Friday, April 14, 2017

Jack's Pigs

We're on a roll with farm animals!

Jack saved up a little money. He wanted to invest in something that would earn more money so he could have a little savings when he goes off to college next year.  He did his homework and decided to raise pigs and sell the meat.  (If you know Jack,  you know that he now knows everything there is to know about pigs).  We've got the space and they are way down on the property, out of the way of people, so nobody ever has to smell them, cause pigs don't smell good!  There was an old foundation of an animal pen or something that he used so all he needed was a roof and walls.  He and his grandpa got it built when they were visiting over Christmas and in February 2 pigs arrived.  He got them from some Mennonite people about an hour and a half away in Tecpan.  They are known to have good pig meat  and were willing to sell a couple of piglets.  Not just any old pig will make a good profit. Who knew!  We don't eat much pork here in Guatemala, mostly because we've heard that there can be parasites and that's true.  These guys are given parasite treatments on a regular basis so we are anxiously awaiting some good pork.

Jack is working HARD!!  He takes really good care of the pigs and has had to clean their pen ALOT.  The cold here upsets their tummies so he's had to clean the pen extra.  He's a trooper though and does what needs to be done.  He's up early before school at 5:30am to feed them and takes care of them when he gets home, then he takes a nap.

They've only escaped once so far and really aren't much trouble to have around.  Of course that's easy to say because Jack is doing all the work.   Their time will come in June and we'll see what the profit margin is.  If it's good and he's not too tired, then he'll do it all over again.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Sheep


Throughout our 6 years here and working with 12x12, we've received may gifts from the families who received a house.  The gifts have ranged from meals, vegetables, fruit, handmade items, a beautiful mirror, plants, etc.  It's always humbling to receive something from people who have very little but want to show kindness and gratitude to us.   This is apart from their thankfulness to God for His provision and the donors for their generosity.  Last year we got the most interesting (and humbling) gift yet, Pelibuey sheep.  Yes, farm animals.  This family raises them for meat and gave us 2!  Chris tried really hard to not take them because #1 we don't need any more animals and #2 we don't want to take away from their livelihood, but there was no leaving without them.  Sometimes we just have to let others bless us in a way that speaks to them.  To not accept it would rob them of the joy of giving, thus we took the sheep.  They gave us a male and female so they would reproduce and we'd have an endless supply of meat - they say it's "tan rico!" which means really good.  I'll never know cause I'm not eating it!  I don't know, I prefer to eat meat that comes wrapped in plastic, from a grocery store.  I'm not keen on eating something I've seen in person.

To show our complete lack of farm animal experience (we're missionaries not farmers!), we thought they were goats so we call them "The Goats".  It wasn't until recently we discovered they are actually sheep.  And it's really an odd situation being that the sheep are mother and son but I'll stop there. Apparently that's acceptable in the sheep breeding world.  When we first got them, we could pet the male and he was pretty calm but now he's a full on animal and can head butt like nobody's business so we stay clear of him.  He's not a friendly!

The male

So, now we have 2 baby sheep/goats!  And they couldn't be any more precious.  Pretty much from the start, the mama rejected one of them so they have been affectionately named Favor and Minus.  Poor Minus gets nothing - no love, no milk, nada, just a swift head-butt from his mother.  We have had to hold the mama down so Minus can nurse and now consider ourselves professional "goat wrestlers".  Since this was not an easy, long-term solution and hazardous because sheep have very strong head-butts, we were buying fresh goat's milk from a guy who drives his truck around every day, with goats in the back, selling milk on the street.  That got to be too expensive so we've switched to fresh cow's milk.  Minus takes a bottle 4-5 times a day and everyone is happy.  He's the cutest little thing though and to hear him call us, as if he was calling his mama, when we walk up with the bottle is too much!


Favor the day he was born with Jed


Kendy and Minus


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2 Years With Our Girls

Our first official family photo at the adoption agency.

On December 10th we hit the 2 year mark since our girls became part of our family.  With biological children, time flies and they grow up so fast.  With adopted children, who didn't come to you until they were 3 and 5 years old, time travels at warp speed!  It's just crazy how fast they are growing and sad at how much we've missed of their young little lives.  They are at the age where they change so much so quickly.  Once kids start losing teeth it's all downhill from there.  Their faces change, they get taller, and it goes on and on and there is nothing we can do to make it slow down.  At least they are still cute and not asking to date yet.  That would throw us over the edge.  :)

Angela 1st Grade

Angela started 1st grade this year.  It's been great for her but she seems so much older now that she has started school.   In 4 months time she's become more independent and is becoming her own person.  It's neat to watch but it'd be nice if it happened just a little bit slower.  Angela has the natural gift of creativity.  She can make the most amazing creations out of things we would throw away.  Her latest creation is this Christmas scene made out of a candy cane box complete with Santa, a reindeer, tree and a train.  One time she cut out a pair of glasses out of the plastic from a Barbie box.

Kendy got a mask from a kids meal and Angela wanted one too so she made her own. 

Kendy Kindergarten

Kendy is doing kindergarten at home - this picture really captures her personality and her school uniform. :)  She is not ready to be away from her mama yet and her mama is not ready for her to be away so it works out nicely, most days.  We are taking this year to work on our bond and a few attachment issues.  It's been time well spent.  Kendy's natural gift is singing.  She has a beautiful voice and will make up a song about anything - putting on her shoes, riding to the city, cooking dinner, etc.  She's always singing.

Our 1st Christmas

Our 2nd Christmas

This year, our 3rd Christmas
So, so much has changed in each of our lives over the past 2 years.  These girls are such a blessing to us and those around them.  I remember when we went to the adoption agency to get our referral.  They told us their story and showed us a picture.  They said we could take a few days to think about it before we gave our decision, we told them we didn't need to.  They asked if we wanted to talk it over, but we didn't need to.  We knew going into the office that day that whoever they had for us were who we had prayed for and who God wanted us to have. 

Our most recent family photo

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Nativity

This Christmas we decided to do something different.  We headed to the Christmas market and looked for items to make a nativity scene.  We thought it'd be fun for the kids to pick things out and  make it their own.  This time of year there is a whole section set-up that sells everything you can imagine for a nativity as well as Christmas decorations - moss, grass, figures, mangers, pine cones, colored sawdust, garlands, lights, etc.

The scenes are something many families (not so much poor families) make every year and they can be quite elaborate and are probably equivalent to our American Christmas tree.  Ours is pretty basic but we've got ducks and turtles.  

 We had to haggle a little bit for the baby Jesus.  The starting price was $10 but we got him down to $2.50

Mary and Joseph are orange but this is Guatemala and they like things bright. 

                  The 3 wise men complete with frankincense and myrrh, a gold ring too.

Christmas Eve is the big day here - Noche Buena.  Today, families are busy preparing tamales and a hot fruit punch which is the traditional meal.  It takes hours to make and they will eat at midnight.  We will receive lots of love today in the form of this yummy tipica food.  It's one of our favorite things to eat!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Outta Sorts

It’s been an unsettling couple of weeks here – in our family and in Guatemala.  The government is all in an uproar with the president being impeached and then arrested for corruption (Google it if you are interested in reading all about it).  There have been protests and demonstrations for months now.  Our school was closed for safety reasons the day of the big protest last week, the one that the whole country participated in to oust the president.  Sunday was primary election day and it was crazy.  There were riots all over the country.  We could hear the one in Magdalena from our house.  It was in font of the school, which was the voting location.  We went to church in the morning but were advised by friends to stay in and not leave.  On Monday morning when we took the kids to school, there were fires still burning, presumably ballots, and police at the schools.  We also saw truck loads of police with riot gear throughout the day.  It was slightly nerve wracking and makes us sad for this country and how it’s been taken advantage of. 

On August 10th, we got the keys for the Project for Hope property and it’s been non-stop ever since.  LONG days working, making repairs, cleaning, etc., and getting the place clean enough to move into which we did, a week ago Saturday.   It doesn’t stop there though.  There is a tremendous (I am not exaggerating with that adjective) amount of work to be done here.  Right now, we are working on our leaky roof, getting internet, a working well so we don’t have to pay for water, and laundry hook-ups for the Nortons.  Not to mention cleaning and gardening this soon to be oasis.  The place was vacant for several years, which gifted us layers and layers of dust/dirt on every surface imaginable.  I will write more about this endeavor later. 

giving Pete some love

With all the changes in our lives since the property and the boys starting school, Kendy ,aka Baby Gurl,  is all outta sorts.   She doesn’t know if she’s coming or going.  She’s 4 and in her short life, her world has been rocked many times.  She’s gone from home at birth, to an orphanage shortly after, back home, to another orphanage and then here with us.   I am sure in between those trips to orphanages she was placed in foster care too.  So, something like moving to another house takes her back to a place and feeling she can’t express with words, just actions – crying, screaming, etc., when things feel out of control for her.  When are things out of control for her?  When it’s time to eat or get dressed or go to bed or go somewhere.  So let’s just say all day.  It’s “Toddler Insanity” all over again.  She’s not been sleeping well and gets in our bed most nights. Everyday  I tell her over and over that we love her, we will never, ever leave her, this is her family and she will be with us forever.   I was happy this morning because she was able to tell me that she missed our old house.  That gives us something to go on and something to talk about.   As for Angela, she’s a trooper and takes it all in stride.  Her feathers aren’t ruffled quite as much and she’s able to talk about her feelings most of the time. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Life With Girls

The last 7-ish months have been a blurr.  Lots more crazy in the house since the girls came.  We went from having "older" kids 8, 13, 16 to having a 3 and 5-year-old around (now 4 and 6) and that brought our parenting journey to a screeching halt!  We went from semi-smooth sailing to bumpy back roads.  It's taken us back to a time/place that we haven't been in so long that we don't even remember what we did "back then".   It's kinda funny and kinda not.  The amount of daily conflict in our house has tripled.  I feel like my primary job is a court appointed mediator, in a bad divorce, with crazy people who refuse to give in and who can't be reasoned with.  It's quite tiring!

Having little ones around who did not come from me is scary.  I take for granted all the things the boys "know" because we raised them, and all that the girls don't.  For instance, don't touch outlets, or hot things on the stove, or try to break up a dog fight, or open the door when someone knocks, or put things you found on the ground in your mouth, and on and on and on.  There are plenty of times I want to say "You know better than that" but the truth is they don't.

People have asked "Is it everything you ever imagined?" Well, not exactly.  I imagined girls to be delicate little creatures who don't delight in bodily functions like boys do or fight with each other or act like wild animals.  I've learned that girls are really no different than boys, just slightly more dramatic and manipulative.  They are crazy and full of energy and the boys have met their match.  They remind me of the days when Jon was little - always have them in your sight and don't leave scissors laying around!!  One afternoon, Kendy (the youngest) had one of those Barrel of Monkey games, except a miniature one, on the floor in her room.  The moneys were out so just the barrel was there.  I came in and noticed it and that the floor was a little wet so I asked her about it.  She retracted faster than a turtle, a given that something not good is about to come out.  Her sister was quick to give her up and told me it was pee.  What!!!  Apparently she had to go the night before and went in the tiny, little cup.  Seriously...  she's got skills to be able to pee in something so small, I'll give her that but the bathroom is right outside their door.  She is Jon all over again, who I vaguely remember peeing through the screen of his bedroom window once.  She's a handful for sure.  A few days ago she told me that she felt something crawl in her ear.  I said it was probably water since she just got out of the shower.  She started to cry so I got my glasses and a flashlight just to make her feel better.  I wound up pulling out a rather nice sized piece of foam that was way down in there.   I think I'm going to get her a nanny.....

But seriously, they are great and we are happy to have them.  When they first met us, they called us "Abuela and Abuelo", grandma and grandpa.  It was cute but slightly prophetic because that's exactly how we feel sometimes, way too old to be doing this!

They are biological sisters and appear to be from the caribbean side of Guatemala.  There is a population over there of people with African dissent so they don't look very Guatemalan.  They've got the afro hair and dark skin.  We don't know exact details but they were given up by their grandmother because their mother was not able to care for them.  It's kinda sad.  But, they are with us now and we trust God that this is how their story goes.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Sugar & spice and everything nice....

We wanted to share some exciting news and prayer requests…

For some time we have been looking into the possibility of adoption.  We've always felt that we weren't quite finished as a family and there has always been hope that one day we would have some girls join us.  Since moving to Guatemala,  we had heard many things as to whether or not we were eligible to adopt as foreigners so we decided to wait until we had our permanent residency completed to look in to the possibilities.  About a year ago our residency was finalized and through some different connections we began to investigate directly with the government to see if we met the qualifications to submit an application.  In January of this year we attended a half-day workshop, the first step in the process, and learned, as permanent residents, we are eligible to adopt.  After that, we spent two and a half months getting paperwork together from many different sources.  We then met with the government attorney who reviewed all of our paperwork.   He said everything was in order and they accepted the application!

A few weeks later the psychological evaluation was scheduled.  We (Chris and Holly) spent a morning telling our history, our family histories and drawing lots of pictures.   The picture thing was interesting because neither of us are artists and we were specifically told not to draw stick people.  We came home and googled the significance of what we had to draw (person, couple, family, house, and tree) and felt we might have failed that part right off the bat for various reasons and lack of artistic skills.  The next day the boys went in and talked to the psychologist and drew their own pictures.  That was a lively meeting to say the least!  If after spending an hour with those 3 together, they felt it was a good idea to give us a few girls, it would be a miracle.  But they did and called us a few weeks later to come out for a home visit.  After asking more of the same questions and looking at our house, the social worker congratulated us and told us we were going to be parents again! 

Yesterday, we spent all morning at an informational/preparation meeting and left with our official certificate of adoption eligibility.   Now, we wait for the call.  We know we will get 1-3 girls.  When you've got 3 kids, what's a few more?!?! We know that they will be anywhere from 18 months to 5 years old.  We are super excited and super nervous and praying that God will not give us more than we can handle.  Right about now we are asking ourselves if we are crazy!

After we receive a referral, we have 10 days to accept or not.  If we do, there will be a series of visits with the girl(s), just us and later the boys - they probably don't want to scare them right away.  :)  If all that goes well, they will come home with us. They will be ours but it will take the courts about 6 months to stamp and sign off on all of the documents.  After 2 years, we can get them passports for the US and apply for their naturalization.  In the meantime, we should be able to get them travel visas for when we go back to visit.

Please pray with us.  We know that these little girls will have their own stories, will have been through some type of trauma, and leaving all they know to come to our family will not be easy.  We fully expect there to be a difficult adjustment period and are praying that it be short and we all will have the patience needed.  We have alot to do to get ready for them - get their room ready, clothes, toys, etc.  There is not one girl thing in a house full of boys.  :)  We also need to be prepared emotionally for what to expect.  We are all excited to say the least!!