Thursday, April 30, 2009

Calling All Farm Experts!

Ok all you farmers or other knowledgeable people out there ... can you please explain to me why these roosters around here insist on crowing all night long?! I thought that roosters crowed just before dawn, or is that just some fable as to why they crow? I need answers so that I can forgive them for keeping me awake night after night.

I really need to get some sleep tonight. I'm fighting another massive headache and I think it's from lack of sleep (those silly roosters and their friends, the roaming neighborhood dogs), being out in the heat all day today and not enough water. Tomorrow morning we're leaving for San Pedro. It'll be about a 4-5 hour drive and I really don't want to be tired or sick on the way.

BE QUIET ROOSTERS!!!! I'm not interrupting YOUR sleep right now, so please, don't interrupt mine! Thank you kindly.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Time For Reformation!

No, no, no! I'm not talking about a reformation of the church or of the government or anything like that. I'm talking about a reformation of the education systems of the United States and Canada! Paraguay has something that other countries don't have! Since I only have experience with the US and Canada, I can only speak for them, so I declare that we need a reformation of our education system so that we can copy the model of the Paraguayans!
Today was the celebration of El Dia del Maestroes Y Obreros... Teacher's and Worker's Day! And what a celebration! The day started off with an assembly that the students organized and ran with each grade either performing or reading or singing or something for their teachers. There were many prayers being said on the behalf of the teachers from the Directors, the Pastors and other teachers. I couldn't understand everything, but even still, I had a hard time fighting back the tears! The teachers were treated with such respect and honor that was unbelievable to me. After the assembly in the sanctuary of the church, the teachers were dismissed first to go to their classrooms where the students had brought in buffets of goodies from empanadas to sandwiches to tartas and cookies, bottles of pop and bags of candies. The teachers' desks were overflowing with gifts and cards from the teachers in appreciation for their services.

(Shhhh! Don't tell anyone, but this is my favorite class! The morning 6th graders. )

Since we were not homeroom teachers, we got to go from room to room enjoying the treats and receiving hugs and gifts and candy from all our English students. I've only been here for two weeks with these children (not even two weeks, actually) and yet they showered me with love and gifts! I was blown away! I can only imagine what a homeroom teacher must feel after being flooded with such encouragement from her classroom!

The wonderful part is that even though the celebrations were today and the children were allowed to go home after two hours of partying at school, Thursday is the actual holiday so schools are closed! The teachers are invited to La Quinta for a day of swimming, asado (fantastic barbequed meat), and relaxing fellowship over shared terere' (ice cold Yerba Mate' served in a special cup with a special metal 'straw').

Oh yeah. If we could get an educational reformation going in North America, I think we would probably have more happy and content teachers and more respectful students. There was some definite bonding going on today and the relationship between these students and teachers can only improve from here on out!

I was blessed to be a part of this special day!

Welcome Home, Teacher Jason!

We all missed you and we're glad you're home! You're tired, but hopefully happy to be back with your kiddos!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Security of Adonai

Nancy and I have had lots of opportunities to sit and observe students and teachers and the general activity that goes on within the gates of Colegio Privado Adonai. What interesting things we have seen and have been able to contemplate. The one thing that has come to my mind over and over again is the feeling of security that is present on the inside of the gates of Adonai.

It seems as if almost every student, and even every teacher, has a "story" of some sort. Some children are motherless, some fatherless. Some children have both parents, but would probably be better off without one or both. Some students have experienced physical pain and some emotional. Some teachers have suffered more in their lives than many of us ever will. Yet it seems that as soon as students and teachers enter the gate at Adonai, there is a sense of security that envelopes each one and they are now free to live within the boundaries. How's that for an oxymoron?

Every morning, the teachers gather at 6:30 for devotions and a prayer before school starts. The entire school's premises are covered with prayer and each new day is dedicated to the Lord. Prayers are lifted up faithfully for individual students, teachers, parents and community. There is opportunity for teachers and administrators to pray with all those, too. With security of prayers such as these, how can the students and teachers NOT feel the freedom of security when they are enveloped within such boundaries?

I saw little children running on the playground today, laughing with their entire being, enjoying the moment of a childish chase of friends, yet I knew that within the hour, they would be walking out of that secure, green gate back into the world that hurts them and damages them and scares them. I saw teachers smiling at each other, sharing terere' under the tree, talking with such openness, but I knew that once they left the security of Adonai, the big monster of LIFE was going to be attacking them with a vengence.

At Adonai, students and teachers can be secure within the boundaries of the gates. With Adonai, our Father, we can all rest in the security of the boundaries of His arms of love. I wished today that everyone I saw pass by on the outside of the gates of Adonai could step inside for just a moment to experience what everyone on the inside has every day. Some people chose to step inside, some looked in the whole time they passed and others walked past without even looking up at all. How thankful I am that there is a place here in Asuncion that provides such security for so many children and teachers and administrators. There is a place in our spiritual world for people to experience the Security of Adonai, and they just need to step inside and accept it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Stephen's Perspective

Here are some pictures of Paraguay from Stephen's perspective. He has his own little "disposable" digital camera and he has taken some interesting and blurry pictures to help him remember this trip.

Isn't this a great shot? I'm surprised at how well it turned out. This is a picture of the soccer field and playground at school after a heavy rain last week.

Aunt Karen, from Stephen's perspective. She's really not that scary or blurry in real life!

The kitchen sink.

Standing at the kitchen table looking out the back door at Karen's house.

The Troublemaker

I yelled at a kid last week. She is in 6th grade and she is a sly troublemaker. She sits near the door of the classroom and is a bit out of sight as I’m teaching since she’s off to the side. Thursday was Book Day so I was reading books to the class. All was going well until Little Miss Troublemaker decided to reach up and turn the fan on high. Then she opened and closed the door just enough to keep it squeaking constantly. Then she started laughing at me and making comments to the class to get everyone to laugh and that’s when my patience ran out. I told her to go outside the door and wait for me. At that point, the entire class became silent because they all wanted to know what I was going to do. I went outside, closed the door and panicked because I had no idea what to say to her! She doesn’t understand English and I didn’t know enough firm words in Spanish!

After an instantaneous prayer, I just looked at her right in the eyes (about three inches from her face) and said, “STOP LAUGHING. STOP TALKING. BE QUIET. BE GOOD!” The whole time I was saying this, she was saying back to me in English, “I’m sorry, Teacher. I will Teacher. I’m sorry, Teacher.” I saw that she was about to lose it, so I just hugged her and said, “_____, you are a good girl. I love you. I want you to be good.” She hugged me back and went inside.

When Nancy and I left the class, I just about panicked again! What in the world did I just do?! Was I allowed to discipline like that?! Great! Now what was going to happen? After school, I hung around because I wanted to catch this student again to reinforce that I love her, and she just ran past me without making eye contact. Friday morning when she came, she tried to walk past me again, but I stopped her and gave her the fakey-kiss greeting, and she about melted into my arms! Whew! I have gained a friend AND a well-behaved student! Let's pray that she remembers this when I'm back in her class on Tuesday!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Teens

I'm so impressed with the teens here at the school and at church. I questioned their behavior and asked if it was a common Paraguayan behavior, or if it was just the kids here at church. I was assured that it is common for Paraguayans. The teenagers here almost always come up to me and shake my hand (the guys) or greet me with a kiss (the girls), even if they don't know me. I see the guys when they come to school. They stretch out their hands and greet each other even when they see each other every day at school! I'm impressed at the respect that most of the teenagers have toward the adults. I know that some of you who have experienced something different would argue this point, but admit it! In general, most of these teens are quite polite toward adults and their peers.

(As I write this, the teens in this house, which include a guest tonight, are getting in trouble for eating up all the little boys' snacks that they are supposed to take to school this week. But really, they are GOOD kids!!!)

Day of Rest

I think it's going to be harder to blog on here while we're in Paraguay than I thought. There are so many things I want to write about and so many pictures I want to post that I just can't do it justice. All our pictures are on one computer and I rarely have access to that computer so I can't get to the pictures to post them as frequently as I'd like, so bear with me.

Let's talk about today. Today truly was a day of rest, unlike our usual Sunday's in Kitchener when we're running around constantly and feel more worn out by the end of the day on the Day of Rest than other days of the week! Church here starts at 8:30, so we were out of the house by 7:30 to get there early. There is a LOT of fellowship time that happens here at this church and it's wonderful, especially if you know the language! Haha.

So, we had a wonderful morning at church and I was thankful that I could understand about 40-50% of the message this morning! How I wish Mr. Wallace would have taught us USEFUL words in Spanish class like alabanza and goya (still not exactly sure what this is, but one form or another is used often in the songs) instead of limpia parabrisas and uvas y acetunas (windshield wipers and grapes and olives really are not useful words when trying to speak to people at church).

This afternoon, Karen and I took Stephen and Timothy to La Quinta for a welcomed swim in the pool. Wow. It was beautiful, warm, sunny and relaxing! Liliana came and joined us for a bit at the side of the pool and eventually the dads and the little boys came after their naps. Another teacher, Emilia and her fiance came as well and we all sat around drinking terere and I played with the boys on the tennis courts with balls and hoola hoops. I'm telling you, it was a super, relaxing Day of Rest!!!

I appreciated today because for some reason, I'm SICK! It's warm and sunny here and my nose is dripping like a faucet and I am sneezing up a storm! Why in the world am I sick? I've also been feeling a bit more tired and weak than normal and I know it's from some other health issues, so a day like today was more than a blessing!

It's been interesting that since I can't really communicate too well with everyone, I have been watching people. I can see those that have servant hearts and are always running around (Running Paraguayan style, I mean. That means that they are just constantly busy, not that they are actually running fast.) You can see the people that are given to hospitality, those that are gifted in music, those that see the needs in other people, those that welcome others in the church, those that are drawn to the children. If I can recognize their gifts so clearly just by watching them a few times, it made me wonder what others might see in me when they initially watch me. Not that I want PEOPLE to see something in me, but my question for myself is that I wonder what gifts am I using so appropriately that it is obvious that God is present? Does that make sense?

It's the end of my day of rest now. Tomorrow starts another busy day. Mondays will be our days off from school, but it will be busy. It's our only day to really get anything done. I look forward to the next Day of Rest. I hope your day was restful today, too!

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Few Pictures

We're on our way with all our bags and bins! Well, except for one that's still in our basement.

Stephen is zonked out at the Toronto airport ... the second time.

At the airport in Sao Paulo. Fred and I were trying to figure out a way to get ahold of Oscar and Karen to tell them that we were indeed going to be on that flight to Asuncion.

Cutie Pie Edson with his new 'jammies' and rain boots.

The kids have "Sunday School" on Saturday nights (this is the first grade classroom).

Fred met this scorpion in the shower one night.

We passed this car on the way to La Quinta, about a block away from Karen and Oscar's house. It was just sitting abandoned there. Jason said that someone flipped it over recently because it was on a different side earlier.

Our First Week

This is Liliana, the first grade teacher.

It’s the end of our first week here in Paraguay. It’s hard to believe because I almost feel like I’ve been here for weeks and weeks already. I’m amazed at the fact that my Spanish has come back to me faster and more accurately than I thought it would. Don’t get me wrong. I still lack tremendously, but I am thrilled with the speed and accuracy at which I can now communicate. The teachers and I try to speak to each other in our broken languages and it is exciting to know that we can get ideas across to each other.

School has been my life this week, so I’ll talk about that today. Nancy and I are on the road at 6:00AM every day because that’s when our ride is available. I am usually at school until 4:00 or so because I let the boys stay a little longer in their class. The afternoon session goes until around 5:00, I think, but because our English classes finish earlier, we haven’t stayed until the end of the day. The boys really want to stay and play at recess, so we’ve stayed a few times so that they can play.

I mentioned yesterday that Nancy is filling in for the high school English teacher today and Tuesday. She came out of her classes smiling today, so it must have gone well! She is supposed to be doing conversational English with them so today she took her family photo album and talked about her family. They created family trees and discussed the different aspects of a family. Whenever I walked past her classrooms, it seemed to be quiet and under control and she was talking. She believed that satan was really trying to discourage her, but a lot of prayers went up today for her, so we were able to see the wisdom from God flow through her. Remember to pray for her again on Tuesday as she will be with those 7th, 8th and 11th graders again!

Liliana is the first grade teacher. She is such a sweetheart! (She really reminds me of Adrienne Pentsa, for those of you that know her. I want to call her Adrienne all the time!) Liliana and her husband are the caretakers of La Quinta, a house with beautiful grounds that has been offered as a retreat location for the school/church. Petite little Liliana rides a motorcycle to school, although you’d never expect that from her! The first day we taught, she told us that she was going to stay in our classroom while we taught. Nancy and I weren’t thrilled with that idea because we would rather have made fools of ourselves alone, but she insisted that she should stay in case we needed help. We found out the real reason why she is staying, though! When we introduce new words to the class, we see Liliana’s lips moving in the back as she pronounces the words, too! Nancy was going around the room asking each of the kids to say the word “purple” and then they got to touch the shiny purple picture in the book. She walked right up to Liliana and said, “Purple, Profe. Liliana” and then let her touch the picture only after she said the word. The kids got a good laugh out of that and now Liliana participates in all our activities.

Please pray for Liliana. Although I don’t know her well, she and her husband seem to be servants at heart. Pray that they will use that desire to serve and will be encouraged and not burn out.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Salute to Working Moms!

Working moms who are reading this, I give you a LOT of credit for doing what you do! This week was my first week of "working" full time and also trying to be a wife and mother in the evenings. I'M EXHAUSTED!!! I just don't know how you women do it. I feel so out of touch with Fred, with the boys, with my life! I guess it's called LACK OF CONTROL again!!! I've really missed Stephen the most, I think. I feel like I'm not connecting with him nearly as much as I normally do. Stephen is a quality time person and I've not been able to give him that this week. Tonight on our way back from the restaurant, he and I were snuggling in the back seat of the car, playing word games, talking about different things that happened at school, etc. It was so nice to have about forty minutes of uninterrupted time with him tonight in the car. I miss my kids when I'm working!

Just a few quick side comments here: Nancy's been promoted! Hahaha. Well, actually, she's just going to be filling in for the junior high/high school English teacher tomorrow and Tuesday. She's a bit nervous because it's several hours total of conversational English and we have first hand knowledge in this house that there are trouble makers in the classes (not that Gaby is one of those trouble makers, but he sees what's happening in his class now). Pray for Nancy on Friday and Tuesday. She's got a tough assignment.

I'll be continuing on with the primary students until Jason gets back next week. I must say that I'm loving it! It feels so good to be back in a classroom again! I was worried that I would have too many language barriers and that I wouldn't be able to effectively teach, but God worked that all out. I have no problems and I'm finding myself even slipping into my rusty Spanish with my students, the teachers and now even my kids at home! Jason, feel free to stay in the States as long as you want. I'm not sure I'll be too anxious to give your kids back to you! :)

Here's a funny for you. Stephen and Timothy are attending the afternoon preschool/kindergarten class. Yesterday when I dropped Stephen off, I whispered to him, "If you need to go to the bathroom, ask for 'el bano' (sorry, I can't put the symbol over the n to make it say en-ya)." He asked me to write it down for him so that he wouldn't forget. I asked the teacher (who only knows Spanish) for a piece of paper and a pencil, and then she watched me write 'el ban-yo'. She giggled and then quickly straightened up and said, "Si! El bano." I left the class and a few minutes later I peeked in just in time to see Stephen pull his little paper out of his pocket, read it and then say, 'el ban-yo' to his teacher! It was so cute! Even though she totally knew what he wanted, she let him go through the whole process of asking. She's a sweet woman!

Well, I have a lot to do before tomorrow so I need to get to bed. The mosquitoes are out in full force tonight so I need to put some cream on the boys' legs so they don't scratch them to pieces, plug in my Raid repellent (nifty little devices that are like the plug-in air fresheners, but are scented mosquito repellents), try to dry my clothes under the fan in the kitchen, get the boys' backpacks ready for tomorrow, etc. Sigh. I'm not used to being a working mom!! Thank the Lord we enjoyed a nice dinner out at the restaurant so that I didn't have to cook OR clean up tonight! Thanks for having a birthday here, Fred! It was a gift for me, too!

Happy Birthday, Fred!

Today is Fred's birthday! We're all excited about that because that means we get to PARTY today! He's excited because we're going to go to a chuhuscaria (I doubt I spelled that right) and it's his dream come true here in Paraguay! That is a Brazilian restaurant where you are served meat to your heart's content (or your heart's demise, I'm not sure). I most likely won't be posting more today as the place doesn't open until late and we'll be out late tonight. We'll see. I seem to be running on the prayers of others right now anyway. I'm not getting used to this schedule change of being up early and staying up late. I'm wiped! :)

If you know my hubby, send him an email today wishing him a happy birthday!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lost Opportunity

Bummer. I missed my window of opportunity to take a shower tonight. The water is now off for awhile and I have to go to bed. I'm not sure I really want to take a freezing cold shower at 5:30 in the morning, but it looks like I have no choice now. Once again ... I have no control! Ha ha.

How about a few little funnies? Stephen is getting a bit upset with all the "creepy crawlies" that come into the buildings here. There are no screens and doors and windows are open all the time, thus letting the creepy crawlies enter and wander at their leisure. Poor Nancy had an army of ants invade her room AND her bed yesterday! Good thing she noticed it before bedtime because those little buggers can BITE! I found that out when one dropped down my shirt last night and then slipped down into my underwear. (Sorry for the details, but you need to understand so that I can justify my discomfort!) I was the butt of the jokes (sorry again) as everyone made fun of the ants in my pants. I don't think anyone will let me live this one down.

Christopher threw a ball to me this afternoon and said, "Mommy, fetch!" I think he's been spending too much time with Sasha, the dog.

The boys have a favorite toy here ... a Playskool computer. All four little boys fight over it. Tonight I noticed that our dirty clothes bin was full so I was going to throw in a load of wash. At the bottom of the bin, I found that someone had hidden that computer toy under all the dirty clothes because he didn't want anyone to find it. No wonder my bin got so full so fast! My clothes are now draped all over the house because our neighbor is once again burning SOMETHING in his yard and ashes and smoke will get all over my wet clothes if I hang them out tonight. We're all going to smell like the sweet smoke of Paraguay when we come home!

Our Day Off

I wish there was some way to share our entire experience here on this blog, but in order to do that, I would need to include jolts from bumping along stone roads, the constant buzzing of mosquitoes, the sweet, smokey smell that is constantly lingering in the air from people burning their garbage or trees or who knows what else, the sound of car horns constantly beeping at each other, the tinny sound of loudspeakers from the trucks that go up and down the streets advertising their load of goods to the neighborhoods, etc. It's just not possible to share the entire experience because a blog is so terribly one-dimensional. Unless you've been here, you can't even begin to really identify with the some of the things that I describe, but I'll try to do my best.

Last night we had a prayer meeting for the missionaries. They have one every Monday night to keep in touch with the other missionaries here, and last night we were included. When we shared our prayer requests with each other, at first everyone teased me about mine, but I'm thankful that they did pray for me specifically. My request was that I would be able to let go of my need for control and just let God take over.

Because I don't know the language, I feel out of control. Because I don't have a vehicle, I feel out of control. Because we are changing our daily schedules to adapt to the culture, I feel out of control. Because this isn't my house or my kitchen, I feel out of control. I could go on, but that gives you enough of an idea of how I'm struggling with this. I have mentioned before that I like predictability. I like to know what's going to happen and when and how and what details are involved in between, etc, but my life right now has very little predictability and I am having a hard time just letting go.

I think that as a mother, this is what is most frustrating. I don't know how to prepare my kids for certain things, either, because I am not in control of what's going on around here. I'm feeling stretched there as well, because I feel I need a certain amount of control over them and when our lives keep shifting here, I feel like instead of being an ice skater just gliding to the next move, I'm more like a luge driver that is sliding off an icy track. (What a silly analogy since it is nowhere NEAR cold enough to even think of ice around here!!)

Nancy has been good at encouraging me to see that this may be God's reason for having me here ... to learn how to lose control! My prayer is that I will just let things go and not worry about those things that God is already taking care of, like my kids and our health and safety and our communications with the students and everything else that I am trying to control. I need to be able to just rest in Him and let Him do what He does best ... CONTROL!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Wow! It today is any indication of what our next few weeks are going to be like, I'm not sure I'll be able to post on here as often as I'd like!

Today was the first day that Nancy and I got to be in the classrooms with Jason. Teacher Jason is from the US and has been teaching the English classes at Colegio Privado Adonai since February, the beginning of the school year. He's been here for six months now and seems to have blended into the Paraguayan culture and people very well. Today is his last day teaching before he leaves to go back to Florida for his cousin's wedding and Nancy and I got the crash course on what to expect this week as we cover for him while he's gone. My head is swimming. (I wish my body were, too. Maybe I'd be able to relax a little more! :)

After a day like today when Nancy and I were immersed in the Spanish language, I really, really wish I would have listened to Mr. Wallace, my high school spanish teacher, much more closely and seriously. I can remember many simple vocabulary words, but I also wish he would have forced us to speak more often. I can read and I can write enough to get by, but I am at a loss when it comes to actually conversing with these precious students and friendly teachers. If I could only go back and take things more seriously ....

You can see that I haven't posted any pictures yet. I will. Don't worry. I just haven't had time to do that. Nancy has taken some wonderful shots of the things we're experiencing, but she's as busy as I am. Besides that, Fred's been on the computer checking out prices and configurations for all the computer projects he's in charge of here. I'm telling you, we're busy! But at the same time, life is very relaxing here in Paraguay (except for riding in the back seats of cars.)

I'll do my best to keep posting, but I can't promise. We're up and out the door by 6:00am every morning and we TRY to be in bed close to 9:00 every night. There isn't much time in between to use a slow computer, especially when your kids also need attention ... IN ENGLISH!

Speaking of that, the boys went to school today, too. Fred asked them at the end of the day if they knew any words from watching Dora the Explorer. Stephen said, "Yes. They said, HOLA." I was hoping they'd get a little more out of their day, but it will come, I'm sure!

Tomorrow we have off, so Karen is taking us to the farmer's market and then to a shopping mall for some gifts. It should be a fun day! Until then ... adios!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Facts About Paraguay

I want to share some facts about Paraguay. I'm not going to share things like the population of Paraguay, the imports and exports, the median temperatures or anything like that. I'm going to share every day facts about Paraguay, the people, the life and the impressions of foreigners.

* There is a smell of dust and diesel that lingers on every street
* Water shuts off without warning about every two hours for about an hour at a time (It's a bummer when you just get into the shower and the water sputters a few seconds and then disappears. Ask Fred.)
* Sweat is a given
* Toilet paper is put in a little garbage pail beside the toilet
* Large meals are eaten at lunch
* Siestas are blessings
* Women greet each other by touching cheek to cheek, starting with the left side and then the right side. You must do that fakey little kiss sound when touching cheeks. Some men try it, too, but it's also acceptable to just stick your hand out before he tries to kiss you.
* It gets dark here around 5:30 pm
* Supper is usually light snacks and is eaten late - between 7 and 9 pm
* There are very little traffic rules and riding in the back seats of cars can be quite scary
* Red dust is everywhere
* Mosquitos live in abundance
* Dogs and cows roam the streets with freedom
* Horses and buggys go up and down the streets selling everything from oranges and lemons to cow innards
* They also collect plastic bottles, iron, and other recyclables by digging through people's trash
* Lemons are in season and can just be picked off the tree to be used for EVERYTHING!

I'll share more facts about Paraguay as we experience more. I am loving it here and even with all the differences, I will miss it tremendously when we leave.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Emergency Landing

Because of a few emails that Nancy, Fred and I received today, we decided to check out the news stories about our flight's emergency landing yesterday. There are a lot of articles out there, but this one is the most accurate account of what happened. (I can't get the link to work, so here's the address that you can copy and paste.)

Once again, we thank God for His protection and provisions, and His sense of humor and adventure.

The Luggage

Last night as we were opening all the bins and suitcases, passing out gifts and getting excited about all the items that had been donated for the school, someone asked where something was. I replied that it was in the bin with the beanie babies. Huh? No one had seen a bin full of beanie babies. We searched all over and then realized ... I HAD LEFT THAT BIN IN OUR BASEMENT!!!!!! I forgot to bring it upstairs to load in Alex's truck when we left for the airport! Somehow we had missed it and didn't realize it until 1:00 in the morning in Paraguay! Grrr. That is so disappointing to me as I had also shoved in a few personal gifts for Karen's family in that bin, too, and now I couldn't give it to them! Well, what can you do?

By 2:30AM, we were finally ready to just drop over and decided to finish going through stuff the next day. Thankfully, the kids were already asleep at that point and Fred was just about there. I went into our room to get myself changed and I couldn't find my clothes. I looked in our our bags, dug through the boys' suitcase, Fred's suitcase, the clothes from the bins and that's when it hit me that we had left MY suitcase at the airport in Asuncion! We were so anxious to keep our eyes on our other bins because we were afraid that the over-anxious porters at the airport would run off with our bins, that we forgot to make sure that the rest of the suitcases were there!

It's so nice to have a sister here because she loaned me some pajamas, some clothes for today and I went to bed, praying that my suitcase would still be at the airport and intact in the morning. Oscar tried calling in the morning to see if it was there, and the person that would know that was on break or something, so he just left ... and came back with my suitcase!!! Thank you, Lord!

God really has been blessing each step of this trip so far, as eventful as it has been. We've not been too stressed, just tired. The boys have been fantastic, just tired. We are here safe and sound, just tired! We are so happy, and did I mention tired?

Chapter Three

I'll try to write some more now, but I'm so awfully tired! Not only did we lack sleep from the night before, but last night we stayed up way too late and got up too early. I just woke up from my siesta, thanks to super-excited kids who barely slept for theirs!

But back to Thursday night ... when we were in Brazil, we couldn't get ahold of Karen and Oscar to tell them that we were indeed able to continue on to Asuncion and that they needed to meet us at the airport at 11:30PM! The folks at the Sao Paulo airport must have an internal contract that involves their staff to confuse foreign passengers as much as possible, and whenever possible, they should also send those passengers on wild goose chases for simple things. Last night our "simple thing" was just to make a phone call to Karen to tell her the change of plans. We couldn't use the pay phones because you needed a certain phone card to use them. We were told to go to Gate 6 to get the proper card for the phones. They told Fred that he needed his passport at the little shop down the hall in order to purchase one. The little shop didn't have the card that fit into the phone so they sent us back to our original gate and said, "When you get to Asuncion, you call and tell them to come to the airport." By that point, everyone was loading the plane and we had to just board along with them.

The whole way there, I just kept praying that somehow Oscar would have gotten through to the airlines and found out that we were on that flight. What in the world would I do if we landed in Asuncion, gathered all that luggage and then had to sit and wait until who knows when because we didn't have the right phone card in Paraguay or something?! So I just prayed to the God who had provided continually for us up to that point!

When we got off the plane, Nancy saw Karen through a far door waving and waving to us, so we knew our prayer had been answered! Oscar had called the airline to see if we were on that last flight and they wouldn't tell him, for privacy reasons, if we were on it or not. If you know Oscar, you know that he has a way with words and eventaully convinced them that they could easily tell him if the Weinhardts were on that flight and they finally told him, yes!

Chapter Two

We managed to get on our second flight out of Toronto at 8:30AM on Thursday as planned! We were soooo tired as we hardly had any sleep on the plane or at the airport while we were waiting. We're still tired today, but that's another story.

We found out that our original plane lost the autopilot controls and the crew didn't want to continue on such a long flight without that back up. We were met at the airport by a bunch of flashing lights and emergency vehicles, all for nothing, in my opinion. The funny thing is that our second plane was in worse shape than the first from the passengers' perspectives! The in-flight video systems weren't working for the first five hours (but that was ok because everyone crashed almost immediately anyway) and the toilet that was right behind my seat was broken and flushed continually for about the first hour and a half. We survived, though, and FINALLY made it to Sao Paulo, Brazil!

What a day. We got to Brazil at 8:30PM (original flight was 10:30AM), and were met at the gate by an Air Canada rep who rushed us through security and down halls and halls and halls until we FINALLY got to the gate that we needed to catch our plane to Asuncion. I felt like a bag lady. The boys all decided that their backpacks were too heavy and they couldn't carry them, so I had their bags, my bags, roller bags, an oversized collapsable volleyball set and a whining, crying two year old hanging on me. We weren't sure if the situation was that our flight was waiting for us, or if we only had minutes to spare or if we were going to just evaluate what was going on. We were at the mercy of this awfully-youthful looking Air Canada rep.

We found out that there was a flight going out about an hour later and it was direct to Asuncion instead of stopping by Ciudad del Este first, but the problem was that we couldn't get ahold of Karen to tell her that we were coming in!

This story will be continued. Gaby just came home from school and we haven't seen him yet.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What's A Trip Without A Story?

Every trip needs to have some sort of story to go along with it, right? Well, this trip to Paraguay is no exception! The only problem is that I'm not sure what point I should start the story!

Do I start by telling you about my washing machine that died on me JUST before my last load was started on Wednesday before we left for the airport? (Thank God for sisters-in-law that live around the corner and are willing to wash,dry and fold clothes for you!) Do I start by telling you that I think I broke my toe in the afternoon as I was rushing around with the last minute packing and now I am in pain as I've been walking for miles around the airport?

I think I'll just start by telling you that thankfully, we were off to a good start, leaving Toronto on Wednesday night only five minutes behind schedule. The boys did great, and it looked like we were in for a smooth flight. We left at 11:05PM and the boys were thoroughly enjoying all the excitement! They FINALLY settled down and went to sleep around 1:30AM.

About 2:00AM, we were told that the plane was experiencing some control problems and we were turning around to go back to Toronto!! Can you believe that?! So now it's 5:45AM and we're sitting back in the Toronto airport waiting for an 8:30AM flight to Sao Paulo. We would have been almost there by the time we are now leaving! Ugh!!! Who knows what's going to happen from here. We'll most likely miss our connection in Sao Paulo, but they won't make any connection arrangements until the plane actually takes off. This means we're clueless as to what will happen until we finally get there and get off that plane.

So, I guess the story isn't over and you'll just have to come back to read Chapter 2.
Until then, I'll try to add to my 1/2 hour of sleep since Wednesday morning at 5:30AM. I'M TIRED!!!!! Good night ... or good morning. Whatever. Who knows anymore.

To be continued....

Friday, April 10, 2009

Five For Jesus

Awhile ago, a friend of mine shared the "Five For Jesus" concept with me. It is a way to get your kids into the habit of having a quiet time with the Lord. I wasn't sure how it would work with three very active little boys, but I suggested it the other day just to see what would happen. It was one of our off days from school, so we did it in the morning after breakfast. Each of the boys took a Bible story book and found a comfortable spot in the living room and I picked up my Bible, too. I set the timer for five minutes and we started to "read." I could hear Stephen reading under his breath and he did very well for a kindergartener! Timothy was sitting on the black La-z-boy telling himself the stories from his picture book. Christopher was ... well, he was all over the place for a bit, but then settled down with a Thomas the Tank Engine book. Oh well.

The timer went off after five minutes, and NO ONE MOVED! They kept reading! After a few more minutes I closed my Bible and quietly told them that the timer had gone off and they were allowed to go play. NO ONE MOVED! They LOVED this idea! Since then, Stephen has been the one to remind us every day that we need to do our Five For Jesus and he makes sure everyone has their books and then he sits down, flips to his bookmarked page, and starts reading before I even get the timer set!

Tonight was precious. Stephen and Timothy were on their separate chairs reading, Christopher was on my lap and I whispered his Bible story to him and Daddy was sitting in his chair reading his Bible. I can't tell you what a beautiful sight this was! Anyone who has ever been around us here at home knows that our house is not one of those calm and peaceful and quiet places of rest when everyone is awake and raring to go, but watching these boys stop everything to have their Five For Jesus warmed my heart!

If you have children at home, I encourage you to try this! If they have this (what's the best word??) practice - habit - routine started this early in life, it will be second nature to them to stop and have some quiet time with the Lord as they grow. I will lengthen the time as they get older, but for now, five minutes seems to work well. I'm so glad my friend shared this with me and I trust that God will help those roots of discipline to grow deep in my children's hearts! Have YOU had your Five for Jesus yet today?

Good Friday

Growing up in Ohio, Good Friday was really not much different than any other day, except that Mom would try to make us eat Cream of Wheat with raisins (her favorite way ... our LEAST favorite way) and we'd have rice, in honor of Aunt Peg. Other than that, I really don't remember Good Friday being anything special. We still went to school. We still had to work. Stores were still open. Life was the same, and sometimes there would be a special evening service in our church in Norton.

When I moved here to Canada, I was caught off-guard my first Good Friday here. It was announced the Sunday before that we'd be having Good Friday services at church on Friday. Neat! I thought. But then Fred told me that since he wasn't working on Friday, we should plan something special in the afternoon, unless we had our family dinner that day. Huh? Why would he have off? Why would they plan a family dinner that day if there was a Good Friday church service to go to? I'm not sure when I realized that EVERYTHING was closed down on Good Friday and just about EVERYONE had the day off, AND we had our Good Friday services at 10:30 in the morning! Ten years later, I'm still thrown off by that, but I go anyway.

The other thing that throws me for a loop is that the Easter weekend here is handled about the same way as Thanksgiving weekend. Families pick and choose what day they want to celebrate together. In the States, Thanksgiving is on THANKSGIVING! You don't sit around and say, "Ok, do you guys want to have our family meal on Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday this year?" NO! You have Thanksgiving on THURSDAY! DUH!!! Well here, Thanksgiving is on a Monday (which TOTALLY throws me off because I'm ready for another three day break after that!), so every year we go through the same thing, "When do you want to have Thanksgiving? Saturday? Sunday? Monday?" It happens again now at Easter time. "Should we have Easter on Friday, Saturday, Sunday or are any of you off on Easter Monday? Maybe we should do it then?" I always thought that Easter was on EASTER! I guess not.

This whole picky-choosy mentality for holidays is quite unsettling for me. I love predictability and this is NOT predictable. Yet, despite my mental mess-up every holiday as we try to decide what day really is the holiday, I'm thankful that the REASON behind the holidays never varies! It never changes or becomes more or less significant because of the date it is celebrated. The facts are the same. Jesus WAS born ... so we celebrate Christmas. Jesus DID die ... so we celebrate Good Friday. Jesus DID rise again ... so we celebrate Easter. We are exhorted to give thanks in everything ... so we celebrate Thanksgiving. I love that God's word and His love and who He is never changes. That predictability is very comforting to me. I love that He changes not. I can count on Him. I know where to find Him. He is my rock.

Go ahead and keep messing with my head when you change the date for Easter every year and when we decide to celebrate Thanksgiving in October on a Monday (or maybe a Saturday) and when everything shuts down on a Friday so that we go to church in the morning for a Good Friday service. You can mess with my head and throw me off of my calendar, but you can't take away my security in Christ!

Have a wonderful Easter weekend everyone ... whenever you celebrate it! HE IS RISEN!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Search & Win

Did you ever hear of Swagbucks? My friend, Katie, got me hooked. If you like to get stuff for free, then this is the place to start! Just register at Swagbucks and start searching for whatever you would normally search for in your day to day use of your search engine, but instead of doing it for nothing, win random Swag Bucks! Save up these Swag Bucks and get some great prizes! Not every search will reward you with Swag Bucks, but when it does, let me tell you, you will get all excited!! You will not receive any spam from this, your privacy will not be put in jeopardy in any way. You will just win random points for prizes. I personally want to save up to get an ipod or an MP3 player. I have a long way to go, but I'm willing to keep searching ... I do it anyway!

Check it out! Just click on these links and get started!

Search & Win

I Want To Go To Paraguay!!

Christopher wasn't feeling well today so when he refused to eat his pancakes, we didn't really push it too much (mostly because we didn't want that last bite of pancake to tip the stomach and have him puke it all back up again). We did try to encourage him since he had only taken one bite before he started his adament refusal to eat. Fred asked him another time to try to take one last bite and he just burst into tears! "I don't want to eat my pancake! I want to go to Paraguay!!"

I hate to say it, but we all cracked up at him. How do you explain to a two and a half year old that he can eat his pancake AND go to Paraguay?! Just not both of them tonight.

Monday, April 6, 2009

New Word

Stephen is using some wooden craft sticks to form letters. He just put a whole bunch of letters together and read, "cozah." I oooed and aaahhhed over his letters and his new word and then said, "Too bad it's not a real word because it looks pretty nice there!" He looked at me with a comical look on his face and said, "But it IS a real word! You know, when you cozah problem?"

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Helpful Hints?

Our whirlwind weekend with Mom and Dad here is over. The fun is in the past and now the work must begin. Dad was so helpful this weekend drilling the holes for our Rubbermaid bins that we're taking to Paraguay. Mom helped me pack a few of those bins. What a lifesaver! Now this week I MUST get down to business and get OUR stuff pulled out and packed! I have to make sure the boys fit into the summer clothes, sandles and swimming trunks that we have. (I have to make sure that * I * fit into mine, too!) I need to think about EVERYTHING that I have to think about because this is my last week to get it all done!

One of the things that I've been trying not to stress over is the plane trips. A friend of mine got a bunch of little toys for the boys and wrapped them all up to take on the plane. This should keep them somewhat occupied! Grandma also brought some great backpacks and little fun things to put in them so that the boys have something to do while we're waiting or when they're bored on the plane. Do any of you have any suggestions on what works best for flights for little kids? What kinds of snacks? Toys? Activities? Games? What about suggestions of things to do while we're sitting in the Sao Paulo airport for several hours? I'm happy to entertain any and all suggestions, as I will need them to entertain three little guys pretty soon!

Stephen doesn't know this yet, so don't tell him, but we got him an el cheapo digital camera at Christmas (we're talking a $3-4 job) and we're going to give it to him as an early birthday present. His birthday is the weekend we get back home, but we thought that this camera might be a very good thing to have on such a special trip. Maybe just having him play around with his camera in the airport will help pass the time!

So, here we go! Hunker down and get busy this week, Martha, and be thankful that you're not the one that has to put away the contents of eight Rubbermaid bins stuffed to the gills! Karen, I know you all will be thrilled to get all the goodies inside, but YOU also have to be the one to put them all away! (I think that worse than packing for a trip is having to UNpack when you get home! Ugh.) Ok. I'm off now to be efficient! Hahahahaha!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Christopher was extremely overtired. He chose not to take a nap, but to try on all the socks in his drawer and then wad them up into little balls and filled up the shelf on his bottom bunk bed. Then he crawled under his bed and played with cars and scrap pieces of tissue that are so fun to pull apart. He occupied himself for about an hour and a half until I finally told him to just come downstairs already. By then his tiredness was starting to kick in, but it was way too late to let him sleep!

For those of you who have ever dealt with, struggled with, seen or heard an overtired two year old, you know how annoying the whining and crying can get because it is just non-stop and nothing can turn the whines into happiness.

So here was Christopher, sitting in his booster chair at the table, wanting to get down. He had not finished his food (how could he eat when he was so preoccupied with his crying?) and Fred was trying to help him. We finally decided to just let him go to stop the annoyance, but when Fred tried to lift him out of his chair, he started screaming, "NO!!!! Mommy do it! Mommy DO IT!!!" "But Mommy's busy." Christopher's overtired reply: "Mommy's not busy! Mommy's nice and warm!"


Well that cracked us up and made Christopher crawl under the table and scream some more. Oh, the joys of two year olds! I love them!