Saturday, August 30, 2008
Ginny and Tyler had a blast pulling carrots up from the garden today. We also picked green onions, lettuce, dill, parsley and broccoli (is it normal for kids to love broccoli and ask for thirds like my kids do?). A few months ago we picked beans and tomatoes and last year this time we were enjoying melons and cucumbers (some we even pickled). It has been fun trying my hand at gardening and it has become a family affair to plant, water and weed. I do not like the continual weeding that needs to be done but my kids, however, still think its fun to uproot the “rumor weed”. I appreciate any help I can get.
The last couple of days we have been pulling out weeds and getting the garden ready for the next seasons crop. Wish me luck....
My garden helpers. Augsust 2008
"Is this a big one?" August 2008
Ginny was a big help in the garden and decided to give a large sum of her pickings to her rabbit. August 2008
"I found one!" Tyler helping to pick green beans. June 2008
Everyone helping to destring and snap the freshly picked green beans. June 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
Today we celebrated Ryan finishing third grade in his home school. We made vanilla ice cream and sang his praises. We gave him a 600 piece puzzle of the world (thanks grandma and grandpa for leaving that) which he and Jeff diligently worked on past bedtime. I am really proud of Ryan and his accomplishment. He is smart like his dad and picks up on concepts quickly. He enjoys Geography, learning about other cultures, and history. Even though he doesn’t enjoy reading and creative writing too much he is good at those subjects too.
Monday he will begin 4th grade. Starting a new school year is always a bit challenging at first until we both figure out what we’re doing. This year Ginny will begin 1st grade. My hope is that Joshua will be able to sit in with Ginny’s history and science lessons and then do his own kinder work at other times. It will be extra challenging to juggle more than one grade level at once but I know that God will supply all our needs.
When Jeff and I began looking at mission fields the one thing I mentioned over and over again is that I absolutely did not want to have to home school my children. I didn’t feel called nor qualified to be responsible for my children’s education. Plus, I knew it would be extremely time consuming and I had no extra time to give.
God led us to Paraguay where most of my teammates home school due to lack of better education options. Although I wasn’t gung-ho about being in a teacher role, for 2 ½ years I taught Ryan out of obligation and while I nursed a baby, potty trained a toddler, attended language school, cleaned the dishes and made the beds. I praise God for my wonderful husband who rescued me in my hour of distress and began teaching science, math and history to free my plate up some. As Ryan entered 3rd grade in July of 2007 I dreaded the new school year. I hadn’t really taken 1st and 2nd grade very seriously. After all, Ryan was smart and usually knew the lessons before I taught them. But third grade I knew would be different; more would be expected now that he could read and write well. I felt terribly inadequate to teach. Jeff was still willing to work with Ryan but he, too, was busy with medical clinics and people at our door. Plus, I felt guilty and behind in preparing Ginny for 1st grade. I felt that my time was so pulled that I had not one more minute to give to anyone else.
In October of last year God got a hold of me and spoke in a way that I will not forget. He reminded me of the scripture we were teaching our kids from Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do work at it with all your heart as if working for God and not man.” I was not doing this job of teaching my children for Him. I had been doing the job with a sour face and a half-hearted attitude. I cried out to the Lord, “What do you want me to do? I don’t even want this job. I cannot do it.” He replied, “I don’t want you to do it either because YOU can’t. I want to do it through you.” If “I” would get out of the way He promised to equip, supply and bless. I instantly felt a burden lifted! God, the Father, wanted a job done and he chose to use me! When I agreed to let HIM teach things changed almost overnight. I began to ask advice of Godly home schooling women on and off the mission field. I also bought a few books on learning styles and how to be a better teacher. Most of all, I prayed (and still do). I prayed for new ideas and ways to make learning fun. I pray that God would give me answers and be able to direct their curious minds. I pray that I will be able to reflect Jesus even in the classroom setting.
Once in a while we still have those stressful home school times – when Ryan turns in a paper and has followed none of the instructions or when Ginny stumbles over a word that she should be able to say in her sleep and when I look at Joshua who is so eager to start home school and wonder when can I squeeze in a lesson with him? But what follows those times is a moment of prayer. Sometimes it is a prayer of, “Help me” and sometimes it is a prayer of “Now what?” And sometimes it is a prayer of “thanks”. Thanks that I get to be the one pouring into my children’s lives day after day. Thanks because His promises are true. Thanks because God has so blessed my home schooling time with my children and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
For Christmas I decided that I didn’t want any more stuff inside the house (“stuff” just multiplies exponentially with each additional kid). We decided to build something for the kids outside. I am a little embarrassed to say that it is now August 23rd and it was just finished today. Since neither Jeff nor I are gifted in the area of carpentry we had to hire the job out which was a difficult task in itself, plus we were busy traveling many of those months and the weather wasn’t too cooperative at times. It is completed and our kids (plus neighborhood kids) are having a blast on it.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
August 15, 2008
"Today marks the end of an elitist Paraguay, a secretive Paraguay, a Paraguay famous for corruption. Today marks the beginning of a Paraguay in which the authorities will be relentless against thieves."*
Fernando Lugo, the former bishop who won the presidential elections on 20th April, was sworn in today as the first non-Colorado Party president for 61 years. In a break from protocol, he wore a Paraguayan hand-embroidered shirt, without tie or jacket, and wore his trademark sandals rather than shoes. His image identifies him with his people; with the marginalised and half-forgotten communities of indigenous and disadvantaged Paraguayans, rather than the political and social elite.
He was elected on a platform of bringing change after so many years of Colorado rule. His manifesto focused on tackling poverty, corruption and the lack of jobs, which are seen by Paraguayans as being the reasons the country has not experienced the economic growth of its neighbours.
He is radical in more than just his dress: Last night he stated in an interview that he would not be taking a salary for his work as president. He said he didn't enter politics to make money or become rich. THIS IS HUGE in a country where politicians who are given positions of more power are usually soon seen to be buying bigger houses and better cars.
I get the impression that here is a man who really believes what he says he stands for. His work as a priest and bishop was among the poor and marginalised, and it is apparent his policies are more than just election pledges, but actually come from his heart. His voice breaks and he actually sheds tears when talking about justice for the poor.
After being sworn in, he started his speech in Guaraní, the native language spoken by the majority of Paraguayans. He addressed the indigenous communities first, and asked their permission to give the rest of his speech in Spanish. As well as talking about the need to tackle corruption and for land reform, he made it clear that the change people are so hopeful about is not just a matter of policies, but is everyone's responsibility:
"The building of this new Paraguay has a brick in your hands."
"Change is not an electoral issue, it's a cultural gamble, perhaps the most important one in Paraguay's history."
The challenge, he said, "will not be easy, but it will not be impossible."
Let's pray for him.
(this was written by Fiona Cooper, one our our team mates living here in Paraguay)
Saturday, August 16, 2008
We had some dear friends come to visit us. Jamie and Jeff went to medical school together in Lubbock. More than just classmates, we were neighbors and we worshiped at the same church. Cheryl and I were involved in bible studies and woman's group together during the 3 years. Even though we have been miles apart the past 7 years and added numerous children to our families, we picked up just where we left off. We were so encouraged by their desire to serve God in Jamie’s hometown of Quitaque, Texas. Their two girls (Tiffini 6 and Ana 5) did great trying new foods, traveling many hours and meeting new people.
Jamie helping Jeff out with a heavy patient load
Tyler made a new friend in Uncle Jamie
Cheryl trying terere
While we killed and prepared Joshua’s duck, Blue, our kids pulled up chair for a front row view. Our guest weren’t quite so sure about it all. Poor Ana was a little freaked out that we killed one of our ducks to prepare for dinner and she refused to eat Blue for dinner. If she turns out to be a vegetarian later in life she’ll have the McKissicks to blame.
Tiffini loved taking care of the chickens, counting and collecting the eggs.
Ginny with her new best friend, Anna
One day the guys went on a tour of Itaipu Dam and the ladies and kids went to an aviary. It was fabulous! We were able to get up close and personal with the birds.
The girls in front of the flamingos
Here's looking at you, kid
Ryan at the aviary
Ginny with Polly
Joshua caught a fish!
Eating the fish we just caught
The kids at Iguazu Falls
We travelled to Brazil to see the Iguazu Water Falls on both the Brazil side and the Argentina side. Iguazu Falls is the largest falls by volume in the world.