spa I go for a walk out in nature communicating with my heavenly Father. Instead of binge shopping while my children are at the babysitters I invite another mother and her children over to my house giving my children play time with her children while she and I sit and talk and encourage each other and pray together. Maybe instead of going and sitting by myself at Starbucks I put the children to bed early and I have some precious heart-to-hearting with my husband. Maybe instead of spending the day by myself doing my own thing I go out with a friend and we share our hearts and encourage and inspire and pray for each other.

I don’t know if any of this is making sense. But I’m just thinking that we need to take the focus off of ourselves. We don’t deserve self care or me time. That wasn’t Jesus’s attitude. He freely gave and gave and gave. In His giving He found strength to go on giving some more. But, here’s a little secret. He wasn’t depending on His own strength. Maybe that’s part of the problem why we burn out. We try too hard to do life in our own strength. Jesus did alone time! But what did He do during His alone time? He went up into the mountain to pray. He used His alone time to reconnect with His Father. Let me guess that is where He got His strength from and that was His secret to living an abundant joyful life. He used His time off wisely. He wasn’t wasting it on the flesh. He used it to build His spiritual life. By investing in His spiritual life He received the needed strength to minister to the throngs of needy people.

You know what? I’ve been trying a new approach for refreshing myself. Instead of focusing so much on me I’ve been using my time more wisely and being more intentional about connecting with God during my alone time. I feel much more rejuvenated when the focus is on Him instead of me.

Can you hear my heart? I’m not saying that there is not a place for some purely selfish me-time. Maybe there is. I did recently take a nice soak in the tub with a book and a cup of tea. It was wonderful and I felt much more relaxed after that. I didn’t regret that decision. But I’m not going to do that every time I need to recharge. One day recently when I was feeling especially drained I spent the time when my children were napping and having their quiet time to have some prayer time with my Father and refocus by writing things out in my journal. It wasn’t more then 30 minutes but it gave me the boost that I needed to face the rest of my day with joy. There may be times when I’ll go out for coffee by myself or when I go get a massage. I don’t think doing those things is wrong. But doing things just for my pleasure all the time is not a good thing and I won’t make that my habit.

My challenge to you in closing is simply this. Use your self care time wisely. Don’t waste it all on yourself. Find a way to refocus that is not all about you. Maybe, just maybe if we take the focus off ourselves we’ll find the strength we need to do life really, really well. Maybe then we won’t even need to look for ways to keep going day after day. It’ll just flow out of us because we’re focused on the right things. Maybe we should all at least try to deny ourselves and let God’s strength become our strength. Life is not about us. It’s about Him. And others. We as Christians are called to give and give and give some more. In giving we receive. And maybe just maybe when we keep that perspective our hearts will be so full of joy and energy that we’ll think pampering ourselves and focusing on ourselves all the time a foolish thing to do.

“You have found true joy and happiness in life when you give and go on giving and never count the cost.”

I don’t know who the author of that quote is but when I read that I knew that was the perfect summary for this post.

A New House

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This beautiful place that we’ve called home for almost a year, soon won’t be ours anymore. The mission has sold this lot to a university. I’m sad for several reasons. Perhaps the biggest thing that saddens me is the fact that the mission decided to sell this lot because there aren’t enough missionaries here anymore that it’s worth keeping it. Did you see what I just wrote? This mission guesthouse was built 75 years ago as a place for missionaries to stay when they came to the city to do business. The old timers talk of the days when there were so many missionaries staying here that sometimes they had to put up tents in the yard to accommodate everyone. I can’t even imagine! Now this mission (World Gospel Mission) has no missionaries that stay here anymore. The last of their on-the-field missionaries have retired. That’s what has happened. All the older missionaries have retired and there are no younger people to take their places. This is what breaks my heart. I can’t speak for world wide missions but South American missions have all but died out. Yes, there are still a few workers faithfully staying on but there aren’t many of them. It seems to me like many in my generation have lost the vision for foreign missions. I know the focus for missions has shifted more toward the Middle Eastern countries instead of the South American countries. That’s okay. But even there how many people do you know who are willing to give their lives for foreign mission work? Haven’t we all just gotten too lazy and comfortable where we are?

I say this in tears because we will become one of the statistics soon too. We are here temporarily right now. We want to move back to the States as soon as Alex’s adoption paperwork comes through. Sometimes that troubles me. The whole us moving back to the States thing. Many people have told us that we’ve been gone long enough. It’s time to move back. But I don’t feel that way. There’s a side of me that is terribly ready to move back. I’m tired of loneliness and being so far away from my family. I’m tired of pouring myself out for other people often getting nothing in return. I’m tired of life being so hard and difficult. I want an easier life. I want to be with my family. I want to have American friends again.

But the other side of me resists the idea of moving back. It’s okay to live a hard life. It’s okay to be lonely. It’s okay to give until there’s nothing left to give. It’s okay to be thousands of miles away from my family. That’s what Christianity is all about. That’s what it feels like to live out the great commission. This is what I want to be doing. I don’t want to move back to the States. I want to be faithful here. I want to be a missionary in a foreign land. I want to do my part to make sure foreign missions don’t die out. But… the truth is our mission here has died out. There is no longer a place for us in the mission we came here to work in. We were willing to keep gritting our teeth and trying to make it work. But God pulled us out. (If you question that let me know and I’ll tell you that story).

In some ways it feels like going back to the States is defeat. We’ve been here for 10 years and what do we have to show for it? Failure. Heartbreak. Disappointments. But you know what? That’s okay. Do you know why? Because we were faithful. God called us to the work here. He didn’t ask us to make a name for ourselves or make something to show for. He simply called us to come and give our all for HIS work here. His work. Not our work. And we were faithful in obeying Him. We gave our all for His work. Was it worth it? All the sweat, tears, sacrifices, loneliness… Yes. A heart resounding yes. Even if people think we were a failure because we’ve nothing to show for? Yes, still worth it. There is such a deep peace because we did what God called us to do. We gave our all. The results aren’t up to us because it’s not our work. God sees the results. Remember? It is His work.

Okay, that was a long speel I wasn’t planning to write when I started. What I was going to say is that we need to be out of this house by the end of the year. So in about 22 days. We have no idea where we’re moving to next. Yep. Don’t have anything lined up yet except for some houses to look at. The most surprising thing to me is that I’m not freaking out. I’m the organized like-to-have-my-things-all-planned out type. Normally this would be very nerve wracking for me. But it’s not. I totally trust God. He’s always provided and cared for us. He’s never let us set. So I know He’ll do the same in this situation too. Yes, we’re fervently looking for a place (our part) but we’re also totally trusting God (also our part) to provide for us exactly what He knows is best and what we need (His part).

I’ve decided to look at this as an adventure. It’ll make it more fun that way. It’ll be especially challenging though because it will be a temporary place. We hope once Alex’s adoption is complete we can make our big move to the States. I’m really hoping that even though it’ll be a temporary place we can make it feel like home. No one likes the feeling of living in a temporary place and so I want to make it as homey as I can for my family. Any advice you might have on making a temporary place feel like home would be welcome.

Especially thinking of our next place being so temporary (and even this place too) has got me feeling a lot like a true pilgrim. We all long for a place to just settle down in and live at the rest of our lives. But, moving so many times isn’t all bad either. At least it makes me long for my permanent heavenly home and it serves as a good reminder that we are suppose to be pilgrims here making this our temporary dwelling place.

The other thing that this has caused me to realize is that a house is not really home. Home isn’t a place. It’s the feeling I have when I’m with my husband and children. That’s home. We like to make our houses our home. That’s good. They should be. But home to me is more than just a house. It’s my family. When I’m with them then I am home no matter where I am physically.

A Picture Update

We love going out in public with our two babies. Everyone has to look twice.
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Do you think Alex has enough sand in his sandbox?
Every week Aryana gets her casts changed. We have to take them off here at the house before we take her to the doctor for her new one. It always takes two people, a regular scissors, a surgical scissor, a leatherman, and lots of vinegar water. Makes a horrible mess. 

 

 

 

 

 

Alegria often has a smile and laugh. 

My dearest mama finally, finally got to meet my girls last month!
What a big surprise it was when my grandpa (86 years old) said he wanted to come with my mom! We felt so honored that he would make the big trip down here to see us. 

 

 

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This is a special picture – four generations! 

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Alex turned 8 while my mama and grandpa were here. That was very special! 

It was so special to have great grandpa’s and grandma’s signatures on Aryana’s casts. 

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One Sunday we went down to where the girls live (about a 45 minute ride on the city bus) and had lunch with them. We had a splendid time. 
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Alex’s only chance to play with “snow” is when I defrost the freezer. 
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Here you can see how small the incisions are from Aryana’s surgery. 
A day in the park.

 

 

 

Our Two Smallest-Biggest Rays of Joy

It is way past time to write on here again. If I would have written every time I’ve wanted to there’d be numerous posts between now and the last one. I guess it’s obvious that our twins are here – No time for other things. 😉 So, since there may be a few of you that haven’t “met” them yet let me introduce to you our two big little rays of joy.

Alegria on the left and Aryana on the right

Aryana Daylia was born two minutes before her sister. She weighed 5 lb. 15 oz. at birth. Aryana is our introverted happiest-if-left-alone baby. She likes to be held for short amounts of time but is happiest when she can be lying on our bed kicking her feet. Often we hear her laughing to herself like she is sharing a private joke.

Alegria Dawn was born last. She weighed 6 lb. 1 oz at birth. Alegria is her English name as well (some people have asked) and it means supremely happy in Spanish. She wears her name well. She is just that – supremely happy most of the time. She’s our extraverted baby – charms people with her smile and enthusiasm to see them. She’s very bubbly but fusses quickly if it’s her turn to lie on our bed by herself.

It really is intriguing to see their two very distinct personalities. I didn’t want identical personalities when I found out I was having twins. My biggest fear was that they’d be like one person. Well, definitely don’t worry about that anymore! 😊 They don’t appear or look to be sisters much less twins!

Thankfully both babies were born very healthy. Aryana was born with club feet. We are grateful that we have the resources here to correct her feet. She’s been in casts for four months now and has had one surgery. It’s taking longer then the doctor expected to turn her feet. They seem quite stubborn – like the little person they belong to. Since we’ve also discovered a few more little problems with Aryana. Her soft spot on her head is going closed. Not a good thing for her age. Her head is really small because of it. We have been seeing different neurosurgeons to see what needs to be done. We had to get a CT scan done. If you’ve never had your five-month-old baby get a CT scan done you will not even be able to comprehend how difficult it was. Let’s just say it’s pretty much impossible to get your little baby to not move at all for the ten minutes it takes to complete the test. We spent hours at that place. We were completely exhausted by the time we finally got it done. We had a super patient technician. And God helped us in a big way to get the seemingly impossible done. Praise the Lord that her soft spot is not all the way closed – that would call for a very intensive surgery! We do need to keep monitoring it for the next two years. I imagine that means more CT scans done ☹ and frequent visits with the neurosurgeons. In the meantime, we pray and pray that God would help her brain to grow avoiding the brain surgery. Poor little girl is also delayed in her motor skills. We’ve started therapy with her. Thankfully we were able to find a therapist that comes to our house. Most of them only do it through ZOOM because of the pandemic. We have only been doing it for three weeks but we can tell a lot of improvement already. Aryana is defiantly our little trooper. She hates going out as she’s a homebody and yet she’s the one that needs to see countless doctors. She puts up a fuss sometimes but as long as her daddy carries her in the sling she bravely faces everything. Oh, and for the record Alegria is our super healthy – above average baby. We’re thankful for that!

The picture on the left is Aryana’s feet before we started casts. The picture on the right was about a month after we were doing casts. Today her feet are pretty much straight.

It is hard to believe that our little girls are six months old already! It is also still hard to believe that we have twins. Many times we look at them and still can’t grasp that we have TWO babies. It’s a ton of work and sleepless nights but we couldn’t imagine life without our little girls. They bring so much joy to our lives.

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The girls already are a handful for Alex.

Alex adores his two sisters. When they were first born he didn’t like having two babies in the house. He said the made too much noise. But now that they are older and can interact with him more he’s loves them. It’s fun to see the way especially Alegria just adores him too.

How our family has grown!

A Time of Rest

This morning my soul is swelling with the goodness of the Lord. Truly the Lord is great and greatly to be praised. I want to give to the Lord the glory due His name. He has been so so good to us. How clearly we see it sometimes and how easily we forget it other times. Today I easily see it. He has been a good, good Father to us.

One big thing as I sit here and meditate on the Lord’s goodness are the movements that I feel kicking and moving around inside my belly. I’m 31 weeks now and it feels like my pregnancy is whizzing by. In a few weeks we’ll be meeting our little babies, Lord willing. This whole pregnancy has been nothing short of a God thing and I don’t want to ever forget that. Life is such a miracle. God has had His hand on every aspect of this pregnancy and I know we would never have made it this far without His hand over us. So far everything is looking good and going well. We bless the Lord!

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The day after Valentine’s Day Jewel graciously watched Alex for us so we could go out on a date. We had a wonderful time!

We have really been enjoying this time of rest since we’ve moved into the city. It feels like it was exactly what we needed. The last four years have been so hard in so many ways. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We were so weary of fighting. So what a haven this season in life right now has been to us. We have no huge responsibilities weighing on our shoulders. We have no relationships that we’re struggling to work through and maintain. And we have more of a social life than we’ve had in a long time. We have luxuries that we have not had since we live in Bolivia – hot water, AC, a bath tub, tiled floors, a closed-in house, real windows, a microwave, a living room with a sofa. Life is easier right now and we are soaking it up. This time right now has given us what we need to prepare for the next phase of our lives – babies.

Grass to mow is another new thing that Anthony is enjoying.

This apartment that we are renting is at a mission compound. It’s a guest house and has rooms for missionaries to rent when they come into the city to do business. We’ve stayed here many times years ago when we came into the city. But two years ago it was closed because the host and hostess moved back to the States. So when we were thinking about moving here to the city we messaged the mission asking if we could rent the one apartment since it’s been empty. They messaged back thrilled that we wanted to do that asking us if we would consider being the host and hostess also so they could open the guesthouse back up. We were delighted. It had been a dream of ours for a while to run a place like this where missionaries could come for a little break from their lives and where we could make a nice relaxing place for them. So that’s how we landed this apartment and how we became host and hostess for this mission guest house. It’s been fun to meet missionaries from all over Bolivia and also a few from other countries as well that have come to visit. It’s been fun to bless the people who come. Most of them have stayed here over the years back before it was closed and are so grateful that we’re here so they can say here again. It’s refreshing for us to be able to do this. So that’s our new ministry. And that’s part of why we have such a social life now.

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This is the front of the guest house. Our little apartment is tucked in the back left corner. 

The other reason we have a real social life is because three of the older girls from the Children’s Home moved here into the city about the same time we did. They moved in to go to college. They live about 45 minutes away traveling on the city bus line but we see them just about every day. Yamile and Nelida have their school within walking distance of our house. Tania’s current job isn’t very close but she often comes here to unwind after work. Her new job that she’ll be starting in about a week or two is only a block from our house. So, there’s often one girl or two or all three here. We’re so grateful that they are here and they are so grateful that we are here. God has us here for each other right now and what a blessing that is. They always come in asking me if they can make lunch or supper. You can know I never turn that offer down! They are always very helpful when they come and like to make sure I’m not doing too much. Such blessings!

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One Saturday Tania came and said she wanted to make cinnamon rolls for me to freeze. Her and Yami made over 100 cinnamon rolls that day.
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Sunday afternoons with the girls often results in game time.
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Tania brings us so much laughter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anthony teaches English online. He loves it and has met people from at least 30 countries. It is the perfect job for him right now because he can schedule his own hours to work and he can teach from right here at home! Two things that will be especially handy once the babies are born.

Alex and I are getting as much school in as we can now as well. It feels like he finally is starting to advance a little in Math. School is such a challenge for him and we just take it at his pace so he’s still only halfway through first grade in Math and not even there yet in Reading. But I do feel like he is finally beginning to understand the concept of Math at least so that’s encouraging.

Unfortunately we were not able to finish Alex’s adoption before we moved here to the city. Our case is still open back in Conce, our old town. So if the judge ever decides to continue it (and hopefully he will soon) we’ll need to go back to Conce for the hearing. Please keep praying that things can progress with that.

Some of you are probably also wondering about the school and how that all turned out. Two teachers were found and school started the middle of February. Since Anthony is still co-director he went back for the first day of school. I think that meant a lot to the teachers but probably even more to the students.

With the birth only a few weeks away I ask that you pray for us as you think of it. In some ways having our babies at one of the hospitals here looks big. We’re hoping for a natural birth but most doctors push for c-sections, especially when they hear we’re having twins. Thankfully we have a very good American midwife who is extremely helpful and has a lot of connections with good doctors here. She errors on the side of caution and even though sometimes we feel like she’s overly cautious we’d rather have her that way than not cautious enough. Please pray that everything will go smoothly and that we’ll be able to have a natural birth and good, understanding doctors.

Blessings to each one! And don’t forget to give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His mercy endures forever.

“A good life is when you can smile often, dream big, laugh a lot, and realize how blessed you are for what you have.”

A Big Surprise

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We are expecting twins! You can only imagine how surprised we were when we went to get a sonogram done and the doctor very matter-of-factly stated that this is a twin pregnancy. Anthony just about collapsed on the floor stammering “Wwwhat dddid yyyou ssay?” To which she very calmly replied, “There are two babies.” That was one of our life changing moments. Two babies!! We’ve never even had one before and now we are having two?! That was a month ago and we still have plenty of days where we walk around in a daze-like state of mind. How do we wrap our mind around the fact that we are going to have two babies?

This news has rocked our world quite dramatically. We will need to move into the city probably sometime in February. We can’t be five hours from our midwife or a good hospital in the last trimester with a twin pregnancy. So I guess we’ll be city folk for a few months. Something that we aren’t particularly looking forward to. We aren’t really city people as the country as always been our home. We’ll need to find a place to live. That looks pretty big to us. Where do we even start? But, we know moving to the city for the last trimester of pregnancy and over the birth of the twins will be the best thing for us to do.

After the twins are born and a little older we don’t know for sure what we will do. When we leave our dear little house where we live now we won’t be able to move back to it. So, I guess we’ll be houseless. If we move back to the area where we live now we’ll have to build a new house. Something we don’t want to do. As many of you know things have changed drastically within the mission here in the last two years and we no longer feel like we have a future there. We’ve been thinking and praying about moving on for a while but never sure how to go about it. Now we have no choice. Where we will move onto yet is a big ? for us. We know God has a place for us somewhere but we aren’t totally sure where that is. So for now we are taking one step at a time. Moving to the city is the next step and hopefully by the time we are ready to leave the city we will know where God wants us to go.

The hardest thing ever about leaving is leaving the school. We have invested our everything into the school and have been so excited to see where it will go. Now we are leaving it not sure if it will continue or not. There is so much potential there but so few people who have a vision for it. We are currently looking for a director and teachers for next year. If those needs are all fulfilled then it can continue. If not, well, I don’t even want to think about that.

Some of you have been asking about Alex’s adoption. There has been so little progress made in the last three months that it is discouraging. All we need is for the judge to give us a court date for the hearing for the adoption but he is taking a very long time giving us that. Our judge is in town so we are really praying that the adoption will be complete by the time we move to the city so we won’t have to go back for the hearing after we move.

There are many areas where we’d like you to join us in prayer:

  • For a good place to live in the city
  • Anthony will need a good job in the city
  • A healthy pregnancy and healthy babies and that everything with the birth will work out as planned
  • That the school can continue – for a director and teachers with a vision for a Christian school
  • That Alex’s adoption will be complete before we move to the city
  • Direction for the future

I’ll close for now with one of my favorite quotes –

“Don’t tell God you have a big problem. Tell your problem you have a big God.”

I’m so glad God is bigger than whatever circumstance we find ourselves in. He has faithfully guided us in the past and I know He will continue to do so in the future.

P.S. In case this blog post sounds heavy and discouraging I want you to know we don’t necessarily feel that way. Yes, we have a lot of big, hard changes and an unknown future ahead of us. It’s a lot for us to process and know how to proceed from here. But. We are very excited about our babies. We never would have asked for twins but since that’s what we are getting we are excited about it. It’ll be a true adventure and as most of you know we’ve always been the adventurous type. And besides, we are privileged – not many people get to have two babies at once. 🙂

A Different Perspective

Dear readers,

I decided to do something different this time for an update. I decided to give you a different perspective. Anthony’s nieces, Carrie and Juanita, came down for a two-week visit in June and I asked them to write about their trip so I could post it on here. So this time you’ll be hearing from them. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did! 😉

Our Trip to Bolivia

In June, Juanita and I were privileged to visit our Uncle Anthony, Aunt Diana, and little Alex. We enjoyed our time there very much.

After waiting in the airport for a very long time, we finally got our visas. With our limited Spanish and their limited English, it felt like quite an accomplishment! Thankfully, Anthony was there to help us out and pick us up. We slept for a few hours at an Air B&B, then bussed home with Anthony, Diana, and Alex. Alex was so excited to meet his cousins. He didn’t speak much English, but we managed to communicate pretty well. He enjoyed the stories we read him, even though they were in English an, hey, you don’t need to know Spanish or English to play Go Fish, right?! 😊

5 Anthony and Diana had 2 days of school left before vacation so we were able to visit school. Bonus, we even got to go on the school picnic too! They have a tiny school with 12 students and 3 teachers- Anthony, Diana, and Jefferson. We loaded in the trusty Toyota Tundra with our hotdogs, potato salad, and cake and headed out on Ed’s land. Surprisingly, the woods looked a lot like Missouri, but there were palm trees sprinkled here and there. We wore off our energy on a few games, ate lunch, then had a scavenger hunt.

One day we cleaned the school, then got to visit the Children’s Home and taught them how to play frisbee football, which is not for the faint of heart in the direct Bolivian sun! 😊 It was interesting visiting the place where Anthony and Diana both worked, and where Alex spent his first years. The children always welcomed us quite joyfully and were always ready to play a game.

We arrived in Bolivia in their ‘winter’. They call it their dry season. The weather was fairly pleasant EXCEPT for one or two days. Fifty four degrees feels very chilly inside the house. Especially a tiny house with concrete floor. But we managed and even had fun shelling peanuts and making peanut soup. (Which is MUCH better than it sounds, btw.) Diana and Alex love cold weather, while Anthony and we girls would groan every time we would hear her announce quite cheerfully that a ‘sur’ was blowing in.

The food was very yummy for the most part. It was different from Belizean food, which basically is the only other foreign country I have been to. They eat a lot of rice, potatoes, and chicken. And how could I forget! Mayonnaise. Yes, that’s right. Maybe because their food is slightly dry?? It also isn’t seasoned very heavily and tends to be a little bland. Salpicon was a very amazing dish we had consisting of French fries, boiled eggs, onions, tomatoes, green peppers, rice, and chicken. We had some delicious fried chicken one night when none of us felt like cooking and Anthony sweetly took us up the mountain for supper at one of the villages close by. Another interesting side note- Diana, Juanita, and I do NOT like to cook. Surely out of three of us, one of us would. But Diana did very well at cooking traditional Bolivian foods. And the tea breaks. I learned to love their hot black tea with a little bit of sugar and milk. We would drink it 3  if not 5 times a day. 😊 One night, we also had the privilege of going to one of the village families and eating food that the men had grilled. The family didn’t know English, so it was very different to sit there and have no idea what was being said. And then to talk about them to Diana and they had no idea what was being said. The food was still good, though, and they dished it out in huge portions for everyone. The yuckiest food was probably cow lung, heart, and stomach lining and a corn drink called ‘chicha’. At least we didn’t have to drink any blood or something gross like that. (Side note- They don’t drink blood in Bolivia, but I’m told they do in other countries.)

IMG_0655 Another fun thing was to ride motorcycles everywhere, because that’s what you ride if you don’t have a truck or jeep. Juanita and I rode behind Anthony one time on a half hour trip to town. My! We were sore and I managed to burn my leg on the way back, but it was quite an adventure! We were so loaded with groceries and supper that it was a wonder the moto could carry us all! Usually one of us girls would hop on behind Diana on her moto and one would hop on behind Anthony and Alex on his moto. Alex had this thing that he would whoop and holler and cheer every time his cycle beat. Juanita and I actually learned to drive Diana’s bike the day before we left. We didn’t crash, although, we won’t discuss how I blundered through a flowerbed and nearly crashed into a tree. 😉 And our scary trip to the Big Rock with Juanita breathing down my neck. We got a splendid view and even got to see the Home from up there. With a lovely campfire and pretty sunset, it was a perfect evening.IMG_1056

Another highlight was going for water at the village well. Alex LOVED to go with us. He would push the wheelbarrow with the empty buckets and try not to almost go in the mud puddles. So, Anthony and Diana have this cozy little 2 room brick house with a thatched roof. They have a nice little laundry/bathroom and a well that they can use if the water is not too muddy. But we had to haul water for washing clothes, drinking water, and sometimes bathing. I loved it! I felt so pioneerish to haul water from a well that I actually had to pump by hand. Anthony was working at adding an outdoor kitchen which will be very handy once they have it done!

One night, Juanita and I babysat Alex while Anthony and Diana went on a date. He loved staying with us but would worriedly wonder where Papi and Mami were. He is such a cute little guy, and was always asking questions. “Why?” was his favorite one, as well as “Where is it?” Anthony and Diana are such good parents and he listens to them very well. If you think of it, you can pray for them that the adoption process would go smoothly and fast.

Church was another interesting thing to observe. I say, observe because we didn’t participate very much because it was ALL IN SPANISH! I’ve never wished I knew Spanish worse in those 2 weeks as I ever had before! Of course the sermon was boring because we couldn’t understand it, but Diana wrote down notes so we at least could read those.

Evenings were the best! Anthony and Diana would put Alex to bed and then the four of us would play games, drink tea, and talk late every night. Juanita and Diana were the champion winners and Anthony and I where the champion losers until the last 2 days or so. We played lots of Nine Patch and Qwirkle. We even got Nelson to play Dominos one Sunday afternoon. If you don’t know Nelson, you should. Everyone needs someone like him in their lives. He is very kind and helpful. He is also very slow at everything. We were ALWAYS waiting for him to take his turn in Dominos. And he is absolutely hilarious! His dry sense of humor…let it suffice to say that Diana, Juanita, and I were almost always in stitches the evening he took us all to town in his dilapidated old jeep.

IMG_1101aBussing is another thing that was an interesting experience. Let’s just say that curvy roads and bussing don’t necessarily make for a very enjoyable time for people who easily get motion sickness. But we both made sure to take pills which definitely helped! It was a long 5-6 hour bus ride from the city back to where Anthony’s lived. One time a lady got on with a chicken and walked slowly toward the back. She stopped right by me and I was so afraid it would peck me. Thankfully it didn’t.

Our last two days we spent in Santa Cruz. It was fun cruising through the streets in a taxi, eating yummy ice cream, and meeting Tania for supper. We also climbed a bell tower and saw lots of pigeons at the plaza. And shopping was so much fun! Of course, we had to go material shopping and found some pretty pieces.

IMG_0897And now, my favorite part of Bolivia (other than being with Anthony and Diana) was spending time with Lydia and her children. She is a very dear lady who is trying to raise her children to serve the Lord. She has six children- Danilo, Maikol, Kenny, Anaceli, Dilan, and Juan Miguel. They speak some English, as she is American. They completely stole my heart and I miss them so much. We got to know Lydia a little better one day when Diana had a prayer time with some of the ladies- Lydia, sweet Rosemary, (who was so excited to hear we were coming, only to find out we knew only English ☹), Juanita, Diana, and I. She has bright red hair and her children are as brown as can be- so cute! We were able to be with them or see them fairly much because they would often husk and shell corn in Anthony’s front yard. They are respectful, cleaned up, and are always so sweet and cheerful. I actually sponsor Danilo to go to school, so it was extra special to be able to meet him. So if you think of it, pray for them that they would grow up to love and serve God.IMG_0982  I hope to go visit Bolivia again, hopefully with my boyfriend sometime. We really enjoyed our stay and it was so fun getting to know Diana better. (She feels like an older sister, rather than an aunt.) We are praying for you all as you serve in Bolivia. You are our heroes.

Blessings- Carrie & Juanita

A BIG thank you to Carrie and Juanita for writing about your time here! Come again anytime. 🙂

My Father God

God is a good Father and He really does take care of us. I’ve prayed a lot especially since my daddy died that God would be my Father and that He would care for me like a father. He has been doing that and I would like to share with you some of the ways He has taken care of us recently.

– Anthony recently had to go to town to submit some papers for the adoption. It ended up taking him a lot longer in there then he was expecting. By the time he was finally ready to come home it was dark. The lights were so bad on the moto he was using that he could barely see. He wasn’t sure how he was going to get home. I was here at home in the meantime praying for protection for him and that God would bring him safely home. He wasn’t very far from town yet when all of a sudden, the moto lights got very bright – brighter than they’ve ever been before! They stayed that way all the time until he was safely home. There’s no doubt in my mind that it was God answering my prayer.

– Our water situation here has been getting quite alarming. The village well doesn’t always have water and the hole in the ground we use for washing and showering has been so dirty and smelly we weren’t able to use it. Anthony really started praying for our water situation. The last few times he pumped water out of the hole it has been so much cleaner and it doesn’t smell bad anymore! And the last several times I went for water at the village pump I have always been able to fill my buckets! One time the water ran out just as I was filling the last bucket. Thank You, God, for providing good water for us right now!

– My washing machine just decided to stop working right one day. When it came time to start washing heavier it would just start the cycle over and do it gently unless I went and manually changed it to the cycle it was ready for. Then one day I had already washed two loads of laundry. I had been manually making it continue on the cycle for a few weeks but this time all of a sudden it started working like it is supposed to. That was a few weeks ago and it’s been working ever since! God answered that prayer before I even prayed about it.

– Alex and I were in town yesterday. We had gone in on my moto. When we were ready to leave the first stop we made my moto would not start for anything. It didn’t even try to start. I kicked it a few times but nothing. Something wasn’t right. I paused and prayed asking God to please take care of me and get my moto started for me. I kicked again and it started up right away. I didn’t have any more problems with it the rest of the day!

– Last week and the beginning of this week we’ve been having very challenging days at school. Some of the children have been having very bad attitudes and things were going roughly. At Wednesday night prayer Anthony asked our small group to please pray specifically for the school. The next day and Friday were remarkably better days. We could all tell the difference. Yeah, God! You are helping us once again!

There is so much power in prayer! Prayer really does change things. God really does want to be our Father and take care of us. No, He doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we hope or that quickly but we must believe that it’s because He knows what is best. He wants to give good gifts to His children. I wanted to share these things because we all need reminders that God is good. We all need to be reminded that if God is for us things will happen. I want to love Him more and trust Him more – even when I can’t understand or see what He is doing.

“God, thank you for being a good Father to us. Thank you for seeing us and for caring for us. Thank you for loving us and for protecting us. Help us to continue to know You better and to trust You more. We want to be good children for You but we don’t always know how and we fail so many times. Please help us. Please keep being our Father. You are all we have. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” – James 1:17

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” – Luke 11: 13

“The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.” – Corrie Ten Boom

Mama Blessings and a Few Other Things

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Mother’s Day was two weeks ago. It was the best Mother’s Day ever! My husband and my son did a super good job of honoring and making me feel special and loved. I certainly am blessed. It was extra special to have a child here with me on Mother’s Day. My heart was just continually overflowing that day. The day before I had made a bunch of heart-shaped cakes. Then on Mother’s Day (a Monday here) all the school children decorated a cake and gave it to their mom or a mother figure in their life. It was pretty special to get a cake from my son. 🙂 ❤ I actually ended up getting two cakes because one of the girl’s wanted to give her cake to me too.

The night of Mother’s Day we were invited over to Miguel and Lydia’s (neighbors) house for supper. Nelson wanted to do something for the mamas so he brought hot-dogs over.

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Anthony made pique macho for me for a Mother’s Day supper another night then. That was some very good eating!

 

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Alex really likes fires – definitely my son! – so we have a hot-dog roast pretty much every Friday night. It’s a great way to end the week relaxing around the fire eating hot-dogs with the family. Alex and I lite a little brush fire also about once or twice a week. It makes his day like nothing else. I get the most hugs and am told “I love you” the most often around a fire. I love it!

 

 

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My two favorite men!
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I love being a mother to this little guy. It’s not all easy and sometimes it’s harder than I thought it would be. But it’s a wonder and a joy and there’s just nothing like it. It is good and I’m glad he’s mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two of Anthony’s nieces get here next week. We are really excited to have some family coming for a visit. Especially Anthony’s family as none of them have ever been here before. They’ll be here for two weeks.

We are halfway done with school! We always have a three-week break at the half way mark. We’ll start the break after this next week of school. We’re glad that Carrie and Juanita will be here for two days of school and the school hike. But we are also glad that most of the time they are here we will be on our little vacation.

 

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Last week was Teacher’s Day and these little things showed up at our door by some of our students. 🙂 Totally made my day and paid off being a teacher in that very moment. We had off from school that day so that was super nice. We went in to town to eat with the other teacher. That was a fun relaxing day for us!

 

“If we counted our BLESSINGS instead of our MONEY, we would all be RICH.”

 

 

 

 

Great Joy!!

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It is with great great joy that I introduce to you Alex David. Last Thursday we got guardianship of him and we finally got to bring him home and claim him as our son on Friday. We are not finished with the adoption yet but we have guardianship. Our social worker says the adoption should be a breeze though and should only take three to six months to complete. We can start the end of May. So we are hopeful that she is right and knows what she is talking about. But we finally have him! It has been amazing. The whole transition process has gone so smoothly so far. It has helped tremendously that we have known him since he was only a few months old and had established a good solid relationship with him for a long time already. He was DELIGHTED when we told him the news. He kept jumping up and down and laughing and hugging us. He wanted to pack up and come immediately so that’s what we did. It seemed like he really understood and he is so excited to finally have a daddy and a mama. He started calling us that right away and calls us that just about every time. Sometimes he forgets but not very often. Yes, we are super blessed! It is such a joy to have him in our house as a son. No more visits and begging to come. He can stay.

I’d like to give a little background on him. He is six years old. He went to the Children’s Home when he was only two months old. Anthony was there when he got there and I came shortly after. He didn’t have a name. The workers there all talked about it and he was given the name Alex (NOT SHORT FOR ALEXANDER) David. We will have the option to change his name when we do the adoption but we do not want to. We like the name and to change it would seem weird. He’s always been Alex. He has always had a special connection with Anthony. Even when he was a little he always was in search of Anthony and would spend many hours with him. When we first started talking about adopting it wasn’t even hard to figure out who to adopt. It was to be Alex of course. He is a little slow for his age. Not everyone can understand him when he talks. But we love him dearly and are excited to be his parents.

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We are one happy family! 
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Us with our social worker the night we got guardianship. She is the best social worker ever and has gone out of her way many times to help us with the case. 

Anthony and I had one last romantic getaway before we got Alex. It was a wonderful time at a beautiful place. It was called Warm Waters and that’s exactly what it was. The water came from a spring in the ground and it was nice and warm and felt so good.

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A huge thank you to each one that has been praying for us with the adoption case. God is answering our prayers step by step.

“They may not have my eyes, they may not have my smile, but they have all my heart.”