Monday, April 30, 2018

lots to do

Our house is pretty much done.  There are a few details that will be added over time, like interior doors and security bars on the second floor, but the construction, plumbing, electricity, and windows are all finished.  We also still need to install railings on the stairs and perhaps put in flooring.

What remains is the rather overwhelming task of completely moving in.  We still have lots of stuff in boxes (some people in this family really love books...).  There is a bit of a catch-22, though.  In order to unpack, we need some more furniture to be able to put away the contents of the boxes.  We would like to make the majority of the furniture, but to do that, we need the tools and space to do it.  The tools are, you guessed it, in boxes, and many boxes are stored in the workshop where we will make furniture.  So which to do first?  Unpack so there is space to make the furniture, or make the furniture so there is a place to put the unpacked stuff?  The likely solution is to buy some of the items already made.

tetanus mountain
And there is the yard - a large area of potential where we can design any sort of garden we want.  And we will.  There is, however, a great deal of work to be done before we can properly start gardening.  For one thing, the yard is littered with bits of wire and rusty nails.  Every time I go out, I make sure to pick up any metal I see, and the mountain of discarded bits continues to grow, but it seems there is an unending supply.  There are also rocks, rubble, buried slabs of cement, and miscelaneous trash scattered about.  The soil, too, is quite poor, being composed mostly of sand.

Still, we do have some plants already set out.  The climbing roses are flowering, and we have harvested some radishes the kids planted in a small plot near the house.  A friend of ours gave us lots of small fruit trees and some avocado trees to add to the various fruit trees we already brought with us from our other house.  The trees from the other house are enjoying their new place, and we look forward to future harvests of peaches, figs,
chirimoyas and more.

It is exciting to consider all we can do with this new property and house.  It is also daunting.  I have to remember the moral of one of Abish's favorite fables, "Slow and steady wins the race."  Bit by bit, it will all get done.  Please pray for us as we continue our regular ministry, homeschool Abish, and do all that we need to completely move in to our house.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


Even before we were married, Abraham and I agreed that however many children we had, we would educate at home.  When we talked about it after Abish was born, and then Lani, we continued to think that home school was the best idea for our kids.  With homeschool, we can decide on the curriculum and also make sure both kids stayed truly bilingual by teaching in both Spanish and English.

Now Abish has been five for more than six months.  We had first thought of starting kindergarten when the school, Puebla Christian School, began their classes in August.  However, that was not a good option, because by then we were getting ready to move into my mother-in-law's almost completed house.  While staying with her, we didn't have an adequate space, or the resources (almost all our stuff was packed), to do school with Abish.  Then we thought we would start school in January.  By then we had moved ourselves, and lots of packed items, into our mostly finished house.

However January didn't really work, because we were in the States for the first two weeks for my brother's wedding.  We settled on starting in February.  We couldn't quite get everything ready for starting on the first week of February, so it was the second week when I sat down with Abish at his little table, and we began with a prayer.
Eiffel Tower with straws

Abraham teaches Caminata Biblica, PE, a reading progam called Mas Luz, and also counting from 1 - 20 in Spanish.  I am the lesson planner in general and also teach Walk Through the Bible, reading from the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, geography, and math.  He does not, of course, do everything
every day.  Lani sometimes likes to join the classes.

proud of her work
For the most part, although he complains about the intrusion on his play time, he likes school.  When I read the California standards for kindergarten before we began school, I was pleased to see that he already knew most of what was listed.

As we do classes, the sound of the workers finishing the second story can sometimes be rather loud.  However, they have made excellent progress, and we should be able to use the whole, finished house in about a month.

Please join us in praying that Abish will learn well in school and that the work on the house will continue with no accidents.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Baby, It's Cold Outside...

...and inside!  Although the days can become quite hot, the nights and early mornings are now frigid.  The main difficulty with this cold is that the house temperature plunges along with the outside temperature and does not warm up until afternoon when the sun shines directly through the living room and dining room windows.  Even if the temperature outside becomes hot, the house stays stubbornly cold.  It is not uncommon for us to be able to see our breath inside in the morning! 

We do have a gas-powered space heater that helps.  Whoever gets up first lights it, and then we leave it on for a few hours.  That brings the inside temperature up a few degrees.  Even so, in the mornings we often leave the house in order to warm up outside.  While inside, we all keep one or two sweaters or jackets on.  We have plans to install clay ovens in both houses, and those will be useful for warmth once they are completed.

the papaya definitely doesn't like cold

A chilled avocado tree
The autumn weather means that, in the night, the grass develops a fine layer of frost which clings until the sun touches it.  Several of the plants we put out in the garden resent the cold, and their blackened, withered leaves show their displeasure.  Hopefully the plants are strong enough to rebound when the weather warms up again in March.

Most of the plants aren't out in the garden yet, as there is no place for them.  There are still workers coming six days a week since construction continues on our house, now on the second story.  Six's first story is mostly complete, although she doesn't have a proper floor yet.  We are still living in her house, because ours does not have finished windows, nor does it have doors or electricity.  We hope to be mostly moved into our house before Christmas, although that may mean finding someone else to do the doors.

The well is almost finished, and today we had giant puddles (which both the kids and the ducks enjoyed), while the well-diggers emptied water in order to keep digging a bit more.  Seeing the digging progress amazes me at how labor-intensive it is!  One man is lowered by pulley on a handmade swing while the other man stays above to help.  The one in the well digs or chisels out rocks by hand and passes buckets up with the same pulley.  All this inside a deep hole...

Please continue to pray for us.  Pray for the construction to continue without injury or accidents.  Pray also that the people working for us will desire a relationship with their Savior.  Some of the men have had conversations with both Six and Abraham about their faith.  As always, please continue to pray for health.  Abish and Lani both have coughs now, although Lani is improving after several days with fever.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Grasshopper Season

Can you count how many there are?
As the rainy season ends, the grasshoppers begin to appear in great numbers, eagerly chomping holes in leafy weeds.  It is the season for hunting the protein-packed critters.  Out where we haved moved, there are probably thousands hopping from bush to bush.

holding the soda bottle - a great container for collecting
In the morning when the air is still chilly and the grasshoppers sluggish is the best time to catch them.  Alternately, late afternoon serves the same purpose as the temperature drops again.  Abish and Lani love to accompany me or their Grandmother Six on the hunt, although Abish prefers to collect the critters as friends.  I catch them for the geese who simply love to suction up the insects, and Six hunts to fry them for snacks.  Lani likes to eat them, and Abish used to, although recently he has decided he doesn´t like them.

just a start
What is interesting is that grasshopper hunting can be quite lucrative while the season lasts.  Don Ezequiel, the project manager of our construction project, told Six that some construction workers take the season off construction work because the pay is better selling grasshoppers.  A friend at church told us that in one area the people decided to grow corn, not for the crop, but for the grasshoppers it attracts.  The income was better selling the insects for food.

Abish feeding the eager geese
I have eaten grasshoppers, but I can´t quite get past their grasshopper-y appearance after they are cooked.  It isn´t that I´m squeamish exactly, but they don´t appeal to the sight.  And if one of my hard-to-feed kids enjoys them, who am I to take food out of her mouth?  However, catching the critters is kind of addicting when it is just for fun and to feed the geese.  There is always one more grasshopper just on the next leaf.  Freezing and staring at the bushes to spot their camouflaged shapes and then pouncing to catch just one more - and then finally deciding I have enough, only to see ten more teasing me from their bush.  They have this trick of dropping suddenly off their leaves and vanishing in the underbrush, and it is tempting to stay out looking for that one that got away.

Those who hunt for serious income use a hoop with a net on it instead of only using their hands.  They swoop the hoop above the ladened bushes, and the grasshoppers, trying to escape, jump straight into the net.  Six sometimes hunts that way, and she collects quite a bunch.  Free food!

Thank you for your continued prayers for us. Keep them coming!  The area where we are is pretty rural and not entirely secure.  We have lots of lights on at night around the two houses and our dog is on full alert (she is in fact rather hoarse from barking so much), but we have been told by several people that we should be careful with patterns - that thieves observe movements and take note of when the house is empty or when only one person is home.  So pray for protection, especially since the police are not dependable.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

We have moved!

hanging off the temporary blockade in the doorway
 After some time of waiting while the builders worked steadily on my mother-in-law's house and ours, we have finally moved into my mother-in-law's.  It is not entirely finished, but there is electricity and running water, so that pretty much meant time to move.

We had planned to move just a few things for an overnight stay, leaving the rented house mid-afternoon in order to have daylight for arranging things and hanging motion sensor lights in the outside.  Abraham had called for a taxi so we could take some luggage and three mattresses.

However, the taxi never showed up.  When Abraham called, it turned out the taxi had broken down, but the driver didn't bother to tell us.  He called another driver we know, and he said he'd pick us up in 20 minutes, along with another driver so we could take three mattresses and also Six's stove.

An hour later, he still hadn't arrived.  Abraham's repeated calls didn't receive answer.  It was already dark by the time the two drivers pulled up to the door.  After the short ride, with our poor bewildered dog in the trunk of one of the cars, we arrived at the house.

exploring the bathroom
There was an abundance of flour-fine dust on the floor, so Six and I set about cleaning up some areas while Abraham and my brother-in-law Ken began hanging up the lights outside.  Abish and Lani ran screaming throughout the house, keyed up from the experience of being at the new house.  Our dog also began exploring at once.

 Because the house didn't have doors yet, we set up our huge tent for our family.  Abraham also worked out coverings for the doorways.  The tent will help keep us warmer in the cold nights and also keep the mosquitos out.

hanging lights
 There should be doors installed today, along with the bathroom windows that hadn't been put in yet.  In addition, we should have the right connections for the gas hook-up so we can shower tonight.  And we will be moving all of Six and Ken's things today, along with some of ours.  More creature comforts - Hooray!

Six's house seen from ours

a bit calmed down and drawing

Dinner, finally, at about 11 pm

Abish helping put up the tent

Ready for the Lechuga family

Strolling to the bus stop in the morning
Please pray for us as we finish moving.  Pray for safety, since it is a rather rural area and the back side of the property is quite dark (although the lights that Ken and Abraham put up help).  Pray also that the construction on our house can be finished soon and without difficulties, and that Six's house can also be done soon.  Thank you!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

VBS edition

Almost one week ago, the Huejotzingo VBS at our house ended.  As with previous years, the week of the VBS was one of intense, all-absorbing work.  My dad was here for the week, and we had loan of the church van, so he left every morning at 10:30 to pass by three fairly remote houses to pick up kids and then return them at about 2:15 every afternoon.  He was also our photographer.

Day 1 began with chaos.  Our printer decided not to work, so we couldn´t print out the review pages for after the story.  Abraham then went to save the pages on a thumb drive in order to take them to a cafe internet, but the drive wouldn´t read them.  Therefore, he took the entire laptop off to the cafe internet.  While this was going on, my dad left to pick up the kids, along with my brother-in-law who supposedly knew where the houses were.  Our helpers arrived, and soon after the kids also arrived, but we didn´t have the computer to start teaching them the new songs as we had planned.  I decided to take all the kids at once to the patio for their snack, so we had a small crowd of varying ages all stuffed in the area where we had planned for only the little kids to be.  As I and our helpers were serving snack, my dad called to ask where the houses were, because my brother-in-law didn´t actually know and had taken him all the way out to the construction site instead.

After those wrinkles, everything began to calm down, and we were able to return to the planned schedule for the day.  During the time when all the kids are together inside, Abraham appeared dressed as Ruben, the oldest brother of Joseph. He explained why the brothers hated Joseph and had wanted to kill him, but Ruben convinced them to just put him in an empty cistern, planning to return him to his father later.  The other brothers, however, sold Joseph into slavery while Ruben was gone.

Once the kids heard the story, listening with rapt attention, they divided into two groups - the 2-6´s who went out to the patio, and the 7´s and up who stayed inside.  Each child made a paper bag puppets of Joseph with his coat of many colors and filled out the review pages, finally successfully printed downtown.  When they finished their craft and work page, we all returned indoors for a quick review, and they went home.

Over lunch with our marvelous helpers, we counted the names on the registry and found we had welcomed 41 kids, a much higher first day number than any other year.

As the numbers continued to increase each day, we had new wrinkles.  Some days the helpers arrived late, so we started out with only Abraham, Six, and I and an energetic bunch of children and young teens signing in all at once.  Some days Leilani just wanted to cling to either Abraham and I and desperately wanted her nap right at 1 when we still had another hour of VBS to finish.  Every day we had one three-year-old who wouldn´t obey a single command we gave and would blythely run out the gate and into the street if we didn´t catch her.  Each day Abraham´s voice became rougher and tireder from calling out instructions during game time and from reviewing verses with the two groups.

On Tuesday, my brother-in-law played the part of pharoah´s cup bearer and continued Joseph´s story.
Wednesday I was Joseph´s wife, Asenath, and Thursday a neighbor told more of the story as Judah, the brother who had most wanted to kill Joseph.  On Friday, one of our helpers (at the last minute) agreed to be Joseph and finished the story of his remarkable life.

Every day we also had a snack related to that day´s story.  We had games, songs, review, Bible verses, crafts, and pages to help the kids remember what they had learned.

Learning from last year, we decided to invite the parents to the finale on Friday.  That way, almost all the kids were already present, and their parents were much more likely to also attend.  A neighbor

family donated the cake and ice cream, and we gave each child their diploma and a gift for having been with us.  We still have to work on smoothing out the finale process, but Lord willing, there will be other years of VBS for us to continue to learn from.

In the end, we had a total of 62 kids registered, with Wednesday having the largest total all at once with 55.

Thank you for your prayers!  Please keep praying for us as the construction is almost finished on my mother-in-law´s house.  In about two weeks, she will move in.  Our house should be done in about a month.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


For about a year, my mother-in-law´s house in Puebla was listed for sale.  In January of this year, it finally sold for the asking price, and my mother-in-law moved in with us in Huejotzingo while she and Abraham looked for land to buy.  They found four well-priced lots ten minutes by bus outside of Huejotzingo and spent some time negotiating to buy.  The land is surrounded by corn fields on three sides and a dirt road in front.  We will have neighbors across the street, but on our side, no one lives yet.
Abish and Lani enjoying the constrution site
Once my mother-in-law Six paid for the land, we contracted a man we have known for many years to build our houses.  Don Ezequiel has almost a life time of experience with construction, is honest, and does not drink or allow his workers to drink.  He also works very hard and had Six´s house walls completed within two weeks.
Abish showing how deep the foundation holes are
At present, he and his crew have finished pouring the concrete roof on Six´s house, has begun the walls of our house, and is working on the cistern we will share.  When Six´s roof has cured, a process that takes about two weeks, he will be ready to do our roof.  In about a month, if all continues well, Six will be able to move into her house.

Progress has not been without problems.  Frequently construction sites are vulnerable to theft.  Wooden supports, castillo wire, anything left at the site has a way of walking off.  Typically, neighbors by the construction site will agree to watch for potential robbers in exchange for some payment.  Our soon-to-be neighbors did agree to that, but it has been difficult with them, because they pass by very frequently to ask for money from Don Ezequiel or from us, if we are there.

Also, several kilos of rebar was stolen one night.  The happy resolution for that theft is that the rebar then mysteriously reappeared soon after.

However, as I write, there has been another theft.  Don Ezequiel called Abraham, who is in Puebla for the day, to tell him.  The call kept cutting out, so Abraham couldn´t hear details.  Abraham called me, but we still don´t know exactly what is going on.   Please pray.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

arts and crafts

concentrating on her self portrait
On Thursdays, Abish and Lani join me to go to Puebla Christian School.  This is now the second year that I have taught elementary art with my own kids along for the class.  Abraham arrives at PCS about the same time we do, although he leaves for Puebla earlier in order to attend his Tae Kwon Do class.  While I teach the 5th and 6th graders in the hour before lunch, Abish and Lani sometimes stay with Abraham or Abish joins the class.  The class after lunch is with the 1st through 4th graders.  Lani stays with me while Abish goes with Abraham to the PE class that he teaches.  In the last hour, both kids are with me during Abraham´s second PE class.

Our kids thoroughly enjoy the chance to play at the school.  Both Abish and Lani are mostly outgoing, so they love the time spent during the lunch hour and after school with other kids.  Sometimes a young friend between them in age comes after school, and then the three of them run around happily.

In the art class, my goal is that the students learn they are capable of drawing.  It is obvious that not all are interested in the skill, but I want them to understand they can learn should they choose to.  We alternate doing pencil drawing techniques, generally from the book Drawing in the Right Side of the Brain, one week and then a craft the next.  The craft is based on some form of art from around the world, so we have done batik with crayon resist on paper, hojalata gel pen drawings on tin foil, and other ideas (usually pinterest inspired).  

In November, I also began teaching a drawing class at church after service.  The Dios es Amor students are teens or young adults, some of whom declared at the beginning that they didn´t think they would be able to learn to draw.  Hopefully they will be encouraged to see they can.

A few years ago, we started a craft and cooking time for teen girls in Huejo.  The class met once a week for more than year, and then the girls moved away.  After another year or so of no class, one of the girls returned to the neighborhood and asked if the class was still meeting.  I said we could start again, and we had two classes.  Again, the girls moved.  However, a couple months later, a neighbor girl who usually also comes to the Sunday kids´ club began to attend the Thursday evening class.  For awhile, she was the only one, but last week she invited a friend.  It looks as though they will both return this week.

Please pray that these activities would be of blessing for those who attend.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


My mom as a little girl
I have not posted in quite some time, because I haven´t really known how to write or what to say.  My mom suffered from a number of health issues for quite a few years and had been in and out of the hospital several times.  In November, my dad took her to the hospital again after she woke up from a nap totally confused and incoherant.  Her days in the hospital passed as she continued in confusion and fear and as one specialist after another tried to figure out what was wrong.  There were moments when she was more lucid and could converse on a basic level with either dad or sister.  She didn´t seem to be improving much, but neither did she seem to be failing.

However, the Saturday before Thanksgiving, I called my dad, and he said we needed to get to Long Beach as soon as possible.  Mom was dying. Stunned, I asked what had changed.  His simple reply, "She did.  She told me she wants to go."

Abraham immediately began looking for plane tickets.  However, we were not able to leave as anticipated.  I also needed medical attention for a small emergency operation.  The doctor said I needed to rest for three days after the procedure.

During the time we stayed in Huejotzingo for my recooperation, my dad moved Mom home for hospice care.  At first, Dad said he thought Mom would live another 2 weeks, but the first hospice nurse to arrive at their house told them she would live only about 4 days.

My siblings arrived in Long Beach.  Even my brother's soon-to-be-fiancĂ©e flew to visit for two days.  My mom had met her via skype, but this was the first time they met in person.  Although Mom was basically in coma, she did respond to some things, and smiled or opened her eyes briefly a few times.

We were able to talk to her through skype, and once or twice she opened her eyes, and even smiled at the enthusiastic chatter of our kids.  On the 22nd, we talked to her in the evening.  Later that night, my dad called to say Mom had gone Home.

We joined the family in Long Beach on Thanksgiving Day, and we stayed for the next 7 weeks.  We returned home to Huejotzingo on Jan. 13 and took up the regular routine of Bible studies, kids´ club, teaching at PCS and sometimes at Dios es Amor (Sunday school and drawing class), and the day-to-day business of living and raising two energetic kids.

All the while, I feel the constant reminder that Mom isn´t here any more.  It isn´t that my particular grieving has, at this point, meant tears.  Rather, I am reminded by all kinds of little things.  When I paint or draw or teach drawing, I think of Mom and how we attended art classes together and how she loved to paint.  We would discuss painting and I would tell her about teaching art at PCS when we talked on Skype almost every Tuesday.

She and I also took Spanish classes together when I first began learning Spanish.  She started out knowing more than me, but we took the same classes together for several semesters.

I think of her when I´m with my kids and I wonder what she advice she would have given me about raising them had she lived longer.  She enjoyed the pictures of them on facebook, and her comments are still there.  It feels surreal that her comments outlast her.

So I took a long time to write a blog post again because, how to summarize my mom´s life? What to say to the internet world?  Not to acknowledge my mom´s death felt wrong, but to write about it rather personal, since anyone can read a blog post.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


 Activities in Huejotzingo continue as before.  We have Bible studies at a few houses and kids´ club every Sunday afternoon.  We raise our two rambunctious kids and keep house and work at Puebla Christian School part-time.  Very soon we will celebrate Leilani´s second birthday, and within a year we will start homeschool with Abishael.

A few weeks ago, I began a pencil drawing class at Dios es Amor for anyone over the age of 10 interested in learning.  So far we have only had two meetings, because of different activities at church.  There are five, or perhaps six, students.  I emphasize that drawing is not a mysterious gift that only a few people have, but that anyone can learn how to really see in order to capture their world on paper.

Also at Dios es Amor, preparations have begun for the church Christmas presentation.  This year there will be five scenes from Jesus´ life presented in different areas of the church property.  Abraham will be one of the three narrators who will be guiding visiting groups through each of the scenes and reading the Biblical accounts of each part of Jesus´ life.  Leilani and I have the role of shepherds, along with two other children from Huejotzingo.  Abishael will be part of the group of angels, and Six will be one of the Magi.  Four other children from Huejotzingo also have roles in the first scene as angels and Magi.

In a previous post, I wrote about several people who needed prayer for serious health problems.  Aaron continues to receive chemo treatment for the tumor in his chest.  He has been able to spend days at home between treatments, and so far hasn´t suffered nausea from the medicine.  Fani decided to try alternative treatments for the tumor in her brain rather than have surgery immediately.  Hortensia is now completely free of shingles.  Alan has returned home, but is still very ill and must undergo more testing.

Another person who needs prayer is Martha, an older widow with reduced income.  A few weeks ago, she was bitten by a black widow spider and went to the hospital for treatment.   The treatment was effective, but the doctors warned her to stay out of the sun for a few months - apparently the venom remaining in her system can be reactivated by sun exposure.  This restriction is difficult for Martha, because she lives in an isolated area, and her only means of transportation is walking.  Needing to stay out of the sun makes getting to work difficult or impossible.

Please continue to pray for healing for these people and for continued health for all of us.  Pray for us as we decide what curricula to use with Abish for his homeschooling.  Thank you for your partnership with us.