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.