Wednesday, December 31, 2008
While Naty ran around finishing our Christmas shopping, (we've decided to finish before Thanksgiving next year) I spent 11 hours cooking in the kitchen. She got all of the gifts and I made granola, chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, Pan de Jamon (typical Venezuelan ham bread), and Coca-Cola cake! I never cooked so many things in one day in my life! When Naty came home she finished making a turkey that had "slept" in spices all night. Then at about 10:00 PM Jim and Maria and Juan, some of our friends came over for the traditional midnight meal. Gaby and Marcus tried, but couldn't stay awake that long.
Marcus and I woke up Gaby and Mommy at about 8:30 singing Christmas songs and playing the Cuatro. We then opened our presents together and the kids started playing with their new toys. We decided not to give them more "stuff" this year and instead gave them tickets to go to a Broadway musical in Pittsburgh on our way to Belleville. Fortunately our friend Juan gave them some pretty cool gifts so they did have some fun toys to play with too.
At about 1:00 in the afternoon we headed over to our friends Magdaleno and Jaquelina's place for some authentic Mexican tacos for lunch. They were so delicious, I don't even know how many we ate! We hung out there for a while and then went to visit several other friends. We made it to Jim and Lori's, Damian and Raquel's, Jose and Gema's, and David and Soraya's after that. We ended up the day with a visit at our house from Nixon and Erika and their little baby girl Yaretzi. Nixon is from Venezuela and Erika is from Mexico so I made the last of the Pan de Jamon for them to enjoy and then we brought the rest along to PA.
We left Columbus at about 10:00 AM headed for Pittsburgh. We got there at about 1:00 and found a neat little pizzeria for lunch. The show started at 2:00 in Heinz Hall right in downtown Pittsburgh. I hadn't been in Pittsburgh since I was a kid and we went to Pirates games and didn't remember how beautiful the city is. The theatre was amazing, I don't know when it was built, but it looks pretty old and all of the Christmas decorations made it even better. Gaby and Marcus loved the show. Annie is one of their favorite movies and they were singing along with the actors. Gaby was hoping at the end that they would invite us all to sing along and then she could sing at the top of her lungs!
After the show we traveled on through the rain to Belleville.
Unfortunately I woke up with an incredibly sore throat for the second day in a row and decided to go to the emergency room. They didn't do the test, but said it was probably strep and gave me an antibiotic. After then, we had a Peachey gathering with all of my aunts, uncles and cousins at Gerald and Sue's house at noon. I tried to keep my distance from the babies but enjoyed seeing everyone. Sheila had gotten a pinata for all the kids and that was a lot of fun. Aside from that we pretty much just ate, watched college football and talked the day away.
After church we had a get together with my family at my mom and dad's house. We also celebrated Gaby and Mackenzie's birthdays along with the yummy Christmas meal. After eating and washing dishes, Gaby and Kara read us the Christmas story from Gaby's new children's Bible and then we opened presents. Later we had birthday cake and ice cream and then Naty and I and David and Brandi decided we needed a walk with the dogs to burn off some of our new calories!
I got up semi-early to go over to Shawn and Emily's farm and help with the chores. I can't say I helped with the milking, because I got there too late. I did get a gallon of milk before the milk truck came though, so that was yummy too! Ron and Sheri's son Isaac came to the Yoder's house all day so Gaby and Marcus had a blast playing with him while Naty and I typed up our goals and prayer requests for 2009. That evening we celebrated Christmas and opened gifts with the whole Yoder family. This is Naty's "adoptive" American family that she lived with when she first came to the US. There were 16 people and lots of kids with lots of fun and lots of noise! I actually had a headache when we went to bed at about 10:15.
Gaby came and woke me up at 5:08 AM. My alarm was set for 5:30, but she beat the alarm! She was so excited because we were going to Shawn and Em's farm to milk. Marcus eventually got up too and we made it to the barn by about 5:45. The kids woke up Melissa and Olivia and they all went out to the barn to feed the calves and chickens and run around and have a lot of fun. In the meantime I helped out Shawn by forking out some calf pens. That was a good workout!!
During the day we went to visit my Hostetler grandparents and Naty's host-grandparents, Ambrose and Katie, at Valley View. We then went to Lewistown to do some shopping at Super Shoes on our way in and then at Friendship Bookstore.
After supper at my mom and dad's place we went up to Locust Grove, our "home church", to meet with our Mission Support Team and share our goals and pray with them.
Today we were planning to head back to Ohio, but thanks to a little bit of snow and an open invitation to stay, we decided to stay and welcome 2009 here in Belleville. I went to get Kara and Sydney and they came to play with Gaby and Marcus here at the Yoder's and I am finally finishing a blog post now. Tonight we are going to Locust Grove again to see the "Great Whoopie Pie Drop". If you don't know what a whoopie pie is, that means you need to come to Belleville and eat one, it's too difficult to explain, it's one of those things you just have to experience!
As you read this I hope that you have a wonderful 2009. Enjoy the pictures too, they should make sense after reading all of this stuff!
Monday, December 22, 2008
Gaby wanted it to be a Native American party so that is why she has all of the feathers. I wanted to make a tee pee outside but with the five degree temperatures we decided to stay inside! We painted on the kitchen wall instead and that was just as fun. Before Gaby went to sleep I asked her if she had a happy birthday. She said that it was the best day she ever had, so I guess it was worth it!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Here is a short video too. You get two rides for the price of one with this shot. Marcus was getting a ride from Jose and in the background Gaby and I are trying to Get Noah to ride a little scooter.
Monday, November 17, 2008
On a more personal side, I promise to soon have some pictures up of Marcus' birthday party. We celebrated five years of his life today and it was very special. He is a wonderful son!
Friday, October 31, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Question: taxes to Caesar? Answer: give everything to God, it belongs to him anyway.
Question: marriage and the resurrection? Answer: God isn't about death but about life.
Question: most important commandment? Answer: Love God and love everyone.
As we were wrapping up our time when one friend from Mexico was sharing about how blessed by God he is that even though he is in another country with people from another race and culture, he is accepted, embraced and contented gathering with us.
I'm usually more pessimistic than optimistic. I notice faults more quickly than triumphs. Yet tonight, during our study, I caught a piece of optimism. Hope. Hope in the good news, the resurrection. Hope in Jesus' words, hope even in his challenges: to give everything to God, to love God wholeheartedly, wholemindedly and wholesouledly and to love everyone, bar none. I don't do it that well, but I think I am finally getting somewhat better and I long to get better still.
As we grow and share together with people like we do with our little group every Monday night, I'm encouraged. My friend, whose wife said that she never expected to see him reading the Bible, feels loved, accepted and counted in. He's feeling and seeing the Kingdom of God. So am I. It is breaking out!
"Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Then after cooking them Naty got us started running them through the sauce maker.
The sauce came out really well. I think we made about 20 quarts or something like that.
As we were finishing up the apple sauce, Kenton thought maybe we should try to make some pear sauce with all of the pears on his tree in the backyard. He started knocking them down.
The kids and I worked to pick them up.
Marcus got a hold of the camera and started taking pictures of his friends.
One of the Kauffmans' cats.
And this wonderful self portrait!
After the kids got a little chilly they came in to watch Veggietales. That was when Noah, Kenton and Karissa's son busted out his moves with Addison, Joe and Renee's daughter, who they were babysitting!
I guess Addy had enough of the movie and Noah's moves and decided to play with Nikaya instead.
Naty made some amazing arepas for supper.
After that, Kenton and I scurried to get the pears done before the big Penn State Vs. Ohio State game. Thankfully Naty was nice enough to clean it all up so we didn't have to do it after the game. I think we ended up with 8-10 quarts of pear sauce. It was pretty good stuff!
We were too into the game to take any pictures, but the best part is the Penn State won. It feels a lot better wearing my Nittany Lions gear around Columbus after the beat the Buckeyes!!!
Friday, October 24, 2008
It has been a difficult transition for Marcus, but he seems to be used to it now and is getting along better with the idea of not being with mommy all day every day. But now, he really looks forward to weekends. This past week he was counting down the days to Saturday! Then this afternoon we were all rejoicing that it was finally Friday night!!!!
It has been different to have Naty working outside of our house again, but so far it has been a great experience. She really love what she's doing and it is getting us even more connected in the community and we've only deepened the relationships that we've started with friends through this time.
As I think about the interconnected web of all social relationships I'm seeing how the more the web connects the more centered life can become and the simpler life can be.
Another lesson that has been made much clearer lately is the importance of keeping a tight reign on our tongue because if everyone you know knows everyone else that you know you need to be sure that you are saying positive things about everyone around you because whatever you say will come back around to everyone else. If it sounds like I'm talking (writing) in a circle, it's because I am! Maybe I'm adopting a bit too much of an Eastern philosophy but I think they might have something right when it comes to the interconnected nature of relationships. I've been certain of the importance of solid, positive relationships with God, family and church and feel like we as a family are making headway there. Now, we are working in the next domain of solid positive relationships with our neighbors, community and world. The importance of forgiveness, a positive attitude and "building-up" talk about others is so much more crucial here! It still matters in the other domains, but now it becomes the oddity and our witness for Christ becomes all the more powerful because of it.
We've got so much more to learn, but I feel like we are getting somewhere. (Not just going in circles as you might be prone to believe thanks to the language of this post!)
OK, maybe we are circling, but it's a bit like helix, circling somewhere. Not just spinning.
Here are some pictures of Gaby and Marcus with their friend Jose, they had fun with some sparklers and the "Joseph: King of Dreams" movie. As the kids are having fun being friends, we are too and it's been great sharing more about the Kingdom with Jose and his parents.
One last thought... GO PENN STATE!!!!!!! We're gonna get together with Kenton and Karissa and their kids to make some applesauce and arepas and watch the game tomorrow night. We're looking forward to it and hopefully a long sought after win by the Nittany Lions here in Columbus!
Monday, October 20, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
Some of the highlights of the past month:
- My family all came from PA for a visit
- Naty's sister and her boyfriend came for a visit
- We had no power for about 30 hours thanks to a crazy wind storm
- No Internet for a week thanks to the storm too
- We helped with an open house and bake sale at Gaby's (and my) school
- We hosted someone with Mennonite Your Way again
- We went camping with our church
- I started a new quarter at OSU
- Naty got a job as a long term substitute bilingual assistant for six weeks
- Marcus started going to pre-school
- We've been to a couple birthday parties and a wedding
- Oh, and Penn State is still undefeated too!!! (sorry Buckeye fans you can't say the same!)
Friday, September 12, 2008
This weekend we have all of my family, parents, brothers and their wives and kids, here in Columbus with us. We had a fun time tonight catching up and watching the kids go crazy. Tomorrow we are heading down to Cincinnati to the Creation Museum thanks to my dad's invite. It should be a fun day, I hope the kids enjoy it too and don't drive us all crazy too!
Then on Sunday midday Naty's sister Rosanna and her boyfriend are flying up from Miami to visit until Wednesday. That was a total surprise! It's like Christmas time together with family but it's only September!
I'll be back later to let you know how it all goes.
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Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Monday, September 1, 2008
Sunday, August 31, 2008
After that we visited our friend Jim's dad who just had a heart attack and light stroke and is now recovering at home in Urbana as well. We enjoyed our visit with Jim Sr. and his wife Pat and prayed with them for his continued healing.
Tonight we visited with the Cruz-Santos family that is a part of our house church enjoying good Mexican food and watching videos of a traditional wedding and the annual festival in San Bernardo, Oaxaca, Mexico. It was tasty, fun, and educational.
Here are the big people watching the movies.
And the little people posing for a picture.
After watching several dances the kids decided to get dressed up and do their own dances too.
By the way, yes, that is a wig that Gaby has on and just so you know, she isn't Gaby when it's on, her name changes to Linda!
Last night I was finishing up a report for Locust Grove Mennonite Church, our home/sending church in Belleville, PA. The last section was called "Joys and Sorrows" and I think we have learned to embrace both of those words over the past few months. I thought I'd copy the thoughts here because it best describes where we've been and where we're going.
Joys and sorrows:
Our sorrow has turned into joy. It was very hard to kill the dream of long term overseas missions, but the sacrifice has only brought tremendous freedom and joy in the present. We were thinking that possibly God had closed the door to Venezuela to open one to Spain, but after retuning from Spain and spending time in reflection and prayer we have come to see that He has us here in Columbus for a purpose and we are not supposed to leave yet. Our family loved Spain, the people, the language, the culture and the way of life, but we are putting that love and passion aside to focus on the here and now.
We have given up long-term overseas missions, but have found ourselves submerged in missions right here. God has showed us that He has us in Columbus to be able to bless many more nations than just Venezuela and Spain. In fact, we feel that He has called us to be where we are to disciple people who will go back to their own countries and share with others. We have shifted our love for being overseas to focus on short term trips instead of going to live there. We would like to visit countries like Venezuela, Spain, Mexico, Ecuador, Honduras and Peru over the summer months in the next several years since our children don’t have school and I don’t have to teach. There are people that we know in all of these countries that we have been discipling and we would love to reconnect with them and spur them on to keep discipling others.
Friday, August 29, 2008
After school we had our weekly "family night" tonight. We decided to go to the annual Greek Festival in the Short North. Here is a drive by shot of the outside of the Greek Orthodox cathedral where the festival was held. You can see the entry tents to the left of the cathedral.
And here is a shot of the inside. It is incredibly beautiful inside, much brighter and full of color than I expected.
We would have had more pictures, but it started to pour down rain while we were there. One thing that I found interesting was the amount of alcohol at the festival. It was definitely the first time I ever saw people walking around drinking beer in church. It seemed kind of strange, but I guess that's what the scribes and Pharisees thought when they saw Jesus and his disciples at the party at Matthew's house too.
By the time we got home, both Gaby and Marcus were sleeping.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I know that if God says "Go," I'll be ready to go, but right now we have really felt like he has said "stay" so we are getting excited about what that means.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
We sometimes get tacos from the many different taco stands around the Westside and they are definitely authentic. Well, the tacos Naty made were just as good if not better!
Just as we are learning about authentic Mexican food and culture as well, we are also hoping that our friends are learning about authentic Jesus and it is making an impact on them too.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Here is a quick look at some of what we did in the month of August so far.
We've enjoyed having our good friends Derek, Carla and Noelia Wanty back in Columbus. (OK they are actually living in Hilliard, but we'll forgive them for that!) Carla's parents came up from Ecuador for a visit and her sister Agnes also came to visit from New York. Ximena came too, all the way from that far off land of Rosedale, OH. We had them all over for a good Venezuelan breakfast of arepas while they were here. It was great fun. I was able to spend a lot of time with all of them at their house in Ecuador way back in 1997 when I was on a REACH team there. It was pretty cool to have them at our house to return the favor.
On Sunday August 3 we had a very full day. We went out to Shiloh Mennonite Church for the Jon and Dawn Showalter Commissioning service, then went to Hilliard for lunch with Derek and Carla. After that we attended a Mexican baby shower for the sister of a member of our house church, it was a very lively even with lots of crazy games and much laughter. We finally got home at 11:00 that night.
The next day we went to the Ohio State fair with the expectant mommy, her husband and son. Here is Joshua, their son, with our kids.
We gave in and wasted some money at this water game, unfortunately none of us won the stuffed animal. (That may have been a blessing in disguise, we didn't have to carry it around the rest of the day!)Later that week, on Friday we went to the fair again, with some other friends, but forgot the camera in the car! Then that evening we had the Wantys over again for ice cream. Derek helped me pick some of our many tomatoes, then we sat around the fire and did a whole lot of nothing.
Gaby and Marcus have had a lot of fun with their friend Jose this summer. He was in Gaby's kindergarten class and Naty has gotten to know his mom and started a Bible study with her. Here they all three got a haircut from another one of our house church friends, Maria, who graduated as a barber earlier this year.
Gaby and Marcus had their friends Joshua and Damaris over for a slumber party. Our kids have gone to their house several times when we did Engaged Encounter weekends and also when we went to California, but we never had them to our house for an overnighter before. Needless to say, they had a wonderful time!
Last weekend we went camping with just our family at Deer Creek State Park. Here Naty is making some arepas for our Friday evening supper. Let me tell you arepas cooked over an open fire are amazing!!!
Two days ago Gaby lost her third tooth. She lost her first two in Spain. This time the tooth fairy paid up in dollars instead of Euros. Talk about an economic downturn!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Another great thing about Agape is that they haven't been satisfied to just grow bigger as a church, but they have planted two other churches as well. They have prepared groups of leaders from the "mother church" to go and start new churches in two different cities not too far from Columbus. These people take the Great Commission seriously and do something about it. Agape Hilliard started in 1987 and then they planted a new church in Lancaster, OH in 2000 and another new church in Marysville, OH in 2005! Their churches are centered around home groups and they keep reaching more and more people. In spite of sending out so many people to start new churches, their normal Sunday attendance is still the same. Cheers to reproduction! I'm sure they'll be planting more churches in the future.
We loaded our mini-van with our kids as well as two of their friends for Bible school.
Here are some pictures of the gathering this past weekend.
Friday, July 11, 2008
After a while a bunch of people with dogs came and played in the water, so the fishing wasn't so good anymore.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
This week Naty and I are helping to put on the first ever (annual?) Westside Bible Camp. We are doing it at the Lebanon Station Apartments about a mile from out house. If you want an apartment on the west side of Columbus, check them out. They have been gracious enough to let us do the camp there when several other places didn't.
This has been a totally new experience for all of us that are involved. The idea came from another ESL teacher that I work with and we decided to give it a try. So, we invited several other teachers and a few bus drivers to join us. We even have the Templeton family from Belleville who was brave enough to accept our invitation and come out and help with the camp!
In some ways what we are doing is similar to a vacation Bible school, but there are two things that are very different about this. All of us that are doing the camp are from different churches and there is not really any one church sponsoring the camp. We're all simply Christians that want to share Jesus with kids. Another major difference is that we are doing the camp right where the kids live, not at a church building. "Big deal," you say. Well, to me it is. We are sharing Jesus with these kids on their turf, not on ours. We aren't trying to get them into our church building, we are loving, accepting and sharing Jesus with them where they are. Us going to them instead of them coming to us.
It hasn't been easy. We're learning a lot through the process. We had planned to have the camp from 10 am -1 pm Monday through Friday. Well, that was a nice idea until Monday at 10:oo when there wasn't a kid to be found anywhere! Duh! What we didn't tale into consideration is that at 10:00 in the morning most kids are either still asleep or at a babysitter's place because their parents are at work. So we made some quick changes in plans and switched the camp to 4:00-6:30 in the afternoon. That has worked a lot better! Yesterday we had 40 kids and today we had about 35, quite a bit better than zero!
This experience has really opened my eyes to see the lives these kids live. When I was a kid, we never had to go to the babysitter's because Mom was always with us while Dad worked. For many of them Mom works and they either don't know dad or he works too. I think I knew that in my head before, but now I've seen it closer, right where people live and felt it too.
The kids have also been so grateful. Most of the kids have been so happy to be able to do the activities and make the crafts and the fact that we have food for them is like a double bonus!
Talking with Naty tonight we realized that even when the church next to the complex has Bible School, some of the Latino parents may not let their kids go, but since this is right where they live, they don't object.
Don't read me the wrong way, Bible school at a church is great. I loved it when I was a kid and I liked helping out when I got older. But, what if churches started taking their Bible school's to the street? What if instead of sending out all of the mailings and spending all of the time and money on decorations for the church buildings we spent the money on buying food for kids and getting the equipment needed to make the Bible school portable and accessible to more kids. We don't have to give up on the Christian kids, we could just take them along as missionaries too and they can be model students and helpers, helping lead the kids they meet to Jesus.
So there you have it, missional Bible school. What if all churches did this? Wouldn't we truly "reach out" to our neighbors a bit better if we did more than simply invite people to our turf?
Monday, July 7, 2008
It was so interesting that while I was in Spain I was reading Surprised By Hope by N.T. Wright. I would recommend it to any of you. I can't say that I agree with everything that he says, but a lot of it does make sense and it births hope as you read. (Not sure why I'm stuck on the word birth. No, Naty is not pregnant!)
We were surprised by the ungluing of morality in the country especially the lack of respect that small children have for their parents. There seems to be a complete absence of holistic Christian living, and even of simply having good morals.
But in the midst of this environment, hope shines even brighter. I was amazed at how many people told us how impressed they were with how well behaved and lovely our children are. Now, I think they're great, but they aren't that great! Just today I was getting frustrated with both Gaby and Marcus because of something they did. But compared to some of what we saw there, yes, we do have some amazing kids!
The best thing about being noticed in a good way is that you can share the hope. Just seeing our kids had to have birthed hope in some people to just know that kids can respect their parents and behave as they have been asked! The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can not overpower it, it shines brighter!
We didn't have enough time to truly disciple many people while we were there, but we did have time to plant a lot of seeds. Those seeds were seeds of hope, giving a picture that shows there can be something better. We got to share with an atheist and a humanist at length, and no, they didn't pledge their allegiance to Jesus as Lord because of our conversation, but we could see that we had given some hope and the soil was opening some. The seeds may have a better chance to germinate.
I don't think living as a missional Christian in Spain would be all peaches and cream (melocotones y nata, do they eat that in Spain?) but I do think that the hope we have in Christ Jesus is quite a bit more noticeable. He is our hope and through us Spaniards could see our hope and begin to hope themselves. So the next time you hear someone complaining about spiritual darkness where ever it may be remember the hope we have and most of all remember Revelation chapters 21 and 22, resurrection does come and it will come!
Saturday, July 5, 2008
I really think that showing hospitality is one of the most important things that we can do for others. We get to know each other for real when we live together under the same roof and sit around the same table. We love having people over to our house and even hosting others with Mennonite Your Way, but we also enjoy hanging out with others and being in their homes. Hopefully they enjoy it too!
The first place that we stayed in Spain was with our friends Jenny and Fernando. We had actually never met Fernando before in person, but he was still willing to have us in his home. He and Jenny are actually living with his grandma for a short time while they wait for the house that they bought to get finished. They are hoping to move to their own house within a month.
Fernando's sister Saray also lives there with his Grandma too. We had a great time getting to know her and she was a wonderful tour guide for us for two days when we explored two other towns in Galicia. Fernando's grandmother, Delia, is a delightful woman. She cooked us some incredible meals and a lot of the vegetables came from the garden she has beside her house. She even cooked us a chicken from her chicken coop right at her house. Her generosity was amazing, we were certainly blessed. In this picture Marcus was helping her hang up some clothes.
In San Agustin de Guadelix we had the privilege to stay with Fred and Mary Kay Eichelman, the missionaries that we helped with the English camp. They have three very special kids who had a load of fun playing with Gaby and Marcus. It was very neat to see how Fred and Mary Kay have connected a lot with their community and it was amazing how many people they knew. They are planning to move back to the US at the end of this month and I know that they will be very missed by the people where they live now.
Freddy, Annie and Joey are Fred and Mary Kay's kids. Freddy and Joey were nice enough to give up their bedroom so that we had a place to sleep. Thanks guys! Gabriela and Marcus really had a lot of fun with all of them.
In Granada we got to stay with Pablo and Judi Kauffman. They just recently moved there and have a small two bedroom apartment but that didn't stop them from keeping us. (and our friend Amanda!)
To me, that is true hospitality, you don't have to have the perfect place with a "guest room", you don't have to have every last speck of dust in your house cleaned up, you just have to have an open heart, an open door, an open table and an open bed, couch or floor space!
To all of our hosts, THANK YOU SO MUCH! We couldn't have made the trip without you.