Monday, December 23, 2013

Finding time

We're in Canton now.  Being in Waynesfield was good to have a lot of down time to chill and relax a bit.  We saw some family, but it wasn't overwhelming.  Now that we're in Canton, we're seeing a lot of Bart's family.  The kids are loving having a lot of other kids to play with and are still enjoying being able to take baths.  They were in the bath the other day for well over an hour.  This is now a special treat since baths don't exist in Venezuela.

It's getting colder here in Ohio, but surprisingly we're doing pretty well with the cold.  We were anticipating us all freezing while we're here.  But Leah's not even wearing long sleeves.  She's a trooper.  Their transition overall has been a huge blessing.  We are so thankful for how well the kids are doing right now.  They are still talking about going back to Venezuela, so that's probably good for their (and our) hearts.

At this point, it's hard to know how to spend our time.  We want to be around people, but we also know that we still need time to process and think through what has happened and what the future will look like.  We're still hopeful that we will return in January, but we're also a little anxious about how the team (and maybe even ourselves) will transition back to Venezuela.

Will you pray for us and for our team?  Would you pray that we would all use this time well and be wise with our time here in the States?  Would you pray that we process through all of the things going on and prepare our hearts for the coming weeks of re-entry in Venezuela?  We are grateful for your prayers.

Friday, December 20, 2013


So here we are.  In Ohio in December.  This was totally unplanned and unfortunate, but we're here.  We're embracing the chaos of our lives right now.  In fact, it has almost been refreshing for our family to be here, with no plans, with no schedule, with nothing really.  We bought some Christmas presents for the kids at the dollar store last night.  We've borrowed clothes.  We're borrowing a car.  We're eating good food.

But we're still a little bit sad that this all has happened.  Our hearts, our minds, our bodies just weren't prepared for this.  The kids are handling it well.  Being at Grandma and Grandpa's is really enjoyable for the kids.  For Noah, he remembers everything and is loving it.  For Leah, it seems new but she still loves having lots of space and lots of toys to play with.

Tonight we were able to go out to dinner just the two of us and process through a bit of what has happened.  It has all been really surreal and honestly incredibly crazy.  The last week has just been ridiculous so trying to process through it has been nearly impossible.  At this point, we're really grateful to be together and that everyone came out of this ok and with no major issues.

That's all for now.  We'll try to update as we know more.  The hope is that we would return to Venezuela in early January but that hasn't been confirmed yet.  We're hopeful that by mid-January we will be back and settled in VZ.  If not, we'll just go with it.  Flexibility is key when it comes to Venezuela!

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Off we go

Tonight at 8:00 our team catches a bus to go to the bus station.  To catch another bus.  An overnight bus to Maracaibo.  This bus ride will be anywhere from 9-12+ hours.  And freezing.  They crank up the a/c.  So we're wearing warm clothes and have a blanket.  Please pray for us.  It might be terrible in general, let alone with 2 kids!

We'll arrive in Maracaibo, another city in Venezuela, in the morning and then will have to grab taxis to the places we're staying.  Staff conference starts at lunchtime tomorrow.  And will go until Monday after dinner.  We have a lot of meetings and interactions with staff from all over the country.

Then on Tuesday morning we will leave for our visa trip to Aruba.  It will be the first time out of the country for all of the team together.  We're going with the Stint team from Maracaibo so there will be 18 of us counting the kids.  We were able to find a house with a guest house that we can all stay in together.  Since we'll have 3 cars between all of us, and no phones, that will make things much easier to coordinate.   The house has a pool and it's right across from the beach, so in theory, we don't need the cars much.  Fingers crossed.

We're really hoping Aruba will be really relaxing.  After all of the sickness (I've developed something wonderful and new with stomach stuff), it will be nice to have some down time to just get to rest.  I'm hoping for lots of great sleep, even though we'll be sharing a bed with Leah!  Would you pray that the travel over the 11 days goes smoothly?  We will fly back to Maracaibo from Aruba where we'll then jump on a bus hopefully that same night to come right back to Valencia.  All of that travel feels a little stressful for me (maybe because it might be a rough bus ride after my new sickness development today).  But we're hopeful.

Oh the joys of living overseas and having to take visa trips and having little ones (and sickness)!

Monday, December 02, 2013

Thanksgiving, sickness and an engagement

Well, our team celebrated Thanksgiving on Friday.  It was chaos, but isn't that the norm for the holidays?  We had breakfast at the girls' place and various people were making food throughout the day.  Some people were playing games, others watching movies.  Then sometime around 3:30 we had "lunch."  Then there was a lot of joking and commiserating about how terrible people felt for eating so much.  So of course we decided to bust into the desserts.  Why not?

On Friday I started to not feel very well.  Since Noah had been sick and Bart seems to pretty much live in a permanent state of sickness, I knew Leah and I were in for it.  That night I had a ridiculous fever and slept with 3 blankets.  Yeah, you read that right.  Joy.  Saturday was spent mostly just hanging out and when I got the energy I would clean up some of the Thanksgiving mess.  In shifts.  I'm feeling better.  After gargling with salt water and utilizing the netty pot, I feel a lot better.  Plus not having a fever helps a lot too!
The gals from left front: Kristin, Vanessa, Zuri
In the back: Lilly, Melissa, Megan, Ali, Sarah, Julieta
Tradition says there needs to be a silly picture also
On Friday night on of the guys from last year's team, Brian got engaged.  Bart was able to Skype with him in the morning and they chatted a bit before the big event.  It was fun for us to know beforehand since he's almost like an adopted son since we've known him since his freshmen year of college.  We knew him before Noah was born!  So last night (Sunday) a few of us we able to Skype in for their engagement party.  It was pixely and hard to hear, but we enjoyed it nonetheless!
Noah telling Ali that her hair looks like Snot Rod (an
orange car from the Cars movie).  She wasn't sure how
to take that.  But he also told her that her pumpkin cookies
were really good, so maybe that made up for it?
Tonight, Kate arrives for the encouragement trip.  Aaron will hopefully arrive tomorrow after being delayed due to some passport issues.  So this week w
And watching Elf after a long day of cooking and eating
(yay for the ministry projector!)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Random retreat news

Today is Thanksgiving, but pretty much a normal day here.  The internet has been super sketch since yesterday afternoon and we could pretty much accomplish nothing online.  But I wanted to add some random details about our weekend.

These are pictures of how Noah one day decided to
arrange all of their toys in a very methodical way
around the end of the carpet....

The power went out at retreat.  Right in the middle of the meeting on Saturday night.  Also right in the middle of me trying to put the kids to bed.  Luckily I was almost done putting the kids to bed so it wasn't a big deal.  But when it came back on I had to go back to the room and turn the light off because I didn't think to when I left the room!  Since it was in the middle of Bart's talk, a couple of the girls came for our computer so he could use it to see his talk notes.  And people used their phones to shine light on him while he was speaking!  Hilarious.  Venezuela.  Embrace it.  But the power did come back on during his talk, so that was handy.
Our countdown to Christmas.  Noah loves doing it every
day, but he's sad we'll be gone for 10 days in December.
Noah woke up sick on Friday morning.  He had a pretty high fever and was really lethargic.  We went down to breakfast with me carrying him, which is unusual.  He kept trying to get comfortable in my lap and couldn't so he said he wanted to go lay down.  As we were walking back he threw up.  He laid down and slept for a couple of hours and then woke up and wanted to go swimming!  He still had a fever the rest of the day and a slight one the next day, but he functioned pretty well.  He now seems to have a bit of a cold so I'm wondering if it had something to do with that.  The team has generously been sharing stomach and cold stuff so I'm guessing our whole family will be experiencing that soon.

It has been an incredibly huge blessing that our kids haven't been sick that much.  Bart and I have had it much worse than them, so we're super thankful for that.  None of us will probably have a very good immune system to everything back in the States whenever we're there, but at least we know we'll head back in the summer when sickness is at it's lowest.  It's those little things that we appreciate.
Our Christmas tree with gifts.  It took
the kids a few days to be ok with not
opening them all right away!

I was able to have some fun conversations with a few people on the team at retreat.  I don't always get a lot of time to connect with people on the team outside of my one day on campus each week and even that my time is spread out between one on one conversations.  So I really enjoyed getting to just sit and chat with people while the kids were sleeping.

We had a talent show on Saturday night.  HILARIOUS.  I mean, they always want to do talent shows so it's pretty normal, but it can be so entertaining.  The Venezuelans tend to be more serious whereas the gringos tend to get a little more silly.  The first "talent" was a telenovela (or soap opera) which included the team and a couple of Venezuelans.  It was absurd and very entertaining, though I didn't catch all of the Spanish.  Either way, ridiculous.  We just can't pass up a good talent show.  And honestly, why would we?

Monday, November 25, 2013

"Fall" retreat

Teammates Ali and Lilly with Daniela, the
daughter of one of the students involved
The past week has been super hectic.  We had our fall retreat this past weekend.  It snuck up on me.  I was skyping with my parents on Wednesday and my Mom mentioned something about getting excited to go to retreat on Thursday.  What?!?!  Whoa.  Slow down.  I haven't even thought about that.  Yeah, that's how well I was doing with keeping up with the fact that retreat was days away.
Students registering at retreat
With multiple meetings, days on campus, celebrating birthdays and preparing for our fall retreat, we were looking forward to seeing what God did this past weekend.  We left Thursday evening and came back on Sunday late in the afternoon.  It was a really great time with staff and students.
The chaos before the meeting
The theme of the retreat was LVII (or 57 words).  Bart spoke on the Lord's Prayer throughout the weekend.  We had a lot of fun seeing students engage with each other, do a talent show and love on the kids.  It was our 2nd time at the conference place and they had a pool so the kids and I spent a lot of time swimming.  They had a couple of water slides so the kids enjoyed the smaller one when it was working (and even when it wasn't).
The kids helped us make a video
advertising for a conference in April
So now we are just trying to recover from the planning.  We're pretty tired.  It was a great weekend but we didn't sleep well and stayed up later than we would've liked a couple of nights.  All in all, we feel like the weekend was a success with at least 36 students attending.
Yeah drums!
This week will be relatively normal.  Since our weekly meeting is in the middle of the day on Thursday, we won't celebrate Thanksgiving until Friday.  I think the team is looking forward to the day off and a fun time of food and fellowship.  We're hoping a turkey will be served up, but you never know what you will and won't be able to find here!
I was playing with the settings on the camera my parents
bought us....until it died (and I was smart enough to bring
the wrong camera cord!)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Quick Hitters - from Bart

Look at me writing on the blog!  Whoo!

Here are just a few things I've been thinking lately:

1. I haven't seen a Buckeyes football game in its entirety in English for over two years.  That is also true for the Browns, Cavs, Blue Jackets, or anyone else you want to throw in there.  Considering my upbringing swaddled in sports this is mind-blowing for me.

2. I really miss cheese.  They have this white, salty cheese everywhere here, but I really miss some cheddar.

3. I'm starting to feel old.  When I stay up late, or anytime I just pig-out on cheeseburgers or pizza my body really feels it.  I'm not 20 anymore.

4. A Venezuelan lady won Miss Universe last week.  Fireworks and cheers ensued nation-wide.  They love that stuff.  But I'm guessing if you're not from VZ then I was the one that just informed you.

5. I'm re-reading The Two Towers.  If you don't know what that is then shame on you for lacking an imagination.

6. I've been hearing a lot about health plans and the like in the States but I admit I have no clue what anyone is talking about.

7. Miley Cyrus scares me.

8. Noah is legitimately wrestling with me these days.  Dude throws his body all over the place.  We call it Kung-Fu, for the Panda of course, which is me.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

What just happened?

Where on earth has the time gone?  It seems like everything has been a blur.  How is it the middle of November?  Bart has been sick for a while.  This week finally seemed like a normal week for him.  I'm on a two week stretch of not having stomach issues.  I am beginning to wonder if it was stress related like someone mentioned.

I think the team is still trying to figure out how to manage this thing called stint.  Adjusting to a new place, a new language, a new culture, new people/teammates/roommates is all really challenging.  And I see it a lot when I sit down with the girls and have conversations about how they're doing.  It's a lot to take in.

But overall I think we're all doing well.  We're trying to get ready for our fall retreat this next weekend. We're hoping it's a really exciting time for students and staff.  It will be an interesting weekend with two other groups being at the retreat center while we're there.  Hopefully it won't be too messy!

The kids are starting to get a bit restless.  Their new phrase is, "what can we do today?"  It's a little difficult to spice up life here.  We've completed 12 weeks of school so the nostalgia of it has worn off.  They're still doing pretty good with it, but it's a lot more work/time for me than I would like most days.  Discipline is key at this point.  That might not be one of my strong suits.

On a positive and completely random note, hams have started appearing in the stores.  Since the president moved up the Christmas season (see here:, which actually seems to have changed nothing, there are hams in the store!  Ok, I know that sounds weird, but since I haven't been able to find a ham since last Christmas, I'm pretty darn excited!  I've bought a few and frozen them.  I love to put them in the crock pot and our whole family loves them, so it's an all around great investment.

Bart and I are working through a lot of junk right now.  We haven't had much time at all to talk this week, so we're itching for a date night and some time together.  Having conversations about our future, where to live, where to do ministry, adoption, kids, finances etc are just a little taxing.  I'm not enjoying this period of waiting.

In the meantime, I'm staying busy helping coordinate our national conference in April.  There's been a lot of details we're getting ready so we can present everything at our staff conference in December.  We're getting the ball rolling so we're not all stressing out in March and April.  That's the hope at least!

That's all for now.  I haven't really taken any pictures lately.  We're just exhausted and kind of treading water right now.  We need rest, rejuvenation and joy.

Oh and on a REALLY positive note, we broke down and invested in a Christmas tree and some decorations last weekend.  Yeah, they're all up.  That's how we roll.  We're ready.  More on that later....

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Family day

Today is a family day.  Normally I would go to campus, but Bart convinced me to stay home today.  He persuaded me.  It really didn't take much.  Anytime my husband asks me to stay home and spend time with my family, it's pretty much impossible for me to say no.  I mean, how often does that happen!?!?

But thus far, it's been productive.  Bart is doing school with the kids while I fix our door.  It's back on.  Temporarily.  We'll need to buy some good fat screws for the one hinge, but it's there for now.  It will be nice to not have as many mosquitos.  And not feel like everyone can just walk by and look into our apartment.  It will for sure be quieter too.  Oh the blessing of a door.

I have a messy kitchen to clean up, 2 dirty bathrooms, a leaking shower (which I discovered this morning that I for sure cannot fix) and toys and books everywhere.  Somehow in the madness of life here, Bart and I have both gotten pretty lax with making the kids clean up, at least clean up well.  The result is a mess pretty much everywhere.  So lately it has just been maintaining the mess.

Noah has officially started reading.  He gets stuck every once in a while.  We have some fun books with a bunch of 3 letter words that make it really easy for him, so that helps a lot.  He seems to be enjoying it.

The kids keep talking about wanting a baby brother or sister (you can take an easy guess as to which one wants what).  Ha!  Good luck with that.  I had a really healthy conversation with someone last week whom I love and respect about how having more children at this point in our lives would be so stressful.  We have enough transition coming up in our lives with figuring out our future and then adjusting to the States for however long, we don't really need to add a baby to that.

And I honestly would have to lose my marbles if I was ok with that.  It took me 3 years to feel like I even loved or liked Noah.  3 years.  It was terrible.  Post-partum depression with the kids just kind of killed me.  I don't want to go back there.  Amongst other reasons for not wanting to physically have another baby, I feel like maybe that's enough for now.  Bart is grieving this, but ok with the idea that we might not physically have anymore of our own.

Yes, random, I know.  I'm all over the place.  There have been so many conversations lately about these things.  Life, our future, kids, school, etc.  We're still trying to wait until December to make a decision about what happens after this school year, but I'm pretty sure my heart knows.  We talk about it, but we don't want to make a decision.  We want to wait on God and not just do what seems best.  Maybe it's actually not the best, so we wait.  It's not very fun playing the waiting game, but we're managing.

When I sat down to write this, thinking oh, I'll post on the blog and be productive and not waste my life, you all just end up getting my word vomit.  Sorry about that!  This is my life.  I'm a mess and I'm working through it.  We need prayer!  For our family, for our sanity, for our physical and emotional health.  Bart has been sick with some sort of strange cold for a while now, so he could use some prayer.    The past 4 days I've felt good.  No stomach stuff, so I'm hoping whatever has been plaguing me for the past month is all done.  Either way, one thing we know....we remain here whether it's hard or easy, happy or sad, vomiting or diarrhea, milk or not, crazy or sane.  We are committed to staying.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Deep breaths

Whew that was a long week.  I gave the talk at the weekly meeting again yesterday.  Why?  Again, a moment of weakness when Bart asked me if I wanted to, back in August.  Sure back in August it doesn't sound like a big deal.  But jeez louis I'm running on empty.  So I'm really glad it's over.  Even though giving the talk isn't that big of a deal, it just takes a lot of time to plan for it with two kids.
The trip to the park last weekend was a success.
Leah was frolicking all over the place!

Squirrels do exist here!
And people feed them.  It's weird.

Tuesday night this week was a lot of fun though.  The guys decided to have a nice evening planned for the girls.  They had little encouragement books for each of us where each guy wrote a note.  So they had us get dressed up and led us out into a sitting area and they each read their notes to us.  The kids ran around like wild banshees.  They even had a little booklet for Leah.  She had a little trouble focusing when they read it to her though!

The team on Tuesday night

The best part about the encouragement booklets was that Noah said he wanted to write something in Leah's booklet.  Here is the picture of what he said.

And the 2nd best part, he wanted to write in mine, so yesterday when I was on campus, he had Bart write in mine for him.  Here's my note from Noah.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


It's not Christmas time, not really.  It's October.  But we love Christmas.  The music, the decorations, the smells, the cold.  At least here we can experience the first three.  Kristin brought us some pine tree type candles.  We've been burning them for a while, even to the point that maybe we need to slow it down so we still have them in December.  We've been listening to the music off and on for maybe 2 months now.  We're ready.

But it's just not the same here.  We don't have a tree.  We maybe found a small one that might work.  We acquired some stuff and we think there's a tree in there.  Either way, we'll make it work, even if it's small.  Last year was just a tad depressing without any decorations.  We're not sure if we can make it through another year without.  Bart said he thinks this year will be more difficult than last year.  "For one year, it's not a big deal, but 2 changes things.  It will be harder."
Our team managed to get a bus to take us to the mall, just us.
Hilarious.  That never happens, but still had to pay the regular price!
Why do I bring this up?  Our hearts are a little homesick.  As I've mentioned before, life can be really tough here with a lot of little things wearing on us over time.  And honestly living here has been super stressful on our marriage (and probably our kids as a result).  Even as I was talking to my counselor, one of the things he mentioned was that we can't really console each other when things are really hard because we're both going through the same thing.  So a lot of the time we don't really have the capacity to support and encourage each other.

We're working through it.  We feel like our relationship has been tested in so many ways while living here.  And it's been really hard.  But we're actually really grateful for it.  It's allowed us to move toward each other in ways that we probably never would have before.  And I started counseling since we've been here, so what does that tell you?!?!  Whatever, just go with it.  We're sinful and in need of all kinds of help.
On the train at the mall.  The kids love it.
Even as I try to find humor in our mess of a life, which I do often, I still have tears welling up in my eyes as I write this.  Life has just been incredibly difficult here.  We have so many doubts, so many questions.  Are we making the right choices?  Are we screwing up our kids (which in my opinion is quite inevitable any way you look at it)?  Are we even making a difference?  Is it worth it to kill ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally?

Boundaries.  We need good boundaries.  And to make healthy choices for ourselves and our family.  But that's just really hard.  We were talking this morning about doing something fun this weekend and we were having trouble thinking of things to do.  Sometimes we just want to get out of the house and let the kids do something fun, but what?  We're pretty limited, mostly because there's just not that much to do here.  We make it work, but oftentimes it just feels draining to not have much that's life giving here.
The capybara at the zoo.  They're kind of like big
guinea pigs.  I guess they make good pets.
Maybe we'll bring one back with us and find out...
So what to do with all of that....I don't really know.  But we do know that we're here and we want to be faithful to where the Lord has us.  Would you pray for us?  Would you pray specifically for our family in the midst of what feels like a lot of spiritual warfare?  We've all been having a lot of bad dreams over the course of the past couple of weeks.  It breaks our hearts when Noah always reminds us to pray for our dreams.  He's not a fan and neither are we.
I just thought this was cute.  She makes life
interesting, that's for sure!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

It was a good idea

In theory.  To try to blog often once the team was here.  Hahaha.  I'm laughing at myself.  Don't expect Bart to be on here anytime soon.  He has been spending a fair amount of time on the potty lately, and not in a positive way.  :)

Yes, life has been crazy.  This week was no different.  Thankfully we're slowly learning how to balance the time and hand things off that we don't need to do.  Unfortunately we can only hand so many things off.  This week meant a little more stress than usual.  I gave the talk at our weekly meeting, which was a little more challenging than I would've liked considering the translation needed.  Imagine having to pause for every sentence although you have a fluid idea going.  It's not very fun.  But we had a good turnout at the meeting, so that was awesome!

And Julieta's birthday was this week so we took them dinner and had cake.  For her, it was a pretty low key birthday since they're not comfortable taking the new baby out much.  We haven't been able to see their family much since they moved and had a baby.  The kids loved getting to be silly with Lucas and Matias.  Leah was practicing her Spanish (I'm pretty sure it was straight up gibberish).

Overall though this week has been a rough one in processing things with the Lord.  As we think about the future of the movement here and our involvement in it, it's hard to know what to do with our futures.  Sure, it's pretty easy to say that we just want to go back to the States.  Life is hard.  I don't want to have to stop at numerous kiosks to find milk.  I would like to have power consistently.  And don't even get me started on the mosquitos.

Anyways there's been a lot going on in our hearts.  What to do with our future.  As we have conversations about it (it's seriously impossible to wait until December), it's so hard to know what to do.  Our hearts just break for the people here and the need.  But it's just not that simple.  Or is it?  And there are transitions going on in the country that we have no control over.  We just have to choose to be faithful while we're here and figure out our future in time.  Would you pray with us?

That's all for now.  My thoughts aren't very gathered/cohesive right now, so this is what you get.  But this song came to mind this morning so I thought I would share it.  Such a great song.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Well it's been a few days since I've been on here.  Not intentionally but more out of pure exhaustion.  Here's a rundown of the past week.

Friday go to the bigger mall for everyone to experience it for the first time.
Get lunch at the mall, go to the big grocery store nearby.
Go back home, get ready for leadership retreat.
Students begin arriving at 6:00 and we start dinner around 7:00.
There's a talk, some worship, small groups, then who knows what because we pull the parent card and get out of there!
Students have spent the night at the guys' or the girls' apartments and ate breakfast there.
There's a group game then scheduled time with the Lord.
Then to our place for a meeting including worship, a talk and small groups.
Then lunch at our place (this involved starting on Friday night and all of Saturday morning, who thought that would be a good idea?).
Then the students have free time and slowly trickle out, but we can hear them having some sort of dance party 2 floors up.  Yes, it was that loud.  Welcome to Venezuela.
Then the students come back.  There's a couple of meeting times.  Then dinner.
Then the students share testimonies and everyone takes communion together.  It honestly was really sweet.
Then we have no idea what the students did because we pulled the parent card and graciously allowed them to leave.
Following was cleaning and mopping the entire house.  What a mess.
The students leave in the morning.  We're in a coma.  I don't even know what happened on Sunday.
Some members of the team came over pretty much one at a time and had lunch.
Then some of the girls and I went out for manicures/pedicures.  This is a first in a while.
Then go see the new baby on the team!  Christian and Julieta had a little girl so I got to meet her.
Then out with the team for dinner to sort of celebrate my birthday.  Back to our place for homemade ice cream cake and a fun game.
School with the kids, gotta start early on Mondays.
Staff meeting, the power goes out like 15 minutes into it.  This is a bad sign because I'm pretty sure it's just our power.  Yep, our power was cut.  Not cool.  Not cool at all.  Hold back tears.  Must hold it together.
Team leaves, I cry.  Leah consols me.  Douglas offers to go figure out what's going on with our power. Surprisingly it's turned back on before 5.  Only like 6 hours without it!
Team prayer that night, I'm in charge so Bart takes the evening with the kids.
Hang out time afterward, which ended up being great to connect with one of the girls on the team.
Intense stomach pain has ensued after having off and on pain all weekend.  Monday night is rough.  Up most of the night in pain.  Noooooo.
I am out of commission.  I feel terrible.  Nice wonderful stabbing pains in my stomach.  Why won't my daughter just get out of my face?
Praise the Lord the team had a day off this week and Bart was home to take care of the kids.
I lay in bed most of the day.  Tums is sort of my friend but not really doing much.
A couple people come over to play.  I lay there pathetically and watch.  I don't care.  Really.  I didn't want to play at all. :)
Oh the power goes out again.  This time over a large area so I'm not worried.  This means the kids come out of their room.
Bart takes the kids out for dinner since it's tricky to cook without power.  Luckily the one mall area nearby was open and they could eat there.
The power comes back on after about 4 hours.  That wasn't too bad, minus the mosquitos.
I'm trying to recoup.  Slowly eating food again.  Wednesday is usually my day on campus so I bow out graciously for internal reasons.  I'm trying to get caught up on school with the kids.  I'm not super successful.
We decide to get out of the house.  Bart and I haven't talked in a while.  We head to McDonalds since it is the closest place to walk where the kids can play.  It was a success.  They played for longer than they ever have before.  The chicken sandwich was surprisingly gentle on me.
Back home.  We have to try to get a little bit caught up on school.  Noah's not a fan of this.
Dinner with one of the guys on the team.
Team Bible study.  Put the kids to bed early.  But everyone didn't leave until after 11.

I'm tired.  Bart's tired.  We have water all over our bathroom floor.  The toilet won't stop leaking and we can't figure out how to make it stop.  Our shower won't stop dripping thus cause mildew and nastiness.  Our air conditioner pooped out.  Oh and our door fell off the hinges!  Yeah!  For real.  Praise the Lord for the gate that we have along with the door.  We're going to need to get all of these things fixed.  Thus the build-up and tears that followed on Monday when our power was cut.

Deep sigh.  Yes, I needed a deep sigh after writing all of that.  Life can be really hard here, not because these things are terrible in and of themselves, but more because they just slowly wear on us.  And with being the ones people look to with team stuff, we can honestly feel like we need to be "on" all the time.  They're still adjusting, so we want to help.

But we're ready for this weekend.  No plans.  Maybe head to the zoo or something since we haven't been since Leah's birthday.  But we just really need to relax and have a nice chill weekend.  Would you pray for that for us?

Thursday, October 03, 2013

October already

How did this happen?  It's October already!  Sure many of you are well aware of that because of the cooler weather, the falling leaves, the coffee flavors all around you are pumpkin spice.  But here none of that happens.  It's still pretty rainy, but we're nearing the end of the rainy season.  It's still hot.  Nothing new there.  The stores are getting more and more Christmas stuff out for display.  This we don't mind as much.
Leah wanted to chase the iguana but he had other ideas
Noah on campus
But where has the time gone?  The team hasn't even been here for 2 full weeks, but it feels like it's been a really long time.  This weekend will be a busy one with our annual leadership retreat starting tomorrow (Friday) night and ending on Sunday morning.  We're hopeful that this time will be rejuvenating for students and allow them to have a clear vision for why they're with us and doing what they're doing.
Leah watching Papa through the window as he gives the talk

We still haven't fallen into much of a routine.  Thus far life has just been incredibly busy and almost overwhelming.  After this weekend though, things should even out a bit and slow down, and with that we're hoping comes more routine.  I think the team is looking forward to having some normalcy instead of the chaos of the beginning of the year.

We're utilizing the new projector for worship
We had our first weekly meeting today with 37 students!  This is a pretty good number considering one of the faculties (the engineering campus) isn't even having classes yet and we didn't have all of our regulars.  It was pretty fun to get to see everyone gathered again in one place and excited to start the new year.  We even went down to the lagoon with the kids and fed the turtles and alligators.  We did end up leaving prematurely when one alligator got out of the water and seemed pretty interested in Leah!
Sneaky alligator - those are probably our kids shadows,
he was that close

Monday, September 30, 2013


Wow, we just can't even convey how grateful we are.  We are truly blessed.  Blessed to be here in Venezuela.  Blessed to have such a great team.  Blessed to have had so little issues with being sick or injured or robbed (or whatever negative things could happen here).  We just feel like the past week has been really great!

The week has gone by really fast.  But it feels like it's been sooo much longer.  The team is getting settled and starting to feel a little more comfortable.  We're trying to figure out how our family fits in within the team.  The kids have watched more movies than I'd like to admit this week with all of the meetings we've had.  But we're just feeling really good about  how things are going.

When we all shared as a team how each person is individually doing, Bart and I both shared separately that we just really miss each other.  That's hard in the midst of living in the same house and sharing the same bed.  Hopefully that reality will slow down as we get more adjusted and have more of a routine.  We definitely want to have healthier boundaries this year for our family so we aren't saying things like that every week.

The weekend was even pretty different than we anticipated.  Lots of moments where we saw the team or they were over for a movie or a football game.  One of the benefits of having a tv (that will probably be leaving us shortly since we've been storing it for someone for the past month or so) is that Bart gets to see a little bit of football.  And one of the benefits of the new projector is that we get to watch things on the "big screen."

But one of the great things we didn't anticipate about this weekend was being able to go out on a date!  Kristin offered to babysit and we were all over that!  So we decided to splurge a little and go to a nice place, which we both thoroughly enjoyed.  Though Bart's not enjoying it so much the morning after, one of the occasional downsides to eating out....sorry buddy.

Now we head into another week.  It will for sure be a busy one with things going on every night but Thursday.  Please be praying for our team as they continue to get settled but also prepare for our leadership retreat this weekend, which requires a lot of preparation going into.  And please pray for our family, that we would continue to do well and move toward each other during this especially busy time.  Praise the Lord that the kids have been doing so well during this whole transition!!!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Getting settled

We told Noah we'd have a cake with the new team
when they arrived.
The team has been here for 2 days and it was a little bit of a rough start.  They got in around 1:00 am with relatively good travel so that was a blessing.  But the power went out around 5:00.  So imagine being in a really hot apartment with mosquitos and no fans.  I think most of them slept through the 5:00 am part but woke up much earlier than expected.

Then the water eventually turned off.  Luckily all of the girls were able to get showers before bed or before the water turned off.  It's those little things that help.

The team (aka us) got them presents.
Poor Vanessa had the room where the door was apparently locked.  Well when the wind blew the door shut, she couldn't get back in her room!

So we found a guy that messed with it for a while, even though he kept saying the best option was probably climbing from another window (from the 5th floor).  He eventually got it by pure dumb luck I think.

We had dinner together as a team and a get to know you game time afterward.  A couple of the girls left to go home since they were pretty exhausted and they couldn't get the door to their apartment open!  A few tears ensued, but eventually one of the guys was able to get it open.  The lock was probably sticking.

So it's been a little bit of a rough start, but overall, I think they're getting settled.  It's been super busy for us with getting things set up, cooking meals, having meetings and whatnot.  The kids are REALLY enjoying having the new team around.  A couple of the guys like to wrestle so they are loving that. They really are excited to have new friends.  I think it's been a little harder for Noah to transition, with a little more acting out and tantrums, but maybe that's to be expected.
Leah joining in with the boys wrestling

We're grateful though.  Grateful that they're here.  Grateful that they have housing, even if the occasional door gets locked.  Grateful that our kids are enjoying being around everyone.  Grateful for friendly faces and the new ones to get to know.  But please continue to pray for our transition.  I need more patience and grace when I'm home more with 2 kids in Venezuela!
Team picture
Front left to right: Noah, Melissa, Zuri, Tommy, Stephen, William
Back left to right: Ali, Leah, Megan, Lilly Vanessa, Kristin, Tony, Bart, Douglas

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The new team

Well, today is the day (or night depending on how late it is).  The team after months of planning, support raising, packing and waiting, they arrive.  They had multiple flights.  They're currently in the process of arriving/landing in Caracas right now.

Bart is awaiting their arrival.  He took the nearly 3 hour ride to pick up one of the guys who arrived from Panama earlier.  So they are there together waiting for the other 8 Americans to land.  Once they land, they find all of their bags (hopefully) and get on a bus for the ride to Valencia.  If all goes well, they will arrive sometime around 12:30 or 1:00am.  Then it's bedtime for them I think.

I forgot to post this with Noah's birthday.  One of the
staff at the hotel made this sweet little towel dog for
Noah for his birthday.  He was sure it was an elephant.
We're pretty anxious about the arrival of the team.  With their arrival comes lots of new changes.  A new dynamic.  A new style of leading for Bart with a new female leader, Lilly.  A new schedule and many new personalities to get to know.  There will be so many changes.  And with that our family will have to adapt, which is always challenging.

We're hoping this transition will be good for our kids.  They are excited for the team to get here and the new friends they'll have.  They miss interactions with lots of English speakers!

Would you pray for us?  This is a norm for us as usual, but our family needs it.  We will desperately need prayer as we try to figure out healthy boundaries for our family but also for each of us individually.  We know we cannot keep the pace that we did this past year without crashing and burning again.  We're not 23 and single after all!

We will try to regularly update but please know it will be more challenging as our schedule fills up.  Our heart is that you would feel involved with us as we live life here, so we will try our best to continue to do that as best we can.  Thank you in advance for your grace!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Birthday!

We celebrated Noah’s birthday while we were in Curacao.  He turned the big 5!  He was so excited to get to spend his birthday with his grandparents.  It might’ve had something to do with presents though….
Loving the strawberry daiquiris
It was a fun day.  He decided he wanted to hang out at the pool.  He used to LOVE the beach but it has lost its luster for him, not that we can complain.  Who likes to take their kids to the beach and clean sand out of every crack and crevice?

Of course he got some great presents.  He’s been waiting months to see if Grandma and Grandpa were able to get him Chick Hicks and the King (from the Cars movie).  He has a very large obsession with the cars movies so we’re slowly acquiring pretty much any random car that could’ve had some sort of existence in one of those movies, even if it was just one sort scene.  Oh my.

Well Grandma and Grandpa can’t disappoint.  He did receive those cars along with a race track and some other fun things.  He was sooo excited.
Seeing his cars!
For dinner we had made reservations at the Japanese restaurant where they cook right in front of you.  We figured the kids would enjoy that.  And they did.  The guy even made the pasta in the shape of Mickey Mouse right in front of Noah.  Once the other 8 or so people around the table figured out it was his birthday, they had to sing to him (imagine a bunch of semi-drunk probably Americans singing without knowing his name).  J
Anxiously watching as they start to prepare the food
Then they brought out a cake for him and had taken a cantaloupe and carved the number 5 into it.  He was amazed that it was a cantaloupe in the shape of a 5.  And then we sang again (this time the other people at the table were gone).
It wouldn't be a birthday without a silly sister
Then we decided we wanted ice cream because, well, we had planned to just have a low key, light a candle and put it in dessert kind of night.  So we went to the buffet restaurant and got our ice cream, put the candle in and had a few random people try to sing with us, but at least it felt a little more intimate.  By that point though he was hiding and done with being sung to!   Poor guy.
Wait, you're going to make me wait to eat my melting
ice cream until everyone is done singing?

I think he had a good birthday though.  He’s so excited to be 5.  It’s been fun to really see his personality come out more in the last year.  He’s a perfectionist most of the time.  He very much loves distinguishing between right and wrong.  He is super sensitive and can be very emotional.  He makes great faces and tends to wear his emotions on his sleeve.  He loves to tease and joke around. 

One of his favorite things he loves to do at dinner every night are our hi’s and low’s.  He genuinely loves to hear what made us all happy or sad during our day.  He is just such a sweetheart.  And he’s at a really fun age where he’s asking what things mean all of the time, especially when we do school.  “Mama what does bear the loss mean?  Mama what does at peace mean?”  Great questions that he continually asks, more during school time, but in general too.

We’re so proud of him and the little man he is becoming.  He was super sweet in Curacao asking at different times questions about God and what God made and if God had painted everything.  Those moments with him are just really special because we get to see his tender heart and see how God is shaping him.
Going under the bridge