Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Busy, Busy, Busy!

The past 4 months have been crazy busy.  Big surprise, right?

Immediately after the little getaway we wrote about in our last post, we began the process of moving into a new house. We had been fighting a termite invasion for a couple of years and our house needed some significant work, so when one of the other staff families moved off campus in February to focus on another area of our ministry here, it was decided that we should move into their house.

Kaylee was ecstatic.  The house we lived in for over 4 years was too big (almost 2200 sq ft!), two levels, and not a very nice layout, to be honest.  The house we are in now is a more appropriate size for us (not quite 1500 sq ft), single level, and a much nicer layout with a lovely open-concept living/dining/kitchen area.  The girls ended up with a bigger bedroom than they had and I got a little shop off the back porch. Naturally, we lost a few benefits (like the fireplace!), but all in all, it was a good decision.

We had spent a couple of months working on plaster, paint, electrical, and a bathroom remodel and it was finally ready at the beginning of May.  This is now our 20th long-term (more than 1 month) home in 13.5 years of marriage!  At a distance of only 52 ft door to door, it also set a record for our shortest move ever (previous record: 7 blocks). :D
New house at left, old house at right!
The girls are now expert paint scrapers
Kaylee enjoying her new kitchen
The old house is now being gutted and re-purposed as Etnos offices (lower level) and a guest apartment (upper level) as the campus works through some growing pains and changing needs.

Also during May, we had the pleasure of hosting my nephew Zach, who came from Montana for 2 weeks.  He split his time between relaxing (after just finishing a busy school year), interacting with the Etnos students, playing with the girls, being sick, and doing projects.

Dinner with Etnos students Victor & Eunice, Carlos, and Julieta
One of Zach's projects was to build a bike rack for the girls' bicycles

The month of June was overwhelmingly overwhelming as we once again did an English practice time for our students.  Halfway through their training, each group of students spends 3 weeks studying the gringos to get some practice in applying the tools that I am teaching them in the Culture and Language Acquisition class.  As usual, we needed some more native speakers, so we invited my parents and another couple from our home church to join us.  It was a blessing to have them here, not only as a help to the program, but the encouragement of spending time with folks from home.

The fun part about CLA-English is that we get to do "regular life" things while the students accompany us and attempt to learn our language and customs.  We also get to be unapologetically American, which is fun. ;)

My dad built a closet for the girls, often accompanied by a few of the guys

Several students joined Kaylee and the girls to see what homeschool is all about

We taught them an American sport, too :)
At the end, we hosted a big shebang for the whole campus to celebrate my birthday with hamburgers and root beer floats made with root beer I made a few days earlier.
Serving up the goodness

In July, after the students left on their 4-week winter break, we barely had a couple days to breathe before we started the preparations for our next big event, a 5-day international forum.  Every couple of years, leaders of our mission agency from different countries get together with the global ministries board to report current status, encourage each other, talk about issues, and basically stay on the same page.  This forum was focused on Latin America, although with the global team 13 countries and 3 principal languages were represented.  All of the ~85 attendees stayed here with us on campus, so it was a ton of work!

My main job was to coordinate airport pickups for our international guests, which came to about 30 trips to the airport in 14 days' time, many at terrible hours of the night.  Thankfully, I had two other men helping with the driving and it all went quite smoothly for the most part.  During the forum itself, I focused on photographing the proceedings, although I did make one presentation, a report on our current training program.

Reporting on our training program for the global leadership of the mission
Kaylee was once again designated as head of refreshments, so she spent a couple of weeks buying and baking before the forum as well as preparing and serving throughout it.

As usual, all the extra work was well worth the opportunity that we had to meet and spend time with like-minded coworkers from around Latin America and other parts of the globe.  It is always such an encouragement to swap stories and share experiences and talk about God and His work together.

At the beginning of August, the Etnos students all came back from their break and we started up the second semester of 2018.  A week later, Kaylee started a new school year with the girls, who are now in 6th, 4th, and 3rd grades.

August has been a very different sort of month for me.  I  have been teaching only one hour of class per week, which I am enjoying immensely.  The course is one that we typically do each semester, called Analytical Reading, which has the purpose of improving the students' reading ability (generally poor).  I chose to read Charles Swindoll's The Grace Awakening this semester and I love the conversations we are having in class.

Updating our Etnos website and Facebok
I have been using the rest of my time to do more necessary improvements to the new house, manage our Etnos website and Facebook page (a role which continues to expand), and prepare myself for my upcoming Grammar Analysis class, which starts this Thursday, Sept 6.  It is a very intense course and will be much more so this year.  Instead of teaching it two hours each week spread over the whole semester, we are doing it as a modular course in which I will teach 4 hours each Tues-Thurs for five weeks.  I am thankful that I can count on the help of two missionary ladies, one of whom has taught the course several times, for help with the classwork.

In light of this class, we would appreciate prayer for the next two months specifically.  Not only will I be teaching WAY more class hours each week than normal, we will be preparing for a home assignment ("furlough") that we have planned for the end of October.