Monday, November 14, 2016

Our Summer in Review

  Hello folks! I'm back with a long over-due, long-winded blog post! I wasn't sure if I was planning to  keep this blog active, but for the sake of our friends on the other side of the ocean, you may see occasional updates:)
  It's hard to believe it's going on 5 months already that we set foot on American soil. The past few months haven't all been easy but I must say the adjustment was not as terrible as I had pre-planned  for. (Isn't that a clever disguise for worry??:)) There were some struggles as the children adjusted to a new school and a new curriculum, however that has greatly improved which I am so thankful for!
 Kaylah, for the most part, has jumped into high-school life with both feet first, never looking back. I find that kinda humorous, because of all our children, she fretted the most about being afraid she wouldn't be able to find her place in life again around here. (Does she take after her mother??) Anyway, she is just loving school, especially the social aspect of it, and comes home almost every day with stories of all the fun and exciting things she did that day. I think her running commentary of the greatness of high-school life is especially beneficial to her younger brother who is NOT going to high-school. Maybe little by little he will change his mind:)
 Chris is back in the truck again (owner-operator) and if he could even out his weeks he'd have almost the perfect amount of work. Unfortunately it seems he either could haul 3 loads a day or he has none. The days he doesn't have a load he fixes up farm machinery to resell.
As for me, well, I basically do what moms do after all their children are in school. Sit around and twiddle my thumbs and drink tea. Or not. Well, I do drink tea...that I do!!! Didn't find a whole lot of time to twiddle my thumbs yet...but that's ok, that would drive me alittle crazy. No week is the same but it seems there is always something to do!

This is a little glimpse into what we've been up to....

 So precious to be able to spend a few final moments with my grandmother! She passed away a week after we got home, leaving behind an amazing legacy as a strong woman of faith, strength and courage. Widowed at the age of 40 years old with 9 children at home to support, in addition to various health issues, she had her share of hard times.
 One of my favorite stories of her is how, even though times were lean, she scraped enough money together to contribute to the offering. She attached a note to the money with the instructions to "use where most needed." A few days later the deacon showed up at her house with the exact same amount of money in his hand. "This money came in the offering with a note attached to use where most needed," he explained. "I couldn't think of anyone who needed it more than a widowed mother with a family to provide for...."

                                       Singing her to heaven....there is something very special
                                           about singing by the bedside of a dying loved one.

Grandma, you are missed but we are rejoicing that you are pain free and living in bliss! A neat little story about these grave-sites. As I said she was widowed at a young age and went on to marry Amos Martin whose first wife had passed away. Both partners had a grave-site reserved for them to be buried beside their first partners. Amos's first wife was buried right behind Earl Hurst, grandma's first husband. Totally a coincidence, or a God thing, that my grandmother was buried beside her first husband but right in front of her husband that she spend the remaining years of her life with.

Dad and Mom had the family for the day shortly after we arrived home. Was so good to catch up with everyone again! My niece Taylor is very shy and Chris felt pretty proud to have won her over:)

                                Aren't they just adorable?! Lynette holding her daughter Taylor
                                and Trace (Ray & Jess)....neices and nephews are so much fun!

                                              Carter had fun pulling AJ around in the wagon

                My sister spend almost a week here over the time of grandma's viewing and funeral.
                    She hails from New York and time always goes way too fast when she's around!

                                                                     Water slide!

             Scott and Yvonne Martin came back for a visit shortly after we came home. Visits
            home are always packed full, trying to cram everything in in 3 weeks, but we managed
        to spend a few precious times together! All too soon though, we were saying our goodbyes:(

Once upon a time, my husband was having a very stressful week. I thought it would be quite clever of me to gather the brood and make our escape for the evening, giving him some much needed quiet time to sleep. (He drives truck & usually leaves in the middle of the night) My well laid plan went up in smoke after the radiator cracked on our vehicle leaving me stranded by the roadside with smoke billowing out from under the hood. He was in bed already and I was at the mercy of some very kind strangers. Truly, there are good people left in this world!! I did something I thought I would never do and accepted a ride from a man that I never met in my life. Let me add, he was an older gentleman, and had his wife along:) Drove me back to my parents and refused to take a cent!

As we were sitting there in our smoking, broken-down vehicle, on a side road with hardly any traffic, a very muscular tattooed man walked up. A twinge of fear went through me but soon evaporated after he wondered if he can do anything to help and then gave us a Powerade to drink while we waited. (It was sealed:)....once again I thought, "There are good people in this world yet!" So often all we hear is the negative but it was so encouraging to be touched by strangers kindness.

                      We came home from Grenada the beginning of July but were happy to
                      be able to see alot of our Grenadian friends here at home! Nate and Jo
                 had a drop-in one evening since Sammy & Jana were around for a few weeks.

                                             One tomato, two tomatoes...or one or two hundred.
                                                  Work goes fast when there are willing helpers:)

                                                           Dress up time with the cousins

                                      We saw half the Mennonites in Lancaster County at my
                              grandma's viewing and the other half at the Haiti Benefit Auction

          Got to babysit this cutie for a few hours...Christi was in her glory! Kai Anthony Coutain

Girl's Camp....the scene of one of my most embarrassing moments. Kaylah spend 3 days at girls camp this summer. On the day of pick-up I went in my everyday duds, that were not too clean after cleaning all day. Sure, I knew they were having a closing program but in my mind I pictured a short little presentation given by hyper, frizzy-haired girls who were alittle crusty after having camped outside the previous days with no bathroom facilities. To my horror and chagrin, this was a fine-dining, elegant little tea party! The girls had went back to one of the counselor's house to clean up for this special event and while every other girl got to sit beside their nylon-clad, Sunday-best dressed mom, I had to constantly be on my guard not to lift my arm too high because of a hole under the sleeve in my old dress...poor Kaylah...

                                                               Closing program
                                                       Kaylah's cabin girls singing a song

                  We enjoyed getting to know Weldon and Anna Headings when they served for a few
                  months in Grenada. They were in our area for a wedding so we got together at Leon &
                  Mary Sensenig to see them. Was so good catching up with them again!

                                                                                  Gal pals...

                          Some of us didn't know each other outside of our shared Grenada
                        experience, but that alone could fill an evening up with fun and laughter!

                                                        Picture books with friends

                                                                       'Twas a corny day

                                   AJ gets some tips from his cousins on how to shoot a gun

                                                                  Two cute curly heads!:)

                                         Who needs a pool when you have a creek to slop in!

                            And who needs a match to light a candle when you have a torch!

                            Some of our church youth had a carwash/bakesale to raise funds for
                          Haitian children to attend school. It was a beautiful but sweltering day!

                                    Holding the sign went from pure drudgery and torture to great
                                       fun when a cool guy from the (former) youth group helps!

 How fun to spend a week-end at the cabin with some of the staff that served in Grenada together! Ryan does an amazing job at entertaining the children. Except he probably wouldn't call it a job because he really truly loves children! We were so blessed to have him as our children's teacher in Grenada.

                                                              "The cabin crew"

                       After a short 7 week break of school, we were back into it again at a new school,
                     with a new curriculum. That lead to some stressful evenings of hours of homework
                         till they adjusted, but thankfully they did adjust and it is going better.

                                  Trace turns one!! (Ray (my brother) & Jess's little boy

                                                  A common afternoon scene at our household

                                                  Carter is my right hand man in the kitchen

 Another cabin trip with friends...the children loved biking through this old turnpike tunnel

                                                               Carter and his friend Andre

                                  That's the end, my friends! Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving! 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Grenada Wrap-up

Memories of Grenada
(video credits: Kaylah/editing: Katrina


                                              A pistol being brought to life through blackcats

                    Bible quizzing was held the beginning of July. LaBorie and Limes Mennonite
                      Schools compete together for this event. This year they memorized John 4.

                                         Bible Quizzing was held at the Limes Church

                                                   Eagerly waiting for that first cue word

                                                      And then it was the teacher's turn

                                                           Kaylah and her friend Celina

                 Kaylah and Nicki...Kaylah helped her almost every day take hot lunch into school

                              Collin and some of his school buddies on his last day there

                          Gleeful giddy faces over a farewell gift from Arlen & Sharon...
               tea time cookies and Glup, (Grenadian "Kool-Aid)...they know our children well:)

          The night before we left Grenada was the school's Award Night and closing program.

                                          Carter receives a reward/recognition from Mr. Ryan

    Nicki, the lady Kaylah helped with hot lunch, wrote a poem for Kaylah and gave her a gift basket

                                     And an appreciation gift for Mr. Mapson for his many
                                       years of dedicated service as school administrator

.....and after the school's program, complete with so many good-byes that I didn't think I could handle another one, plus a few final moments with dear friends, we headed home. It was a strange feeling going to bed for the "last" time in Grenada. Kinda like reading the last chapter in a book and knowing after this, there will be a different book....and wondering what for adventures that book will hold:)

    Good-bye many times I wondered and pondered what this moment would feel like.        Leaving life as we knew it for the last 2 1/2 years and stepping into an unfamiliar familiar.
Sometimes this day seemed light years away and the next time it seemed to be coming so fast I could almost panic. The last few weeks seemed to go very fast as we were kept busy wrapping things up and handing the torch on to the next people. All of a sudden "this day" was upon us. I can only think of one word to explain how I felt...surreal. Well, and sad...the reality hit as we took off. So many dear friends made on this island. Well, and see friends and family back home:)

       Arlen, Collin wanted to make sure you see this picture:) He felt very proud to be sitting up there
        and the pilots were so nice and explained all kinds of stuff about the control panel to him.

                                                           Good-bye, beautiful Grenada

      And just like that, Grenada disappears from view and a new chapter of our lives begins....

So how is the adjusting going? I never quite know how to answer this question. For the most part it is going well. However, it is a process and I don't feel we're quite "there" yet. We are back in our same house which we had rented out while we were gone. I think that helps with things seeming more normal than if we had to adjust to a new home and area.
  On the downside, right before we left Grenada alot of people around us were getting Zika and we were quite happy we managed to make our escape before it hit our household. Or so we thought. We weren't home long before we realized we brought home more than our luggage. Everyone ended up getting it except for Carter & I. There were also some challenging days for Chris as he worked out the glitches in his "new" (old) truck while his body had some zika-related "glitches." Seems to be going better now, PTL!
 It's been really good to reconnect with friends and family again. Makes me appreciate and treasure them like I never did before:) God is good! All the time!