Sunday, May 24, 2015

Week One in Paraguay

We’ve been in Paraguay a little more than a week now. I think we have *maybe* caught up on our rest from traveling (not to mention Focal Point a week before we left, and all the work preparing to leave).

*Hopefully going to add some pictures to this post later*

So far the weather has been mild and rainy. Temperatures have been very similar to what they were in Texas when we left. However, I think as Texas starts to heat up, Paraguay will start to cool down. One of the hardest things to adjust to so far is that the sun sets about 5:15 pm - three hours earlier than it was setting in Texas when we left. It seems SO late sometimes when it really isn’t.

Some highlights of the week:

On Saturday we were invited to have lunch and spend time with a family in the congregation. For lunch we had Paraguayan pizza (which I have to admit I didn’t think would be my first taste of Paraguayan food). The pizza was very good, and the kids liked it as well. The kids also had fun playing with their little boy who is very close in age to Luke.

Later that day Ella and I attended a Ladies’ Tea. The Ladies’ Tea was very similar to the Ladies’ devo and desserts we’ve been having this past year in San Marcos. I enjoyed the Ladies’ Tea, though I was definitely exhausted at the time from traveling. At the Ladies’ Tea I was introduced to the traditional greeting in Paraguay: a kiss on each cheek.

On Sunday we worshiped with the brethren. It is definitely different listening to an entire service in Spanish. I could follow along ok, but I’m certainly not where I want to be in my understanding of Spanish (part of the reason we are here!). The brethren were very friendly and welcoming, and we learned that many of them speak English (on varying levels).

On Monday we moved into our permanent home for the summer: Socidad Internacional Misionera or SIM house. I haven’t taken any photos of the place yet, but it is a one-room apartment? with a tiny kitchen, a bathroom, and small hallway (which has become an “office” of sorts). Ella and Troy are enjoying the bunk beds, and Luke has been sleeping well in his “tent” travel bed. There is a playground on the grounds which the kids have thoroughly enjoyed. We have slowly been getting adjusted to the kitchen arrangement, and have cooked a few meals. We have stovetop burners, a small stovetop oven (which I have only ever seen on House Hunters International), a microwave, and a water kettle. Unfortunately, we can only plug in one of those things at a time, so we have to sometimes be creative and think ahead as we are preparing a meal.

One of the first things we learned about restaurants in Paraguay is that they all deliver (even McDonald’s!). We have successfully had Pizza Hut and McDonald’s delivered to our place. Although that seems like an easy task, it wasn’t! For one thing, addresses in Paraguay are . . . different, and figuring out exactly what we needed to use as the address was tricky. Secondly, we had to find places that had online ordering because, well, our Spanish isn’t quite up to the task of ordering on the phone. I have to admit I was relieved when the pizza actually showed up the first time we ordered! I’m hunting down some local places that might have online ordering as well.

On Wednesday one of the students in the Bible Academy came down to our place to take us on the bus to services. We barely rode the bus at all, but it was crazy and I’m not ready to do it again (especially with the kids!).

On Thursday we were invited to some of the brethren’s house for something called merienda which is a time in the afternoon for snacks and tea. We were treated to something called mbeyu which was kind of like a crumbly tortilla, and a traditional hot tea in Paraguay called cocido. The mbeyu and the cocido were both tasty. Ella particularly loved the cocido and mbeyu!

This isn’t a “highlight” of the week, but rather a “lowlight” . . . on Saturday night Luke face-planted out of his highchair and busted his lip open, sliced through the skin below his bottom lip, and chipped at least two of his top teeth. We’ll be keeping a close eye on how it heals in case we end up needing to take him to the doctor. Thankfully, through one of the families here, we already have a pediatrician lined up if we need him. And, we found out that the doctors here will text with you (crazy, huh?). 

When the student from the Academy took us to services Wednesday night, he asked Trent in passing if he was preaching on Sunday. Trent hadn’t heard anything about it, and told him probably not. Saturday night Trent found out that indeed he was preaching Sunday! This was Trent’s first time preaching an entire sermon in Spanish.

Tomorrow we begin teaching English using the book of John. We have four students lined up, and we are anxious to begin that work. 

We are continually remembering our brethren at home in our prayers, and we are also remembering those affected by the floods in San Marcos. It is strange to be so far away from our home, and to see the devastation in the area through pictures.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Traveling to Paraguay

We’ve almost been in Paraguay a week, yet I’m just now getting around to writing about our journey here. I’m going to try to do a better job keeping up with writing about our time here (otherwise I know I’ll forget something!).

In speaking with folks prior to making the journey, I mentioned that my biggest concern was actually getting to Paraguay. Not that the flights would be unsafe, but that we’d be traveling over two days (about 15 hours total in planes) to get to Paraguay with three young children, but especially with Luke who is only 20 months old. I know people do it all the time, but we hadn’t done it, and the thought of the 9 hour plane ride with my 20 month old was intimidating. (The longest flight I’d ever been on was about 4 hours prior to this trip). 

Our journey consisted of flying from Austin to Orlando, spending the night in Orlando, then flying from Orlando to Sao Paulo, Brazil, and finally flying from Brazil to Asuncion, Paraguay. All in all the kids did great on the flights, and the hardest part was sitting around waiting for our last flight in the Sao Paulo airport because the kids were exhausted at that point and our flight was delayed.  We also didn’t take into account that in the Sao Paulo airport we’d be bused from our airplane to the gate, and then back again to the next flight. It was a little difficult to get around with the kids (and all our carryons) on the buses. On the way home, I’m sure we’ll pare down how many items we’ll be bringing as carryons.

But, we made it! Coming into the country was a breeze. Trent and I traveled to Washington D.C. a few months ago to get our visas, so that was taken care of ahead of time. When we passed our paperwork over to be examined when we were entering the country, the man processing us didn’t even say a word to us. Very different from our experiences sometimes going into Jamaica where they often question us quite a bit about exactly where we are staying and what we are doing there. Two brethren whom we'd only met over the internet were waiting for us (very late at night/early in the morning in the pouring rain) to take us to our hotel. The brethren here have been so hospitable and loving toward us!

Now that we’re here, I’ve got other things to be intimidated by - like the language barrier and getting around on the buses. But I’ve also got much to look forward to - like making and strengthening relationships with the brethren in Paraguay.
Being dropped off at the airport in Austin

Spending the night in Orlando

 On the 9 hour flight from Orlando to Sao Paulo

On the 9 hour flight from Orlando to Sao Paulo

In the Sao Paulo airport

On the flight from Sao Paulo to Asuncion

The hotel where we stayed over the weekend until we could move into our permanent place. The owner was a Frenchmen who spoke (at least) French, English, and Spanish.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

With Thanks We Prepare For Paraguay

In just two extremely short weeks (especially when one of them is Focal Point!), our family will be moving to Asuncion, Paraguay to work with the brethren there during the summer. As time is quickly winding down to make our final preparations at home, I wanted to take some time to reflect on how much I have to be thankful for in regards to this trip.

I am thankful that my husband had the vision to consider such a valuable opportunity for our family and for our work in the kingdom. Anything like this trip was far from my mind, but in the front of his, and I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful for those Christians already working in Paraguay, and that they saw it fit for us to work with them for a time. I'm also thankful for the brethren in Paraguay who have been already been working hard on their end to make our trip possible. I'm thankful to be under an eldership who has granted our family this time to work away from our work at home. I'm thankful for those who will be working hard at home during our time away. I'm thankful for those who have given that we might take this trip. I'm thankful for those who have prayed, and for those who will pray for our trip and the work. I'm thankful for the opportunity for our family to be better equipped to serve in the church from the experiences we have on this journey. I'm thankful that God's kingdom isn't constrained by geographical boundaries, and that His Word is for all people.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Happy 19 Months Luke!

Every month that passes, you show how "big" you are getting, and this moth was no exception. You are a month closer to two years old, and you let us know every day that you are really a little boy.

You really do enjoy your toys, and one of your favorites is the "gumball" machine below. You like to put all sorts of toys inside it, and then get them out (or get us to get them out!). You also really enjoy playing with your cars.
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This year was your first opportunity to really hunt eggs at Easter. You loved it! It is right up your alley because you love to put things into containers, so putting the eggs in the basket was an easy and fun task for you! You also enjoyed eating the candy inside the eggs. :)
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You continue to love to sing, and this month you've gotten even more vocal. When "Let it Go" comes on in the car, you literally yell "GO" at the appropriate times. You get SO excited and you are incredibly enthusiastic about singing. Untitled
You started coloring this month. I don't know what it is about coloring, but seeing you do that really made me think about how big you are getting. Your speech continues to remind me how big you are getting as well. You say so many things, and you respond to us (even when we ask you to do things in Spanish sometimes!). Untitled
You also learned how to climb into our chairs on onto our couch this month. You are SO proud once you get in the chair or on the couch. Once you get up there, you often want to stand, so it has been a little bit of a trying time as we remind you that you can't stand up in the chair or on the couch. You love sitting with your siblings, especially Ella (probably because she doesn't get in your face as much as Troy does). Troy wears on your nerves at times, I think partially because he really loves to give hugs and kisses, and you don't seem to care for that very much.Untitled
One of your absolute favorite things to do is to "wrestle" with Daddy, Ella, and Troy. In fact, you'll even try to initiate it if someone is sitting on the floor by going and jumping on them. You also like to try to play hide and seek, and you will also try to play duck-duck-goose. I got a video of you trying to play duck-duck-goose below.

Luke playing duck duck goose from Lisa Kennedy on Vimeo.

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

Body parts you can identify: nose, ears, mouth, eyes (I'm sure you can probably identify more, but I didn't do a good job noting it)

Animal noises you make: cow, (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 like to chase after Reeses as well, but she's not to sure about that. : ) 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!

Luke @ 18 months

Troy @ 19 months
Ella @ 19 months

Monday, March 23, 2015

Happy 18 Months Luke!

Each day that passes reminds me just how big you are getting. The 18 month mark also reminds me that you really aren't a baby anymore, but fully toddler in all that you do. You can still show your very serious face, but you've also got an amazing grin that you love to flash at us. Sadly, I did not take many pictures this past month. :(

You love, love to play with buckles. You are greatly entertained when we go out to eat, and the high chair has a buckle you can play with. You also love the buckle lion toy (called a Buckleyboo). Unfortunately, you can't unbuckle the buckles yet, but you have a great big sister who loves to help you out. :)

You've had an explosion in your communication this past month. You've started saying many, many more words (I can't even keep track of them all anymore). You also finally decided you'd sign the words we've been trying to get you to sign for months now! You've also been demonstrating a good understanding of both English and Spanish. Our entire family has been working towards becoming fluent in Spanish, and you've done a great job picking up on it. Though I'm not sure you say anything in Spanish (though I've been suspicious a few times), you definitely recognize and understand phrases such as when we ask you if you are hungry or for you to say please in Spanish.20150305-IMG_1130.jpg

You continue to be a very busy baby, often running wherever you go. You are into everything, and you can be very stubborn about getting into whatever it is you want. You are slowly getting better about not throwing a fit when we tell you no, but you still don't like to be told no (who does??).

You are getting somewhat better about not being quite so picky with food, and I think a large part of that is that you love to get to use a fork. You do a GREAT job with your fork (sometimes better than Troy it seems!).20150306-IMG_1131.jpg

You really love to play with balls, and you've really enjoyed your new basketball goal. You're pretty good at it too!

Luke basketball from Lisa Kennedy on Vimeo.

You continue to love to sing, and you've gotten even better at singing and doing the motions to your favorite song over the past month ("Read Your Bible and Pray Everyday"). You also do some of the signs to the song "My God is So Big."

Luke singing from Lisa Kennedy on Vimeo.

You also finally made an animal noise! It was so funny - you walked into the room with a cow saying "moo!" when you hadn't ever done it before with us.

The cow goes moo from Lisa Kennedy on Vimeo.

Signs you do: more (you finally started doing the sign correctly!), finished, thank you, hungry, thirsty, please, sleepy

Body parts you can identify: nose, ears, mouth, eyes

Animal noises you make: cow

Favorite foods: Yogurt, chicken (especially chicken nuggets/strips), applesauce, nutrigrain bars, donuts, mac and cheese

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, and you've added a new level of "fun" since you started walking. You like to chase after Reeses as well, but she's not to sure about that. : ) You also enjoy shutting doors and drawers. You also love to play peek-a-boo!

Words you say: You have had a huge explosion of words this month. It is hard to keep track of them all - but here are ones that you say most often: Mama, Dada, Eh-wa! (Ella), "anks" (thanks), "eeses" (Reeses), hi, bye, "inished" (finished), "ba" (banana), Rhu-Rhu (your grandma), Pop-pa (your grandpa), "pees" (please), "mah!" (more), uh-oh, yay, my (you yell this a lot, and we think you are trying to say "mine"), grow, go, God, baby

Luke @ 17 months
Troy @ 18 months
Ella @ 18 months

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ella's 6th Birthday Interview

I know I say it every year, but it is hard to believe that Ella is six years old. It is strange sometimes to think about life before her, and I'm so thankful we have her in our life.

  1. What is your favorite color? Pink, purple, and red
  2. What is your favorite toy? My dolls
  3. What is your favorite fruit? Pear
  4. What is your favorite vegetable? Sweet potato
  5. What is your favorite TV show? Handy Manny
  6. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Mac and cheese and chicken nuggets
  7. What is your favorite outfit? That dress and sweater and stuff I wore last night
  8. What is your favorite game? That up and downs games (Chutes and Ladders)
  9. What is your favorite snack? Pretzels
  10. What is your favorite animal? Zebra
  11. What is your favorite song? Let It Go (from Frozen)
  12. What is your favorite book? Green Eggs and Ham
  13. Who is your best friend? Karsyn
  14. What is your favorite cereal? Chocolate Chex
  15. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Bounce on my bouncy thing
  16. What is your favorite drink? Sprite
  17. What is your favorite holiday? Valentine’s
  18. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Everything in my bedroom
  19. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Cinnamon Roll Pop Tarts
  20. What is your favorite thing for dinner? Sweet potato
  21. What do you want to be when you grow up? An eye doctor
  22. What is your favorite movie? Frozen
  23. Who is your favorite Disney princess? Elsa
  24. Where is your favorite place to go? McDonald’s and Chuck E. Cheese
  25. What is your favorite Bible story? Moses when he was a baby
  26. What is your favorite memory verse? Mark 16:16 
  27. What is your favorite letter? E . . . L  . . . every letter in the alphabet!
  28. What is your favorite thing to do in school? Read a book

20150201-IMG_0784.jpg Check out the rest of the birthday interviews!