Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas 2008

This year we had a multicultural and multi-state Christmas. We started out in Columbus with our family and some friends and then headed to Pennsylvania for the bigger family gatherings. Here's a timeline of what we've been doing so far and then you can see some pictures in the slide show below.

December 24
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.

December 25
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.

December 26
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.

December 27
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.

December 28
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!

December 29
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.

December 30
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.

December 31
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

Gabriela's Birthday

We had a lot of work, but also a lot of fun celebrating Gaby's seven years of life yesterday. Naty and I made a HUGE pot of chicken corn soup and cornbread along with some carrot cake cup cakes. Gaby said she didn't want a cake, she doesn't like cake!
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

the latest

Greetings! Sorry it's been so long since I've posted. But, we have vacation now so I think I'll get more posts up here. Here are some pictures of all of our happenings in the past month. It's late and I didn't put captions this time so you'll just have to guess what's going on.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

happy birthday Marcus!

Last night we had a great time celebrating Marcus' birthday. I think we were a little crazy to do it on a school night, we were pretty tired today, but it was a ton of fun!

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

2008 economics

I just read this at Brian McLaren's EMC (Emerging Missional Church) blog and thought it was an humorous yet insightful analysis of of our current global economic situation. See what you think.

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

my Jesus

Thanks to Wilbur Miller to leading me to read this blog post by Greg Boyd. If this picture piques your attention, you'll want to read it too.

What does your Jesus do?

Monday, October 27, 2008

breaking out

Tonight we were reading and talking about Mark 12, the middle of it, with our house church group. Next week will be week three with the same chapter but oh well. There are some key teachings in this chapter.
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

saturday evening fun

Saturday afternoon we had a great time with Kenton and Karissa and their kids making applesauce. We started out by cutting up the apples.

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

we love fridays now!

Our lives have changed a lot over the past two weeks and I haven't written much about it so here goes. Naty started working as a bilingual assistant at Darby Woods Elementary School two weeks ago and we have been adapting to that change since then. The cool thing is that her school day is the same as Gaby's and mine, and the school is only about 2 miles from our house. Since she started working, Marcus is now going to an afternoon preschool on M, W and F. Our friends Jose and Gema that live just up the street from us babysit Marcus those days and so far our friends Carla and Karissa have been taking care of him on T and TH.
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!

how rich r u?

I found this on my friend Kevin's blog and was impacted by it. We might think that times are tough, the economy's bad, but in reality we have SO much and "to whom much a has been given much will be required." We're gunna have a lot of explaining to do some day so we'd better get busy putting what we have to use!

Monday, October 20, 2008


So, I haven't really written much here for quite some time, just posted pictures. But I have been reading all kinds of other blogs. It has brought me to post about a question I've been thinking about for a while: Is it better to read blogs or write them? I know, as usual, both is the best answer for my question, but if it really has to be one or the other, what should I do? I've been following the idea of the Chinese proverb (my paraphrase), "you have two ears and one mouth for a reason, listen more and talk less." But then again didn't Jesus say, "It is better to give than to receive."? So what should I do with my limited time. Read the thoughts of others or share mine? I'd like to do both, but it just hasn't been happening lately. Should I write more often? Does anyone even read this? Or should I just keep reading and forget the writing? How valuable is it that I say anything with so much already being said? BTW, I wouldn't mind comments on this post, either here or else you can E-mail me.

Monday, October 6, 2008

here's the proof

Here are a few pictures from the last several weeks.

we're not dead

OK so this blog has been dead for a while, but we aren't! There has been so much going on and so much I should be keeping you up to date with but basically we've been so busy with life that I haven't had the time to write much about it. Personally I think I'd rather live life than spend time talking about it so, we've been living!

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!)
Lots of fun! I'll try to post some pictures soon, but for now, there's the rundown. Yep, we are still kickin'!

Friday, September 12, 2008 and other stuff

We're finally back online again and I just found out about this network of other simple church planters and thought it looked interesting. It looks like a mini version of Facebook for simper churchers. I haven't found anybody from Central Ohio yet though and hope that some others outside of our network join up. I would kind of like to hear what is going on with other groups here in the middle of Buckeye country.

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.

View my page on

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

i'll be back

We are without Internet for a few days at our house, so I will be blogging eventually, when we get back online.
It is going to be an interesting experience, no Internet, what a crazy idea! How did we live without it?

Monday, September 1, 2008

labor day

Today we had fun with some of our church mates at Batelle Darby Creek Park. It was a good way to wrap up an amazing summer.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

sending, sharing and learning

Today we started out in Urbana visiting with our friends Kevin and Kristin and their two children before they take off to China in a little more than a week. It was great to see them again and send them off.

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!


This morning we realized, Naty and I both, that it is time to stop gazing off into the wild blue yonder wondering where God wants us to go.

(this it one of our favorite pictures from Spain)

OK, so we haven't been that lost. But we have been asking if God wants us to go somewhere else. Now, we are totally convinced that God is calling us to stay here in Columbus for the next several years. Today we were at Crossway Community Church in Urbana and He reminded us of that fact throughout the service. We were there to see more of our dear, dear friends being sent off as overseas missionaries. A month ago we were with a different family being sent to North Africa and today with more friends leaving on September 11 to go to Asia. It hasn't been easy, sending off our friends when we wish God was sending us off too, but it's getting easier. The good thing is that we are getting more excited about what can and will happen here in Columbus as we follow Him.
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.

We would love to be living in another country, but God has opened so many doors for us right here and has surrounded us with people from other countries instead. We see now that if we lived in another country we wouldn’t have the potential to make a global impact in missions like we can right here in Columbus.

Friday, August 29, 2008

busy day

Today was Gaby's first day of school. It was fun to walk to school together and seeing her throughout the day. Here we are, all ready for the big day.

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

aging? i guess it happens

Well, I've been a teacher for six years now and a weird thing about my career is that every two years I've been at a different school. Two years at Spotswood Elementary in Virginia, two years at Shekinah Christian in Plain City and two years at Pleasant View Middle in Grove City. Now, this year I am starting my first year at Stiles Elementary here in our neighborhood. I am truly excited because I am finally where I want to be but I think that I am also seeing how much better it can be as a teacher to stay at the same place for a while instead of all of this moving. Maybe I am getting older now too and not quite as prone to change as I used to be. I like change, but it does take extra work. Now I just hope that I can stay here at Stiles as long as possible to be able to really make a difference in our community.
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


A glimpse at our supper table last night may have made you wonder whose house you were in. We have been enjoying building friendships in the Mexican-American community here in Columbus and that is starting to have an impact on us as well. Last night we had some authentic goat tacos! That's right, goat meat, with sautéed onions and peppers on corn tortillas with onions, cilantro, Mexican cheese, fresh squeezed lemon and hot sauce. It was amazing!
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


Ok, so when I started blogging I was writing about once a day, then eventually once a week, now, I'm down to about once a month! That's pretty sad! Well, I finally finished my summer class at OSU so I have a bit more free time for a little while, but I start back to teaching on Monday. Bye bye summer!

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

agape's missional vbs

This week Gaby and Marcus are having fun at vacation Bible school. This is the third year that they have been able to go to VBS at Agape Community Fellowship in Hilliard. They do a truly amazing job with summer Bible school for kids. They really make a point of not only offering Bible school to their own kids but inviting the community as well. Iglesia Cristiana Hispana, the Spanish church mentioned in my previous post, also uses their building for services each week and they are very welcoming to host the Spanish kids for Bible school too. Not only that but they invite lots of kids from the community and then on the last night invite their parents to come for a program with hot dogs and ice cream afterwards. I know that they have been able to share the gospel and disciple many families through their VBS.
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.

I love the way they decorate the church and incorporate multi-media with the music and teaching. With kids hooked on video games these days can we do anything but present the gospel in creative ways to be effective?
Here's Gaby in the blur, loving the songs and motions.

Marcus strikes a pose with one of his teachers, who happens to be a former student of mine from when I taught at Shekinah.
The platform looked really cool, Marcus and Dalia thought so too!
Here are Jose, Marcus, Dalia and Gaby, the whole crew.

sunday with iglesia cristiana hispana

On Sunday we went to a nearby park for a church service and picnic with ICH, the fellowship we were a part of for our first two years here in Columbus. We still love the church and have many good friends there and attend occasionally when we have a chance.
Here are some pictures of the gathering this past weekend.

Friday, July 11, 2008

family day at antrim park

We usually have a family night each week when we go out together to do something as a family. This week, since we were done with the Bible Camp yesterday we decided to have a family day. I bought a fishing license and at the recommendation of our neighbor Jim we went to Antrim Lake to go fishing. The fishing wasn't too great, we just caught three small Blue Gills, but at least we caught something and the kids had a great time.

Here I'm teaching Gaby and Marcus how to put a worm on a hook.
Gaby caught a butterfly! She played with it for a while and then it flew away.
Marcus, as usual, enjoyed being with Daddy!

Here is one of the little fish that we caught. Gaby brought it in and then she let it go, she's quite a brave little girl!

After a while a bunch of people with dogs came and played in the water, so the fishing wasn't so good anymore.

After the fishing we packed up our rods and reels and headed up to the park for a picnic lunch. After lunch we all had a nap in the shade. Marcus decided that he wanted to take some pictures then. Gaby wasn't feeling very good, she had a headache, so that's why she doesn't look too excited here.

Marcus was feeling fine as you can see here!

bible camp pictures

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

missional bible school

OK, I may blog some more about Spain again later, but for now, on with the present.
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


We were stuck by the post-Christianity and neo-paganism in Spain. I didn't make those terms up, and wouldn't have thought of them but found the words as I was doing some web surfing reading about the spiritual condition of Europe. I see the same birthing in America, but in Spain the birthing seems to be of post-Christian, neo-pagan grandchildren not children. I was planning to blog a bit about the darkness and sadness of it all but I don't think I can do that, especially after reading this about missions in Europe; I don't think it would be totally true. Spain is spiritually dark, dead if you will, but I believe in a God of resurrection!
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


Without a doubt the best thing in life is people. Our trip to Spain wouldn't have been possible without the wonderful people who opened their homes and hearts to us. I want to write a bit more about our trip with some other posts but I thought that the most important part would be thanking the people that we stayed with while we were there. We didn't have to stay in any hotels, that is the great thing about having friends!
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.