Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Growing Seeds

I began this post when we were in Bolivia. Due to slow internet connections and lack of time, I did not finish it until now. May it be an encouragement to each of you as you read how God is moving in the lives Bolivian young people!

When Gerson and I left Bolivia to serve the Lord in McAllen, Texas, it was bittersweet. It was bitter because Bolivia holds a dear place in our heart. Gerson is from Bolivia, and it is where he and I met, dated, married, and started our life of marriage and ministry as a couple. It was sweet because we knew the Lord was leading us, and we knew God doesn't make mistakes.

More often than not, when one is in full-time ministry, it is hard to see the results of one's labor. I remember leaving Bolivia wondering what seeds we had planted and how those we had had the privilege to disciple would fare, since our departure from Bolivia was very sudden due to my high risk pregnancy with Jayden. (If you want to read more of THAT story of God's faithfulness, go to and click on the posts from the fall of 2008!)

Coming back to Bolivia after several years has opened my eyes to how the Lord is working in the lives of His children here in this country. The greatest joy for me upon our return has been to see how God is growing the seeds He planted while we were here. I'd like to share some of these with you, praising God who is the One who is doing the work in these individuals!

The first group of people we had the privilege to meet with was the Boanerges or "Sons of Thunder" cell group from the University Church. Gerson was the founder of this group of young men. When we left, he left Limber, one of the young men in the group, with the baton of leadership. Limber has done an incredible job with these young men and the group has grown. (There was a small group our first evening with them due to several conflicts that night.) There has been so much growth that it was decided to split the group into two cell groups --- one for married men and one for single men. Another man from the original group, Gonzalo, now teaches the married men. What a joy to see not only the growth of numbers, but the  depth of growth we witnessed spiritually in these young men. Several came by the house and talked with us one on one about what God is doing in their life. What a joy to hear the testimonies! I'm excited about how God is using these young men to impact Bolivia! Pray that the Lord will bring the single men a godly wife who will join them in ministry. That was a concern on many of their hearts as they spoke with us. 

 Limber with Edson --- they became fast friends.
Another joy for us was to see Gabriel and Angelica. We met them back in 2008 because Gabriel's brother attended the Boanerges cell group. He had shared with Gerson that his brother and sister-in-law were going through a hard time and he was concerned for them. Gerson reached out to Gabriel and we began meeting with this young couple in our home. They were struggling in their marriage, and Gerson and I had the amazing privilege of sharing God's perspective of marriage with them. They had had a civil wedding ceremony, but as they studied God's Word, they really had a desire to have a religious ceremony to consecrate their marriage to the Lord and renew their wedding vows. December of 2010, they had a beautiful wedding to do just that!
We were unable to return to Bolivia to attend their wedding, but while we were here in Bolivia this time, Gabriel and Angelica invited us out to eat one evening, and then the following week cooked a traditional Bolivian meal for us. During that time of fellowship, they showed us pictures of their wedding and gave us the video of the special event! What immense joy to see this couple grow in their love for each other as their love for the Lord grows! They also shared with us that Gabriel is feeling the Lord's leading to formally study the Bible, even though he is a successful businessman. He doesn't know what the Lord has in store for him, but he wants to be prepared to serve Him completely! The fact that he is willing to be obedient to the Lord in so many huge areas of his life is a testimony to how God is working in this man and his family!
Another couple we were able to see was my best Bolivian friend from Trinidad, Blanca Elena, and her husband Roberto. They made the sacrifice to travel overnight by bus to spend a weekend with us. When I lived as a single missionary in Bolivia, God sent Blanca across my path through our church Sunday School class. Blanca quickly became a close friend, and I was thrilled when she and Roberto, with whom I was on the praise and worship team at church, began to date. They got married 4 months after Gerson and me. This couple has an incredible passion for the Lord and have become leaders in a small church plant in Trinidad. Blanca recently quit her job, allowing her to plunge freely and whole-heartedly into ministry! What an incredible privilege to see how God is using this couple to further His Kingdom!

There are just a few of the people who have impacted our lives and who we see God using in ways we never imagined when we lived there. The seeds fell on fertile ground and grew fruit. Now that fruit is sowing seeds and others are coming to know Christ through them. Our joy knows no bounds! Praise the Lord!

Please pray for these young people. As they shared their ministries with us, they also shared their struggles, hurts, and desires. Pray they will remain strong in the Lord, focused on Him, and that He will continue to bless their lives and ministries. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I'd Like to Introduce You to . . .

 Gerson's Father: Fermin

Gerson's dad is from a part of Bolivia called Los Yungas de La Paz. In his prime, Fermin was a professional soccer player for a team in La Paz, Bolivia called Municipal. In total, he spent 6-7 years playing soccer either professionally or semi--professionally. He's a jack of all trades, however, and also worked with heavy machinery when Gerson was a young boy. One of his bigger projects was asphalting the runway in Tarija. He also mined and worked various other jobs to help support his family throughout the years. Playing professional sports in Bolivia is not as lucrative as it is in the States. He made enough to support the family, but did not make an overabundance to continue supporting them once he was out of professional sports.
 Currently, Papa Fermin is working at the Bolivian Evangelical University (BEU) here in Santa Cruz. He is the athletic director. He views this more as a ministry than a job. In addition to organizing the BEU's sports teams for the Santa Cruz University Olympics each year, he also coaches the girls' indoor soccer team. He has also taken over the BEU soccer school that Gerson helped found in 2005 and coaches soccer to young boys from the neighborhoods around BEU.
 Gerson's Mom: Dora

Dora is from Tarija, Bolivia. Her joy in life is cooking! She loves to be in the kitchen cooking for her family. And she's a TREMENDOUS cook! From the time she gets up in the morning until it is time to serve lunch, you can find her slaving away in her kitchen. This is her way of serving her family.
 Mama Dora has diabetes. As I've mentioned in a former post, she's quite the business woman. She has no medical insurance, so she finds ways to raise money to cover her medical expenses. She sometimes cooks empanadas, or other such treats, to see at the soccer games where Papa Fermin coaches. She also has begun a jewelry business. She makes beautiful jewelry and has built up a clientele, both here and in Tarija. If any of you is interested in buying some of here jewelry, let me know! I can hook you up!
 Gerson's Brother: Aldo (in the blue shirt)

Gerson has a half-brother, Aldo. He and his family live on the other side of Santa Cruz, so they do not come over to his parents' house often. Aldo is taxi driver and that is how he supports his famiy. Judith runs a little store from inside their house, selling staple groceries to families in their little barrio (neighborhood). We're happy that so far we've seen Aldo and his family 3 times since we've been here!
 Aldo and Judith have three precious children. Hudson is the oldest. He is 8 years old and loves school! He reminds us a lot of Jayden. Jairo is 6 years old. Their little girl is Alison Jamie and she is 3 years old.  It's been a joy watching Jayden and Edson getting to know their Bolivian cousins. We hope they will get to spend even more time with them before we head home.
 Gerson's Sister: Cathy

Cathy is the family care-giver. She is a true SERVANT! She lives with Gerson's parents and takes marvelous care of her mother when she is sick. She also keeps the rooms of the house clean, does the yard work, and helps in the kitchen when Mama Dora is sick. She has just finished taking her classes at BEU to get her degree in English. She has her final exam to take, and then she can graduate! She works at a Christian school within walking distance of their home, where she teaches English to elementary children.
 Gerson was the first Christian in his family. He prayed for the others and Cathy was the next person to understand her need for Christ. Cathy and Gerson began praying together fervently for the rest of the family, and one by one, they all accepted Christ and are living for Him! Cathy is a real prayer warrior and loves the Lord. I can't wait for God to bring along a godly man who will embrace her, her gifts, and her ministries. She is a woman on fire for the Lord!
 Gerson's Youngest Sister: Silvana

Silvana is a professional basketball player here in Bolivia. We went to one of her games, but she didn't get to play because the other team didn't show up. We were disappointed and hope that she will play again before we leave. As I stated above, although she is considered a professional, the pay is nothing like you'd expect for a professional athlete in the States. However, she does make enough to support herself. She rents an apartment several blocks from her parents and lives independently --- which is NOT normal for a young female in this Latin culture.
Silvana also goes to school. She is studying something called "Physical Activity." The way I understand it, this type of degree would allow her to be a PE teacher, own and run a gym, or even coach sports. She still has two years of studies ahead of her. She is the sister who joyfully washes our clothes by hand for us. She has also helped a lot by helping me take care of the boys.

So, now you have met Gerson's family! This is them in a nutshell. :) I am blessed to have such incredible in-laws who embraced me and accepted me from the first moment Gerson introduced me to them. It's a joy to be reunited!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Our Humble Home (For a Month)

This is the road where we live for the month we're in Bolivia. Gerson's parents' home, which they rent, is the one with the huge tree --- NOT the one with the razor wire on top the wall.
Although the house doesn't have all the comforts of our house in McAllen, it does provide for all our needs and contains an abundance of LOVE!
This is the room Gerson and I share with Edson and Jayden. My amazing mother-in-law raised the money to buy the toddler bed and crib for them by renting out the trampoline to neighborhood kids in the evenings! What an business woman!
The kitchen is the structure in the background where Gerson is working. The second day we were here the wind was so strong it almost blew the tin roof off the kitchen! Gerson and his dad got to work putting heavy wooden rods on top. The room where we sleep will be the dining room when we leave, so for the time being we mostly eat outside on the plastic table where you can see Jayden sitting.
 Don't worry about the rustic conditions. My mother-in-law believes in cleanliness. Even though she cooks in rough conditions, she maintains a clean kitchen! She doesn't even have a sink in which to wash the dishes; instead, she uses plastic tubs.
If you are a detailed person, you may have seen the washer and dryer in the back of the kitchen. However, since Gerson's family has just moved to this new house, they have not been able to hook up the washing machine to water yet. Therefore, all of our clothes have to be hand-washed! Bless my sister-in-law, Silvana, for washing our clothes for us! I'm thankful she actually ENJOYS this chore. I've never had such clean clothes in my life! 
After washing them by hand, she had to hang them all up to dry. Don't worry ---- she really did have a sense of humor about it. She loves serving in this way!
Our bathroom is NOT an outhouse, for which I'm very thankful. Our sink is outside, but at least the toilet and shower are INSIDE. :)
 Bless my father-in-law for realizing and understanding that his "gringa" daughter-in-law considers hot water for showering pretty close to a necessity --- especially during these winter months. The temp can drop into the 50's during the night and can stay pretty cool throughout the day. This gal doesn't like cold showers on HOT days, let alone COLD days! Most Bolivian homes do not have hot water heaters, nor do the they have heat in general, so if the cold remains for several days, it feels colder than it actually may be. So, Daddy Fermin installed a rustic hot water heater. If I explained how it worked, it would probably make you nervous for my safety, so I won't go into details. Suffice it to say that I flip that black switch and turn the white switch on the shower head, and VOILA, I have enough hot water "to skin a pig," as they like to tell me. This gal is happy with whatever hot water I can get! :)
 The kids take even a more rustic approach to bathing. They bathe out in the yard. We heat water on the stove in our almost-outdoor kitchen, add a little cold water, and my two boys are happily splashing away.
Although it may seem backward and lacking in today's luxuries that many consider needs, this home is full of joy, laughter, love, and the Holy Spirit! I will admit it is sometimes a hard life. But, it's a GOOD life --- one full of blessings that can't be put into dollar signs!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Bye-Bye USA, Hello Bolivia!

It is a long journey to Bolivia, and for us it was especially long this time. Our missionary friends and co-workers, Tim and Kim Benner, drove us from McAllen to Brownsville at 5:00 AM on July 18th. I had told Jayden we would eat at McDonald's when we arrived at the airport. That was a big mistake, because Jayden doesn't forget promises! Little did I know that the Brownsville airport didn't have a McDonald's. It only had one restaurant and it was outside of the security checkpoint. Needless to say, my little guy was disappointed!

I continued to tell him that eventually we would find a McDonald's, but I had no idea how difficult it was going to be! We had a short layover in Houston, and although our flight got delayed, we weren't sure how long the delay was going to be and we needed to remain at our gate. There was no McDonald's in view. Again, Jayden was saddened.

We arrived in Miami, picked up our luggage, and headed out to wait for our hotel shuttle. We considered eating in the airport before heading to the hotel, but we knew that the hotel had a restaurant and were hoping there would be restaurants within walking distance of the hotel. We caught our hotel shuttle, checked into our 5th floor room, and headed downstairs to try to find some food. Would you believe there were NO restaurants besides the hotel restaurant within walking distance. Needless to say, the hotel restaurant was a far cry from McDonald's!

After a night in the hotel, my boy STILL had not forgotten about Mommy's promise to eat McDonalds. (Now, I was getting a tad bit nervous since I knew we wouldn't be finding a McDonald's in Bolivia!) We checked in at the Taca desk, checked our luggage, and decided to go ahead through security and find our gate, even though we were about 4 hours early to the airport. As we were going through security, I hear Jayden's voice cry out, "MCDONALD'S!" much to the amusement of the elderly gentleman who was checking our passports and tickets. He grinned and said, "My son always had a nose for french fries, too." I asked the kind man where McDonald's was and he pointed behind himself and said, "Right after you get through security, there is a McDonald's." Sure, enough. My son had already spotted the sign, hence the enthusiastic yell. I was praising the Lord I got to feed my son McDonald's! We were one happy pair! You can tell from Jayden's smile he was thrilled with his lunch.
 From Miami we had a 5+ hour flight to Lima, Peru. From there we had another 2+ hour flight to Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The boys did not sleep much on the flight from Miami to Peru, but by the time we caught our last flight, they were both tuckered, as were Mommy and Daddy. We took Edson as a lap baby, so he was on our laps the whole way. Talk about a challenge with a toddler who never slows down! Thankfully we had 3 seats and he and Jayden were able to share a seat for part of the time.
 Both boys are small enough that at one point we had them both laying down in Jayden's seat with their heads on our laps. By the end of the trip, I was carrying a sleeping Edson and Gerson was carrying a sleeping Jayden. We were ALL exhausted.
 We were greeting in Santa Cruz by quite a welcoming committee! Gerson's mom and dad, pictured above, were there. In addition, both of his sisters came as well as his brother, sister-in-law, and our 2 nephews and niece! We weren't expecting EVERYONE to come since we arrived at 2 AM. That was sacrificial on their part! We were given plenty of hugs, and since Gerson's brother is a taxi driver, we had safe transportation back to the house.
We stayed up late talking. I think we finally went to sleep around 4 or 4:30. We slept a couple of hours and then the boys woke us up, ready to start the day. The boys were starving and wanted to eat breakfast. Thankfully, about that time a woman was walking by our gate selling fruit. Edson saw the bananas and started pointing, wanting to eat them. We called out to the lady and invited her into the yard. 
 We made her day by buying a large bunch of bananas for the boys, as well as some delicious strawberries. How I've missed the fresh Bolivian fruit!
So, eating fresh fruit was the beginning of our first day in Santa Cruz. The boys haven't stopped eating fruit since. We can't keep our kitchen stocked with enough bananas, grapes, strawberries, and papaya to keep the boys full! They are both eating super well and LOVING the Bolivian treats!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bits and Pieces of Travel Adventures

Here we are in Bolivia after two and half years of being away. I knew we had arrived in South America when we landed in Lima, Peru and were told we had to go through security after getting off the plane to catch our connection to Santa Cruz. I´m used to not having to go through security if just catching a connection, so both Gerson and I were startled when we were directed to a LONG line of people waiting to go through security. We thought we had less than an hour until our connecting plane left, and by looking at the long line in front of us, we thought we´d be spending the night there in the airport. However, thanks to our two little guys, we were given preference and ushed to the front of the line where we, once again, went through the whole drill of removing our shoes, belts, watches, etc. Were we ever relieved to get through that!

Our next adventure was to find Gate 18, which according to our flight attendant was where we would find our connecting flight to Santa Cruz. We got there, out of breathe after hurrying through security and carrying both kids plus all our carry on baggage, only to find out that it WAS NOT our gate. Once again, panic set in. Time was flying by and according to our boarding passes, the flight was about to leave. We found a arrival and departure board and looked up our flight. Hallelujah! It was  just a few gates down at Gate 26 and it was going to be leaving an hour later than we had thought!

Once we arrived at the correct gate, I left the kids with Gerson and headed to the bathroom. Remember, the last airport in which I had been was Miami. The restrooms there are plenitful and spacious. There is an abundance of stalls in each restroom and rarely is there a long line because the women can go to another restroom down the same cooridor and use one of its 30 stalls. Basically, the wait is SHORT: Not to be in Peru. There were only 3 stalls in the only women´s restroom I found. One stall was locked, although no one was in it. The other two stalls were full and there was a waiting line. I was also reminded of what continent I was on when I read in Spanish, ¨Please do not throw the toilet paper into the toilet.¨Yup. We´d arrived in South America! ¨ To be honest, it made my heart happy!

We made our connection to Santa Cruz without further problems. We were blessed, however, to meet a lovely lady from Tarija, Bolivia while waiting to board our last flight. In the course of our conversation, she learned we were evanglical (Christian) missionaries. She beamed and replied, ¨Then we speak the same language!¨ What a joy to find a fellow Christian travelling with us! Her husband owns a hotel in Tarija and she invited us to come and have coffee with her when we visit Tarija next week.

How did the kids do? They were amazing! (I wish I could download the pictures onto this blog that we took of them during our trip, but I´m at an internet cafe and it would be a little tricky. Hopefully, we´ll get internet access in the house where we are staying tomorrow. Time will tell. We are staying with Gerson´s family and they just moved last week to a different house. They haven´t had time to get the internet installed. That was on our list to do today, but grocery shopping was more important! ;) )

Back to the kids . . . they were troopers! The first day they didn´t cry at all and enjoyed both flights. We stayed in a hotel in Miami, which ended up beimg a fantastic way to break up the trip. The second day of travel was a bit harder. The flights were longer and the kids were worn out from the previous day´s excitement and schedule. There was some crying and some rough moments. but considering we spent 12 hours ON planes and it took us just under 48 hours from the time we left our house on Wednesday morning to when we landed in Santa Cruz on Friday morning, I´d say they did super well!

The funniest thing that happened with the kids was when Jayden looked out the window as we were landing on one of our flights and yelled out, ¨Look, ants!! A LOT of ants!¨ I looked out the window and saw a LOT of CARS!!! Gerson and I laughed and laughed! It was a joy to see things from his three year old point of view.

Thanks for all your prayers. I have so much more I want to share with you, but at this point it´s going to have to wait. I need to go back ¨home¨ and have ¨tecito¨ (light supper) with my family. We love you all and appreciate your prayers more than you know. Gerson has already preached once and is scheduled to preach 2 more times in the coming weeks. I´ll keep the updates coming as much as possible. I will also try to have photos uploaded soon.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mommy Ponderings

"I want better for my kids than what I had."

This is a phrase I have heard over and over again by so many parents. It's even been said in our household a time or two (or maybe more, if I'm honest!). But lately I've been ponding that phrase. As a mommy who is on the journey of a lifetime raising 2 incredible, busy and energetic sons, it's rare that I have time for much introspection. Today as I was fixing lunch with my sons underfoot, for some reason that often-used phrase came to my mind and the pondering began.

In probably 99% of the cases where I heard that thought expressed, it has been in the context of material possessions. It has been in the toy store where I see parents contemplating what to do for their child who is throwing a tantrum, or at least expressing his desire, for his parents to purchase the popular toy. Too often, the parents give into the child, stating their plan for THEIR children to have it better than THEY had it! (Been there, done that!)

It also comes up in coversations with other parents. We tend to "brag" about the most recent purchase to make our children's lives more enriched, more stimulating, more educated, more . . . well, you fill in the blank. It seems like the more we give our children materialistically, our peers and fellow parents applaud and express their desire to do the same for their kids.

To be honest, I've fallen into this popular trend too often. Why do we feel our kids need better than us? Are we so unhappy with our childhood? Are we so unhappy with our parents' parenting? What are our childhood memories and why do we want to "one-up" them with our children?

Now, let put in a disclaimer here. If there is a parent who is reading this who grew up in a terrible household with abuse, neglect, or emotional issues, I'm not referring to you. Of COURSE your desire is to give your children a better life --- one without the abuse, neglect, and emotional toil you grew up with. I'm referring to those of us who grew up in loving homes with two parents who loved us, disciplined us in a godly manner, supported us while teaching us of the consequences of our choices. I'm talking about those of us who had food on our table daily and new clothes at the beginning of each school year. Why do we desire so badly to remember those blessing as "not good enough"? Isn't that what we're saying when we say, "I want better for my child"?

This is what I remember from my childhood.

My parents LOVED me unconditionally.
My parents had TIME for me.
My parents LISTENED to me.
My parents LOVED each other and SHOWED me what marriage and committment means.
My parents TAUGHT me about God.
My parents ENCOURAGED me.
My parents wanted what was BEST for me, even if it hurt.
My parents didn't give in to my every demand, but TAUGHT me that some things must be earned.
My parents TAUGHT me that my choices brought about results  --- some good, some bad.
My parents PROVIDED for all my needs, although some of my wants may have been denied.
My parents PROVIDED me with a stable home.
My parents PROVIDED the setting and foundation for me to have a solid relationship and bond with each of my siblings.
My parents TAUGHT me to put others before myself.

And the list could go on and on.

Were my parents perfect? No. They even admit to that. BUT ---- they provided me with a wonderful childhood, full of precious memories, love to spare, and a solid Biblical foundation that became a personal relationship with Jesus when I got older.

What more could I want for my kids than a stable home, wonderful memories, strong bonds within the family, and a personal relationship with God? Do I need to feel like they must have the latest toy or gadget to be successful in life? Must I give into their every whim just so I feel accepted by society? Must I fuel their desires to have THINGS and in the process forget what is truly important in their young, impressionable lives?

I know I will continue to make mistakes in my parenting. Just like my parents, I am not perfect. However, my prayer is that with the strength and help of God, my kids have an upbringing LIKE mine --- not BETTER than mine. For, in all the things that truly matter, mine couldn't have been better! Even if I didn't get my Cabbage Patch Doll on the day I wanted it.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Community Kids

"OBEY" --- A small word with a deep significance! We try to teach our chilren the importance of obeying from the time they are very young. As we grow up and deepen our relationship we the Lord, we begin to understand how important obedience is in our spiritual walk. I see so many parallels between the two ---- my children's obedience toward me and my obedience to my Heaveny Father.

One of the many parallels I see is how the obedience of my children makes me happy and proud. When I tell them to do something and they promptly obey, my heart is filled with joy and I think to myself, "I must be doing SOMETHING right!" I believe that as I obey my Heavenly Father, that He also senses immense joy when I step out in faith and obey His prompting, His directions, His correction. I desire to for Him to be proud of me and my prompt response to His voice.

Oftentimes what we are called to do as Christians (and missionaries!) doesn't make sense to the world. But, if the Lord is calling us to do something, it's time to step out and OBEY and trust HIM with the outcome.

One of the ways we can be obedient is by sharing Christ with others. As we were thinking about ways to do this, a summer Vacation Bible School (VBS) was brought up. I was thrilled when missionary Kim Benner mentioned it to me, for I had been thinking about it but knew it required too much for me to do on my own.

Our vision at Taylor Community Center is to reach out to the COMMUNITY around us. That means it won't always be pretty. Rather, it will be a step of faith as we invite those who don't know Jesus, those who are sometimes hard to love, those who have no foundation of morals and values, to come and participate in a variety of activies.

As we prepared for VBS, we decorated, found puppet skits, selected songs and Bible stories, created menus, bought craft supplies, requested donations, organized the rotations, and recruited help, our prayer was that GOD would bring the kids he wanted to be there. From a human perspective, we desire numbers. Everyone always asks, "How many kids came?" and it is easy to fall into the trap of believing that without a huge number of kids, the VBS is a failure. My desire was that God was shown to the kids through our actions and through His Word --- regardless of whether there were 100 children or 1 child present.

Did we have huge numbers? Nope. In fact, we had about 30 kids total throughout they week, but they never seemed to all arive all on the same night! But, for us, this was a huge victory! You see, about 1/3 of the kids who participated in VBS were from our community and weren't from Christian families. For those kids, this was possibly the first time they've heard the Gospel! What a tremendous blessing to see these kids show up and get excited about VBS!
The Word was preached. Seeds were planted. There is still a lot of work to be done. Will you continue to pray for Gerson and me as we begin to plan Fall ministries? One of the things we announced at VBS is that we will be having a Bible Club for kids once a week starting in September. The kids were excited, as were the parents! Pray as we prepare for this ministry. Pray the word gets out into the community that we are a safe place for their children. Pray that we will remain obedient to our Savior, in ALL we do. And pray that God will place people in the lives of these children and their families to water the seeds while we are in Bolivia for most of the remaining part of the summer. (That's for another blog!)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Celebrating Mothers and Daughters

As we continue to look for ways to get to know the community, holidays and special occasions take on a new meaning. Holidays give us a reason to get together, plan an event, and invite our neighbors to take part!

This Sunday is Mother's day and Debbie McKelvey and I will be hosting a Mother/Daughter Tea in Taylor Community Center to celebrate the lives of the mothers and daughters in our community. It's been fun to watch it come together. Our theme is "What's in your Bag?" Our games will be fun and interactive. And the food ---- well, let's just say my mouth is water just thinking about it! (Think chocolate truffles, mini-cheesecakes, pinwheels, and an array of other scrumptious delights!)

However, as fun as it is to plan, decorate, and bake, the real reason for us getting together with these special ladies is to share the love of Jesus with them. For this particular tea, we are inviting ladies whom we know do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Will you pray for us as we continue to prepare the message we will be sharing? Will you pray for the ladies as they receive the invitation --- that their hearts will be open to come and have fun AND hear Truth? Will you pray that we will remain faithful in doing what God has called us to do and leave the results in God's hands?

Our tea will take place on Saturday, May 12th at 6:00 in the evening. Please ask the Lord to bring us to mind throughout the rest of the week (and especially on Saturday!), and when He does, thanks for lifting us to the throne!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Who Holds the Spoon?

It's amazing how much I learn from my children. It's no wonder Jesus took so many opportunities to show us how special little kids are to God!

Recently, I was especially challenged by my one-year-old, Edson. He is to the point where he eats all kinds of table food, but like most children, he gets more on the walls, floors, and his clothes than he gets in his mouth! When I am in a hurry or have just mopped the floor, I often decide to feed him rather than allowing him to use the spoon by himself.

Last week, I had one of those moments when I wanted lunch to be as non-messy as possible. I spooned up Edson's food and directed it toward his mouth. Without missing a beat, he grabbed at the spoon. At first I let him have control to see what would happen. As he grabbed, the food would fall off or he'd miss his mouth completely and the food would dribble down his chin and onto his clothes. After a few such incidents, Edson realized he wasn't getting any food --- at least not fast enough for his hungry tummy!

Finally, he handed me the spoon. I spooned up the food and began to diret it to his mouth. Sure enough -- he got a mouthful of food! He THEN grabbed the spoon out of my hand and held onto it. He looked at it for a few seconds, then looked at me, then with a HUGE grin handed me the spoon again. I reached out and took the spoon and fed him again. This little "game" continued until he had eaten all he wanted.

This situation really challenged me. You see, we humans are often like Edson. We want to feel like we have control. We desire to hold the "spoon" and direct our own life. However, what we often don't realize is when we do that we just make a massive mess of everything and end up feeling empty. What we forget is God is there, ready to direct that "spoon," filling us up with His Holy Spirit. Even more than I desired to physically see my son fed, God desires to see His children fed (spiritually) and filled up with HIM. He wants to satifsy!

Have you relinquished the "spoon" in your life? God has your best interest in mind. It's time to give up control and let God bring the satisfaction only HE can give. Be like Edson ---- give it up with a smile, realizing that's the only way you'll end up FULL!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bolivian Culture in McAllen

I met my husband in Bolivia when I was working there as a single missionary. One of the many things I love about being married to Gerson is that he comes from a different culture. It's sometimes a challenge, but overall it's more enriching than anything else. One thing we try to do is incorporate both of our cultures in our household so our children will learn about where we have both come from. How do we do we incorporate Bolivian into our family? One way is cooking special, favorite foods that Gerson enjoys from his country.

When we lived in Indiana, some of his favorite foods were a challenge to cook because we couldn't get the ingredients. One of the joys of living in McAllen, Texas is that here we have lots of Mexican stores that can get ingredients from different Latin American countries.

The recipe I want to share is one I prepared today and no special ingredients are required! This is a fabulous recipe for warm weather when something fresh and cool is needed. It's also a wonderful dish to use up your boiled Easter eggs!
First off, boil potatoes. The original Bolivian recipe calls for 20 potatoes since this dish is used for special occasions such as birthdays, weddings, or graduations where there are many guests. However, I just use 5 medium to large potatoes for our family. Even with 5 potatoes, we usually have enough left over for several meals. Cube the potatoes as you would for a potato salad and boil them. You don't want to boil them too long, however, or they will not stir well.
The recipe also calls for diced carrots (cooked), green peas (cooked) and onion. I like to keep things as simple as possible in the kitchen, so rather than do all that chopping, I pull out a bag of frozen veggies and heat them up. Like the potatoes, boil the veggies but only until they are cooked but firm.Pour the cooked veggies into the bowl with the boiled potatoes.
Then add the diced onions.
The recipe also calls for a cooked and de-boned chicken. Again, I try to keep things simple! Tonight I pulled out a bag of frozen chicken that was leftover from a rotisserie chicken we had bought at the local grocery store. Any kind of chicken will work. You can either boil a whole chicken, boil chicken breasts, or use leftovers for this. I popped the chicken into the microwave to thaw it and cut it up.
Then I added it to the rest of the of the ingredients. I also had hard boiled eggs all ready in my refrigerator. I peeled them, diced them, and added them as well. I use 2 eggs for this size of recipe.
The last ingredient is mayo! Add enough mayo to make it into a salad --- with the consistency like that of an American potato salad.
Place it in the refrigerator to chill. The result if SCRUMPTIOUS! It's hearty enough to be a complete meal, and it has protein, carbs, and veggies all in one.

Below I will put the original Bolivian recipe from my Bolivian cookbook. As you will be able to tell, I put my own spin on it. You can do the same! Hope you try it! Enjoy!

Sapicon (Bolivian Chicken/Potato Salad)

20+ large potatoes, cubed and cooked
1 cooked and de-boned chicken (cubed)
2 cups carrots, diced and cooked
2 cups green peas, diced and cooked
1 cup diced onion (optional)
4 hard boiled eggs
1 cup sliced green olives
mayonnaise to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Friday, March 16, 2012


Unity is so important in the Body of Christ. As we Christians work together in harmony, the Lord is glorified and our testimony is strengthened. As we each use our gifts, skills, and abilities, the results are beautiful!
In February, the missionaries pulled together and held the dedication for Taylor Community Center. We even had the blessing of having 5 people from our WGM Headquarters in Indiana travel down to help us out and celebrate wtih us!
It was a team effort and we had many committees leading up the event to help with preparations. The food committee did a phenomenal job of planning the menu, buying the groceries, and preparing the spaghetti dinner that was served to 120 guests!
The decorating committee planned, shopped, and transformed the TCC gym into a beautiful banquet facility!
Everyone worked hard, using their gifts, to make the evening special for all our guests.
Many wore several "hats," pitching in wherever needed, giving selflessly when a need arose. . . even if it was for another committee!
It took everyone. Some gave by building a stage. Some gave by donating sound equipment. Some contributed by setting up tables, chairs, and multimedia for the presentation. Everyone pitched in and gave of themselves to see Christ lifted up!
What a joy it was to see Helen Moon honored for her and her late husband's contribution to seeing TCC finished.
What a challenge to hear retired WGM missionary Tim Hawk encourage us to invest in eternity.
What an inspiration it was to praise God through special music.
My prayer for the evening was the God would be glorified and that everyone would feel His love as we served them and worshiped together.
I believe the Lord honored our united spirit and answered abundantly! Praise the Lord for His goodness!