Blessings and Close Calls

Hello from Guatemala, friends! Today is my fifth full day here, and I am enjoying it! Coping with the language difference is definitely a challenge, but the two years of high school Spanish that I took are coming back more each day.

Thank you to all who have prayed and are praying for me! I could sense the Lord’s help the past few days as I’ve packed, traveled, and begun to adjust to this new lifestyle.

I have some fun stories to tell and pictures to show already, so here goes for update number one!

Last Saturday night we went out as a family to Cracker Barrel to have some good quality family time before I left.  We enjoyed having Charles’s good friend, Brian, from college, with us as well.

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It was also Mary’s twelfth birthday!! She got a special free dessert and was sung to by several waitresses. 🙂
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A very competitive game of checkers was in order….

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God answered a prayer of mine that night! Below is my subsequent Google+ post written later that night after returning home:

 

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Monday was my big packing day, and I had a sweet little helper!! It was so fun to spend time with Ella, and she was very helpful. 🙂
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Cutie pie. 🙂

IMG_7046I had a paper to write for my online class…..so I was occupied the entire six hours of plane time!
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I had two flights with a 45-minute layover in Dallas, but when I walked into the airport, my flight appeared to be delayed 20 minutes. I was quite nervous about the possibility of missing my flight and being stranded in Dallas, increasingly so as the estimated delay lengthened from 20 to 30 to 35 minutes. Praying helped to calm me down some, though, as did knowing that God was still in control. Since I had ten minutes or less between landing in Dallas and boarding my next plane, which took off from a different terminal, I cut in line to grab my gate-checked suitcase before literally running through the airport. I ran up and down the long escalators and stepped into the right shuttle ten seconds before the doors closed. This two minute ride gave me some time to calm down a bit, and thankfully I went the right direction after getting out…I did actually turn the wrong way at first but somehow realized my mistake before taking ten steps. 🙂 I made it to my gate and began pulling out my passport, less than sixty seconds before the guy called over speakerphone, “This is the last boarding call for Flight 1034 to Guatemala City…”

As soon as I found my seat on the plane, I realized how very shaky I was, from the panic of the moment and possibly from low blood sugar, since mealtimes were kinda quirky that day. I thanked the Lord for His miraculous provision and help! Just think about it…I could have easily missed my plane by missing the shuttle, running the wrong direction, or forgetting to get my gate-checked valet bag! I am not typically clear-headed when I’m in a panic, so I am very thankful that God gave me clarity of mind in a new place, and I know your prayers helped!!

Mikah and the Schaper family picked me up in Guatemala City, where we stayed the night before doing some shopping and heading to Jalapa the next day.

In case you didn’t know, this is the best way to transfer food from a shopping cart to a cooler on top of the car…

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Beautiful Guatemalan flowers // Ashlyn Schaper and I
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I drove the moto for the first time this week! Actually, I’ve never even ridden a motorcycle before this week. 🙂 Apparently, the motorcycle’s speed is controlled by twisting the right handlebar. I found that out a few minutes before I drove it, so I had just a wee bit of trouble trying to turn. The first time I got on, I was going the opposite way that the photo below shows, and while trying to turn almost 90 degrees to avoid the grassy curb, I accidentally gassed it up and flew right OVER the curb, almost running into a soccer goal and landing the motorcycle on its side, with my leg pinned underneath and both wheels still spinning. The only battle scar I have is a 8-inch scrape on my leg…but it didn’t even bleed.

So this week I rode a motorcycle for the first time, drove a motorcycle for the first time, wrecked a motorcycle for the first time, and I even rode side-saddle for the first time today on the way to church. 🙂
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Thursday was my first day helping out at the school here in Jalapa, and Mikah and I taught first grade all day. This is the biggest class, with fourteen children, and I enjoyed spending time with them. They’re a lot of fun! Of course communication was difficult, though, because I know very little Spanish and they know very little English.

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On Friday, I helped out a bit in first grade and kindergarten, then moved to third grade, which has six students, where I’ll probably be stationed for most of my time here. The teacher in third grade hardly knows any English, however, so that’ll be interesting. The kids can translate a little bit, and they are a fun class, so that will help.

On Saturday evening, we had several of the older school kids over for pizza, a movie, and games.

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MIkah made imitation apple-cider for everyone, but our nice little “Hannah and the cider” picture was photobombed!! Hence this face…

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Your prayers for both Mikah and I are coveted this next week! Thanks for your continual support, and I will keep you updated!

 

Adventures // with ice cream and playgrounds

Children love ice cream….and playgrounds….and I love seeing them happy, so earlier this summer, my younger siblings and I all took advantage of a spare evening and went to a nearby ice cream shop!!  Being only about 8 country miles away was a big plus, too, for us country folk. 🙂 IMG_5441

By the way, the proper way to eat an ice cream cone is upside down….can’t you see how efficient that is? 😉

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Ohhh, those eyes……and that adorable little chocolate-smeared chin!!

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Ella and I shared a cone!  The literal, non-germophobe way….

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Or at least we tried.

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Peanut butter sundaes are the best, right, Joy??

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Beth is so pretty!!  And her character reflects her love for the Lord…so glad she’s my sister.

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Cara!!  That girl is growing up too fast…

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Wade’s just keepin’ to McIntosh Ice Cream Outing Traditions!


As soon as the ice cream was finished off, we headed a couple of miles down the road to a local school playground – one of our favorites.  The evening was so enjoyable!  We even made friends with a few other kids who were hanging out there, and watched their jaws drop as we told them that we were ALL siblings, not a day care. 🙂

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Staticky slide hair!

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Wade and Ella have fun!

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money can't buy ice cream, but...

Okaaaayyyy, not quite.  Here’s the truth, though!

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.  These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”
John 15:10-11, NKJV

What did you do this summer that you especially enjoyed?  What do you wish you would have done?  I’d love to hear about it down below!

May 2015 // an overview

Howdy, friends!!!  Much has happened in the past 31 days, from final exams, to plane rides, to birthday celebrations.  Boy, does time fly when you’re havin’ fun – that must be what we have been doing. 🙂 As a tribute to the exciting and memory-filled month of May and an excuse to tell our adventures, I decided to write an overview of the month’s events and fill it with some fun photos!

May 3rd: I take my long-anticipated Psychology AP (Advanced Placement – it allows you to receive college credit for the subject) test at Defiance High School, the first of three college preparatory course tests I took this month.  I’d studied for all three of these the whole semester, and was very eager to get the tests over with.  Psychology was fun, though!

May 5th: Charles finishes his final exam for the semester.  He’s only got one more year of college, and he has secured a nice internship for the summer as well.

May 7-10: Charles, Grace, Beth and I drive to Cincinatti for the weekend with some good friends, the Kisers, and have WAAAYYY too much fun while we’re at it!  Thursday night we attended God’s Bible School’s college spring concert (and ate ice cream afterwards!).

We went canoeing Saturday afternoon with a few of the Kisers’ friends and had a blast as well as some…let’s just say “adventures.”  😉

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(Left to right: (Ethan), Grace, Hannah, Beth, Charles, Josiah, Jeffrey, Jonny, Uriah, Josue)

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(L-R: Josue, Ethan, Jonny, Uriah)

Apparently staying on the ground isn’t thrilling enough for some people! 🙂  Neither is just sitting on the tree branch…ya gotta hang from it to experience life to the FULLEST.  Oh yeah, and don’t forget to climb down in a way that breaks part of the branch off and gives a good scare to everyone around…especially the one still hanging upside down.  All this is absolutely necessary for having fun on a Saturday afternoon – remember that, okay?  Okay.

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The Kisers’ self-built three-seater kayak was much faster than the canoes, thus the far distance between us and the rest of the group, who you can see in the background. 🙂

Ultimate frisbee, tag, staying up late watching The Hobbit part 1, board games, and just hanging out were also part of the weekend that somehow ended way sooner than we wanted it to.  It was a perfect relaxing study break before the next step in my testing marathon….

May 13th: I take my English Language & Composition AP test in the morning, and my Statistics test in the afternoon. It was SUCH a relief to get those behind me!  I went home and took a nice long bike ride to relax.  🙂  Sadly, I don’t get the results until July, though I’m pretty sure I passed them all.

May 15-22: Joy and I fly to Florida to spend a week with Grandpa and Grandma and to fly home with them, since they stay in FL for the cold months and come back up here during the summer.  We swam in the pool every. single. day. – even the day that we flew home!  Who says pool time is off-limits just because you have to leave for the airport at 11:30 AM?  Not us, that’s for sure! 😉

Grandma and my aunt who also lives down in Florida for the winter, Aunt Barb, took us shopping at Kohl’s one afternoon just to spoil us a little…which we didn’t mind a bit.  Grandma, Joy, and I went to three different thrift stores during our stay…my favorite was the one at which I scored FOUR skirts in a row that fit perfectly!  Of course, the best part was that the total cost was less than what we sometimes pay for just one brand new skirt!  🙂

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We went blueberry picking at a local patch one morning.  Seriously, people, you haven’t tasted blueberries until you’ve tried ones as fresh and big and juicy as these were….we picked a grand total of twelve pounds!  And yes, we ate all twelve pounds in 3-4 days.  I’m pretty sure I ate around five pounds of blueberries just by myself…

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They also kept goats, and let Joy in to play with and feed them since she’s had so much experience with goats.  I’m pretty sure this made her day. 🙂

Some of you have already heard about our grand fruit consumption, but for those of you who still need updated, the four of us (Grandpa, Grandma, Joy, and I) with a very small amount of help from friends, inhaled twelve pounds of (fresh, juicy, and delicious!) blueberries, two full-size watermelons, six bunches of bananas, four pounds of cherries, and several apples and oranges as well.  Grandparents are REALLY good at spoiling girls like us!  Feel free to laugh at us crazies (as I’m sure you will!), but just remember that we DID go swimming every day to try to make up for it. 😉

May 16th: My favorite older brother turns 21!!!!!!!  Joy and I were in Florida, so we couldn’t celebrate it with him, but Beth sent us plenty of pictures and an evening summary.  He’s so much fun….we always love weekends because Charles comes home! 🙂

May 23-24: We receive a short weekend visit from a fun family, the Pauluses!  We’ve known the oldest son, Jeffrey (from GBS, see canoe trip pictures above), for almost a year, and we had a blast getting to know the rest of the fam!  So we played plenty of volleyball, laughed till our sides hurt, and watched the boys play “dodge the cow”….or rather “See-who-can-jump-on-the-cow-and-stay-there-the-longest.”  I’d add pictures of our adventures, but they are currently inaccessible.  Maybe I’ll sneak ’em in later sometime when I get a chance. 🙂

May 28th: Joy turns 13!  We’ve got four teenagers again – at least for 6 more months.  🙂

IMG_5142 IMG_5144Joy is a HUGE gift-giver: she’ll leave you notes and candy on your pillow after a long trip, clean the bathroom for you and leave fun food items on the counter for you to find instead of the dirty bathroom when you wearily trek into the bathroom late at night to begin the cleaning process, and go to every extreme to make you feel extra special on your birthday.  Just today I found a yogurt from her in my going-to-work lunch bag! Love you, Joy!!  IMG_5147IMG_5151

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This gift from Grandpa and Grandma was perrrfect for her – except I don’t think she needs a reminder.  I honestly don’t know how Mom and Dad got her name just right like they did, but she is definitely a joy to be with and to have around!

May 28th: I apply to and get hired at Glenn Park, an Assisted Living facility about ten minutes away from home, as a nurse’s aid!  I’m excited, but also realizing that this summer is going to be busier than I thought, with two part-time jobs and a few high school things to finish before I start college classes in late August.  Ah well – hard things are good for me!

I know it’s been forever since I’ve written anything, but I guess that I’ve been so busy living life that it’s hard to find time to blog about it very much!  Remember as you head into this next week that God wants us to LIVE fully alive, treasure those around you, and make use of the little time that you have in your current stage of life.  Before you know it, time will be gone…will you be able to say, “I lived FULLY ALIVE, enjoyed every minute, and did all that I could to glorify my Savior”?  It’s not always easy, and I’m not always successful, but the Lord is teaching me to lean on Him and let His light shine through my many imperfections.

“Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

“I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you Lord Jesus.”

“When it comes time to die, make sure that all you have to do is die.”

-Jim Elliot