Wednesday, September 26, 2012

We've arrived!!

Here we are at my folks' home in Port McNicoll, having just enjoyed a yummy pasta and meatballs meal with Dad, Mom, Jeff, Marianne and family!  So glad to finally be here, and have 1/2 the trip's travels behind us. I had written the following update during our travels, so will  post it with some pictures from the last few weeks.  Pictures of our trip itself will have to come later.

Finally getting around to writing a proper update on here.  We’re currently travelling through Oklahoma, and I’ll hopefully be able to post this later tonight.  We’ve had a pretty good trip so far – leaving late Sunday night, and driving through until last night, where we spent the night in Amarillo, Texas.  I drank a yummy iced cappuccino as we left the city, and had a good wide-awake “buzz” for several hours, while listening to Bible messages on the mp3 player.  We were stopped in Mexico at a military check point.  They wanted all of us, plus our stuff to come out while they inspected the van.  I told them that there were 6 children asleep in there…with a nice long pause, and they said that just Tim and I had to get out.  Tim started hauling all the stuff out of the back of the van, and sending it through the conveyor belt and scan (the owners of the vehicle do all the work, while the military guys just watch you).  After Tim had sent most of the suitcases through, I came over to start helping, and asked one of the guards if Everything had to go through, or just the bigger bags.  He shrugged his shoulders and said, Just the big bags.  Meanwhile, another guy did a thorough search of the ceiling, doors, floor and walls of the van.  He was finally done after 15-20 minutes, so we re-packed, and continued on our way.  The border was pretty busy when we got there, so we waited a while, but had no problem getting through.  I got a good chuckle at the border patrol guards ½ way to Tucson, who asked if we were a church group.  Ha ha!  Nope, this is just our family!!  =)  The girls have been asking the whole way if we’re closer to Canada than to Mexico, and hopefully by the end of today we will be, finally!

Except for blogging about our family vacation, I haven’t said much else on here for a while.  We are slowly but surely getting used to life without Erica.  She was with us from the middle of June to the end of August, and we sure do miss her!  She was such a great help around the house I did the dishes only a handful of times during that time), with the girls, as well as the extra projects like the children’s meetings and Exposicón we had.  It was hard to say goodbye, but know the Lord has some extra special plans for her life, and we pray He will continue to direct her way!  It did work well dropping her off on our way to San Diego, as we had a few days away from home to get used to her not being there, before getting home and her not being with us.

We jumped right back into the school wagon upon our return.  We have been BUSY!!  I had started a week before our trip.  Marika is in grade 4, Shaelyn is in grade 1, Kyla is in senior Kindergarten.  Wow, I’ve never been this busy with school before!  I know it’s nothing compared to my sister-in-law, who has 33 children to teach in her class, but I sure am kept hopping up and down the stairs between the girls.  My opinion of teachers in schools and moms homeschooling with several children, while mostly always was high before, has risen tremendously over the last few weeks!  I feel like I have hardly stopped at all the last little while.  I have thankfully already learned a few tricks, and they’re working well.  Kyla and Shaelyn can do ½ of their phonics together, so that frees up some time.   I was having trouble keeping track of all the quizzes and tests for each grade, so I sat down and made out a calendar for each Mika and Shaelyn, and wrote in each school day with any extras they have on that day.  Now I can just quickly look at the sheet, and know easily what’s going on.  Mika is doing quite well so far.  She strongly dislikes math, and while she’s pretty good at it, she can make it take all day if she tries.  I read recently that having music on at the same time as children doing their school work can sometimes help, so I thought I would try it.  She does her school work downstairs at the dining room table, so I put on some quiet music during her math time for about 2 weeks, and she got through it quite quickly.  I wouldn’t try that with everyone, probably, although we’ll have to see down the road.  She suggested the other day while we were cleaning to put on some music too, “Since it worked so well with math!” she said!!  =)  Shaelyn is doing well in her subjects, and has taken off with reading.  She reads everything she can, and now writes  things too, spelling things as they sound!  Kyla started off still struggling with putting the consonants and vowels together, but it seems like after a couple weeks it finally “clicked”, and that’s made things more fun for her, too.  Vivian has no interest at all in school, for which I am quite thankful.  She loves having time alone to play, and she hasn’t been a disturbance at all.  Both Alisa and Nathaniel have been sleeping the mornings away (except Alisa last week), so that has been very wonderful!!

All six kiddos just before Erica left.

Notice the green tinge?  Both Kyla's and Shaelyn's hair are quite green from swimming in the pool.
We had quite the storm one night, just before meeting.  We left the house, and there were light clouds.  During the 7 minutes of our ride, the sky on one side went completely black - while there was still blue in the opposite direction, the wind blew hard and then the rain came down!  Tim took this panorama view trying to get it all in.

The water outside the hall after meeting

Our cat, Holly, brought this bug in one day.  Took us a bit to figure out what it was - do you know?  It had 40 legs.

Apparently, it is a centipede!

Got some pictures when we all went swimming recently
Nathaniel's first time in his swimsuit

Shaelyn diving

Mika and Evelyn on a tube


On our way back from San Diego, we got the bright idea to pick up some sweet  corn!  We can't get it in Mexico, so it's an extra special treat!  The girls helped husk it.

Alisa first try

I love this one of Alisa on her trike

Mika did this of our kitty on the Etch a Sketch

Mika made this hat a bit ago out of a paper plate.  She put a whole bunch of flowers and bows on  it, and tied a ribbon with it around her chin!  Then wore it constantly.
In June, while we were away at Tim’s brother Andrew and Bethany’s wedding, a dear lady in the meeting here, who had been sick for some time, passed away.  She left behind her unsaved husband, Jose Luis, and daughters Karla (11) and Yoana (9).  It was very sad, and we wish we could have been there for the funeral.  They were able to have the service at the hall though.  Her body was up at the front during the gospel meeting Sunday night, and then there 2 other meetings, plus the burial service, where the gospel was preached to many family members and friends.  Exactly 3 months later, Pedro, who had been sick for a while, but then suddenly took a turn for the worse, passed away on a Sunday afternoon.  It also was a solemn ending to gospel meeting as his death was announced.  No one in Pedro’s family was saved – his mother and sisters are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and were undecided for a while whether they wanted his funeral service to be at the hall as it was offered.    His mom ended up not coming to the service on Monday night.  There were a good number of people out.  Marcus spoke first about Pedro, - how he’d gotten saved, and his love for the Lord and His Word, and then Tim preached the gospel.  Funerals are different here in Mexico.  The casket is left open the entire time, family and friends often wail loudly, and the body gets buried usually within 24 hours after death – so it all happens very quickly.  The body is never left alone either, so some of his family stayed at the hall all night.  We had never been to a Mexican funeral before, and were a little unsure what to expect.  I noticed a few differences between funerals in Canada and Mexico.  In Canada, everything is quite proper and formal and dignified. People speak quietly at the funeral home, generally, and the body hardly even looks dead with all the make-up, etc, that happens to it.  At the grave, the dirt is all covered with fake green grass, and the casket gets lowered into the earth after every leaves.  I’ve thought for some time that it’s like people want to pretend it isn’t real or true.  As I said about  Mexican funerals, the coffin is open the entire time.  No make-up is applied.  After the funeral, kids were running around after  we had something to eat, and then they would go up and look into the coffin.  There were cheesy (from the chips) finger marks all over it.  The next morning he was buried.  Marcus spoke at the grave side – the coffin was opened again as we stood there.  There had been a ferocious rain storm the night before, so there was So much mud and water everywhere.  There was one guy from the funeral home, who had driven the coffin to the cemetery.  He asked for some helpers, and they closed the coffin, made sure everyone knew to hold onto the bottom of the coffin so it wouldn’t fall apart, and they put it into a hole in the ground.  Alongside of 30 more holes for people who hadn’t even died yet.  Then the funeral guy left, and two grave-diggers came over and we all stood there and watch them fill in the hole. At the end, they placed flowers on the top, and then we left.  No pretence of death here.  While it was incredibly sad that Pedro died, we are so thankful that we KNOW where he is today.  That he had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and that he knew where he was going.  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”  1 John 5:12-13.

Marcus speaking at the burial

Some cute pictures of the Nathaniel and Alisa - both Kyla and Vivi wanted to be a part of it, too.

Last weekend, Tim left on the Friday morning, and took a group of people to Chihuahua (10 hours away), for a conference there.  There are two ways to go – one through the mountains, and then a northern, straighter route.They opted to try the mountainous (curvy) route on the way there, and the other for the way home.  It was very beautiful scenery, and the conference was enjoyable too.  That was Tim’s first visit to Chihuahua. 

Since Tim was going to be away for the weekend, we girls thought we would have a camp-out in the living room.  We haven’t had one since I was expecting Alisa, so it’s been a while!  We invited Evelyn to join us, and spent a good long time at the pool first of all.  Madeleine came and helped me watch the girls, so it was nice to have some adult company and conversation!  =)   We all went home and showered, and then had a special ‘gourmet’ supper and watched a movie.  Then the 3 biggest girls laid out their sleeping bags, and Kyla and Vivi got into the tent.  I got the couch!!  It was a fun night!

On our way to the pool

Setting up Eva's tent for the little girls to sleep in

All done

Shaelyn thought it was cold, apparently

Our special sign

The "gourmet" meal ;)

Our littlest sweetie
Mika wanted to have a special tea party - just us two.  She used her own special tea cup, and I used mine, from my great Aunt Stella.  It was very sweet!  
Love Mika's fingers up here!

Shaelyn made these for her craft one day in school

One of my most special pictures.  Both Mika and Shaelyn reading their Bibles one morning.
Since our party, we have just been getting ready to go away.  I went through all the girls’ clothes to get things for the cold weather up north.  It’s still been extremely hot and humid in Hermosillo, so although we’re looking forward to the break from that, it’ll be interesting how we handle the cold after so long.  The girls are desperately hoping it will snow while we’re there!  =)  I had not planned to do school with the girls at all last week, and then I got the brain wave to see if Madeleine could come and oversee the school work and watch the girls while I got things ready to go away.  She agreed, and was an amazing help!!  She even took the girls all swimming Friday evening, while I got a lot of things done.  I was pretty much ready to go on Saturday, except for last minute stuff.  Shawn St. Clair came down for the 2nd anniversary in Obregón.  We enjoyed having him come to Hermosillo on his way down, and he spoke Thursday night, then he, Duncan and Anna came for brunch on Friday.  Tim went down to Obregón on Saturday after children’s meeting in Tircocapes, and took a group down for the ministry.

Sunday we had a potluck at the hall, then after night meeting we packed the van.  We got away several hours later than we had planned, unfortunately, but the girls were all pretty good.  Alisa and Nathaniel were both in bed sleeping until we left.  I was actually dreading the trip, not knowing how the babies would do especially.  They were Wonderful - hardly any fussing or problems the whole trip!  I also So enjoyed the beautiful scenery crossing the country - we have such an amazing Creator God!  We were looking at an atlas on our way up, and figuring out how many states we've been to.  We figured out that, altogether, we have been to all the provinces except BC and Newfoundland - none of the territories, and to all but 5 of the states.

In my daily reading, I came across some verses that, as we were going through some difficult times last year at this time, came as such a comfort and encouragement.  I thought I would post them again:

“…I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,' … I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.  (Isaiah 46:9-11)

Some funnies of late:
Vivian calls a toothbrush, "spoosh-buhsh", and garbage "garjib".

Kyla, "I was going to tell you, please throw me the tape - but that would hurt my head, right Mommy?" =)

Shaelyn has just taken off with reading, so now she's writing as well.  She wrote this song the other day:
"o my God ur so speshl i no b kas i red my bybl and ur the best uv us ur my God ur the Best"
Translation: "Oh my God, you are so special.  I know, because I read my Bible, and you are the best of us.  You are my God.  You are the best."  =)  Love it!

I overheard her say to the other girls the other day: "I want to stay six for the rest of my life!  Otherwise, I'll have to give away my stuffed animals.  I'd have to give them to my children - or somebody else!"

She also wanted to know if it would take days to count to a billion?

Nathaniel is getting so big!  I took everyone's measurements recently, and he and Alisa are just a pound apart now!  He is chattering away, and even has rolled over several times.
That's it for now, will try to get an update of our time here in just a few days!