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

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lots to catch up

Well where to start?  We were gone, out of the country in Curacao, from Tuesday to Sunday.  It went by so fast.  It was really great to get to see my parents.  They brought a million (this might not be an exaggeration) things, including gifts, peanut butter and many other things.  Overall it was a great trip.  We got lots of time in the pool, some time on the beach, a couple of bike rides and even a couple of little date times.
Noah enthralled in his first OSU game in over a year

Loving the pool time, without any funky parasites in the water

Honestly though it was really hard to come back to Venezuela.  For me at least.  When you go from consistent power, water, good food, etc, it's just really difficult to come back to a place that is so inconsistent.  Even yesterday we didn't have the internet for the entire afternoon and it decided to go out while I was in the middle of a Skype conversation.  That just feels really hard sometimes, especially when it feels like our only connection to many people that we love is only through the internet.
Enjoying time with Grandma and Grandpa!
I'm working through it.  I don't really want to.  I want to eat like 8 pounds of peanut butter and chocolate and just fall away into a food coma.  But the reality is that I will only feel worse if I do those things.  Luckily it was somewhat easy for Bart to come back.  It seems we just like to play the role reversals on these return trips.  I guess the Lord works out those details to our benefit!
We loved watching the crabs that were washed up on the rocks

It was a really great trip though.  We enjoyed the time with my parents.  The kids loved being around Grandma and Grandpa.  Leah even on the last day there knocked on their door gently right when she woke up.  See we had connected rooms, what a blessing!  And I had told her that she had to knock gently to see if they were awake.  So she was doing exactly that!  But sadly they had left earlier that morning.  Broke my heart.  But they really did love getting to see Grandma and Grandpa!
Our last dinner with Grandma and Grandpa
And they loved the pool.  Noah has improved leaps and bounds after our time in the pool.  He now successfully will go under the water on his own.  There was even a part of the pool where he could put his head partially underwater to go under a bridge.  We're really proud of him!  It's been pretty scary for him to put his mouth and nose in the water, let alone his entire head!
On the floating bridge in Willemstad

That's all for now.  We'll try to update more in the next few days.  For now, we're trying to get caught up on school, laundry and preparing for the team to arrive on Saturday!  And then the real chaos begins!
Sunset from the beach

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Some randomness

Well the past few days haven't been very eventful.  We've had a lot of random power outages and with that comes no water.  Internet has been pretty inconsistent also.  Our a/c died again, apparently from the power outages.  But we're taking it in stride.

We officially have 2 weeks under our belt of school.  I'm feeling a lot more comfortable with it.  It's definitely more work, more reading, more explanations, more experiments.  But we're enjoying it.  Leah is actually doing a really good job engaging so that's been fun too.  We're getting more creative with taking breaks and not making it quite so long.  We're almost done with the Boxcar Children.  The kids are really enjoying it so it will be sad when we finish it tomorrow.
Yeah, earning her keep around here!

We had our first meeting this morning about Congreso, the national student conference.  Somehow in a moment of pure ridiculousness I thought it would be a good idea to somehow say I could help with it.  So Douglas and I are in charge of it.  We met with Christian to go over things we need to know.  There's not much we need to do at this point, but it's nice to get the ball rolling on what we should at least be starting with.  We have until April, but there's a ton of planning that goes into it, so we have to be prepared to have conversations in December at our staff conference.

People arrive from other cities tomorrow to get ready to leave for the Panama summer project.  I don't know what the final count is.  There are a few people who are struggling with support and some having passport issues.  But we do know that a couple of people are staying with us, the bus leaves at 4:00 am on Friday morning and there will be people going to Panama!  We're excited to see what God has in store for everyone going.  Would you pray that all of the travel arrangements get worked out?  We already know that the flights have been delayed, which is really unfortunate.  Would you pray that students (and staff) would have energy and be able to meet with the Lord during the next 2 and a half weeks?

Would you also pray for the coming team?  There are a couple of people who still need that final push to finish their support.  But they are in the process of hopefully buying airline tickets soon.  Please pray that they would be able to tie up any lose ends, say their goodbyes and be ready to enter into ministry here right away.  We're ready for them to come, even though it will mean much less family time together and adjusting to a much busier schedule.  Would you pray for our family to transition well?

Coming up shortly is our next visa trip.  We're excited for the beach (and the pool - Leah's preference). It will be so great for us to get to see my parents and the kids are soooo ecstatic to see Grandma and Grandpa!  Hopefully they (my parents) aren't feeling too overwhelmed with the tons of stuff they're bringing, including birthday and Christmas presents!