Saturday, May 16, 2009

La Casa Del Waffle

Last weekend we took the two current interns on a retreat to lake Atitlan. On the way home, I looked up and saw a bright yellow sign with black block lettering that said, "La Casa Del Waffle" or "The Waffle House". We made a note then to make sure that we took an adventure there someday.

Usually on Friday nights Michelle spends the night with us, but sometimes we change due to varying schedules. This week, she spent the night with us Wednesday night, which freed up our Saturday morning a bit. Michelle is a girl after my own heart and likes to stay up late and sleep in - so going out to breakfast when she's with us is only an option if we want to deal with a little girl who didn't get all of her beauty rest.

So this morning we left to go check out "La Casa Del Waffle" upon arrival we knew that it would be something that we'd want pictures of, except we forgot the camera at the house. In the parking area there was a handicap parking sign from the city of Phoenix. In front of other parking spots were signs that said "Dale Jr. Fans Parking Only, All Others will be Towed", "Jeff Gordon Fans Parking Only, All Others will be Towed", there was a traditional mail box with numbers on the post and the red flag raised, and a sign that read "For Sale By Owner" just like you'd find in Home Depot. What was extra funny about it all is that no Guatemalan knew what any of it meant. Inside we quickly observed that it's not a place you'd want to eat when it was raining because of the massive holes in the roof. Somehow it seemed fitting. There were various license plates from various states on the walls. Other decorations were an old Singer sewing machine, a fishing rod, cast iron skillets and pots, and lots of framed pictures of the 3 Stooges. The menu also showed their love for the 3 Stooges, Larry, Moe and Curly each had their picture on a page. One wall had various street signs like a yield sign, a stop sign, as well as, a Route 66 sign. It even said "get your kicks on route 66."

As for the food, the menu offered various breakfast with eggs, bacon, sausage, black beans, plantains, and of course waffles. Lee had a pretty traditional breakfast of 2 eggs, black beans, bacon, and a waffle. I had a waffle with strawberries and whipped cream. The food wasn't great, but it wasn't bad, and for about $10 the experience was well worth it.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The blog of all blogs!!

Over the past month we've had two teams, Holy Week, and internet in spurts - so be sure your in your comfy chair - this blog is going to be lengthy!

Thanks, Trinity Christian School.
In mid-March a group from Trinity Christian School from Lubbock, TX came for a week. We had a medical clinic, construction projects, soccer games, lots of UNO games, and just an all around great time. TCS has what they call "missions week" the week before spring break. All students in the school were involved in various missions projects in and around Lubbock, Texas, and around the world.

Thanks, Lifesong Church.
Lifesong Church from Orlando, FL spent a week with us late March - early April. The pastor of the church lead the team, he and his wife had been here before leading teams for a church they pastored before they moved to Florida. For every other team member it was their first time to be here. We enjoyed so much getting to know them. We also enjoyed how much help they were. Their main project was helping to put in parts of the sewage system that will be used by buildings yet to be built. They also helped with a big cleaning project, made banners for our dining hall, did some painting, and taught us a new game called "move your buns".

Holy Week.
Our kids spring break changes between various parts of March and April each year to match Holy Week. At New Life Children's Home there are some die hard traditions like "Holy Week Olympics", sleepovers, and special foods. During that week, everyone went to the swimming pool on Tuesday - and most everybody came home with a sunburn! Usually, only kids that are on good behavior levels get to go to the pool - an exception was made this time. It was great to watch them all enjoy such a good day together. Wednesday - Friday we had the "olympics" each afternoon. Wednesday was "Rally Day" which was much like what I remember "field day" being in elementary school. For 2 hours there were all kinds of relay races. Thursday was "food day" and for another 2 hours we played various games that all involved something edible like a bubble gum blowing contest, saltine cracker eating relay, blindfolded apple eating contest, and a cake decorating contest. On Friday we had another 2 hours of water games. We ended that day with tug-o-war in a mud pit. For all of these days the kids were broken up into teams - they worked together and cheered one another on. At the end of the games each day a theme was announced for supper that evening. They had just about an hour and a half to shower and get ready as a team for supper. We had 3 theme nights: ocean night, clown night, and zoo night. It's really fun watching how creative they are and how fast they can come up with ideas. Also, during the week each age group of kids had a sleepover. On Wednesday we had the younger girls in our place, and then on Friday we hosted the older girls. We learned that we're not as young as we used to be, staying up past mid-night is such a stretch these days. Some of the older girls stayed up until 5 am watching movies and eating junk food.
On Friday night, we had a Good Friday Service, and then on Sunday morning we had a sunrise Easter service. The Easter service was followed by a special breakfast of breakfast burritos.
We were so thankful to have the help of Chad, Marlana, Dave, and Lindsey this year, along with a few of the older kids here at the home.

Dave & Lindsey.
We have two interns here with us these days. Dave is from Seattle. He came late February and after studying spanish in Antigua for 3 weeks has joined us here for the remainder of his time until late May. Dave graduated from the University of Washington in December and will begin Med school this August. He's helping out in the medical clinic in the mornings and then helping with homework in the afternoons. Lindsey is from Abilene, TX. She is married to Ben, who is a pilot in the U.S. Air Force. He is currently deployed and so instead of staying in Abilene in a quiet house, she's spending a couple of months in Guatemala. She has completed one week of language school and has one more to go. Once she's here with us she's going to help out in the kitchen in the mornings and then with homework in the afternoons.

Lee & Staci.
We really enjoyed the two teams and Holy Week - we also enjoyed the long nap that followed the ending of the three events. We will receive our next team in June. Until then, we have several other things going on. The accountant/bookeeper here is on maternity leave so Staci is helping out some in the office. We're not finished with the sewage project, so Lee is about to become good friends with the backhoe. We're also looking forward to having groups of kids back in our apartment. We're also beginning to gear up for the summer as we anticipate several groups and interns.

Baby Jarvis.
Yes, that says baby Jarvis! We're expecting to welcome baby Jarvis into the world in late October. We went to the doctor for the first time this week. He did an ultrasound, and we got to see the little baby show off a bit. Baby was pretty active, and everything appears to be very normal and healthy. We plan on staying here to have the baby. We really like the doctor and hospital a lot, and feel very comfortable with going through this whole process here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Almost a month...

Tomorrow will be a month since we've written, so we thought we'd fire off a blog before midnight to keep that from happening.

In the states, spring breaks are happening which means "team season" is heating up. Tomorrow we'll receive our first group of the spring from Lubbock, TX. Lee's been busy getting their work projects together and making sure that all necessary materials are in order for Monday morning

In a couple of weeks, the book keeper/accountant here at the home will start maternity leave, so Staci's been learning the in's and out's of such stuff to be able to lend a hand in such capacities while she's gone.

About 3 weeks ago we were in Antigua on a Sunday afternoon, in the central park with a few friends when we heard, "Staci?, Staci?". A girl that Staci went to high school with, and hadn't seen in 11 years was there as well. The following weekend she and a friend came to visit us for the weekend. It was fun to have visitors for a couple of nights and catch up on 11 years.

Lee spent a good part of February with Don Snow, a retired shop teacher from Pennsylvania who comes down twice a year, usually. Don is the master of many trades, and a perfectionist. Lee and Don did a lot of maintenance on the girl's home unit, built some bunk beds, and lots of small odd jobs that no one ever seems to have time to complete.

So sorry for such a boring blog - life here is nothing short of boring, but it sure seems like it from this blog.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Lee's week out and about

We mentioned in the last blog that we're in the process of seeking out "what's next". Before we tell you about Lee's last week, we'd simply ask for you to join in prayer with us about this matter. It's not easy, it doesn't feel good, but we are certain that the Lord will lead us to the right decision.

On Thursday the 29th, Lee headed out by himself to Nebaj to meet up with and travel around with Mike. During the following six days they taught in four different places.

If you care to google a Guatemalan map, we live in Villa Nueva - a suburb in the capital. Nebaj is north and west of Villa Nueva (mostly north). You can google names of towns, which will help you travel along with where Lee travelled.

On Friday, they left Nebaj early (between 4 & 4:30) to head to Huehuetenango. After teaching from 8:30am - 5pm on Inductive Bible Study and the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit they drove to Santa Cruz del Quiche (we'll call Quiche from now on). Saturday morning they taught the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit again until lunch. After lunch they drove to San Andres Joyabaj to have a meeting about possibly starting classes there in the future. On Sunday, they left a town called Chichicastenango and went to Barrillas. It took 8 hours, 3.5 of which that were only in 1st and 2nd gear because of steep mountain passages and switchbacks. On Monday they taught in Barrillas. On Tuesday they taught in Nuevo Porvenir, a small town near the Mexico border. On Wednesday they drove from Barrillas back to Nebaj; it took about 8.5 hours. On Thursday they left Nebaj and headed back toward the capital city so that Lee could drop Mike off at the mechanic's place and then Lee came home.

Lee said it was a great time with Mike and the Guatemalan highlands were really beautiful. Teaching in spanish was difficult, but really good at the same time to be able to train those mountain pastors that will never have the opportunity to go to seminary.

Here are some pics from the adventure:

This is a huge bolder left from a landslide from last year's rainy season that is blocking 3/4 of the road.

Teaching the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in Barrillas.

These last 4 pictures are just to help give you an idea of the varied climate zones that Lee saw this past week. This was on the dry side of a mountain.

This picture was in the rain forest.

Many of the people in the highlands are subsistence farmers. On the bottom of this picture is a man in front of his house, hoeing his field.

Thought we'd throw in a picture of wheat for you west Texas farmers.

Monday, January 26, 2009

3 days, 300 miles & 6 quarts of oil

We came to Guatemala in September 2007 on a 2 year commitment. So that means between now and September we have some decisions to make - like do we stay in Guatemala or do we move back to the states.

We're beginning to process that decision. Part of the process was us taking a trip to Nebaj (pronounced Neba) this past weekend. Mike & Terri and their kids are missionaries with New Life Advance International - the same organization that we're a part of. They live in Nebaj. Mike is the International Director of an organization called ASELSI. ASELSI does pastoral and church leader training in remote areas. Lee is a teacher (a good one if you ask me) and is looking into the possibilities in becoming involved with ASELSI.

So... on Friday we left here about 8:30 in the morning - sparing you many details of the days before dealing with how much oil we had in our car, or if we had any at all we'll begin this story in Chimaltenango, an hour into our trip, and the check gauges liight came on. Aware that the oil pressure gauge was low we checked the oil - no oil. Added 2 quarts. Skipping many more details, we arrived in Nebaj about 3:45 - and added 6 quart of oil along the way. Nebaj is only about 150 miles from where we live, but it's way up in the mountains, and the roads weren't great in all areas. We checked out Mike & Terri's beautiful home at the base of a very green mountain and then Lee took the car to the local mechanic.

We spent Friday evening with Mike, Terri and their 4 kids. They were thankful that it wasn't as cold as it had been - we were thankful for the long sleeves that we brought. We have become very accustomed to the weather in Villa Nueva - rarely above 80, rarely below 60. So the 40 degree weather in Nebaj was freezing to us.

On Saturday morning Lee went with Mike to an extension site for ASELSI where 8 students had met to receive teaching. One student began walking at 4am to reach Nebaj by 8am for the class. Mike taught a 2 hour session that morning and Lee observed.

After the guys got back to the house we loaded up and drove about 30 minutes on mostly dirt roads to a dairy for lunch. The story is that an Italian guy came to that area in the 1920's and settled there because it reminded him of his home in Italy. 90 years later the family still runs the dairy and makes cheese just the way he did in the 1920's. We had a delicious lunch, including the cheese they make there melted between 2 tortillas. The weather there dumps between 7 and 9 feet of rain every year is never really hot - thus, really beautiful plant life. She had a green house full of orchids among other flowers.

We spent Saturday afternoon and evening at Mike & Terri's house with a few other missionaries from Nebaj. It was great getting to be a part of the community that they share.

Sunday morning the alarm went off at 3:15am and we left their house at 4am so that we could be at a little town called Los Encuentros by 7:30am. After grabbing a quick bite of breakfast in Los Encuentros we drove another 20 minutes to La Argueta. That morning Mike taught for a while and then handed the reigns to Lee for a bit. He taught about 5 pages of the material that morning which took about 45 minutes. Another teacher, Jose, taught the last part. This was Lee's first time to teach in a setting like this in spanish. (He was awesome, if I do say so myself. It's one thing to have a conversation about the weather in another language, it's something completely different and difficult to teach. I certainly wouldn't have felt comfortable in that situation - he didn't mispronounce one word!)

After having a snack and spending some time with a family in La Argueta we headed back to the capital. Thanks to the mechanic in Nebaj, we didn't have to add any oil!!

It was such a good weekend. Great time with great people in a beautiful place.

On Thursday Lee will head back to Nebaj to spend a week travelling with Mike to several extension sites. He'll be gone for a week.

Here are a few pictures of the little trip:

Lee teaching his first class.


This was part of the dairy that we had lunch at.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mid-January update

So we'll officially stop apologizing about not blogging more often. We would love to think that we would blog more often, but as you can see from over a year of blogging, we're just not good at blogging consistently.

So here's the run down:
We rang in the New Year's with a bit of a get together in our apartment with fellow gringos. We ate, played board games, and had a great time hanging out. Just before midnight we gathered up our loot (fireworks) and matches. About midnight we began to light one by one the biggest fireworks that we've ever lit. There are a lot of things here that differ from that in the States. One of those is the control of fireworks - there just isn't much control here. So, we purchased 100 shot roman candles - they were about 5 feet tall. Lee got to blow up some huge, very loud firecrackers.

Our kids enjoyed their last two weeks of freedom before school started on the 15th.

We had a team of 6 from Pennsylvania from the 8th - 16th. This team comes twice each year - our kids dearly love them and an always anxious for their arrival. While the team was here, and with their help, we took 18 of the kids to a water park that is located on the pacific beach. What gets better than a couple of pools, a few cool slides, and the beach? For many if was the first time that they saw the ocean. For one little guy it was the first time he'd been to a pool or the ocean, it was a bit of fun overload for him, he hardly stopped playing to eat lunch.

During the rest of their time here, the Pennsylvania team got our phone intercom system working properly again, we know have wireless internet in more areas, they demolished a couple of walls (on purpose), and put doors on a couple of medicine cabinets - oh yeah, and fixed several leaks!

Now that school has started, a change in schedule happens for everyone - it was no fun for the kids to wake up at 5:30am last Thursday. Most of our kids struggle with academics and would appreciate your prayers for their school year.

Without going into details, we'd ask for your specific prayers over New Life Children's Home as this new year has brought some new challenges that it has never faced before.

Thanks for standing with us,
Lee & Staci

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas 2008

We hope that you all had a great Christmas.

We'd like to share a bit about what Christmas was like for us, and share some pictures of such a fun time.

We shared last year that most of the Christmas festivities happen on Christmas Eve. We love the deep tradition that New Life Children's Home has and things that must happen for Christmas to be Christmas here.

We'll start with the preparations. Church on the Rock in Lubbock, TX begins each summer collecting gifts for each of our kids. You would be amazed at what these people can stuff in a sack. I'm particularly thankful for all of the Texas Tech gear that they pack in for our kiddos. :) The church that we attend here in Guatemala finds several sponsors for our kids and they purchase gifts as well.

Once the gifts arrive, we open and check them all for sizes and the redistribute if necessary. On the 23rd we began to move gifts for our "workshop" to the dining hall to start to surround the tree. We added another pile on the 24th. If we were to put gifts out earlier it's amazing how some gifts would unwrap themselves a bit early, because "no one" touches the gifts before it's time to unwrap.

The evening of Christmas Eve is when the fun begins. Here it's call "noche buena" or "The good night". At 9pm the kids left their homes to come to the dining hall. Some of the little kids did a dance, some of the older ones played instruments, our older girls sang "O Come All Ye Faithful", and one little guys, the newest at NLCH sang "Jingle Bells" solo and a acappella, Kendon read Luke's account of the Christmas story and we had communion together. After our Christmas Eve service, we had snacks including homemade cookies, cheese, crackers, ham, sausages, apples and grapes. Apples and grapes are a must have for any Guatemalan Christmas festivity. Snacks were cleaned up, and the we began handing out presents. Once the present touches your hand you're allowed to open it. The table of little boys (there are 12 of them) was electric!

After all of the presents were opened, everyone took them back to their rooms and then came back outside for the midnight fireworks. At midnight the whole country sets off fireworks - it's the best fireworks show there is.

Christmas morning began with the traditional oatmeal pancakes and stockings that were filled with popcorn, candy, small toys....etc...

During breakfast, Lee and the Wheeler's kids began to put together the trampoline that the kids had no idea about. After breakfast the kids came out to see their new trampoline. It's only been in service for 5 days and already has a lot of miles on it. :)

Here are a few pictures from such fun days:

Just before opening presents, here are a few of the kids with the pile o presents behind them.

Lee teaching Oscar how to use his new whoopee cushin.

Anxiously awaiting to get to jump on the trampoline.

Michelle was the first to get to try out the trampoline.

Jorgito jumping on a trampoline for the first time.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We are in the middle of Christmas activities here - we'll explain more later about the traditions of Christmas at NLCH and Guatemala. It's currently 11:40pm, Christmas Eve and we're having a small intermission or half-time if you will before blowing up fireworks at midnight. There's nothing like watching a small child experience Christmas for the first time. This past year, NLCH has received several new kiddos, it was so neat watching them receive gifts. Randy asked Lee to carry his stuff to his room because it was too heavy for him. He also asked when the next Christmas was. :)

Merry Christmas!

Lee & Staci

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Catching up

It seems like we're often writing blogs to catch up. We really thought that the fall would be a bit slower and that we'd have more time for things like writing blogs. The fall has simply just been different than what the spring and summer were.

We wrote just before Thanksgiving. We enjoyed Thanksgiving here with other American missionaries. We, like most of you all enjoyed turkey, ham, dressing, broccoli rice casserole, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, homemade rolls and the list goes on and on. It was a fun day of great fellowship. The day after was fun too. In the states their were parking lot wars of "black Friday". Here it was just a normal Friday. We (us 3 missionary families at NLCH) enjoyed a day out together. We grabbed lunch at a mall food court and then played a couple of games of bowling before returning to have leftovers from our Thanksgiving feast.

On December 7 Lee left with Chad Smith (another missionary here at the home) and 7 of our older kids for a 4 day mission trip to western Guatemala and a brief crossing into Mexico. Over the 4 days they stopped at between 20 and 25 churches to share with the kids of the community and give out Christmas gifts. Another ministry called Hearts for Heaven planned the trip, as well as, collected the Christmas gifts - Lee, Chad and the kids were the hands and feet of the effort and gave out the gifts and shared a gospel message through stories with the kids.

This past Tuesday we took our middle aged girls out for their "school vacation excursion". We're really enjoying taking the kids out in small groups for a fun afternoon - not only is it something fun and out of the ordinary to do, I think they just like getting out of the home and seeing other things. This week, we took 5 girls out and went bowling. None of them had played before - and all of them complained of their arms hurting at the end of our time together :). The only bad part of the whole thing was the traffic jam of all traffic jams that we experienced on the way home. It took us over 2 hours to go just 13 miles - yuck!

Also this past week we finished our two teenage small groups for the year. We'll start those back up mid January-ish. We plan on continuing to have our group of college aged kids during the holidays. Our groups are going well, our relationship with those involved in the groups is growing, and our spanish is continually challenged.

Christmas preparations are now in full swing. It is fun to get to be a part of Christmas on this kind of scale. 50 kids, plus employees and their families = a mountain of cookies to be baked, lots of presents to be wrapped, and more excitement than you can imagine housed in a bunch of little kids.

Here are a few pics of recent events:

The second stop of the trip was a church plant in progress out in the country. A few of our kids climbed coconut trees nearby and knocked a few down to be eaten.

One of the visited churches.

Most of the visited churches were small, poor churches.

Handing out gifts.

Group shot from the trip. If you look closely, you can see the pacific ocean in the background.

*I've been trying to add other pictures, but blogspot is being weird - I'll try again later.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Another Friday Excursion

This past Friday we surprised 4 of the younger girls with an outing. Our kids have a behavior level system. If you are on a good level - you get to have privileges like the ability to go on surprise excursions.

We would love to be able to take all of them out for a fun afternoon during the break, but with 50 kids, the odds of them all being on a good enough level to go it not likely.

Anyway - on to the really fun stuff! Iris, Angie, Emily, and Sheila were on a great level so on Friday we went to a food court for lunch and then headed on to the Children's Museum. They loved that they got to share a pizza together and go through the museum with very few other people. We were surprised by how great and interactive it was. In addition to the information, they had activities that went along with each station.

At the end of the museum was a huge ball room. There were thousands of those small balls that are in play places like chuck-e-cheese, but instead of a huge vat of balls, there were pulley systems and other ways to collect the balls. Much like some water parks that have a huge bucket of water that spills periodically, instead of water, lots of balls fell at the sound of the alarm.

Here are a few pics from our day out:

Here Iris is learning all about static electricity.

Though we didn't see any reason to have a bubble area, we all loved making giant bubbles.

Lee is showing them how exactly to remove the "charlie horse" in the life size operation game.

After all of our hard work, the balls came raining down.

Taking a little rest at the end of our afternoon.

We hope that you all have a great Thanksgiving. We're looking forward to all of the traditional Thanksgiving foods with fellow missionaries from the states tomorrow.