Thursday Ramblings

We just keep swimming. 

Mark made two trips to the hospital yesterday with Casa Bernabe kids.  One for a regular appointment, the other with a boy who had to get stitches.  By the end of the day, he was plumb worn out from driving all over.  I’m thankful that he did the driving. 

My ankle no longer looks like this…

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But it’s still not pretty and still not 100% healed.  The truth is I have been walking on it way too much, so I’ve decided to use today as a down day, really hoping that by giving it a rest today it will heal.  It’s still very black and blue, but the swelling is mostly gone (except for when I have to walk over a mile on it, like yesterday).  

Theo is in his first round of exams at Verbo.  Yesterday was English, I’m crossing my fingers he passes (haha).  Seriously though, today was his Spanish exam and I am looking forward to seeing how he does in that.  He’s only four and it’s hard to test a four year old, but I am looking forward to seeing some kind of feedback about his progress.  

Tate is reading like a crazy!  He keeps bringing in books to school to read them aloud.  I adore reading and I am thrilled that he is loving it like I do.  We recently finished the Mouse and the Motorcycle series by Beverly Cleary and it was awesome!  I love sharing special things from my childhood with him. 

Kevin is attending a Vocational Training program once a week with three other boys from Casa (or formerly from Casa).  One is studying mechanics, and two are doing welding.  Here are their first projects:

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Aren’t those neat?  I was so proud!

The worldview studies are pushing some buttons.  We’ve had several kids get emotional during our meetings.  This is not the goal, but we do want to encourage kids to work through their issues, and the follow up that is happening will hopefully lead to healing.  I am so thankful for your prayers on behalf of the kids whose dad died.  The two sisters seem to be doing well, remarkably well, in fact.  The boy, though, could use more prayers.  He was acting out before his dad died, and (understandably) this behavior has increased.  Please pray for wisdom, patience and good counsel for him and his caregivers. 

Our garden is producing (haha!) and we’re enjoying it!  Theo eats his body weight in tomatoes each day (not really, but he would if he could) and Tate is really enjoying the peppers.  We have baby watermelons that are growing so that’s very exciting.  I have no idea how long watermelons take to ripen, and since they were started because we threw seeds out on the ground I have no idea how what to expect.  I think it makes it more of an adventure!

Happy Thursday, we’re glad it’s almost Friday!

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Last Week

We survived. I realize I probably sound overly dramatic, but it was a long week for Casa Bernabe.

We had illnesses, injuries, minor car accidents.

Kids here lost family members unexpectedly.

While everyone is physically on the mend, I think that emotional wounds will be taking a toll for a while.

Please pray for the emotional and spiritual well being of the kids and staff here at Casa. The kids that come to live here have already experienced several emotional beatings. This past week just compounds their losses.

Thank you for your encouragement and support.

Love,
Jenni

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When Kevin Came to Stay

When we first met Kevin, he looked like this…(he’s on the right, and that’s my mom in the middle)

Kevin 2009

And we loved him.

A year and a half later he was removed from the orphanage. Then he repented and asked for grace, which the leaders gave him. It’s a long story (emotional on my part) but some of my thoughts can be seen here. I don’t know that I will ever publically share the full story because a) It’s not mine to share and b) I don’t know if I could do it justice, but to sum up our involvement, I will just say that Tate, Theo and myself flew from Seoul, Korea to Seattle, and my parents, Mark’s parents and Nana came together to watch the boys so I could fly down to Managua to take Kevin to the new center on the other side of the country.

Here’s us in Puerto Cabezas when I dropped him off there…
Kevin puerto

And six months later we rejoiced as he made the best decision of his life…
kevin's baptism

family at baptism

During this time, we called Kevin weekly. We felt it was important to be actively involved in his life, so we made that commitment to him and his house parents. That December he graduated from Primary School.

graduation

Then, for very good reasons, he went to live with his mom again. We continued to be in contact with him and prayed daily for wisdom regarding how to proceed with him.

When we moved here we were still unsure of how our relationship would look. For the first six months we saw him twice a week, on Sundays and when we did our worldview study. We continued to visit with his mom and siblings. We went to his school parent meetings (because we were asked to, not because we forced our way). Around mid December we asked Kevin if he wanted to spend time with us at Christmas. He did, and his mom did as well. So, he came to visit after Christmas and stayed. We’ve seen his mom often and she is very happy with the arrangement. As is he. And we are overjoyed.

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So, there you have it. A brief story on how Kevin came to be a part of our family.

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Word-spiration

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Ouch.

Image Credit

A huge thanks to Anneke at This, That & Life for this inspirational quote!

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Daily Life

I’ve thought a lot about writing a daily life summary for quite a while.  Every time I’ve sit down to write it I’ve come up empty.  It’s not that there isn’t stuff to write about, it’s just that it’s hard to put into words what daily life is like.  How much should I share, and how much do I keep in the family?  What do you all want to know?  What subjects bore you to death?

As I struggle with this subject and how to adequately convey what we’re doing, I’ve decided to try and answer the question about what our day looks like by sharing what surprised me the most about our life here.  You ready for it?

For me, daily life here in Nicaragua is very similar to what daily life was like in Oregon. 

I still struggle with many of the same things.

I still hate getting up early, my temper still gets the best of me, sometimes I still have a potty mouth and I continue to wonder overmuch about what other people think.  Yes, some of the themes are different…before I didn’t wonder what other people thought about how we’re spending our money as long as I felt peace about it.  Now that we’re living on support I wonder if our supporters would be upset to know that I spent $3 on a cup of coffee last week (even writing that out makes me cringe). I know it’s not healthy, and I’m working on it…sanctification takes time, people!

My main responsibility continues to be to my family.  If our family falls apart, our ministry does as well, they are that connected.  I still direct, guide, counsel, kiss owies, read books, do laundry, help with homework, cook meals, play referee…you get the idea.

But, the beautiful thing is that although I’m doing pretty much the same stuff, my audience has gotten bigger.  We have another kid living in our house.  We feed various people at every meal.  I’m counseling more kids than just my beloved Tate and Theo.  I feel very affirmed in this…God took what I was doing in the states (and what I love doing) and expanded it.  He’s enlarged my territory.

Remarkably, I’m even ministering to the same kids I was ministering to in the states.  It was long distance then and now it’s up close.  In Kevin’s case, very close, he lives with us!  I’ve also seen hope of some families coming together.  One of the boys (whose family we visited earlier) has recently had his brothers and sisters come to stay at Casa Bernabe.  We’ve been in regular contact with him for years even while we were in the states, and it’s neat to see the relationship grow to the point where he trusts us enough to have his siblings come and live here.  Granted, it’s not just us he trusts because we don’t run this place, but I still think of it as a way that God is expanding our ministry.

So, if you were to come and see us you might notice that my life looks kinda similar to what it did in the states.  The setting is different but many of the characters are the same, with some new ones being added in regularly.

I guess all of this to say that we’re still us and life here has many of the same struggles it had in the states.  But we just keep moving forward, trusting that the best is yet to come!

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A big update

Life keeps on marching forward, doesn’t it?  I swear yesterday was just New Years, and here we are and it’s February!  

We have had a lot of forced fun the past few weeks, so we certainly can’t complain.  We had to spend three days in Costa Rica to renew our Nicaraguan visas, and we took full advantage of it!  On top of getting to go as a family, a friend of Jenni’s flew into town to go with us and they spent the few days doing all sorts of crazy things Jenni never would have done on her own.  

Exhibit A:

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Repelling down a waterfall.  Not just any waterfall, but a 141 foot one.  For a girl that’s afraid of heights that was a pretty big accomplishment!  The girls had quite a few adventures and braved public transportation.  

The boys and Mark spent the time at the beach and a pool, where Tate learned how to swim.  He’s been working on it for several months and he finally got to the point that we feel comfortable with him in the water.  We’re still working on back floats but his crawl stroke is awesome!

On the home front things are going well.  Kevin is still here with us and doing great!  He started classes and is studying often.  We hope to get him hooked up with a mechanic to do an internship in the next couple of months.  We’ve been really impressed with his helpfulness, his attitude and his comprehension of biblical stuff.  I know I have promised more on that later and I will come through, but for now here’s a pic of the welcome home banner he made for us:

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Theo starts school on Monday.  His attitude is lacking, but we’re working on that.  We’ll be officially kicking off our worldview study with the Posada and Casa Ester girls on Thursday.  We’re super excited about this and would appreciate your prayers. 

Another update will come later, but for now, have a great week!

 

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The Comfort of Routine

We are back into our routine.  Tate is in school, Theo isn’t yet (next month he’ll start) but we all appreciate waking up knowing more or less what is coming.  It might not never turns out to be exactly what we scheduled, but we have a great outline at least!

We still feed about 10 people at dinner.  Although it gets expensive at times, we’ve been blessed by people throwing in money to cover, or buying groceries and always we have tons of help prepping and cleaning.  We’re really enjoying this aspect of community living.

It’s now the dry season, so even though we wipe off our table about 3 times a day, there’s almost always a fine layer of dust covering it.  I suppose I could continue to fight it and be frustrated with it but I just honestly don’t worry about it anymore.  I’m not going to be featured in Good Housekeeping anytime ever, so as long as it’s clean when we eat-whatever.

Poor Tate has had a rough week.  We finally came clean about our dog dying (it happened in July, but since he was living in Seattle we waited to tell the boys until we had Winnie). Then the poor boy’s bike got stolen.  I’m not sure which earned more tears…I have a feeling we’re not done mourning the loss of the bike so that one may be inching ahead in the polls.

Since the loss of his bike he’s been riding Theo’s.  I’ll try to get a picture of it because it looks completely ridiculous.  Theo’s bike is a small two wheeler that doesn’t have pedals.  The theory is that this will enable him to learn to ride quicker*.  Anyway, Tate’s legs are way too long for the bike and he looks goofy doing a run/ride thing on the bike but it’s pretty hilarious.  Maybe instead of pictures I’ll have to get a video because it’s that funny.

A puma escaped near us.  They aren’t exactly sure where it is or how they plan to get it back.  We laugh every time we say puma.  While you might (logically) think that the puma escaped from the nearby zoo, I am here to inform you that this is not the case.  The puma is privately owned.  We are careful when we let Winnie out to go to the bathroom…we don’t want her becoming puma food.

Theo told me the other day that “I’m not the boss of him”.  After spending some time in his bedroom he retracted his statement, saying that, “Actually, mom, you are the boss of me!”  The next morning he did ask me if I was still his boss.  I replied affirmative and he let out a big sigh.  Life is rough when you’re three.

Thank you for all of your encouraging words from the last post.  I received many nice emails and facebook messages which were very appreciated!

 

*For the record, we didn’t buy him the bike like this.  We took the pedals off of his training wheeled bike because he didn’t ride it anyway.  Ghetto, I know.

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When We Get Discouraged

The past couple of weeks have been tough.  I could probably write about 12 long posts about the reasons why but there’s not really any point in dwelling on it.  The point is, we have had more moments of questioning what we’re doing here than in the entire 5 months prior put together.  We know that God brought us down here but various circumstances have made it difficult to stay positive at times.

Basically, without getting into many details (because we don’t know many) the government wants to shut down Casa Bernabe.  We’re working to find solutions to this, while making sure that we are honoring the government’s requests.  Times like this make us question just what we’re supposed to be doing.  We’re concerned about the kids here and how we can ensure their safety.  We wonder what the future is going to look like.  We think about our boys who have endured so many changes in the past year, and wonder what more changes could mean for them.  But mostly, we think, wonder, talk and pray about what God wants for us, this place, and these children we all love.

On top of that, we found out that Mark is on the prospective deployment list for 2013 with the Navy Reserve.  While we knew this was a possibility, we were hoping to be able to put it off until next year as this year we’ll be working really hard to start all of our programs.  Mark’s command has been very understanding and supportive but they don’t have a say in what happens. After praying about it we decided to wait it out on the list and see what happens.  It sounds like there is between a 20 and 40% chance that he will deploy for anywhere between 6 months and a year.

Both of these are situations without immediate resolution, and require patience, steadfastness and faith.

Each of those things is a personal weaknesses of mine.

In all of this, however, I am seeking out peace.  I’d by lying if I said we didn’t want immediate solutions that were easy and required little sacrifice.  But we’re committed to the process of refinement [even if it is by another deployment…].  Even so, we still sometimes question, did we misread the signs?  Did we jump the gun?  Are we really here where God wants us?  We have an overarching conviction that we are, but sometimes we’d just like a neon sign, ya know?

This morning, I was woken up suddenly by Mark running up the stairs.  “You’ve got to see this!” he whisper-shouted.  I stumbled downstairs, and was greeted by an amazing sight.

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That, my friends, is the Guardabarranco.  The National Bird of Nicaragua.  And it flew into our house this morning.

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Isn’t she beautiful?

This morning, in the midst of all of the uncertainty, I’m looking at this like our neon sign.  The bird flew into our house and stayed for a while, about 6 minutes.  She was beautiful and didn’t break a thing.  Didn’t create [too much] chaos.  It was awe inspiring.

If it was any other bird it would be a great story.  But God allowed (or even ordained, who knows?) that it was the National Bird.  I just feel like this was confirmation to my soul that we are right here where we are supposed to be.

Then again, it could just be a bird flying into our house 🙂

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The Past Month In Numbers

  • The least amount of people we have fed at a meal at our house…9
  • The number of visitors we had…3!  My parents and our friend Christina
  • New puppies…1 winnie
  • New puppy accidents cleaned (during the day, night doesn’t count!)…3
  • Times we’ve been to the pool…4 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Times my Facebook has been hacked…4 (and counting)
  • Road trips…2 (one with the family, one just Mark and some of the boys from here)
  • Enormous batches of Gallo Pinto made…2 (in TWO days, umm…adolescent boys eat a lot!)
  • Most people we’ve fed at one meal…21Christmas dinner
  • Number of Skip-bo games…too many to count
  • Horses ridden…1 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • New kids living with us…1  (more on this later)
  • People we’ve fit in our 8 seater car…14
  • Wii bowling games…probably about 567
  • Tears shed when Grandparents left…3 million
  • Times I’ve wondered if I’m cut out for this…at least half a dozen.  Each day.
  • Times God has given me what I need, in spite of the fact that we minister out of a platform of weakness…too many to count.
  • LIVE! Seahawks games watched (and WON!)…2! (more to come, hopefully!) seattle seahawks Image Credit
  • Times we’ve been thankful for where we are…everyday.

Thank you for walking with us here in Nicaragua.  Thank you for being a part of our joy.

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Nueva Guinea

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I love these boys.  Especially that big pale guy in the middle 🙂

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