Saturday, April 27, 2013

neighbors and being neighborly

the past few weeks, everyone has been working on cleanup. I promised, the first warm day we had, I would tackle the rest of the yard. It was the thick carpet of little branches that was the most frustrating part. 

But we got it done! 

We have had a some wonderful helpful disaster relief groups come in to town, and our church has partnered with them. The same day we worked outside, a group from Global Compassion Network and Valley Disaster Relief  were across the street, cutting down trees in the above pictures. 

These pictures were from immediately after the ice storm. On Sunday morning, our church split up into work teams instead of having a worship service. I was so proud to be part of a body who values BEING the Church, not just doing church. 

While visiting with one of the members volunteer groups, I found out he has two daughters who, with their families, are AIM missionaries! Over lunch, I checked out their blogs and saw their stories. As usual, my heart was touched, and I started to cry. Anybody who knows me knows how much I want to be a missionary. Preferably internationally. And, for some reason, preferably to Africa. But does that measure or define my burden for the lost, my commitment to Christ, my love for God? What if, for some reason, I never get there; what if I end up staying here and being a "regular" SAHM? Can I still change the world? 

I have been thinking alot about evangelism and the role that it should play in the life of a Christ-follower. What is evangelism? I dont claim to be an expert on these things, I've never gone to seminary. But i can tell you, in my own life, I can memorize all the outlines, the acronyms, the right phrases, the questions, even the verses. But it wont do me a bit of good in "reaching the world" if i cant reach over to open the door when my neighbor comes knocking. Or reach over to open the door to let myself out of my own house and walk myself over to my neighbors house. 

It isnt about being a missionary to Africa. That will hopefully be my life, but even if I stayed in this house right here: one on side, I have a young single mother with three kids, who immigrated from Ethiopia. She works long hours at a meat packing plant, and her 5 yr old son seems to want to live at my house; behind me I have a group home for physically/mentally challenged adults. The staff member I met has worked there 10 yrs, and said I am the first person who has ever spoken to her, she thinks because people are scared of the residents, of their different-ness. On my other side I have an elderly woman who is sad and lonely, in her words "lousy", since the recent death of her husband. People all around us need Jesus. They need love. Acceptance. Freedom. Hope. Friendship. How is it that I can have time for Bible studies, Sunday School, life group, (yes, at times I have participated in each one of these seemingly redundant activities, all at the same time), time for socials and even for evangelism classes and service projects, but not necessarily time to get to know my neighbors, to know them enough that i hear their stories and share mine with them? I know our culture is not at all conducive to this type of intimacy. That makes it more difficult. But i still think its possible. 
I want to love people. Not the idea of people, not just the millions of unreached around the world, or those poor souls in fill-in-the-blank. But the everyday people right here, the people who take time, whose lives may be messy, who will inconvenience me and my routine. The people who Jesus loves. And that is the reason He put me right here; so I could love them, and offer up not just my nifty little evangelism tract, but offer a seat in my van, a plate at my dinner table, time spent listening, and offering up myself, just like He did. So that somehow, by some miracle, they could see a little bit of Him through me. and then know Him like i know Him. That, I have decided, is what evangelism means for me.

 (not to say that you wont see me on the side of the road in a  John 3:16 sandwich board one day, you never know ;-)  

Spring is here!

why daddy, your bbq chicken sliders and red cabbage slaw look so good. . . 

if only i hadnt had this half a stick of butter as a snack, while mommy was taking a shower!

i didnt order another month of kiwi crate, but they sent me this month's anyways. one of the activities was making paper, which patrick did with them last weekend. (While i windowshopped, went to walmart, and got coffee. ALL BY MYSELF. thank you, patrick!!!!!) 

the other project was hand stamping these recycled bags. they provided these leaves and pressed flowers you were supposed to press into clay to make a stamp, and then decorate your bag. totally didnt work. the focus was on earth day, so i cut up potatoes into shapes and they stamped the bags with that. its earthy enough, right? ;-)

we believe in gender neutrality, around here. HA! thats a joke. but for some reason, caroline loves charlie's underwear. so far she has never gotten into hannah's, just charlies. nearly every day i go into their room, and charlie's underwear is strewn around the room, where caroline's been trying it on! 

we have been praying that our van lasts until we leave for the field. feel free to join us in that! it had a few rough days this week, but i do believe all is in working order now. (and thankfully, it decided to refuse to start for me while in the garage getting ready to leave, not while stuck in a snowstorm somewhere)

if you can ignore the bobcat picking up the limbs, in the background, enjoy this scene: my children (and an extra friend) having a picnic at the park! which we can walk to. the plethora of playgrounds is a really nice thing about this town. it is supposed to get cool again, but this weekend is beautiful!

pretty much the only pictures i have with my kids are selfies. 

it is going to take the city (and volunteers) a long time to get things cleaned up, but i think they are doing a good job. 

Daddy's making pancakes; must be Saturday morning! (or waffles. this house has all kinds of neat appliances, like a waffle maker)

Friends, oh how we love friends. . . 

especially friends who make us smores!

This is our pastor and his wife, Jonah and Jessica. She is also Canadian. They have 3 little girls, one a newborn. Tonight they had us over for a casual backyard hotdog roast. It was so much fun. Let's not use our lack of time/space/resources/energy as reasons not to connect and spend time with others; it is so important and worth it! Thanks, guys. 

Say, "marshmallow!"

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Fun times with Grandma and Grandpa Bob

My mom and Bob live in northern Ontario most of the year, and volunteer at JAARS in NC January-April. It has normally worked out for them to come visit on their way there and on the way back. This time, my mom did a potting activity with them. not sure how many will actually come up, as i'm pretty sure Caroline keeps pulling them up as soon as there is any stem. We'll see :-) 

This was from January, but in case you missed it then, this was lunch at an Ethiopian place here. It is interesting that other than generic American-Mexican and American-Chinese, the only other thing they have is Ethiopian. Its interesting because for the longest time I always said I liked nearly every kind of ethnic food I've had, except Ethiopian! I've since changed my mind, though. It was really good, I would definitely go back. 

Many years ago, I spent 8 wks at the International Mission Board's training/conference center outside of Richmond, VA. Since Patrick was from there, (although he was in school in tx at the time), he came to visit. One day we had a fieldtrip up into Washington D.C., and I sort of brought Patrick along. (Totally against the rules, and I was not a rule breaker. I must have really been in love with him!) We split up into regions of the world, with the the assignment of finding out as much as we could about the people/countries where we headed. We must not have known what we were doing, because we couldnt find a West African restaurant anywhere. So we settled on Ethiopian. Just in case you arent that familiar with African geography, thats completely the other side of the continent. Anyways, Patrick and I werent really blown away, and ethiopian restaurants always bring back that memory. Of a very fun day. And a kiss in a subway station that accidentally got noticed by the woman in charge of us Journeyman girls. Which probably almost got me kicked out of the program. Scandalous! ;-) 

and this is just panera. there's never been any waffling on this restaurant, we love panera :-)

for some reason, caroline likes to lounge at the table. She always puts her foot up. Is that even comfortable?

we took advantage of a rare (at least this particular spring) beautiful day to go to Falls Park, in Sioux Falls. It is a natural waterfall that was used for a mill, back in the day. It is a really neat place, the kids had a blast. 

Caroline loves (LOVES) this dog. He is amazingly patient with her. They bonded last summer, when my mom had just gotten him, and he was significantly smaller. Caroline is not gentle with him at all, she runs and tackles him, grabs his tail, opens his mouth to see his teeth. He just sits there. 

We upgraded to the real honest to goodness Legos, instead of the toddler kind. They love them. I get tired of picking all those tiny (seriously, they are so tiny. i had no idea!) pieces off the floor so they dont get vaccuumed up. 

It is neat to see them being so creative with it. Since they really are both too young to follow the directions without adult help, they just come up with their own creations. And i'm all for anything that keeps them busy and relatively still! 

Most of all, a huge huge thankyou to Mom and Bob for babysitting (overnight!) so Patrick and I could have a real night away in Sioux Falls. Our search for a babysitter has not gone well here, so we have not gone out much. Ok, we have not gone out at all. It was so special to go out to dinner and be really truly relaxed, knowing you wont be waking up with crying children in the night, or loud boisterous children early in the morning. Thank you so much! 

Just a reminder, this is where you find personal, everyday news, if you're interested in that sort of thing :-). For information pertaining to our ministry (FAQs, calendar of events, support, prayer requests etc), remember to check our website 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

our favorite things

Sure, flying airplanes and dreaming about Africa is exciting, and it does take up alot of our time. But so do alot of other things. As crazy as they make me, I love being a mom and seeing my children get so much joy out of simple things. I am not especially talented or creative (no sewing machine, unfortunately), but give me some macaroni noodles and glue, and we can have fun.  

we like (make that love) to eat. especially carrot cake. 

we play so hard we fall asleep at the table. (actually, only charlie does that.)

we love to play dress-up!

we love to go to the panaderia on saturday morning and pick out a breakfast treat. 

we love giving hugs! especially caroline. she's a hugger. except sometimes its more of a surprise choke hold. if anybody is sitting down, she'll come up behind you and give you a giant hug around the neck. and if you're on the floor, theres a good chance she'll sit right on top of you. 

occasionally we do school ;-). no, we do school every day. it just doesnt always go quite as calmly as this picture implies. our best time is during caroline's nap, because she can be quite distracting. I have much respect for homeschooling families with lots of kids, because i really cant get anything done with caroline around. i am so glad we will be out of the baby/toddler stage by the time we get around to serious school.

we like to be silly with daddy.

we like to play outside. (although we are ready to play outside without snowpants. as i write this, we're well our way to reaching the predicted 6-8 inches of snow)

we love to color. if the kids have a favorite activity, its probably coloring. 

play music

play pretend

do crafts. (when mommy has the time to prepare/clean up from a craft!) This was a rainy Saturday morning (which is why they're still in their pyjamas!). We painted and decorated Easter eggs. 

Nana brought a fun craft, cute little birdhouses to paint and hang up. alas, then she got sick and couldnt participate. but we loved the birdhouses :-)

we got a box from Kiwi Crate (, a really neat company that sends themed craft boxes. you can get a subscription, and every box you will get a new box. they're really inventive and good quality, and we enjoyed our box. it was spy themed, so the kids made masks, periscopes, and wrote secret messages in invisible ink. 

we really enjoy friday family movie night. The kids and I make a fun simple snack, like these necklaces. They strung them up themselves, with cheerios, pretzels, and cookies, then munched on them during the movie. 

Last week we made jello jigglers. Not a big jello fan myself, but they had fun cutting out the shapes themselves. We also made dirt cups, with gummy worms, that one was fun.

Hannah is learning to tell time, so tomorrow we are making a dessert pizza clock.