Monday, June 19, 2017

Here We Go Again

So, it's here.  Today we leave for six months in the States.  We'll spend the majority of our time MI, but we're going to start out with a bang by flying from Costa Rica to Seattle and then driving east to see the country!

Yes, we've clearly lost our minds.  Four kids in a mini van for 11 days is gonna be awesome!  No really, I think it's gonna be a fanatic trip full of memories for the kids.  We'll probably want to repeat it in a few years when Quinn and Lucía are a bit bigger (or not, we'll see if we make to end of this trip.) but it just seemed like a good time in our family to do something a little bit nutty like this.

For today though, it's all about planes.  We leave San Jose at 2:00 pm, and land in Houston around 7 and the it's on to Seattle where we'll land at the local time of midnight.

Would you pray with us for safe flights, cooperative kids and easy customs?

Thanks guys!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Haciendo Conexiones

This last week, Iglesia Union in partnership with the YWAM Herdia base, put together a 3 day retreat for our missionaries on support raising called Haciendo Conexiones (Making Connections)

This is an area full of big questions and some bad theology for a lot of missionaries.  As a church, we wanted to invest in our missionaries so they can be freed up financially to pursue the dreams God has for each of their ministries.

What a fun time!  No, I really mean it!  We had six of the current Union missionaries there, along with three more people from church who are interested in missions.  We also had about 12 YWAM Heredia folks there too!  Because of the mixed group, we translated everything from English to Spanish and back again depending on who was teaching.  Love how God is using people from every tribe and nation and language group to reach every tribe and nation and language group!

And I am telling you, these people were great!!  We had laid out a packed schedule and they stuck with us the whole time!  They were full of great questions and ideas.

We talked about the biblical basis for support raising, the nuts and bolts of actually making appointments, talking to churches and small groups, how to keep in contact with supporters, how to say thank you, and how to budget.  Like I said, it was a super full couple of days! There were a couple of camp games thrown in too, just for good measure!

While Noah and I did a lot of the teaching, we also asked our friend Sofía to teach on some passages in the Old Testament where we see people asking for funding (did I mention she is an amazing Old Testament Professor at a seminary here?).  Our pastor, Paul taught on stewardship and Harold, an accountant in our church, taught on budgeting.  Such good stuff!!

Pray with us over the next few weeks, that these missionaries would make time to do the hard work of getting together their materials and ideas, and that God would bless their efforts to be fully funded so they can be effective in the ministries He has them in.

Friday, May 19, 2017



Last post over a year ago.  Really??
I guess I have two choices.  A) I can explain away on why this space has been so neglected, but honestly that's kinda boring to write and to read, and I think you all probably get why I have been absent, what with 4 kids and all or  B) I can forge ahead as if nothing happened.

Let's go with B. 

Moving on.

In one month, we'll be climbing aboard a plane again.  Yep, it's come around again, our six month Home Assignment.  Which by the way, we don't like that name.  Home is Costa Rica now.  We started calling it COMA, Country of Origin Assignment.  When we shared that with our pastor, he said, how about we call it COMMA, Country of Origin Mandatory Ministry Assignment.  More pause like and less death like.  Have I mentioned how much we enjoy this guy?

So, we are in that state of upheaval known in the nerdy missionary circles as transition.  And we all enter it and deal with it differently.  I have already started to deal with it, Noah won't deal with it until two weeks after we get to the States.  The kids are all in some state of it.  It gets a little nutty, with six of us. 

Emotions, good and bad, are running close to the surface.  A couple of years ago when we were in Colorado for some debriefing time, we were introduced to the concept of Yuck Ducks and Yeah Ducks.  Get it, a paradox?  So often we want to negate some part of an experience by saying things like "It was really great, but this bad thing happened"  Or "it was awful but this good thing was part of it"  It can be both.  Not just all bad or all good, but a mescla, a mix.  So there are yuck ducks, things that we don't like and yeah ducks, things that are good. 

We are excited and nervous about our time in the US.  Excited to spend time with family and friends, people we love and miss terribly living so far away from them.  Nervous, because well, we don't really fit there any more.  It's been six years since we left the US, Forrest and Elliot were just 4 and 2.  They have lived longer here than they have in the US.  Now we're this weird mix now, not Tico, but not completely from the US either.  (Proof?  That last sentence.  Six years ago I would have written "Not completely from America."  I know better now.  Costa Ricans consider themselves Americans, because they are part of Central America.  And before you blow that off as nonsense, think about it.  I mean really think about it.)

We're also excited for the change of seasons (FALL!!!) but will miss rainy season here.  Excited to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with family!!  But I will so miss our Thanksgiving here with our friends and the fun of Christmas fireworks. We're struggling with leaving friends and church here for half a year, while at the same time we're excited to see friends and spend time at our supporting churches in the States.

So, we're a mashed up mess of Yuck Ducks and Yeah Ducks.  And will be for a while.  It takes a while to get resettled, and just about the time we find a rhythm, we'll go through the upheaval again to come back. 

If you see us in the first month or two, we might be a little messy, especially our kids.  For some of them, this will be the first time they really remember living in the US.  For one of them, this will be her first time living in another country.  Yep, she's little, but you better believe she will go through her own adjustment time.  This baby has never seen wall to wall carpeting! 

For our bigger guys, there will likely be some working through how Tico and how Gringo they are.  It might depend on the day.  Simple questions like "is it good to be home?" can cause all sorts of emotions and in elementary school it can be hard to express how they are a mix of both places.  At this point, they might not even realize how much of a mix they have become.  This six months could bring that out. 

So.  Know we're excited and ready to spend some time in the US.  Know to that while we are there, we're working through our mixed up mess of "we're home, but not home" all at the same time.  Thanks for your grace with us!  And we can't wait to see you all!!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Lucía Joy

While she arrived April 6th, I'm finally getting a chance to tell you all the details about Lucía's birth.  And before we get to far ahead, let's just clear up how we say her name, shall we?  It sounds like Lucy with an "ahh" sound at the end.  It's the Spanish pronunciation of the name and believe it or not I actually found a youtube video that gives you the audio.

Ok, on to the birth story.  Because of past c sections (Elliot's started the whole thing off with a bang and then Quinn's was a much more peaceful planned c section.)  We had scheduled the c section for 39 1/2 weeks, and for a while it looked like we might not make it to that date.  Starting about around 34 weeks, I began to have a lot of contractions. Since I've never gone into labor on my own, this was a bit of a surprise.  My doctor had me come in for monitoring and told me stay off my feet.  And just to make sure I knew he was serious, he added "or you can rest in the hospital for the next couple of weeks."  Yeah, no.

Two days before the scheduled c section I had my last pre natal appointment.  There was a quick ultrasound to make sure baby was doing well and fluid levels were good.  We were given a "Everything looks great!  See you Wednesday!"  and we were off to pick up my mom from the airport (insert a huge sigh of relief that we made it to then without having to use plan B or C or D!)

Wednesday morning Noah and I headed to the hospital before dawn.  We got all checked in at the hospital and they wheeled me down to the pre op room.  I had joked with my OB that all of my Spanish went to the baby, and he was great about it!  He told the surgical team that while my Spanish is perfect (bwhahah, he was being far to kind and lying!) to use English with me.  Our family doctor was there as well, which was a huge help as he is bilingual and works with missionary families all the time.

In the operating room, it took a while for Noah to be brought in, but he was in time for Lucía's birth.  Except her birth wasn't quite right.  Remember, I couldn't see anything and had a spinal so things were a bit fuzzy, but I remember her not crying.  And not crying and not crying.  I asked again and again if she was ok, and the doctors and Noah did a good job at downplaying what was really going on.  When Lucía was born she wasn't breathing and had no tone or movement.  Her heart was beating, but that was about it.

Our OB told us afterwards that it was a miracle she was alive.  He thinks that early that morning the placenta had started to detach, something they call placenta abruption.  This caused bleeding into the uterus, which meant Lucía was not getting the life support she needed from the placenta anymore.  It also meant that as she swallowed amniotic fluid (something babies do) she was swallowing blood as well.  Most of the time, if a woman has a placenta abruption, she has a lot of abdominal pain and she starts to bleed.  I had none of that.  It wasn't until the doctors started the procedure that they knew anything was wrong.

As soon as Lucía was born, the pediatrician used a CPR mask and bag to breath for her.  She didn't breath on her own for around 7 minutes.  Once she started to breath, the pediatrician brought her to my face so I could touch her and then it was off to the NICU.  She was given oxygen, they put a glucose IV into her belly button, and began to monitor her.  I went to the recovery room and Noah went with Lucía.  He spent a lot of time in the NICU with her, singing and praying.

Because they had her under a plexiglass tent for the oxygen, we weren't able to hold her until the next day at around 1pm.  I think that was one of the longest 30 hours of my life.  And because I was recovering from a c section it was around 5pm the night she was born before I really got to see her when the nurses took me in a wheel chair to the NICU.

The doctors and nurses were amazed at how well Lucía did.  When the OB came to check on me the next day he said "It was only God!  Everything was fine on Monday and had the c section been scheduled for the next day or even a few hours later, she probably would have been a stillborn."  He also told me that he was able to hold it together while he saw patients that day, but when he got home that night he just started crying and praying for us.  He said "sometimes this job is really hard." There is something very nice about having doctors that acknowledge that it was God.

It was interesting, in all of the time of bed rest, a friend of mine said she was praying for God's timing for Lucía's birth, not the doctors.  We started to pray that way too, which is sort of a strange prayer for a planned c section, but my goodness, did God answer!!  That morning when I was getting ready to head to the hospital I asked the Lord for something to get me through the day.  He started to talk to me from Isaiah 43
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

Except I stopped listening as soon as He said "when you pass through the waters, I will be with you." It scared me.  I was afraid of what might be coming.  But He did exactly what He said!  He was right there in the midst of something that could have been so very, very bad.  He kept the waters from overcoming us and Lucía.   He had us surrounded by doctors and nurses who kept Lucía breathing and did what it took to get her stable.

All of Lucía's test have come back saying she is just fine.  She is acting just like any other new born, eating and sleeping like a it's no big deal.  Her name means Light and her little life is already a testament to how great our God is!  We're thankful, very, very thankful!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Forrest's Birthday

Hard to believe we now have a 9 year old!!  While Forrest's actual birthday is today, we celebrated last week.  Something about having a party 5 days before another baby being born seems like a risky move.  So instead we had his party on his due date!

This year he really wanted to invite his two best buddies from school over, which seemed like a great idea.  Here the whole family comes to the party, so it was Forrest's two friends, their sisters, and their moms and dads.

Forrest wanted fish and rice and beans for lunch (a very typical meal you would order for lunch in a restaurant here).  He also wanted a chocolate cake with strawberries in the middle, and since it was his birthday after all, we used the homemade strawberry jam from Michigan Buela made last summer!  So good!

We're so thankful for what a neat kid Forrest is.  He's full of ideas, and is curious about the world around him (thus the cake) and has a strong sense of the Truth, which he isn't afraid to tell you all about it!  God is going to do big things with that!! Happy Birthday Forrest!!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The All Consuming Wait

So.  I still have a back log of things to tell you about, and want to really devote a whole post to a few things, like the time all my aunts and uncles came to visit, or the baby shower our church here threw us.  Or how amazing Easter was this year.

But the all consuming thing right now is the impending arrival of Baby Girl!  We're down to 7 days if all goes according to plan, which we all know how these things behave in regards to plans.

About 3 weeks ago the doctor told me I really needed to take it easy.  It's the height of dry season and I've been having contractions off and on, which with this being the third baby to be born by c section, doctors don't like you to actually go into labor.   Then just to be sure that I understood he really meant it, he said "Or you can stay in the hospital for the next couple of weeks".  Ummm, yeah, we'll work on me taking it easy at home, thank you very much. 

So, I've been  off my feet a lot.  And frankly that's driving me nuts!  There are lots of things that need to be done to make a household run well that require mom being on her feet.  But can I just tell you all, God has answered so many prayers that we prayed for years in regards to community here?  A neighbor has come once a week to clean my house!  A friend had dropped by about once a week just to fold laundry.  Another friend planned, and cooked an amazing Easter dinner, which they brought to our house, and then brought us some of the leftovers while another friend cleaned up from the meal
!  Other people have offered to help with Quinn, and to drive the big boys to and from school.  Guys, 5 years ago we didn't have any sort of support network like this here! 

I've been able to go to church still, and be up enough to cook dinner most days (if I do it in the morning).  Maybe because it's been so hot, or because I am  older this time, or the altitude (I blame almost anything on the altitude)  This last month of pregnancy has just wiped me out.  When people ask me how I am feeling I tell them "pregnant. I feel very pregnant." 

So, we're in the home stretch now.  I've planned something each day, just to keep my mind off of the waiting and to keep Quinn occupied.  My mom comes in Monday and then Wednesday we head in to have this baby! Can't wait for her to live on the outside.

Monday, February 29, 2016

New Room

Well, I have a backlog of things to tell you all about, but frankly that feels overwhelming. So, instead of trying to get all caught up at once, I am going to pick one thing.

The New Baby's Room.

When we moved into this house 3 1/2 years ago, we loved it for a lot of reasons.  It had 4 bedrooms, a real yard and just a lot of things that were us.

But one of the bedrooms was strange.  It was big enough to hold 2 queen size bed, comfortably.  No really.  That was ok.  Elliot used the room and it had a spare bed for when guests came.  But it seemed like a silly waste of space really. 

For whatever reason, I don't have a good before photo, but this one gives you somewhat of an idea.  That's a queen bed and a set of bunk beds in the same room and there is still a desk and a rug behind the camera!

So we got to thinking, "What if we put a wall up in the middle of the room and cut a door to the hallway?"  We talked about it when our friend Jamie was here and helped us build all sorts of hobbit shelves.  She thought it was doable.  We talked to other friends and finally our landlord.  He was a bit skeptical about it, but when we said we'd pay for it and that our architect friend thought it would be fine, he was good.

So, in mid January, we finally were able to hire two guys to come and build the new baby's room! 

It was a simple project as these things go.  It was just putting a drywall wall up to split the room in half and cutting a door in the existing hallway wall.  I say simple.  We still hired someone to do it.  But there was already separate wiring for lights and outlets, and a window on that side of the room, almost as if this had been the plan all along but they just never got to it. 

So now Elliot's room is much more manageable.  I think he feels not so overwhelmed by it.  He's got new green everything (his favorite color).  I would show you a lovely photo, but honestly, when I went up to take one, I realized he managed to leave the house this morning with a lego explosion everywhere.  So instead I'll just show you pictures of the Baby's room because she can't mess it up...yet. 

There are still some things that I want to do in here, like paint her name on a sign above her changing table, but that requires that we know her name, which still isn't certain yet.  Yeah, yeah, I know.

I love how the furniture came together in this room.  The changing table and the rocking chair came from our church here.  We did some updating of the nursery there and those things needed to be moved out.  So we got to give them a home.  The changing table is the same style as one we had in the states with the two biggest kids.  It's sweet when God gives you gifts like that.  The red pillow on the rocker is one that my great grandmother made. The crib is one we used with Quinn.  There is something sweet about reusing all the baby things.  There is even a walker up on the shelf above the changing table that at least three of my siblings used along with my boys. 

The little table with the light came from the garbage and I sanded it down and painted it.  I love how it turned out. 

The book shelves Noah found on a sale site and they needed some love. So we sanded those down too and painted them.  There isn't much on them, yet, but I am sure they will fill up in the years to come.  I am thinking baby needs a rag doll soon.

So there you have it.  The new room.  I am sure it will morph over the next while, and baby probably won't sleep in it for several months after she is born, but it feels good to have that huge project checked off the "To Do Before Baby Comes" list!