Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Flowers and Scarves

These are some flowers made by my crochet peeps.  They have come over every afternoon, except Sunday, to hang out and make flowers.  They love to make things but can't really afford the yarn so the idea was for me to buy them some yarn to make flowers that they could sell and buy more yarn for themselves.  I don't know if the idea has caught on for them but they sure have made alot of flowers!  Originally it was Wendy and Mavelyn who wanted to learn to crochet but since then, they invited two of their friends Nancy and Paola. 

These are some of the scarves the ladies have made to sell.  They were over yesterday to work on them together and it was great.  Most of the time I had no idea what they were talking about but they were laughing alot.  A few things I picked-up on were about their husbands, kids and mother-in-laws.   Getting a bunch of women together here is no different than in the States, they laugh and talk about life just the same. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Birthday for Vanessa

Yesterday was Vanessa's 14th birthday.  Tonight we (Steed's & Schmidt's) celebrated with her and her sister and brothers.  It was a fun party but it also reminded us how hard life is for this young girl.  It's not customary in this culture to let babies cry so Vanessa carries her baby sister around most of the day - it's hard for her to do anything let alone go to the bathroom.   Not only that, she gets up every night at 3am to heat the baby some milk and feed her.  This 14 year old is living the life of an adult mother with a baby and 2 other kids to care for.  With all that, she is still smiling and doesn't think about how hard life is, she does what needs to be done without complaining.

 Last week Gina, Julio (our Spanish teacher) and I went to Vanessa's house to clean and tidy things up.  We told her we were coming back to clean so she cleaned up as best she could and was so proud of herself.  She didn't want us to have to do that for her.   When we were there, we saw that they didn't have sheets for their beds so Gina brought those and that one of the beds is literally falling apart so we are working on getting them a new one.  I brought back 6 loads of laundry and gave the boys some new underwear - from all that laundry, they didn't appear to have any.   The next day, Gina took them some milk and formula for Esdrys and we bought them pillows for their beds as they were using old rolled up blankets.  We still praying for her mom and how we can help with their situation.  Until then, we are loving her lots and doing all we can to help her and make life a little bit easier.

Monday, September 12, 2011


I'm at a loss for words....Today Gina and I visited a young girl named Vanessa 14 and her siblings - Josue 10, Esau 5 and Esdrys 1.  This girl is on my heart continuously because she is super smart and would like to have an education.  Instead of going to school, she cares for her brothers and sister while Mom works.  She used to go to some sort of night school but that changed last week when her mom got a "new job".  She is gone from home every day and every night - she comes back 2 days a week for about 4 hours in the morning and then leaves again.  So Vanessa is left alone to care for the children, cook, clean and do everything a mother would do all day, all night, every day and night.  Today her mom was home but when we visited around noon, Mom was already gone.  What we found was heartbreaking.  Vanessa didn't want us to come in the house (2 small rooms) because she was embarrassed about how messy it was.  I had some food for her so she had to let me in and after she was in there a few minutes straightening up, we saw that the place was horrid.  There were no sheets on the bed, food, trash and dirty diapers all over the floor, and dishes that had not been washed in days.  It was smelly and filthy and just so sad!  If this was in the US, Child Protective Services would be called and the kids would be taken away but not here.  Here, it's up to us to help these kids.  Then we ask each other what is the best way to help?  We can do the basics like help her clean, bring her to our home for meals and help with laundry.  But how can we change the life of this sweet, beautiful and smart 14 year old???  We are praying hard for an answer.

We have known her family for about 5-6 months now.  Her mom came to our house one night and explained that she heard that we build houses for people and she needed one.  She is a single mom and rents 2 small rooms for her family and would like to have her own house and not have to pay rent.  If she didn't have to pay rent, she wouldn't have to work so hard selling food in the city and have to be away from her family so much.  From then on, we got to know her family by visiting them often and inviting them to our house.  The 10 year old boy, Josue, cannot go to school because he is either Autistic or mentally retarded, not sure which.  We love them all but especially Vanessa because she is very smart and would LOVE to go to school, unlike most kids here, but she can't.  Her hands are tied to a bad situation she can't get out of because of her mom.  It's an endless cycle and there isn't much here to break the cycle.  Our hearts break for her but she's the one who will make us do whatever it takes to get her out of that house and into a school so she can have a better life.  We just haven't figured out how to do that yet.  Please pray for us for wisdom and pray for Vanessa.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


God blessed me with 3 of the craziest boys and I love them fiercely but some days I wouldn't mind some estrogen in the house.  Lately, I have been getting my girl fix.  A couple of months ago, 12X12 built a house for a single mom/widow (Berta) with 7 children - 4 of whom are girls (I can't imagine having 3 boys and 4 girls).  We visit them often and have them over for dinner.  Despite living in poverty and losing their dad 6 years ago, they are a pretty normal family.  In my limited Spanish, I try to chat with the girls but it only lasts with a question or two.  They can be a little guarded at times but once you get to know them a little bit, their personalities come out and the fun starts.
Pamela, Wendy, Hamilton, & Mavelyn

Chris ran into them one day after I started the knitting group and told them to come over and I would teach them how to knit something.  They did and they each knit a hat but were really interested in the crochet flower another friend made me that I had on the table.  I didn't know how to make one so I found a pattern on the internet IN SPANISH!!  Here they are working on it.  I have found a common thread with them, so to speak, and it has opened the door for some good times with these girls.

They are alot of fun and sassy as can be. Something I do alot is ask people to repeat what they said and much slower please.  They love to say the same to me and laugh hysterically.  I imagine if I had girls, they would be alot like them.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Before we moved here, people would ask "What are you going to be doing there?" We knew we would be working with the 12X12 Love Project but other than that, we were not exactly sure.  Now that we are 6+ months into it, we'd like to share a little more of what we do.  Besides learning Spanish and Chris leading 12X12, God has put some families on our hearts to get to know, be a part of our lives here and help in any way we can.  Here are two....

First up is Noelia.  She is a single mom with 4 kids - Maria 10, Josely 8, Allen 5, and Brian 3.  She is a sweet girl, has a fun sense of humor,  and is a typical mom living the crazy life with 4 kids.  She works hard to provide for her family. We bring them food and give her and the kids a ride home when it's raining - they live a couple of miles away and she works in Magdalena, close to our house.

Manuel and Juliana
Next are Manuel and Juliana.  They are an older couple, in their 70's, who live next to Noelia. They are a sweet, precious couple.  Manuel is blind and begs for a living. They are so poor I can't even describe it but they are such nice people.  Whenever we visit them and ask if they need anything they always say no.  I stand in their house and can think of 50 basic things they need but the answer is always no.   So, we bring them food alot.  If I was a betting person I would bet they alway share what we bring them with others.