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