Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday Topic: School choices

Oops! I had this set for May 30, not April! At least I checked to see what was going on before the end of Tuesday.

A reader asks: How did you personally make your schooling decision for your children? What were your primary criteria when choosing the route/routes that you have? Have you ever switched schooling methods, and if so, what was the reason? It seems that no option is perfect, so I'd love to hear some of your favorite things about what you've chosen and maybe some of the downsides if you'd be willing.

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at fylliska@gmail.com. Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Get Unpacked

Unpacking ... what image comes to mind? what words do you think of? 

suitcase in the middle of the floor ... dirty clothes, souvenirs, and toiletries spilling out 


a brown, cardboard box wrapped in clear packing tape 

We just recently unpacked a few of our boxes and found some broken items. There were tears. I sat on the floor and let the emotions come and then I let it go.

Recently, my daughter, Ashleigh, went to Romania on a missions trip. We packed her suitcase, gave her kisses and hugs, prayed with her then said goodbye. Her team built a house for a family, visited an orphanage and ministered to the Romanian family. A week later she came home tired and grumpy. Hmmm ... Her Dad and I had so many questions about her trip, but she didn't really want to discuss it. I helped her unpack her suitcase and found stinky, dirty clothing along with a few souvenirs. One day passes ... still grumpy. Two days  pass ... yes, still grumpy. We really thought that she was just tired, but I sensed something wasn't right. The evening of her second night home I knew I had to have a talk with her. I prayed that God would give me wisdom as I walked up the steps to her bedroom. I sat on the bed and asked,  "What's bothering you?" to which she replied, "Nothing." Then I said, "Tell me about Romania." 

She replied with a flood of tears. 

She cried for a few minutes then began to describe her week. "They are so poor, but still so happy," she says through her tears. 

She can remember the faces of the orphans. She can remember the tears running down the face of the lady as they handed her the keys to her new house. 

She feels guilty for having so much and still wanting more. 

I sat on her bed and cried with her. I encouraged her to pray for the family, never forget the orphans she met and to continue "unpacking" her emotions. 

Unpacking our emotions is often painful, but necessary.

We hug and she smiles at me. I know there is still more for her to unpack, but sometimes it takes time. This past Sunday at church each mission group shared their experiences through video and personal testimony. Ashleigh volunteered to personally share her experience. As she was preparing, she was unpacking a little more. She shared from her heart and at the end she said, "God makes the impossible possible."

Unpacking our emotions allows God to do a deep work in us ... 

She's ready to go back to Romania. She's also talking about wanting to go to Africa and 
India. Does she know she will see hurting people? Absolutely. Does she know she will see poverty? Yes. She also knows the love of a Savior who wants to make the impossible situations possible. 

How have you helped your children "unpack?"  Do you allow yourself time to "unpack?"

Saturday, April 27, 2013



If you came to my house, the first thing I would do is offer you a cup of coffee. Coffee is a pretty big deal in El Salvador, and we found some growing in our yard so we've actually been able to grow and roast our own coffee which is a complete thrill for a coffee lover like me!

The next thing I would do is ask you your story. I love hearing people's stories, because everyone has one to tell. I think that's my favorite thing about this missionary life...finding out the story of a place, and diving into why a culture is the way it is. I've learned to love El Salvador, and to find where this country hurts, and to search for all the hidden beautiful things that you can only find when you've lived in and really loved a place.

It's funny now to look back and remember the time when I promised never to move south of Texas! In high school I went on a short-term mission trip to Mexico City. I thought I knew Spanish from my high school Spanish class (I was wrong), and I thought if I took the right precautions I wouldn't get sick (wrong again)! I ended up horribly sick, doubled over in pain on a sidewalk midway through a street puppet show barely able to communicate to my host how sick I felt. I spent the next few days in agony and vowed never, ever to head south of Texas again! It's funny how life works out sometimes.

Now to answer your questions...

Which continent were you thinking you would be going to before being called to El Salvador?  Has it been hard for you to adjust your thinking to El Salvador instead of the original place?

After I graduated from college, I spent the summer in Kenya and I fell in love with it. The landscapes, the sunsets, the people I met...I left feeling 100% sure that I would return there as a full-time missionary. My husband and I actually began the application and interview process to work in East Africa and we felt really good about going there. Then, as sometimes happens, the door closed. Meanwhile my husband had made a few trips to El Salvador with our church and God began working on him, and then me. It was hard at first to wrap my mind around coming to El Salvador (remember, south of Texas!!!!), but it just became so clear to me that this is where we needed to be. Once we made the decision, I was ready to move forward but there are many days I dream of returning to Kenya!

I would love to hear about the new ministry passion God has given you.

I grew up in suburban America, so moving into one of the most violent cities in the world was a big change! We came here expecting my husband to be very involved with street kids, kids at risk, and the homeless and we pictured me cheering from the sidelines and working on the communication side of things. Through our work in the city we began to see more and more women, and young men, involved in prostitution. I also began to find out more about human trafficking in this region and the way that many Salvadorans have been taken advantage of. I can tell you that the first time I went out on the street to talk to a woman working in prostitution was way outside of my comfort zone! But God has given me such compassion for these individuals, and a real desire to find practical ways to give them hope. This ministry was not on my radar at all, and it has stretched me so much! This is a tough ministry and I feel like I am in over my head...but I thank God for it.

What's the silliest thing you've done as a family?

Hmmmm...I feel like there is a lot of everyday silliness so this is a tough one. We've had some epic bug battles against invading bugs, tarantuals, scorpions, etc. and now I can kill bugs with my bare hands! We've had tons of silly times during our various road trips around the country, and around Central America. It's fun, the stuff we get into, and we do it together and that's the best part!

Why has your biggest frustration been your kids and their education?

So, I'm not sure how education works in other countries but in Latin America the teachers are crazy-strict about things like cursive and taking massive amounts of tests. My kids go to an international bi-lingual school and there is an understanding that the academics are hard, and kids need to fit into that structure. One of my children has done fairly well with some extra adjustments, the other...not so much. My biggest frustration living here is the lack of any type of educational differentiation. My daughter is funny and intelligent and wonderful in so many ways...and definitely out of the box. This is neither encouraged nor tolerated very well in the "system" so we have tried a grade acceleration (it's helping) and lots of other "please just make it through the day without any major incidents and we will reward you" type of encouragement. I'm completely torn with this child between homeschooling and keeping her in school. The pros and cons make me dizzy. Her Spanish is so good that she can translate and speak with a perfect native accent so I don't want her to lose "playground time" but she is ripping-her-hair out bored in many subjects. So, what do I do????? The private school education system is an excellent education, but my child is just not fitting in. Would she in the States? I don't know. Will she in a few years? I don't know. Do I hope she isn't negatively affected by the whole thing? Absolutely. It's the thing that keeps me up most at nights, and finds it's way into my prayers most days too!

Do you ever have free time and if so, what do you like to do?

Ha! What's free time????? I laughed at this one, and I'm sure many of you are laughing along because you are on the same hamster wheel of kids, ministry, maintaining a marriage, communicating with supporters, run, run, run...I don't have a ton of free time but I try to find time here and there. I absolutely love to read. Everything. Fiction, non-fiction, whatever! I like reading Latin American literature when I can and it helps with the Spanish, but of course I love reading in English too. I also like to cook, and in theory I like to scrapbook but it hardly ever happens. I like drawing and painting too and I can get that in here or there with my kids. I journal a few times a week and I have volumes of my life written down. I also recently started taking karate! I'm laughing because it's so funny! My kids are taking it, and there was a mom's class, and now I'm making some new friends and learning something new!

I'm wondering about those things that make El Salvador special to your family....

The thing that I love so much about El Salvador is that it's a small enough country that you can really know it. You can be anywhere in the country within three hours and it has everything...mountains, volcanoes, beaches. The landscapes are breathtaking, and the tropical rains are unlike anything I've ever experienced. After the civil war, many wounds were left open and that echoes on the streets today, but the people here inspire us. They are so kind, and they genuinely care. Our kids have had incredible experiences...seeing baby sea turtles heading for the ocean, visiting a little town and watching an artist at work, making deep friendships in another language. We are changed because of the people and experiences we've had here. We've been able to serve, and that is a blessing, but like many of you I can say that I am the one who is blessed.  I have been scared, frustrated, ready to give up (hello language learning!), but we're still here and it's worth it. The ups and downs, the life here, the beauty, all of that makes this country so special to us and I am just grateful to be here!

Thanks for reading...I'm looking forward to hearing from more of you around the world!

Speaking of El Salvador...next up, Olive!

I’m a Texas girl who fell in love with Turks during a two year stay in Istanbul during my mid-20’s. Little did I know back then that I’d marry a Salvadoran, have two children in El Salvador and live in Central America seven years before returning to Turkey in 2002. My husband and I are leading a CP team, and our little home fellowship has about 15 adults now.  We serve our community by organizing an English club for Turks who want to practice English, and the women on our team enjoy reaching out to mslm women through crafts, cooking, and special events.

My greatest joy is discipling Turkish women and watching them grow in the realization that they are wonderfully created and precious to God.  (Women here really need that message…) I love reading God’s word every day, and I love encouraging Turkish women to do the same, but my most important ministry is probably just cooking dinner for people and being available when they want to stop by.

I’m a homeschooling mother with two teenagers, so most days from 8:30-2:30, I’m busy with things like chemistry, grammar, quadratic equations, Latin, and discussing Hemingway! By 2:30 my brain is frazzled, so I either hide in my room, go out for a walk, or visit a Turkish friend.

Living and serving in the Middle East is NOT easy because response to the Gospel is SLOW, but I can honestly say I love it and wouldn’t choose any other life. One thing I’ve learned here is to take special joy in my relationship with God and in my family.

Post your questions for Olive in the comments, and she will answer them soon!

Friday, April 26, 2013


True friends

*Each friend brings their own identity to the relationship.

*Friends support one another rather than acting as a care takers.

*A true friend honors each friend’s friendship with others.

*A true friend encourages their friend to become the person God wants them to be.

*A true friend views differences as gifts rather than annoyances.

*True friends are honest and truthful.  They want the best for their friend.  While they may need to share hard truths at times, they share humbly in view of their own problems with sin, in order for the other person to grow.

*A true friend will encourage another, without manipulating for their own self interest.

*A true friendship honors and respects the boundaries of each other.

*In a true friendship, wise communication and trust are necessary;  avoiding  gossip, criticism, competitiveness, jealousy, etc.

*A true friend forgives.  Being bitter and keeping a record of wrongs will not be the mark of a true friend.

*True friends have conflicts, but each are willing to take responsibility for their roles, instead of blaming others.

*A true friendship will respect and understand differences of opinion, and allows others to make their own decisions.

*True friends will honor, encourage, and love each other.

*A true friend will give you time and space that you need.  They will give you time to pause and reflect before responding.  They won’t interrupt or pressure you.  They will also allow you to choose not to respond without hard feelings.

*A true friend will avoid lying about themselves, their friends, or any circumstances or conflicts they find themselves in.

*In a true friendship, both parties treat each other as they would want to be treated, are quick to apologize and/or to extend forgiveness.

What do you think are the marks of a true friend? What would you add to this list?  Do you think you are a good friend?  In what ways do you think you can improve?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

School, One of the Great Mysteries of Life

Ok.  Let's talk school.

Sigh.  This is such a huge point of confusion in our house right now.  Let me give you a bit of background.

Ok.  We have a 6 year old, a 4 year old and a 10 month  old.  During language school our two oldest were in the preschool (in Spanish) on the same campus as us.  The 10 month old was in my belly, absorbing all the Spanish and sucking all the life force out of me that he could.

Now that we are working in our ministry, we face all sorts of issues with school.  We decided to home school this year because we didn't know what any of our options would be.  And, just to complicate things a bit more, we decided to do this homeschooling on the Costa Rican school calendar, from February to December.

Ok...so now, we are realizing that the big piece of this puzzle we are missing is the Spanish. Since we are a English speaking family, and since the boys and I are home most days, we just aren't getting the Spanish interaction we should.  So now comes the really confusing part, all the options.

Do we:
A) Continue homeschooling on the Tico schedule and look for other Spanish options?

B) Continue homeschooling on an American schedule and look for other Spanish options?

C) Send them to the local public school 300 meters from our house, that's all in Spanish and who knows what the quality of the education is?

D) Send them to a bilingual private school on a Tico schedule?

E) Send them to a bilingual private school on an American schedule?

F) Buy a second car to take them to the private school?

G) Buy a motor scooter for my husband to drive to work so I can have the car to take them to a private school?

H)  Figure out the private busing system here and put my sweet baby faced 6 year old on a bus with strangers?

I) Bury our heads in the sand and pretend they don't need to go to school at all?

I know we are blessed by having options, but honestly, right now, I sorta wish we didn't, so that the decision would just be made for us.  But as I have talked to other friends around the globe, I realize we're not the only ones struggling with this decision.

I am trying to remember that God has called the whole family here.  So, that means our boys need to be here for God to grow them into the men He wants them to be.  And, whatever choice we make doesn't have to be forever.   Every day I pray for wisdom from the One who promises that if we ask for it, He'll give it to us. But we still don't know what we are suppose to do.  So we keep waiting and praying.

Goodness, I feel like a I do a whole lot more asking questions here than being helpful.  But maybe in the process of me asking the question to all of you, you will be able to help not only me, but someone else.  At least that's what I am going to tell myself, hehehe.

So, what do you do for schooling?  What led you to make that choice?  And what in the world should we do?  Ha!   

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What Would You Do For a Klondike Bar?

For some strange reason, sometimes the commercial for this famous ice cream bar comes into my head, and I find myself singing, "What would you do-o-o for a Klondike bar?"
I would actually prefer an ice cream sandwich.
I got to thinking, which I really try not to (about this topic, not thinking in particular), about the things I miss in America.  Cracker Barrel would probably at the top, with Sheetz being a close second.  Come on, 2 hot dogs for $1?  You can't beat that.
Sugar Cereals.
Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate.
Oh, I better stop there.  See, it's not good for me to start thinking about all that I miss in America.  I could do without all that, but truly, deep down, I miss my family.  Sometime, I  miss them so much that my heart just aches.
I am blessed to have a close-knit family.  I'm even close to my aunts and uncles.  Facebook can be such a wonderful blessing.  I honestly cannot imagine what it was like even 10 years ago without the technology we have today. 
To wait weeks for a letter by mail, to now waiting just seconds to see their reply on instant messaging.  To possibly never seeing loved ones again, to now having Face Time and Skype.
How blessed we are compared to missionaries years ago.
But I often wonder how much of a distraction it is to us?  How much time we waste online?  Or even the feelings of envy it brings when we see friends or family posting pictures of them altogether celebrating a birthday or some other life event.
Don't get me wrong.  I'm not telling you to throw out the internet!  I am so thankful for the opportunity I had to watch my youngest brother graduate high school via Skype.  This way he couldn't tease me for crying!
I am merely saying we need to be careful.  All things in Moderation.
Be careful not to long for 'home' so much that we are distracted from what God has called us to do.
Facebook, Skype, Blogs, Pinterest.  All that stuff is fun, and can be good for us, but keep it in check. 
Balance, my dear missionary friends.  Balance.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tuesday Topic: MailChimp gallery

This is my own question or request: Chrysti has done such a great job of explaining how to use MailChimp for newsletters. I actually got it set up for us! Looking at what a few of you had done really helped me in that, too. Would you be willing to share actual examples of how you use MailChimp? Please link in the comments!

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at fylliska@gmail.com. Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Conquering nightmares with dreams

It has been an almost nightly wee hours of the morning occurrence for a few weeks now. Because of the heat and the excessive cost of air conditioning in this heat, we do what many other missionary families choose to do - we all sleep in one room. Yes... all ten of us, mattresses piles on the floor for the kids, furniture pushed up next to the walls, small battery powered lanterns for the biggers who want to continue reading or finishing homework after the lights go out, the thermostat set on 31' C, and many prayers that electricity continues at least mostly uninterrupted during the nighttime hours.

Of course, that means that littlest one stumbles to the bathroom sometime around midnight trips onto our waterbed and begins the slow process of plopping, flopping and kerplopping her way up to the pillows and the middle of the bed. It really reminds me of a fish on the shore trying to find its way back to where it needs to be. She then promptly smashes her nose against my face and I thank the Lord that the fan is still spinning. Otherwise sleep would become an impossibility, at least for me, in this heat with a little one smashed up against me.

Forty-five minutes or so later, I can usually extricate myself from her sweet but very tight grasp, roll over and go back to sleep, at least for awhile...


She starts kicking and pushing, thrashing about, muttering and crying - real tears. I hear her dad mumble something and throw a pillow over his head in frustration. I turn back towards her to wrap her in my arms and gently whisper her awake. Somewhere around the 5th night this has happened, I finally I make out some words: "big," "ugly," "mean" and "cockroach" clearly articulated... several times. A few nights later, having been able to distinguish those same words (as well as others), it is quite clear that she's developed a persistent cockroach phobia.

Katsaridaphobia. That's the "scientific" name for a fear of cockroaches. 

I can't blame her. I don't like them either and  we do seem to be seeing an inordinate number of the critters these days. It startles when one drops off the shower curtain on your shoulder, one scurries across your foot when you're walking to get a drink of cool water in the dark of the night or you lift the bed cover to make the bed and find what you thought was a dead one (until you try and dispose of it) just under the edge of your bed. Those insects are the reason she absolutely refuses to use the "private" toilets at church and hesitates at anything long and skinny poking out from under something and gently waving, antenna-like. I, myself, have not been particularly fond of them since my senior year of high school (I can't ever remember thinking of them before that) when my World Lit instructor insisted that the "monstrous vermin" in Kafka's Metamorphosis was, indeed, a cockroach. I must confess that I am guilty of teasing my husband that one of the perks of marriage is my prince willing and able to rid our world of those nasty fire breathing dragons roaches. 

Just kidding... sort of. 

My 17 year old boy would roll his eyes and tell you I'm not. As prince-in-training, he often gets drafted into said duty.

Why am I going on all about this? 

Now that I know my little one has repeated disturbing dreams about resilient, hard-to-kill big bugs with long wavy antennae that scare her, I can try and help her do something about it...

However, the point of this post is not a 12 step recovery program from katsaridaphobia.

Rather, I've been thinking much about the fact that one way to conquer the scary is to redirect focus on the hopeful.

God's Word says it like this:
"For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]." (Philippians 4.8, Amplified Bible)
We are trying to allow these thoughts to guide our table (and other) conversation as we talk together about our imminent reentry

So what sorts of things provoke leaving/reentry nightmares in this tribe of ten? 
  • "I'm going to miss my friends Imogen, Mo Mo, Elayna, Caleb and Nata...,"
  • "The reality that every time we leave, we might never be back...," 
  • " Knowing I might never see Niger friends ever again...," 
  • "Wondering if i'll be able to fit in and make friends, again...," 
  • "Saying bye to my friends and packing up all my stuff. What if I forget something important and special or don't get to see someone or forget to say bye to them?...,"
  • "Facing the possibility that I might never come back to Niger...," 
  • "I really have no experience of what is about to come. It has always been predictable in the past, but I have no idea this time...,"
  • "I'm going to miss Imogen. I won't get to see Jayson. God's Comfort says he likes me! And since my best friend is Australian, I talk some Australian now and what if people can't understand me? I also am afraid I won't have new friends to like me even when I do things different...,"
  • "Stepping on a plane yet once again...," and
  • "Not exactly knowing the next step."

We don't want to get lost in those nightmares, however. If all we look at is the scary, we can totally miss seeing out on the beautiful potential, the amazing, God-gifted fun and glorious parts of going back to our other home and being a part of life there again - for whatever amount of time God gifts us. 

So what sorts of happy dreams occupy the hearts and souls of these Wrightlings (and their parents)?
  • "After what seems like forever (even though its only been two years) of always wondering what the next step might be, we finally know the next step and are taking it...,"
  • "Andi's getting married to Uncle Joe and I get to see them and be one of their flower girls...,"
  • "Andi's wedding and getting to be a flower girl and seeing all my girl cousins and grandparents..,"
  • "Being able to be with family and big hugs at the airport...," 
  • "Seeing family and watching Animal Planet on TV again...,"
  • "Looking forward to a challenge and lots of new things, especially after the sometimes sameness of life here...,"
  • "Seeing family and friends back in the States and having more time with them (and giving Grandpa Gene a hug and kiss with his new beard!)...,"
  • "Exploring possibilities, renewing old friendships and relationships and walking with  trust and great expectations into whatever God has for this next time for our family...,"
  • "Getting home delivered pizza, doughnuts that Mommy doesn't have to make, and getting to see Buddy, Jeremiah and Uncle Joe. Grandparents will be fun, too!...,"
  • "All the new beginnings, fresh starts and wide-open opportunities I'll get to live...!"
Nuff said!

Other posts in this series of preparing to leave the field:

Saturday, April 20, 2013


You gals really made me think!! Here's a go at what comes to mind for the questions you sent...

How do your girls feel about living in Paraguay? Was it challenging for them to move there? How old were they when you moved? Do you mind sharing how old your girls are? and what are they thinking about after high school? 

They are now 14 and 16, and were 9 and 11 when we moved here.  They’ve had tough spots at times from lack of friends, missing family, the macho culture here, and feeling a bit disconnected.  But since we’ve moved to a larger town last year, it’s been worlds better for them.  I actually blogged about that yesterday, about how they’re developing and adjusting over time.

Earlier this year (younger on left)
As far as what they’ll do after high school, well, that’s a big question right now.  The 16-yr-old is a planner and would like to have it all mapped out, but she’s undecided if she’d like to move to the US as soon as she “graduates” for college there (probably living with or near grandparents), or if she’d like to study here, or if she should take a gap year and explore what she feels like is her missions calling while learning a trade (cosmetology, cooking?—both of which are very accessible here).  She feels God is calling her to Europe but we don’t know anyone there yet. She'd like to “look around” there a bit before deciding what to study, because she feels more drawn to tent-making missions.  It’s a source of much stress for her that these questions are all in the air, and the truth is, I don’t know how to advise her.  Feel free to pray about this for us.  J  The other daughter lives one day at a time and hasn’t even begun to think past the current calendar year, nor does she want to.  That’s a whole ‘nother post….

What's your favorite thing about being a missionary mom? What is your least favorite one? 

Not long after we'd first moved to PY
I love watching my girls interact with people who don’t seem to have much in common with us, seeing them recognize that really we all have the most important things in common.  I think that all things considered, what they're learning and experiencing far outweighs the down side of this mission life, and I'm thrilled that God moved us here while the girls were still young enough to be part of it all.

Least favorite:  Well, in another life I was a full-time, stay-at-home mom (before coming on the field), and now that we’re here, I don’t feel the same liberty to focus 100% on my family like before.  I feel huge pressure to do MORE than that now that I’m called a “missionary.” Like my ministry to the family isn’t enough.  I naturally have more time for things outside of family now that my girls are older and more independent, but as y’all know, life here means more time homemaking (cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc.)  I feel like I COULD spend all my time just helping my family function/survive, but there is this pressure (some of it real, some of it I put on myself) to be “productive” in the ministry by someone else’s standard.  The pull between those things is my least favorite part of being a missionary mom.  That, and worrying about whether my girls will marry Paraguayans or Americans or some other nationality, boiling down to how far apart we may live from them one day.  

Where do you find out more about free on line classes - and if they are free, do they count as continuing ed credits, etc.?

I google to find sites that are specific to the ministry I’m looking into, then look for training resources.  For example, on the site for Prison Fellowship Ministries, I found a series of videos and a quiz after each one.  In orality evangelism, I found this site and this one with similar training.  Also, lots of colleges are now offering free classes (google “free online college courses” and a trillion links appear), some with online textbooks, video lectures, a syllabus--the whole shabang, totally free.  A few have a printable certificate at the end, but most of these don’t offer anything “official.”  I don’t have any requirements for continuing education, though.  I just do this for my own benefit. 

Tea or coffee? And what is your favorite flavor or kind?  

Neither.  If pressed, I’ll take tea, either hot or good ole' South Carolina sweet iced tea.  But I prefer kool-aid (which kind folks mail to me here) or Paraguayan tereré.

What are some of the curriculums that you've used, since you say that you've experienced every type?

We started with Abeka and Bob Jones because I was nervous and wanted someone to walk me through each step. Then we did KONOS unit studies for a few years.  Since then, we’ve done Math-U-See, Saxon math, Apologia sciences, Latina Christiana, Shurley Grammar, Easy Grammar, Daily Grams, various public school texts, Classical Conversations, Mystery of History, Fallacy Detective Logic, Drive-Thru History, Christian Liberty Press history, Spelling Power, PACEs, Wordsmith, Writing Strands… I’m sure I’ve left a few out, but those come to mind right away.  Oh, yeah, we did Switched on Schoolhouse for a couple of years here in PY, with high hopes but low success.  We’re now using Tapestry of Grace (love it but it’s a lot of work), Apologia chemistry, Teaching Textbooks Algebra II, Jacob’s Geometry, Write Source, and some supplemental internet freebies.

What is your favorite thing about Paraguay and what is the food like there?  

We're horrible about forgetting to take family
photos.  This one's a few years
old, but don't you love how patriotic we
look under the flag?!  hee hee  ;)  Now, the
girls are as tall as I am! 
I don’t think I could narrow it down to one thing if I tried.  I adore living here.  There is such a feeling of community, of togetherness.  And I do love the strong cultural identity here.  PY is a small country that lost a lot of territory in wars with much larger countries over the years, wars that had the potential to totally annihilate them.  They’re pretty fresh out of dictatorship.  The people have a survivor’s spirit after so much hardship.  We have two official languages, Spanish and the native Guarani, which blend together into what’s called Jopara, unique to here.  So all around us they speak Spanish (and Portuguese) and little Paraguay has its own thing going.

Beef is big industry here, so it’s a carnivore’s world.  The fruits and veggies are great, too, from the tropical climate, but typical foods are fried (empanadas, a fried pancake thingy called a tortilla, country-fried steak or chicken that they call milanesa) or carb-heavy (rice-based guiso and noodle-based tallarines).  It’s VERY tough to eat healthy unless you can manage to always eat at home, which isn’t exactly culturally appropriate.

If you want more details about life in PY, I just read this great article in a NY Times post that sums it up well.

Why Paraguay? 

The super short version?  We felt the call to Latin America, thought we’d be going to Peru, ended up in Paraguay, found out the reason we’d come wasn’t going to work out, but felt this was where God wanted us all along and had used the other events to get us here.  It's turned out to be a great fit for our prior ministry and life experience and the personality of our family.  

Thanks for letting me share about my family and this country we have come to adore.  I’m looking forward to reading about all of you!

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Next up, Danielle:

If we sat down to have a cup of coffee, I would want to hear your story, and share a little bit of mine.
First there was a time in my life where I vowed I would never move south of Texas because of a difficult short-term missions experience.  I also was all set to go to another continent before God turned things upside down and called our family to El Salvador!
Since moving here, language learning has been harder than I thought, but it hasn't been my biggest frustration...you would hear about that when the subject turned to our children and education.
I would also share how I now have a passion for a ministry that was never on my radar during our pre-move planning and preparation.  Of course, I would also share all the things that make El Salvador unique and special to our family.
If you have any questions about me or about El Salvador, post them in the comments and I will answer them soon!

Friday, April 19, 2013

His Peace Amidst Motherhood Stress

On the morning of April 3rd, Jude, our 4th sweet little gift was born into this world. The delivery was intensely painful due to him being in a less than ideal position. I clearly remember shouting louder than I would have believed myself capable of in the presence of others, in Russian, “I can’t do this! I really can’t do this!” I tried to heed the seemingly un-natural directions coming at me in a foreign tongue, under bright sterile lights, after laboring all night with only a few hours of sleep, but I really believed I might not be able to do it. It was surreal, and though filled with joy from the moment I first held my baby boy, I felt totally depleted once the flurry of doctors and nurses settled down and I laid there in the quiet with this new little person.

The next several days in the hospital were this strange mix of feelings. There was so much utter joy as I got to know our sweet baby, but also much exhaustion that left me with little energy when he was practically starving and fussing constantly a full day before my milk came in.

Physically depleted and exhausted, I could tell that my emotions were soon going to let me down. God kindly and gently led me to His word, and in that moment (yes, He was faithful to use even a meager moment of quiet to speak to me), He reminded me not of a passage, or of a verse, but a single word that has essentially captured what I believe the Lord desires me to pursue in this new phase of mothering four little ones. 


I pulled out my Bible and read familiar passages about peace, and Jesus as our Prince of Peace, and Him being the God of peace, and Paul’s prayer for the believers to be filled with peace, the command to let the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts…. In so many circumstances throughout the Bible, the Lord commands us to seek peace, to be filled with peace, to find our peace in Him

Our sweet little Jude has been such a joy during these first two weeks, but he’s also been quite a fussy little guy who often needs constant snuggles and soothing during the day. So often I feel the stress rising up as I try to figure out how to soothe my new baby and meet the needs for love and affirmation in my older 3 during this transition, let alone to do things like making sure everyone is clothed and fed and has what they need for school, and generally keeping my home from imploding. God has gently reminded me to find my peace in Him, not my circumstances throughout these tiring days.  Whether it be through reading a quick passage of scripture, offering a simple prayer of repentance, or just praying, "God, I'm overwhelmed! Please help me find peace in you in this moment," He has been so faithful to combat my stress and fleshly reactions with His peace when I am faithful to come to Him, however humble my attempts may be. I so desire for His peace to rule in my heart as a mom... not my stress, or my exhaustion, or my emotions. I believe that Jesus desires that as well, and He graciously makes himself so accessible, requiring little more than our simple faith and dependence upon Him.

Here has been my favorite passage during these past 2 weeks that I wanted to share with those of you who might also be feeling a bit overwhelmed:
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:14-17

What helps you during seasons of feeling tired, stressed, overwhelmed in motherhood?  How has God led you to cling to him and find peace during these times? Are any of you feeling this way right now, and if so, can we pray for you?