Christmas Crafts in Sauces

It was hard to believe that the last time we did crafts with the women in Sauces was February 2015.  Somehow the year flew by!  But, we weren’t letting December slip away without some sort of activity for the women, so Narcissa and I set to dreaming about what we could do.

We decided to make snowflakes out of toilet paper rolls…they are beautiful and the cost is super affordable!!

Narcissa and I had met once to plan who would do what at the event and then got together one morning to make a ‘model’ and to cut the toilet paper rolls.


We were super excited with how it turned out!

The day of the event, there were 8 women.  Some I had never met.


We shared in a time of worship


And then started off the activities with a game that quickly broke the ice (this might be one of my favourite parts of these events is seeing the women relax and laugh!)



A finished Christmas scene…a decorated tree with a fire and stocking, gifts, a star….Explains the laughs!

I shared a short devotional about the uniqueness of snowflakes, the uniqueness of Jesus as our savior, and the unique path there is to eternal life.


Then we got to work…


Things were coming together beautifully until the lights went out!

Viche was there and his phone offered enough light until we could find some candles…



A generator had blown down the street and the power wasn’t coming on anytime soon.  This meant the glue guns weren’t working either so we had to stop…Well, after we had these empanadas that Narcissa made…



The ‘regular Tuesday night Bible Study’ group met at Viche and Narcissa’s house and just spent some time in fellowship before the lights came back on.


The women met the next afternoon to finish off their snowflakes…sadly, I couldn’t be there for the second day, but they turned out beautifully!  Again, I am so thankful for the craft supplies we do have here and how it helps us to minister in special ways to some of the women here!

We continue to try to plant seeds in the community of Sauces, as we support the work that Viche and Narcissa are doing.  And, we hope that in time God will bring a great harvest!

Looking forward to what God has planned for Sauces this new year!



Christmas Craftiness

2015: The year the house was unpacked all in one place and I knew where the craft supplies were (especially since my husband made me ultra-amazing storage shelves for everything)

And so, 2015 also was the year that we made Christmas crafts.  And, it was so fun!  (not to mention such a wonderful reminder for my transition-weary heart that we are not in transition!) Funny, the things I kept saying “once we’re settled we can do….” And, this year we did!!

We even managed to make something for Thanksgiving


We tried to work different crafty things into school

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The big boys made me a spectacular wreath


We decided to make these really neat Christmas trees to share as gifts with people who have been a part of our lives this year…

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I even got to do crafty baking and make a sheep costume (another post)


This was a special time of getting ‘ready for Christmas’ fun.  It’s been many years that we’ve told the kids “not this year, there just isn’t time”  or” We won’t be back in time to do that”  or “everything is already packed”.  It’s hard to explain how much fun it was to be able to plan (a bit…I am not so great at the planning piece), and to spend some hours around the table making fun things!

Thankful is just the right word.


Struggling with Sabbath

Monday is our sabbath day.

But really, I stink at sabbath.

God rested.  We need to rest too.  And, because Sunday’s are often very full, we’ve followed the lead of many other friends in ministry and chosen Monday.  A day to rest and refresh and take a break from the busy week.

The problem is,  Monday the kids still have school.  There is still laundry to do.  There are 7 tummies that seem to still want 3 meals.  There are things to pick up.  There is planning to be done.  There are newsletters to write….

And so, resting isn’t happening.  It seems far to easy to take ‘intentionally unscheduled so we CAN rest’ and turn it into ‘work on all the things that don’t seem to fit anywhere else in the week and say you are catching up’.

Sabbath FAIL!

I don’t do terribly well with resting.  Or, if I do sit down to rest, I pretty quickly fall asleep!

So, we’re still trying to figure out what sabbath means.

We’re trying to figure out what sabbath means in a house full of children.

We’re trying to figure out what sabbath means  when there is always so much to do and the temptation of using the time to catch up on tasks is so very real.

We’re trying to figure out what sabbath means as a time for worship and re-focusing and re-fueling and re-charging.

We want to do sabbath well….

But ‘doing’ is not the object.

This is so confusing for my personality type!

So, each week we keep on trying.  Perhaps some day we’ll be able to share “Sucessful Sabbaths”, but for now, we’ll keep struggling and working to try and rest well in the midst of the busy-ness!

Gingerbread Mania

Christmas 2014, we were in the process of arriving.  The container arrived barely two weeks before Christmas and all we managed to make happen was to decorate a bit and celebrate as a family.

This Christmas, we wanted to have some fun with friends…to open our house up (I have missed that SO much) and enjoy fellowship and laughter.

And so was born, Gingerbread Mania (divided up into two parts!)

We wondered if people here had ever made gingerbread houses (they hadn’t), and whether they would enjoy it (they did).

We invited some of the young adults we’ve gotten to know and come to love one night for round one….

A little ice-breaker…

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And then to work!

We were astounded with the creativity and intricacy of their houses…there were no four-walled shacks anywhere in sight!

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We only gave them a limited amount of supplies, and when they needed more, there was a price list!  Our kids ran the “store” and loved making the big kids dance and sing for their candies!



We had a display and contest at the end for the “best”.  Though they were all pretty spectacular!

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And the winners were:


It was a fabulous night and just such a joyous time with everyone!

Then a couple days later we had round two which was family version.  These guys didn’t have to sing for their candies though! (Maybe next year???)

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More creativity and intricacy….yes even an outhouse.

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It was a super fun afternoon, and our kids were glad to have been able to participate in construction this time!


Both Gingerbread Manias were huge successes!  Lots of icing lots of laughing and lots of fun!

We’re already scheming and planning for Gingerbread Mania 2016 edition! Wanna come??

Break and Enter

‘Ministry’ takes many different forms here.  And, a big part is trying to build relationships with people God puts in our path.  Sometimes it goes well, and other times it is very difficult.  And then sometimes, He suddenly makes it a whole lot easier.

Many of our neighbours have been wonderful .  There is a family living to one side of us.  They keep an eye on our house,on our kids, they bring by different foods for us to try, and they are always willing to help us find the things we need.  One night the front gate was open and our neigbour went out on his second story veranda and shouted and shouted into our second story veranda until we woke up to make sure that we were all ok.  The neighbour across the road who used to have a tienda (small shop) was JJ’s best friend because she always had a chocolate for him, and lent me pieces for a costume I needed in the summer.  Another neighbour a few doors down came over one day with a carton full of small boxes of milk from the school program for our kids.  This really has been a great neighbourhood for us.

Other neighbours are much more reserved.  Our neighbour to the other side has offered the requisite greetings, but that is about it….

Until the night we had to break into her house.

With Shadrach’s arrival, we found ourselves in the throes of potty training two toddlers (we’ve since about finished with Judah!!!!), and Matt has been getting up with the dog most nights.

I heard him go out, but then I heard him talking to someone on the street…at 11:30 at night!

When he came back in, I asked who he was talking to.  He replied it was our neighbour Maria, and that she was locked out of her house but her 15 year-old son was inside sleeping.  Matt had been hearing her buzz the door (you can hear some things through the wall) for the past hour and a half before he had gone out.  Once we were both back to bed and ready to go to sleep,  she buzzed again, and again and again. (not a doorbell sound, but a buzzzzzzzzzz)

What to do?

It was almost midnight.

We hardly knew her.

I was in my pyjamas.

It was not exactly the most convenient of times,  but God had US up, and not the other neighbours.

We waited another 10 minutes, and she buzzed again, not one little short buzz but rather a ‘please wake up and let me in NOW’ sort of buzzing.

So I went out on the veranda to ask how we could help.

“You could yell from up there, (seems we do lots of yelling from the second floor veranda), to see if he’d hear you”, she said.  Ok. I could do that.  So I yelled a few times but his room is on the third floor at the back of the house, and he certainly couldn’t hear me.

I went downstairs to talk to her so I didn’t have to wake up all the neighbours shouting up and down from the second floor!

Plan #2 was to let her use my phone to call him, because hers had run out of saldo (minutes).  15 year-old boy sound asleep.  Didn’t work.

Plan #3 was go up on our terazza (the roof) to yell from up there over the wall so that maybe he’d hear.

Up we went and gave it a try.  But she really didn’t want to wake up the neighbours (we were the only neighbours who came out to help this whole time), so her shouting was a little feeble.

Plan #3: Didn’t work.

It was now 12:10am.

We went downstairs and I invited her to stay in the living room.  It was a cold night and she had been huddled up against the fence across the road when Matt had talked to her.

“Que verguenza” is the term for “how embarassing”…she kept saying it, and then we got the giggles over the whole thing.  Matt came down and we were talking about options.  We were thinking that her son’s room shares a wall with our kids’ room.

Plan #4 We talked about setting an alarm in the kids room so that her son might hear it, think it was morning, and wake up.  But then we thought about the five little people asleep in that room, and number five in particular who had just begun to sleep in there and wasn’t making it all the way through the night yet and NOT wanting to wake all them up.  Plan Aborted.

Plan #5 was to connect her phone to the internet to see if she could send him a message that way.  Plan #5 failed.  15 year-old boys sleeping aren’t so easy to wake up and if the buzzer and the phone and the shouting didn’t work, a text message certainly wouldn’t.

Then we started talking about the roof.

Plan #6:  There is a  bit of a sketchy way to climb from our roof onto hers.  We thought maybe Matt could climb over and bang on the rooftop door until her son answered.  We asked if they kept any guns in the house.  We laughed some more at the ridiculousness of the whole thing and her son waking up thinking someone was robbing them.  We played the plan through:

Matt knocking on door:  “Can you open this door up, your mother is outside on the street trying to get in, but don’t worry I am not a robber”

Um yeah, Plan #6, probably not the best idea.


She said she had a ladder in the garage that maybe we could use to get in…except it was in the garage. (Here all the houses are gated in).

Then Matt was asking her about the lock she had on the garage.  And yes, there was a slight glint in his eye as he worked on his plan.  He went down to our garage and started digging around and finally came up with a huge set of bolt cutters.

So, the three of us went down into the road (in our jammies) for plan #7 operation: Bust The Lock Open,  and Matt set to work with the bolt cutters.  He almost had it when something slipped and he went flying into the road!

Second try, he had a better grip and the lock snapped open!

Plan #7: Success!

12:46 the lock was open on the garage, but that didn’t change the fact that she still didn’t have keys to get into the house.  She retrieved the packages she had put in our garage and went up the stairs to check ‘just in case’ the door was open.

It was!!! (with the table set for her to eat when she got home)

And so our midnight ministry moment was over as our neighbour was able to get into her house and we were able to go back to bed… (and her son slept through the whole thing and felt so bad in the morning!).

It wasn’t a life changing moment, but it broke down some walls (or at least a front gate), and let us begin to build a relationship with her.  She’s told me she wants to have us over for cafecito (coffee) with her sometime, and so that’s another great step! And, we trust that God will have used our midnight marauding and break and enter skills to plant some seeds in her heart!

And that was ministry for the night!








A Little Run-Away…

Romantic dinner dates are few and far between here….


Matt’s mom was here and she is a trouper!

She had always been up for watching our kids for a few nights or even a week at a time when we’ve had to travel.  At least with the first four kiddos.  But now, there are five.  And, a small puppy. And, we live in a different country.  And, she doesn’t speak the language of that different country.

But, when she was here, she was game to watch the kids so we could get away for two nights….the first time Matt and I have been away since we arrived here!


Sadly, our car broke down a day or two before, so we had to adjust our plans for where we were going to go.  But, about 40 minutes from here is a town called Vilcabamba…a bit of a strange place, but warm and pretty, so we decided to go there.

We stayed at a small hosteria called Madre Tierra and loved the ambiance, the food the view and the chance to unwind!

We walked into town a couple times for meals, but mostly we found a spot to sit outside and laugh a lot while we played many games of cards!


Super fun…although I was definitely not the winner!  And yes, we played until I won at least one!


We read a bit, we ate some delicious food, and we got to play with our new camera!

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It was great to step away for a bit from life here…. it was needed.  We’re going to try and do better this year stepping away from ministry life from time to time to rest.  It is difficult to ever quantify all the things that can suck your energy on the field, but too often, missionaries just continue to drive forward and neglect the self-care until it is too late and crisis hits.  Please feel free any of you to hold us to intentional times of rest!!  They are so refreshing!





Nanny came to visit

Matt’s mom came to spend Thanksgiving with us, and it was a wonderful visit! The kids kept Nanny very busy with stories and games and questions and hugs.

It was a blessing to us, as Matt and I were able to get out together for a few things in town as well as slip away for a couple nights, the first time we’d done that since we arrived here!

And she washed a TON of dishes for us!

We loved having her here and everyone is excited for when she comes to visit again!


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