The Weather in Our Neck of the Woods

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Little stuff can be so big!

I found canning jars!!!!!!
I am so happy! Now I can 'can' some green beans, and squash, and ...whatever I want! Nobody cans here because the climate is good all year long to plant and harvest, but we are gone so much that we can not keep beans and I do hate frozen beans!!!(there are Panamanian green beans available, but they aren't exactly the same)
So, this little blessing makes me VERY HAPPY!

Another little, but big blessing - we found a crock pot too! We are getting down-right Americanized down here! So now I can can my beans and cook them too!!! ;)

We are working hard here on the place right now, and preparing for upcoming missions as well.

Things went well with Fidelia's appointment. They are all home and as happy as they can be with the loss of their little one.

Please remember people you love who are suffering today. Roy and Mary, our hearts ache for you. There are others as well who need a call or a hug.

As Brother Ron says,"Life is hard but God is good!"

Peace to you,joy

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Farm Stuff

Just thought I would let you know how the garden is growing - and the pigs and sheep and chickens...

At present we have corn ,beans, peas, guandu, otoi, bihau, alcachofa, green beans, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, cabbage, strawberries, potatoes, squash and watermelon up in the garden, and bananas, plantain, narajilla, lemons, ajis, lemon grass, coffee and lots of flowers growing in the yard.
This is Ajis - a mild kind of pepper that all the localsuse to spice everything. We love it, and are thrilled to have a good crop grwoing right outside the back door!

Out back we have 2 pigs at about 200 pounds, 17 chickens, 13 sheep, and 5 dalmatians. And of course, TasselB is in the house, reigning over it all.

We no longer have any helpers on the place. Dani has a new job cooking at the school, and we have never really found a good farm helper since Magdiel went home. All that to say, we are working our hinies off! But it is all coming along and looking good.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Update on Julio and Fidelia

Update on the family who lost their baby two weeks ago:
We have been out to check on them and take them food twice since the mom got home. We have met all the children now, and put shoes on each of them, as well as their neighbors, who live under the same conditions. The two fathers work 6 days a week in exchange for a roof and $60 twice a month. they do all they can, work very hard, to provide for their families, and they do survive, sometimes. Quite often the children do not. Do not misunderstand - these children are dearly loved, and for the most part they are happy, though they are most often hungry.
We will pick up the mother for her post-op checkup in David tomorrow, so will know better how she is feeling now. Last Wednesday she still could not walk well, and was only out of bed when necessary. She was still in a lot of pain. Hopefully she has begun to make marked improvement. The husband was doing the cooking and the kids said they were ready for mom to get better. He just laughed and said he was too.
The photos I am including were taken with my cell phone (thanks to Chad Chapman's generosity). The quality is not the best, but you get the idea.
Please keep us and this work in your prayers. We also ask you to consider helping us to help these folks with a donation. We do not want to give them the world, but we do want to help them be able to care for themselves and their children. Any help you can give will be used with great appreciation. We rarely, if ever, give money directly, but food and clothing, or medicine and transportation are offered as we can afford it.
Hope the Easter Holiday was renewing for you - spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically.
You are dearly loved - so much so that Jesus died and suffered for you to have life eternal. Now that is LOVE!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tough Lessons

Today, in the teenage girls class, we finished up our class on how to overcome temptations. Their honesty and frank questions were very inspiring and humbling for me. At times I am not sure who is teaching whom, but am very grateful for the opportunity to share in their lives. Our next topic (at their request) will be on being obedient and respectful to our parents and elders. Please pray that I will understand and represent God’s will clearly in this most difficult of topics.

This afternoon was also my turn to lead the ladies’ monthly study. Using Colossians 1:10-14 as our theme Scripture, we discussed how we can be strengthened, what that strength looks like in our lives, and to what purpose we are strengthened in this life. It was a difficult class to teach for me, as I was using examples from my life that were both very personal and very painful, but all to the glory of God who gives me strength every day! Lynn made cookies for the ladies, and they loved them. I am not sure if they wanted his cookies or my lesson more! I enjoyed a couple of the cookies myself, and they were delicious! I was telling Lynn that when I cannot remember much about my class that is when I know that it was a good lesson, because God was in control of my mind and my mouth, and He always gets it right! I don’t remember much of the lesson, so I think it must have been good.

Then the lesson for the day really started!

On the way home I stopped to give a sister, Erica, who could not attend the study, a copy of our Scripture outline. As I was leaving an Indian couple passed by the car – the man in front about 20 paces (as is normal), followed by the woman. The man was carrying a baby and said good afternoon to me, so I returned the greeting with a smile. Then the woman came up almost even with me and began yelling at me to not speak to her husband; that he was taken and I had no business trying to take her man! I was flabbergasted, and she was drunk as a skunk. I was saying good bye to a friend visiting Erica and he said “ Wow! She was really drunk!” I agreed and went on to the truck and toward the house thinking how sad that was.

As I approached our house I saw another Indian couple, and they saw me and started toward me. I had the intention of hurrying into the gate and getting away before they could reach me. I was still thinking about the drunk lady I had encountered and did not even look at them as I almost ran for the gate. The man called out and I resigned myself to speak to him for only a moment. I was tired and ready to change clothes and relax.
I recognized the man as the father of three of the students at Caña Blanca, so felt more at ease as he approached me. I noticed that his wife stayed where she was. I shook his hand and asked how he was. He said ‘bad’. I aked why and he told me in choking sobs that his wife had just had a C-section, and they had lost the baby. Now they were about 5 kilometers from home, walking only hours after the surgery and with the weight of having lost their child. He could find no-one to help them and asked if we could take them to their home. I said of course, and went to get Lynn.

In case you do not remember previous comments about the road to Caña Blanca, it is a terribly rough and rocky road. Lynn and I both feared the pain the ride would cause the woman, but that physical pain was nothing compared to the heart anguish both parents felt. It was heart- breaking to hear them cry and him try to console her. As he could, he shared with us that they had to leave the baby at the morgue because they did not have the money or a vehicle to take him to be buried, that no-one would help them in their suffering until they saw us and they knew that we would help. (remember I was doing my best to avoid them earlier – I asked God’s forgiveness more than once, and pray that I never get so into my own desires that I allow an opportunity to show God’s love to pass unnoticed)

So, take a moment and place yourself (if you can) in this woman’s shoes; you have carried this child in your body for 9 months. You leave your children to go hours away to the ‘good’ hospital with every expectation to return with babe in arms the next day. But something goes wrong and you are told you need a cesarean then when you wake up a few hours later you are told that your child is dead and your husband is waiting to take you home. You know that you live in the mountains miles from any bus, so you take the bus as far as you can then begin the walk to your home and family still several hours away and a few hours after major surgery and losing your child.

Can you imagine this? It is life here for the Indians.
Does it cause you pain? Does it make you wonder if you are doing all you can to help God’s people? Does it move you? It should. It does me. It hurts me deeply. I am so ashamed of who I can be at times. There is so much more to do. Pray that we can do it, and then help us do it. Come down or support our benevolent work. But first pray. God is our only hope in helping. We (all of us) can only be His hands - and then only if we see and follow His direction.

A day of lessons – one that I will not quickly forget, and one I pray that you will not quickly forget either.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Kingdom Kids News

Tuesday we went to Caña Blanca. Joy visited with Señora Elvia, the pre-kinder and kindergarten teacher at the Catholic church. She had only three students that day, but normally has five. She conducts classes three days a week this year. We plan to take food once a month for the student’s lunches every day. One of the mothers will prepare the meals.
We then stopped at the elementary school to see Daysi, the teacher there. She has 17 students this year, considerably more than last year. Of the 17, only two are Latino, the other 15 are indigenous (most of which, in the past, have not gone to school at all in this area). They will meet four days per week. Again we plan to provide food once a month once a month for their daily lunches. Different parents will be assigned to prepare the meals each week.
On the day that we deliver the monthly food we will also teach a class with activities resembling a 3 hour VBS for the children. It will include a bit of English, but mostly center on God’s love.
Joy will not be teaching English once a week as she did last year because of the increase in diesel prices and the decrease in our revenues.
These 20 or so very poor children will be fed lunch every day because of the Riverside ‘Kingdom Kids’ contributions. As usual when we left for home we had additional riders – three this time, one of which was Adelaide’s father. Adelaide is the 12 year old young Indian girl that Kelly Martin provided with her first pair of shoes last year. She was also chosen as the student with best marks for the year and received a scholarship from the government for her hard work!
Monday Joy talked with the El Valle Elementary Director, Damaris. The director was very upset that Riverside would not be coming to teach about God this year in the school. She asked me to convey her sadness and ask them to please come again next year.
Finally this little school is being noticed by the government! The Ministry of Education is supplying enough money to feed 40% of the student’s lunches, and will eventually provide precooked foods for that same percentage of students. This is based on the percentage of the children below the poverty level in Panama, and specifically in El Valle School. So we the Riverside Kiddos are giving them $320 per month with $100 earmarked for a cook. Our own Dani will be that cook, thus helping a sister in the church as well. We believe this will work out well. We’ll see. The idea is to provide for 100% of the children 100% of the time. In the past there has been a problem finding someone to prepare the food for the children. The food would be there, but no-one would show up to cook it. With the government helping, our same monies will hopefully take care of that problem.
We went to see Joy’s doctor today. He is putting her on a regimen for one month. If her knee does not improve she will have to have an MRI. Without insurance, this will cost about $600, so we are praying that the month of meds and rest will take care of the problem. Good news from the doctor also! Her osteoporosis has improved in the last year – a full point and a half. We know that for some the medication does not help at all, so are very grateful that she is gaining back bone mass with this therapy.
Other thoughts:
 We are hurting with our dear family at Riverside over the loss of loved ones – April and Dirk, we are so sorry to hear about Faith and are praying for you all to have strength and comfort from our Heavenly Father, the Giver of strength as you begin living without her. Roger and Kathy, we hurt for the loss of your Dad, and trust that God will give you all that you need to remember every good thing about him and comfort you as you miss him in your daily lives.
 We really appreciate Ron Morgan keeping us up on the news of our far-away family. What a blessing! Thank you so much for remembering us!
 Things are well underway for the medical group to come to Santa Marta in June! Translators and missionaries standing by!
 Holly Smith plans to come see us in June as well to help out with preparations and house-sitting. We can’t wait to see her.
 Ben may get to come down this summer as well – we are hopeful!
 Yari just finished her next-to last trimester in High School. She has 4 classes before finishing up in June. She walks, and even runs a bit, like normal now, but she still hurts some.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sometimes all you can do is laugh!

Okay, so this is the story:
Friday a week ago Brother Quintin called and asked if we could meet and talk. We did and he shared, in a long, drawn out story, that he had lost the keys to the church building, the church van, Frank and Vicky’s house and truck keys, along with about 10 other church-related keys. He had been looking for the whole week and could not find them, and did not know what to do.
Frank and Vicky are in the States for three weeks (this is their final week away) and had left the keys with Quintin to open up the building on Sundays, and pick up the folks for classes. The first Sunday Quintin’s car broke down, so he was flustered as he walked about two miles to get to the van, then he picked everyone up and after services we took him to his car, and helped him get it to a mechanic. The car could not be fixed until Monday, which meant that Quintin had to go down to his house (over an hour away) by bus and return by bus the next day. He did. He picked up his car and went by to drop some things off at the church building then went back to work. That was Monday. That was the last time the keys were seen. He spent the rest of the week looking for the keys. In the mean-time he got sick – a stomach thing, and he had to haul hundreds of gallons of water to his house because the water lines are down and they have about 20 pigs they are raising who need water along with the household needing water to drink and bathe. Then his wife got sick and the car broke again. No wonder he didn’t have his mind on the keys!
So, back to Friday. He told us the story, smiling the whole time. He did not have a clue how it would all work out, but knew that it would, so he smiled. Constantly. Lynn and I were amazed and impressed with his demeanor.
Well, to ‘fix’ the situation, we offered our home for the church meetings, and we used three different vehicles to pick up the folks for classes. It was like old times. We had classes in the front and back porches, in the living room and in the ‘big room’ where the bunkbeds are for mission teams. We had to share songbooks and Bibles, but it was a great service and time of fellowship. There are about 15 members of the church who travel over an hour to come to worship, and normally Vicky (a great cook) fixes them lunch before they head back home, so I thought I should as well. We had 10 can soup – a recipe my Dad sent me (but we used 20 cans for the large group). All went well.
Now, I am preparing for a second week with classes and worship here at our house because the keys still have not been found, and Frank and Vicky are still not home. Yari and Lynn helped get the house ready, and then Yari and I began preparing the food. Okay, I know you are bored, so I will try to get to the point. I wanted to really show off my Panamanian culinary skills, so I am making Arroz con Pollo, a traditional (and time consuming) food along with 3 Color Salad and Tuti Fruti punch. It doesn’t get more Panamanian than that!
So, the problem is I have never made the salad before. I have eaten it and know everything that goes into it; Potatoes, carrots, beets, eggs, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Yari peeled away for a couple of hours today, and then I diced and cooked the veggies. All together. I asked Yari if it was okay to do so and she said she did not know but thought so. Well, the name of the salad is THREE COLOR Salad. That’s because it has three colors – white potatoes, orange carrots and red beets, right? Nope! Not my salad! Not when you cook them all together. It is RED SALAD. I am so embarrassed! So much for being a Panamanian culinary wiz! When I add the boiled eggs tomorrow it might be a two color salad, but that is the best I can hope for! I also opted to leave out the food coloring in the Arroz con Pollo, so it doesn’t look quite right either. I haven’t fixed the Tuti Fruti punch yet – wonder how I can mess that up?

So I am sitting here thinking of Quintin, and how he just kept on smiling even though he was embarrassed and frustrated- even though he did not know how things could or would work out. He just smiled- and it was a true smile. The smile that says I know that God is in control, and it will all be good, somehow. I am working on my smile as I write. Maybe I will have it down by tomorrow morning. If not, I think I will just fake it!

How ‘bout you? Things not going too good? Have you messed up yet again? Try smiling! If you can’t muster it, just fake it for awhile and it will come to you! God has it all under control!