Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Week Twelve in Paraguay

We've been home from Paraguay for a couple of weeks now, but I'm just now getting around to writing this because things have been crazy since we've been home! We've traveled many, many miles catching up with family we didn't see over the summer, had doctor appointments, got ready for the start of school (both for the kids and with Trent's job with the college students), and attempted to catch up on what we missed at home during our time out of the country. We still have many things to do in order to get back into the routine of being home, but we have started settling down some.

Our last week in Paraguay was busy and emotional. We packed, wrapped up many activities, and said many goodbyes. Thankfully, with today's technology our friends from Paraguay are only a text or Facebook message away!


Trent finished teaching in the Bible Academy at the beginning of our last week completing his class on the book of Deuteronomy as well as finishing grading all the students' work for the classes. Trent also had a couple of final private Spanish lessons in the few remaining days we had left in Paraguay.

During our last week we were able to meet with all four of our English students. I was able to teach the first lesson of Searching For Truth with two of my students, and I thought the lesson went well. I also completed lesson nine (of ten) with my other English student, and had the opportunity to talk with her about possibly doing Searching For Truth. Andrea made contact with all of our English students during the last week we were there to confirm appointment times with them as she took over all of these studies after we left. I'm anxious to hear how these studies progress!

The Paraguayans hospitality toward us continued to abound in our last week in Paraguay. We were invited to lunch at one family's home, and dinner at another family's. And, after services on Sunday morning, several members provided lunch for us before we had to head to the airport. It was nice to have a final meal with so many members of the congregation.


The Saturday before we left, Ella and I attended our last Ladies' Tea. At the tea I was able to give the devotional talk, and got to experience having my lesson translated for the first time. I was thankful to hear others' lessons translated before I did mine so that I had an idea of how to handle the situation. One of Trent's Spanish teachers translated for me! At the tea, I was also greatly surprised with a baby shower! I was completely shocked! At the shower we played a game where you go through several tests (Old Wives' Tales) to predict the baby's gender: nene (boy) or nena (girl). In the end, the game predicted nothing - equal chance that the baby was a boy or a girl. However, the ladies were asked to predict whether they thought I was having a boy or a girl, and they predicted correctly (a girl)!







I'm so thankful for the opportunity that our family had to spend in Paraguay for the summer working with the Christians there. If you would have told me even a couple of years ago that we would be spending our summer in South America, I probably would have laughed at you. However, among many things, I'm thankful that my husband had the vision for this opportunity for our family, and I'm thankful for the experience of working as a missionary in a foreign field for an extended period of time.





Read more about our time in Paraguay

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The First Day of School

First, here are Ella and Troy's first day of school interviews.

Ella:
  1. What do you want to be when you grow up? Christian and a doctor, an eye doctor or a regular doctor that checks you
  2. What was your favorite thing you did during the summer? Go to Paraguay, meet new friends, and learn Spanish in Paraguay. You can just say: "Have fun in Paraguay!"
  3. What is your favorite thing to learn about in school? Putting name puzzles together
  4. What is your favorite color? Blue
  5. What is your favorite thing to play? Barbies and my princess dolls, and my Minnies and my baby dolls
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Troy:
  1. What do you want to be when you grow up? Pirate
  2. What was your favorite thing you did during the summer? Work with my tools
  3. What is your favorite thing to learn about in school? Reading lesson
  4. What is your favorite color? Orange
  5. What is your favorite thing to play? Everything in the house
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And, I had to include this photo because Luke insisted on posing next to the sign just like Troy. :)

Ella's first day of first grade was very different from her first day of kindergarten. Although I homeschooled Ella last year, we decided to send her to public school for first grade.
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We didn't choose to move Ella to public school because we were unhappy with how things were going as we homeschooled her; rather, we chose to move Ella to public school, for the most part, for her to have the experience as a student as well as for us to have the experience as parents. We've said all along that we are open to many different schooling options, and while the reasons we chose to homeschool Ella last year are still reasons we may homeschool her again in the future, it doesn't mean that homeschooling is the only way or that there aren't valid reasons to consider a different schooling option.

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I will admit that I have very mixed emotions about Ella's schooling this year. Even though we are only one day into the school year, there are already things that I miss about homeschooling her like choosing her curriculum and knowing exactly what she'll be learning; seeing her excitement when she learns something new; and not having to be out the door at 7:30 in the morning. :) However, there are things that I know I will get to enjoy about her experiences in public school like when she came home yesterday chatting about the new friends she made, or that how her favorite things were exercising and doing name puzzles, or how the fifth graders helped her out during lunch.

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I'll be teaching Troy pre-K at home, and we are going to start by focusing on learning to read. I'm excited and thankful for the time that I will have to focus on Troy's learning. I'm also excited for the opportunity for Troy to learn more responsibility without having Ella to rely on. He's never been the oldest child around the house, and this will give him an opportunity for growth (and an opportunity for me to challenge him more as well).

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Although it isn't specifically related to my children, I'd like to end with a note of encouragement to all parents, particularly Christian parents, concerning others' choices when it comes to schooling. I'm in several homeschooling groups on Facebook, and those groups have, for the most part, been valuable resources for advice on educating children at home. However, over the past few days there have been numerous discouraging posts regarding those who would choose to educate their children outside the home. And, sadly, I've also heard many discouraging things from those who educate their children outside the home toward those who homeschool. I'm deeply saddened by the pressure and guilt that each side seems to place on the other. I think we all need to be very careful about judging each family's motives and remember that each schooling situation will present unique opportunities and situations (both good and bad) for our families. As Christian parents we ought to be looking at how we can use those opportunities to teach our children more about God and His Word and sharing the good news with others.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Happy 23 Months Luke!

One month from being two year old! I'd say that it is hard to believe you are almost two, but it really isn't. You seem SO big these days (physically and otherwise), and although I might still call you my "baby" from time to time, you are far from a baby! You keep us on our toes at every turn, and we love the energy and surprises you bring to our lives.

You continue to amaze us with your physical skills. You love to jump, and have been able to jump for a while now (off both feet at the same time), but you've gotten really good a jumping many times in a row without pausing between jumps. You also impressed us with another skill (which I was shocked by when I saw you do it). Ella and Troy were swinging on the bar shown in the picture below, and you decided to join in. Not only did you grab onto the bar and hang on, but you also raised your legs out straight as well as raising them up bent. And you hung on for a good bit of time too! You also do a great job kicking a soccer ball (and you've gotten lots of practice while we've been in Paraguay!).

You've always been much more able to keep a poker face than Ella or Troy, and you continue to show that skill off (a skill which you got from your dad!). After watching Ella and Troy, I'm amazed at how well you can keep a straight face. Don't get me wrong, you smile a lot too, but you often keep us guessing with your straight face.



Despite the crazy schedule and circumstances we've been in throughout the past three months in Paraguay, you've handled everything pretty well, even when you've been exhausted. You've slept well in your tent bed (which I've loved for traveling, by the way), and even voluntarily gotten in it a few times on your own when you've been really tired. You, Ella, and Troy love to play with all your bedding stuff (blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals), and every night before bedtime everyone has to gather their stuff up to get ready for bed. When we first got to Paraguay Ella and Troy always had to gather your stuff, but lately you've been doing a great job helping out and putting your stuff in your bed.


I feel like there are countless times each week Trent or I say to you something along the lines of "you think you are so funny, don't you?" You love to do things, see if anyone is watching, and then grin really big when they see what you've done. One thing you've done consistently lately is to steal mine or Trent's seats/spots on the bed. As soon as one of us gets up, you promptly crawl over to the spot and sit in it, grinning, waiting for us to come back and "evict" you. You've also crawled under the covers like you were going to sleep in our bed a few times as well, and you are SO proud every time you do it.

You've become a great hugger this month, joining in at bedtime with the rounds of hugs. It is SO precious! There are still times when you aren't in the "hugging mood," but most nights you are happy to pass out hugs. You'll even sometimes give people hugs when we are leaving somewhere. You are also great at saying "Ciao" when we are leaving.

You continue to enjoy playing by yourself, and I think you will probably be excited to be back at our home in Texas where there is more room to spread out and Troy isn't constantly around you. We attended a birthday party this past month, and you spent a large part of the time off playing by yourself. You DO like to play with others too, but you seem perfectly content to entertain yourself. When you are interested in playing with Ella and Troy though, you have no problem grabbing their hands and pulling them right where you want them. Ella and Troy love it (for the most part) when you pull them away to do something. You'll also go get Ella to do things for you such as pick you up to put you on the bed if you don't feel like climbing up yourself.


You are still really good at turning on the tears when you don't get your way. You've been spending a lot of time in the corner, as you learn to calm down and get over your fit. Overall, I think you are getting better at listening and obeying, but you are definitely stubborn at times. :) 

You've been saying more phrases lately, and I love to watch your communication develop. Sometimes I'm shocked when I realize what you've just said. Some things we hear a lot include "More! Empty!" (when you run out of drink), "Night-night daddy! Night-night mama!" and "right here" (while you point at something).

Something kind of crazy happened this past month as well . . . you finally decided that shoes were OK! You've been resisting wearing shoes, especially since we've been in Paraguay, but I decided to really try to get you to wear them again because we were going to be traveling to Iguazu Falls. To my surprise, you've been keeping them on! When we put them on you, the first thing you almost always do is a big jump in them, It is pretty cute!

Signs you do: more, finished, thank you, hungry, thirsty, please, sleepy, bath

Body parts you can identify: nose, ears, mouth, eyes, tongue, teeth, hair, face, hands, feet, belly, neck, arms, legs (You can also identify many body parts by their Spanish name)


Animal noises you make: cow, duck, dog (I think you can do more, but I didn't take good note. . . .)


Favorite foods: Yogurt, chicken (especially chicken nuggets/strips), nutrigrain bars, donuts, mac and cheese, and foods you get to eat with a fork

Favorite activities/toys: Books, balls, little figurines (like Mickey Mouse), cars, buckle stuffed lion. You love to "put things in things" as well as throwing. You also love to play chase with the other kids. You also enjoy shutting doors and drawers. You also love to play peek-a-boo! You really love singing as well! One of your favorite things to do is to "wrestle" with your dad and siblings.


Words you say: I cannot keep up with the words you say anymore! You say so many things (in English and Spanish)!

Luke @ 22 months
Troy @ 23 months
Ella @ 23 months

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Week Eleven in Paraguay

One week from today we'll begin our journey back home. We are so thankful for our time here, yet also excited to get back to work at home. This week will be filled with lots of packing, finalizing/transitioning our work here, and goodbyes.

This week I met with one of my English students, and we finished up our eighth (of ten) lessons from the book of John. Each week i meet with this student I feel as though she's opening up more about discussing the Bible during our lessons, so I'm hopeful that after we leave she'll be interested in continuing on with Bible study once she completes all the English lessons. Unfortunately, I did not get to meet with my two students with whom I was supposed to begin Bible study using Searching for Truth. Hopefully they'll be able to meet this coming week. Trent was able to meet with his English student and they continue to progress through the English lessons from the book of John.

Monday night we met with one of the families here, and let the kids play at the park and then got pizza together. The kids always love getting to play with their little boy, and I know they are going to miss him!


Trent continued teaching in the Bible Academy this week. He finished up his class on Christian Evidences, and continued teaching Deuteronomy. He'll finish up Deuteronomy on Tuesday of this coming week. 

At the end of the week, we had the unique opportunity to visit Iguazu Falls in Argentina with Troy and Andrea. It was an amazing experience, and words and pictures cannot even describe the awesome nature of the falls. In 2011 Iguazu Falls was named one of the seven wonders of the natural world, and it wasn't hard to see why. I'm thankful that we had an opportunity to take our family there while we were so close (about a six hour bus ride away). While we were there we also had the opportunity to see many beautiful butterflies, monkeys (which I had never seen "in the wild"), and pesky, yet intriguing, raccoon-like creatures called coati. The kids really enjoyed the trip, and also greatly enjoyed their time with Troy and Andrea.
Riding the ferry across from Paraguay to Argentina (you could also see Brazil from the ferry).
Playing soccer at the place we stayed in Argentina. You can always find a soccer ball wherever you are!

Riding the train at Iguazu Falls.





Monkey!

Coati stealing food


Riding the ferry back to Paraguay.

Troy telling the kids a story about a boy with a dream. :)

After services today we were invited over to the secretary's home for lunch. We thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship and the food. The kids also enjoyed getting to play with her son whom they've recently been getting to play with quite a lot (because the kids here had winter break the last couple of weeks). 
Bible class

Troy helping hand out announcement sheets.

 Playing at lunch.

Knocking down lemons at lunch.


Read more about our time in Paraguay

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Week Ten In Paraguay

We are down to our last few weeks in Paraguay. In many ways it is still hard to comprehend that we've been living and working in South America for ten weeks, but I'm thankful that we've had this great opportunity to work with the brethren here in Paraguay.

This week I was able to meet with two of my English studies, and we finished the last English lesson from the book of John. When we finished the lesson, I asked them if they'd be interested in continuing on with the focus being Bible study, rather than English (though we always discuss the Bible in our lessons), and they both said yes! We'll begin using the Searching for Truth material this week for our studies. Trent was also able to meet with his study, and although he only has one student now, I think his one student requires more effort and mental focus than all of my students combined. His lessons with her are so much more difficult because her English isn't as good as the students that I have. I'm thankful that he's able to work with her, even after he's had a long day of teaching in the Bible Academy, taking Spanish lessons, and then watching the kids while I teach my students before he ever begins teaching her. This week we also began discussing our students and the process of handing them off once we leave. Andrea will take over our studies when we head home, and I'm so thankful that she is here to continue on with our students.

Trent teaching English (please ignore the ugly reflections . .  . taken through two sets of windows!)

Teaching English (I promise I'm not mad . .  just got caught looking up at the wrong time!)

Ella teaching English :)


Trent continued teaching Christian Evidences and Numbers in the Bible Academy this week. He finished up Numbers, and will begin teaching Deuteronomy next week which means he's going to get lots of practice saying "Deuteronomio"  - a particularly hard word to say in Spanish. He also continued with his Spanish lessons, trying to get in as many lessons as he can before we leave. Trent was also able to have another Bible study with the young man that he studied with last week.

Trent giving a chapel talk to the students.

 Trent passing out his Numbers test.

This past week two men (a deacon and the preacher) from a congregation of the Lord's people in Florida were visiting the congregation here in Paraguay. This congregation has been a large supporter of the work here in Paraguay, and while they were here they discussed in-depth with the men of the congregation in Paraguay about their relationship with the work, and how they want to continue to support the work in Paraguay, particularly in the area of church planting. Currently there are only three known congregations in the entire country of Paraguay. Their trip was very enlightening to see how congregations of the Lord's people can work together and maintain autonomy. Their trip also allowed us additional opportunities to hear a lesson in English translated to Spanish which we have found to be very helpful with learning Spanish.

On Saturday we all went to the birthday party of a little boy in the congregation. The kids had a great time playing with all their friends! We also enjoyed getting to visit with many people whom we've gotten to know during our time here.




And, here's a few random photos from Sunday!




 Ella just lost a screw in her glasses . . . so she's missing one side of her glasses in the photo (thus the funny face). Thankfully we brought some duck tape, and will make it through till we get back and get them fixed. :)
Trent and Troy matching :)

Read more about our time in Paraguay