Friday, November 18, 2011
This is going to be a hard post for me. Maybe that's why it's about a month overdue. Chichicastenango. That's where we went. We went there to build homes for widows. We went there to be a blessing to the people. But we were the ones who were truly blessed. I'm going to try to keep this to the point but my heart SWELLS WITH LOVE for this city.
We worked through Pray America which has only been around for about 8 years. The man who founded it, Ron Morin, heard God's audible voice about His will for Ron's life. Ron has been obedient to that plan and Pray America is now responsible for bringing so many blessings to this city and the surrounding areas as well as the gospel to this Mayan culture. Pray America has created new ways to purify water (a big problem in this land), has built a home for abused girls in the area to teach them about Christ as well as to rehabilitate them, there is a shoe factory where shoes are produced to give away to children so that they might have a chance to attend school, and there are feeding programs in which hundreds of kids attend a bible lesson and singing/dancing time and afterwards recieve a free meal (which is a BIG DEAL to them). And then there is Manos de Jesus which is the 'branch' of the ministry that we worked out of. We built four homes for widows (each with a bunch of kids) and we installed 4 stoves (another big deal!) for four different families. We had a blast getting to know the people and building as well!
At each of the homes, we distributed clothing, toys, and shoes. We also shared the story of Christ with many children, young adults, and widows. The adults mostly just speak the Qui Che language but the children knew spanish so we were able to translate through them. And the language wasn't even a barrier! We witnessed many people committing their lives to Christ for the first time. And it was evident that the Holy Spirit was with us in those times! We sang around a dying woman and again, we felt God's presence. We were passing out shoes one day and all of a sudden, there were at least 30 people crowded around us and our little duffle bag of shoes. After a quick prayer over the bag, we continued to try them on the people one by one. And the last person who needed shoes got the very last pair. Everyone got the right size and the pair appropriate to their gender. God was in that, too! We just saw Him everywhere and we felt Him working on our hearts. I'm not sure why it was any different over there, really. At home there are also opportunities to witness, opportunities to sing in places we normally wouldn't go, opportunities to give, opportunities to love. Perhaps we're too busy, too self-centered, too embarrassed. I'm not sure but I know it's been tugging at my heart ever since I've returned.
We were so blessed at the feeding programs for the children as well. The kids immediately loved us, knowing that through our financial support they were recieving an extra meal. The program began with great singing and dancing that we joined in with, each of us in our own little crowd of children. One thing that really moved me in this time was how physical the kids wanted to get. They wanted to be held, hugged. They just had to touch. This must have been how Jesus felt, really. And their eyes just glistened with joy when they stared at us. We only knew one song that they sang, 'Jesus Loves Me'. We sang it in English while they sang it in their language. So moving. Next, a lesson follows the worship. The children would then all huddle around what must have been the oldest sibling or friend and that kid would begin to take notes. They would fill their one sheet of paper and begin to write on their hands... and then on their arms! It was so amazing to see this happening. Then the kids were led out one by one to get a bowl of food (rice and a little chicken). And upon recieving that bowl of food, almost every kid took out a plastic bag and began to scoop the food into that bag to bring home to their families. The host missionary of Manos de Jesus later told us that there was a time when he had held up a bowl for a child to lick it clean while his bag was full. I pictured these children as if they were my own. And it was heart-wrenching. Again, is this what Jesus felt? Is it what He feels?
Jordan and I had a tugging on each of our hearts to go on this trip. We blew it off until the night before we had to give the thumbs up. And I am so grateful that we said 'yes' to God's plan. We had a great team, we raised above and beyond what we had to (and actually our team altogether raised over $2500 extra!), we didn't miss our kids AT ALL which was totally a God thing, and we got to be a part of something SO MUCH BIGGER than we are!!!
God is still at work in this world. He is very much alive. Lives are being saved everyday. And we were honored to have been used to advance the Kingdom of God. So if you ever feel even the tiniest bit of a nudge toward any kind of mission work, even if it's right outside your front door - DO IT! OBEY! You will recieve a BLESSING! This trip did so much for my personal relationship with Jesus! Jordan and I continually talk about this place and we anxiously look forward to our return to this place that is so dear to our hearts.
As we rode down the mountainside, out of town, we sang together as a group 'God of this City':
"There is no one like our God
For greater things are yet to come,
Greater things are still to be done
in this city."
Monday, November 14, 2011
Jeremy and Crystal, Jordan and me and the girls went to Chicago on the Saturday before Halloween (which happened to be Ruby's birthday as well) to cheer on the guys as they ran in the Monster Dash. They completed a half marathon- their first! Jordan had been having knee issues beforehand and he was in pain after the first mile already. But he completed the race. (Now, three weeks later, he is still in pain and we're hoping there wasn't permanent damage done). We could tell Jordan was in pain as he crossed the finish line. Both of his legs were locked up. We had brought along his massage therapist for such an event and she was able to temporarily relieve the pain with the help of Natalie and Ruby as well (that's me trying to tell a joke).
We spent the rest of the day downtown shopping. Both of the girls took some of their money from home and each of them bought a necklace. There were many different charms on chains for them to pick from. In the end, Natalie decided on a flip-flop with crystals and Ruby decided on a stilleto high heel with crystals. She calls it her slipper bracelet. It was a gorgeous fall day and the girls had a great time. Ruby took an awesome 2+ hour nap. We had left home at 6am and didn't leave the city until 6pm. The girls cried for about 15 minutes on our walk back to the car but other than that, they were amazing!
A small photoshoot. She is a hard one to get pictures of because she never wants to do things 'my way' and she has no sit in her. So I've got to just stumble upon photo opportunities and shoot away.
First of all, I just have to say that I am going a little out of order here in the next few blog posts. That drives me crazy. I don't do this blogging for anyone's enjoyment (although I know people appreciate the posts) but I blog for the memories. One day, these 'cyber pages' will be made into a little keepsake book for our family. I'm going out of order though because there is a Guatemala post coming up that'll probably be pretty lengthy and it's already a month overdo. So I thought I'd at least get some of these little posts out of the way!
So this post, as you may have guessed, is about Ruby turning 3. Ruby continues to be our free-spirited little girl. She still loves to play mostly dress-up and with her babies as she also loves to be motherly. Ruby is just so fun! She's always got a smile on her face and in her eyes, even when she's trying to be tough. We've been doing our own little 'school' occasionally when Natalie is at school and I must say that I've seen some improvement in her knowledge! Ruby is so full of life and attitude and I have a feeling that she is going to be that stereotypical middle child who gives their parents a run for their money. I think she's out of the 'terrible twos'. Yay! We primarily had to deal with her yelling at us and verbally abusing us (no biggie!) but I think we've gotten that under control now or maybe I should say 'for now'.
We had a birthday party with the whole family on the Sunday following her birthday. She got loads of new toys that she has played with everyday since and a new dress that, in the first week of recieving it, she wore 4 times. I believe that dress was actually her favorite gift! Ruby is always putting on make-up, dressing up, and doing her hair. It's all cute during the day until before bedtime when there are a bazillion different outfits all over the floor! On her birthday, I had her in a cute little dress and before the party, she insisted that I let her do her own hair. She put some random bows and barrettes in... looked kind of tacky but it's her party, right?! So seconds before the first of the family members show up, Ruby comes out with her ballerina outfit on with her pretty dress bunched up underneath! She was quite a sight! But she can see the beauty in anything so we let her keep it on. And she is actually quite the fashionista. She puts a lot of thought into what she wears and sometimes, her style is impressive. Just not on this birthday. Anyways, we had a great weekend celebrating Ruby's birthday and we are so grateful to God for our precious and exuberant Ruby!
This first picture is, to my knowledge, an original creation of hers that has yet to hit the runway.
Ruby: identified as a precious gem that is warm and fiery, absolutely undiluted, vivacious, passionate, and powerful.
That. is. Ruby.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
We thought it would be fun to go to a pumpkin patch with the kids this year to pick out our pumpkins. We went to Redberry Farms but the pumpkin patch was closed that day. So instead, we just bought some pumpkins and we were able to pick some very yummy raspberries! There were also a bunch of animals to check out. It was a fun 'family afternoon' before heading off to Guatemala.