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
|concentrating on her self portrait|
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|
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-fiancée 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.