"We just want to see what your life looks like.I follow your blog daily and read your newsletters, but I still have some questions for you...
What do y'all do on a day to day basis? What do your kids do? What does your schedule look like? Do each of you have specific jobs? How is the homeschooling going? What has been the biggest disappointment, challenge, surprise, adjustment...? How are your children doing? Do you guys have friends? Are you at the orphanage all day? What does your house look like? I know these questions seem silly, but I am just really curious about all of it.
Okay Rebecca... it's going to be long- but this one is for you. :)
What do we do on a daily basis?
That is a great question and one that is hard to answer. Each day here as been unique in it's own way. The missionaries we serve here with, Felis and Pedro, told us from the beginning the key word is FLEXIBLE and boy were they right. What I have noticed is, we can make plans but they don't usually happen- so we have learned to go with the flow- something I admit we were not accustom to. Todd and I were both huge planners, list makers- and we have had to relax a bit with that. That said, one of our jobs here is to help with worker and team schedules. Because we are not in any way shape or form fluent in Spanish yet we do a lot of behind the scenes work. We work on fundraising, finances and helping get things in order and organized. Not necessarily the fun and glamorous part- but necessary to help the ministry run smoothly.We work as a team here with the other missionaries and we are all involved in every area. Orphan care is, of course, one of our primary areas of ministry. This includes anything from training the caregivers to having devotionals with the orphans. We plan field trips, birthday parties, hair cuts, meals. We make sure there is adequate support for each child and that we have the right size clothes, shoes, enough school supplies, backpacks and that homework is being done. We work with the children dealing with things such as the loss and abuse many have faced. Each one of them is unique and we work hard on developing their strengths and teaching them about the one who created them in the first place.
One of the beautiful childen in the home- Raul.
Another area we help with is the Manna Feeding Center. Approximately 60 children from the surrounding village are enrolled. These children have to qualify according to income level. They are fed a nutritious meal Monday-Friday at the feeding center as well as hear a devotional. After that they either do a craft, swim or play soccer. They also occasionally do a community project like trash pick up.
We also have a Christian school on campus where 150 students attend. Some are on full scholarship ($450 a year per student) and others partial. Some have families who are able to pay. The orphans and our children also go to school there. We are blessed to have a 'homeschool' room in the school building and our kids love it. Our children and the other missionary kids share this room and do their work together. Most of their work is done online- although they do join the other Guatemalan children for Language, PE, art and devotions. It is a perfect mix. :)
Front of the school building...
Inside of school building...
Our kids homeschool room...
Another area of ministry we do here is work with short term mission teams. We have apartments on campus that these teams stay in and this year we have about 35 teams coming through. Those teams can be church groups, families or couples :) Part of our job is to host the teams and work along side of any projects they may be doing. Their work here is crucial. One of the things I love most about this place is to see how God's people have come together to make it what it is. Some teams build, some teams paint, some offer Marriage Seminars and other teams love on the children- but this place exists because they choose to come here and give of themselves. :)
We also do outreach projects- another one of my favorites. It is an area that is near and dear to our hearts. We are enjoying building relationships and coming alongside the people in Solola in hopes of sharing the Lord. These relationship take time to develop and can't happen over night but they are so worth it the time.
As for what our children do... as I mentioned they are all in school from 8:00- 12:45 each day. After that they typically go to the Manna Feeding Center and hang out with the kids there and then join them in playing soccer. These kids have fast become their friends. We are also blessed to have the other missionary kids here who we adore. Our kids all get along great. :) They actually even opened a little store on the campus where they sell snack and drinks to the teams that stay. All in all they are just normal kids- who happen to live in Guatemala. We serve together as much as possible and just plain old love being together. I asked our kids about 3 month after being here if they could would they choose to go back- and they unanimously said "no way!" While we may not have the conveniences we had in America, we love our lives here, the culture and the people. I will also add that it has been so cool to watch their Spanish develop (way faster than mine I might add).
As for friendships- we feel beyond blessed in this area. While some of my best friends still obviously live in the states- but between email, skype, phone calls and facebook we have continued to remain close. We are also blessed to be working with the most amazing people in this world (and also have another precious couple coming as soon as they raise support!) We never in our wildest dreams imaged that God would bless us with such a fun, supportive and incredible team- and we couldn't ask for more. And in addition, we are also partnering with some of the mostly Godly, loving, big hearted, REAL DEAL people in this world. So on the days when it gets hard (cause life is life no matter where you are) that keeps us going. :)
As for the biggest disappointment... um, probably the food. Sounds funny I know but it's been difficult. We always laugh and say no wonder you never hear anyone say 'hey lets go out for Guatemalan food tonight". LOL It may just be the reason my husband lost 40 lbs since moving here. Altitude and recipes in Spanish make things a bit difficult. LOL Plus the fact that most people don't own refrigerators- so milk comes in small boxes as does pretty much everything else. They typically have to go to the market or store daily and carry their stuff home and use it that day. So for a family our size that is time consuming and a lot of carrying. We do have the option of going to Pricemart in Guatemala City (like Sams Club) but the city is a 2 1/2 hour drive so not convenient either. That said, we can go to the market and buy beautiful, organic fresh fruits and veggies for a fraction of the cost we paid in America- so that is a huge plus.
Biggest challenge? Hands down the language. Please someone make it stick. ;)
Biggest surprise? How quickly this felt like 'home'.
Biggest adjustment? Not being able to see our boys who are at college in the states as often as we wish (which would be every day if you asked me). My heart aches just thinking about it. :( We love you Travis and Keegan.
Now- our home. We live underneath the orphanage and have the pleasure of hearing the pitter patter of little feet all day long. ;) I really do love it and with 9 kids of our own I am used to it.
Outside view of our front door...
Inside our living room... (can you tell my family had no idea what I was doing? Ha Ha)
This is the view of the school/church from our house... no driving required, pretty nice. :)
So in a nut shell that is what our lives here now look like. Each day a gift. Each new experience priceless, each new friend we treasure and we wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. Thank you God for sending us. We are truly blessed.