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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Valentines Day!

We had a baby sitter and we were headed out on our Valentines date.  George and I had a lot on our minds.  It was a good week and it was finally Friday.  We were ready for an evening out.  George had spent the day with his second group of 20 boys at the Boys Academy.  Each day he spends with them, he comes home exhausted but with a sparkle in his eye. 

I had spent the day running “valentines” errands for my kids at their school, giving them valentines hugs, checking in on the parties in their classes, and delivering the much wanted pizza.  George and I both had a day where we could walk away and know we were exactly where God wanted us… ministering to others in the way God had asked us to.

When we drove away from our house for dinner… I look at George and said “I get it… 18 months in and I get it.  I understand why people just pack up and go home!”  I looked off into the dark sky, my eyes watering and I repeated, “I get it!”  And then I said “It was a REALLY GOOD day!” and George agreed “It WAS A REALLY GOOD DAY”


A few hours earlier I had just gotten home with the kids from school and I received a phone call.  “This is 1st Bank… were you at a restaurant using your debit card in the last ½ hour….” “umm no… I was at school with my kids?!?”  As the conversation continued, he questioned me about other purchases.  I went to my purse to get my debit card… and it hit me…I could barley concentrate on his questions. “THEY’RE NOT HERE!”  My cards were gone.  “Everything else is here but my two debit cards are missing.”  I continued to answer his questions, realizing my cards had been stolen.  

As my day replayed in my mind I wondered when and how did this happen?  I quickly connected the dots and it all became very clear.

I had called George to let him know my tire was flat but this nice Guatemalan man had stopped to help me.  George asked “Are you ok with him helping you?”  “Yes… strangely I am OK with him.  I will call you if something changes.  David and Lindsey are on their way.”

My Spanish is poor.  I kept looking for David and Lindsey.  I was in front of a school and a guard peeked out a few times to look around.  People slowly drove around us.  There is not much of a curb to pull off the road. The man was working hard to get my tire changed.  I was already late with the pizza so I started to help him.  

I recall him looking over my shoulder in the guard’s direction.  I cranked the jack while he loosened the lug bolts and pulled the tire off.   I was thankful I knew what I was doing and I was thankful he was there to loosen the bolts. 

We went to the back of my car to get the spare off.  He took the tire off and again I was thankful for his strength.  His phone rang.  He said something to me.  I said “No entiendo.” (I don’t understand)  I called George so he could talk to him. This time I fully understood.  He needs to go get his daughter from school.  He’s late but will be back in 10 minutes to finish helping me.  I remember thinking…that’s not what he told me.  Then he was gone.

I lifted the spare on, spun the bolts on and lowered the tire so I could tighten them.  Another Guatemalan man showed up on his bike.  Again he used his strength to tighten the bolts.  I told him “thank you”.  David and Lindsey pulled up and they continued to talk to him.  I’m late so I left to deliver the pizza! 

After I saw all my kids, I drove to our mechanic and walked home (It’s just up the street).  I walked back at 2pm to get my car.  He showed me three slits in my tire.  Slits in my tire???

As I replayed it all in my mind, the men saw me alone getting pizza and slit my tire realizing it would go flat.  When I pulled my van over one man stopped to help with the tire while the other stayed in the car until I was distracted enough to steal the cards. He was never looking at the guard but instead at his buddy in my front seat grabbing my cards.  He didn’t receive a call because he was late to get his daughter.  He received a call saying the job was done.  He didn’t come back in 10 min. 

I was sad and frustrated and wondered why?  Then I saw God.  “George…. I am strangely ok!” 

People get shot when they resist…what if I would have said no thank you?  What if I would have resisted his “help”?  What if I was not “strangely ok”?  I thought he was looking at the Guard… had I looked to see what he was looking at and seen the man in my car…what then?  How would I have reacted?  And what would they have done?

I know of two Americans who have been shot and robbed in San Lucas, where we live, in the last year and a half.  It could have ended badly. 

Then I see God again.  I was talking to my mom earlier that morning?  She asked how I was.  I told her I was good except that two different, random women had reached out saying God had put me on their hearts and they were praying for me.  I told my mom that it stressed me out a little “because I am really doing well!”  So that’s my little plug… when God asks you to pray… pray!  And those of you who were praying… THANK YOU!

“The peace that passes ALL understanding” guarded my life.  God delivered and He loves me.  HE alone is my safety and I will trust HIM.  And YES…. For only a brief moment I wanted to pack up and go home!  I won’t of course.  We trust HIM alone. 

I have told many of you, “I’m not afraid here.”  “I know my blond hair and light skin are a target & I hate that.” “I’m thankful my husband and kids can blend in”  “I know it is not a matter of IF I will get robbed, but WHEN.”

Looking back on it, it was a good day.  Thank you GOD for loving us!

I love my life and I love this country.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

One Year Update!


One year ago today we arrived in this beautiful country.  I have wondered for several days now how to tell you about this past year.  How to give you a year in review of sorts.  It is tough to boil it all down and describe all that has happened, however I will do my best to give you a sneak peek into our current life, the many facits that make up who we are now, how it is here in Guatemala, how life has changed us and how we are doing!

We have lived in 3 different homes, our kids have attended 2 different types of schools, and we have worked in one amazing village.

Our kids just finished their first week of Guatemalan school. This is a school where everyone’s first language is Spanish.  Classmates are learning English (because it is required here… isn’t that awesome? I wonder what the United States would be like if a second language were required in elementary school through graduation?)  Our kids are proving to be more resilient than I ever imagined, I laugh at my nievity to think I could stay one step ahead of them in learning Spanish… they speak and understand so much!  It is a beautiful thing, a dream come true.

Cecilia is growing into a beautiful young woman, however at almost 13 she is still a kid.  She was built for this life.  She is a missionary at heart, fearless when she asks someone if they know Jesus. My toughest job with her is to stay out of her giving and loving ways! As her mom I seek to find every way possible to support her visions and efforts as she navigates her life!  She is a "Chapina" (slang word for Guatemalan) at heart… sporting her Spanish like a local.

Gabriel is a dreamer… his 11year old  mind does not sit still.  He constantly figures out how to do something new and how the impossible is possible.  The kid has faith like I have never seen… now if he can learn the patience required to see the seeds he plants grow, he will be unstoppable.  He loves the Lord, he seeks the Lord and finds his heart interwoven with Gods.

Samuel is hungry!  Yes we feed him!  However at 10 he is always hungry… the boy is growing mentally, spiritually and physically!  He loves everyone and is willing to try anything new.  Trying new things comes in handy in this country! Samuel is brave.  Brave in his person and in the Lord.  He trust and believes the promises of God, He knows God has a future and a hope for him and he lives life accordingly!

Our marriage is stronger than ever.  I am reminded on a daily basis how blessed I am to have a husband who cares.  He cares to serve God first with his whole heart.  He cares deeply about his 4 children, where they are spiritually, mentally and physically.  He cares about me… he takes care of me.  We just celebrated 15 years with a hug, a kiss and a high 5.  It seems so simple and basic, but the truth is we celebrate our marriage often, we do not take a day or anniversary for granted, marriage takes work and we are thankful for each day we get to work at it.   

Our family is closer than ever!  Even though we are distant from our extended family, both sets of grandparents and our oldest daughter Demar has visited at least once this past year.  My dad came twice with my nephews, my mom is here for a two week stay as I write this and Demar will be here again in just 10 days!  It is comforting to have all of them so interested in our lives here.  Our immediate family of 5 is closer too… we have faced crazy odds this past year, navigating our moves, new schools, having less and serving others more.  Our family near and far has sacrificed so much, yet they never complain about the “loss”  because this life we have chosen has so much more to offer each of us!  George and I are amazed  at the love our children continue cultivate for each other.  We give them to God each morning, and each night we are reminded that His mercies are new again!

Our home is the third one we have lived in this year.  God immensely blessed us as we moved closer to El Rosario.  We now live in the cool mountains of San Lucas.  We are thankful for so much here.  Right now I am thankful for the fireplace as I sit typing under a blanket… it is cold and reminds George and I of our own childhoods in Colorado. This is not a flip the switch gas fire place, it is a "Gabe and Sam please go get some wood and carefully start a fire to warm this house up fire place!!" How awesome is that?  The yard is bigger than our last one, and beautiful with an orange tree.  Upon moving to Guatemala and until we moved here just 3 weeks ago, we thought our children would never get to play out in the front with friends again.  This small neighborhood of about 25 homes is packed with Guatemalan kids just our kids ages. Really it is something I never dreamt could exist here. Although this new home is wonderful… much more than we expected as we moved in, it still has its 3rd world quirks.  I was washing our dishes in the pila just last week as the entire neighborhood ran out of water!  Internet is hit and miss… but that is ok, we are blessed!

Our ministry, oh my goodness, where do I begin? It is growing.  Ok honestly you need to go read George’s blog on it.  He has been so good at documenting everything that God is asking of us.  It is overwhelming when I sit and think of all that is going on.  However just last weekend I sat eating beans and tortillas with a group of kids in El Rosario, I was first wondering how long my simple Spanish would last me as I fed a sweet little boy his beans and banana, and then I realized that I can no longer imagine life without our friends in this beautiful community.  Our past is a dream and this is now our reality and our life.  These people, these families, these women, these children, we love them.  Our kids and I ache for the days we get to visit and love on them.  Each day George comes home we sit with eager anticipation for him share his day with us.  Who he met, who he held, who he prayed for and who God laid in his path for us to love!  Ministry is exciting, never ending and the reason we are here!




What are you most afraid of?



Two weeks ago  during a Sunday night dinner, I asked our kids a question: “What are you most afraid of tomorrow?”
Sam- “That they will laugh at me!” Tears welt in his eyes.
Gabriel- “That they will teach me dirty words in Spanish!”
Cecilia, she had a simple answer that summed the whole situation up in one word - “SCHOOL!”
I looked at Sam and said “Well Sam, the thing is they will laugh at you.” All three of the kids were shocked with my response, they expected a soothing reply!  “You know why? Because you will say something funny! It's ok, you are learning, and at times what you say will be funny, and they will laugh!”  Then we re-told the story of how the young girl in our neighborhood who is learning English was kicking pine-cones and when Cecilia asked what she was doing she responded “Nothing, just kicking pineapples!!”  What?  “pineapples??” Oh… pineapples and pinecones in Spanish are both PINA!  So pineapple made perfect sense in her Spanish speaking head… and no sense to our English ears!  We laughed… It was funny! “They will laugh , it will be funny!”
Next I said, “Gabriel they will teach you dirty words!” Again, he too gave me a shocked look! And I asked him “how many dirty words do you know in English?”  He smiled and said “probably all of them.”  “Really son, what is the difference? You get to make the right choice and not use them in Spanish too!”  With an understanding grin on his face he smirked out a “true!!”
And then, “Cecilia… we are all afraid of school!  It is a scary thing!”
The dinner conversation ended with an understanding that each of their fears were valid, and that in the end they would be ok!
 Our kids have been in the Guatemalan school system for just two weeks now.  I am taken back each day as the kids get home from school. One day it was because after Samuel and I spent a lot of time translating his math work sheet, realizing the literal Google translation was no help in understanding the concepts, we then asked 3 other people who know more Spanish than we do, only to find out the worksheet was asking my 10 year old to count by 2’s, 4’s, 5’s, and so on!!! Are you kidding me… all that to count by 2’s??  Although it was a math work sheet it was more valuable as a Spanish lesson!   On another day I laid with Cecilia as she was going to bed.  She told me about a friend back in Windsor who she would get so frustrated with at school.  She would get frustrated because the friend couldn’t do his work well.  She would patiently help the friend but tonight she admitted that she would also say in her head “Just read, just do it!”  and as she explained how she had felt with her friend she also shared how now she understood.  “mom, today in class… I could’nt do it.  I did’nt understand anything.  Everyone else was able to just easly do their work…  and I couldn’t!”  My heart broke for her.  She has learned and used more Spanish than any of the kids.  I take her into every store to make sure I understand what they are telling me… and this day at school she suffered.  Cecilia is bright, education has come easy to her!  My heart broke.  If she is overwhelmed and challenged, then how are the boys doing?  My heart broke! 
In all the frustration,  through the tired tears that flow from at least one of my kids each evening.  As we muddle through the homework every day.  I am amazed and thank God because they get up and eagerly go to school the next day!  They hop in the car at pick up with smiles on their faces!  Our kids are happy!  Our kids are healthy!  They are my heroes.  They are so brave, and amidst the challenges they love their new school!
 




#BestDecisionEver


I don’t really understand the reason for hash tags. However I do read them.  They often tell the rest of the story, or the heart of the story.  Today my hash tag is: #BestDecisionEver!

You know those books where at the end of the chapter you get to make a choice in how it will end? I was thinking about our lives as one of these books.  I played out the end of our last chapter in my head  “turn to page 58 if you think they moved to Guatemala!”  or “turn to page 104 if you think they stayed living their wonderful life in Windsor Colorado.” 

As you know one year ago we chose page 58.  #BestDecisionEver! 

I watch our three kids with the depth of growth they have received this past year!  I honestly cannot describe it!  They have each grown in a depth of life that is so worth every bit of trial.  They are strong, they are happy, they are healthy!  I cringe at the thought of what may have been on page 104.  In Gods mercy and grace we were bold and strong.  We chose page 58 and my heart and my mind swell with thanksgiving!

 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

LIVING life. -by Cecilia



Have faith by taking God’s hand and LIVING life.

My feelings about my new school, Intellego, and my return back to the States have changed recently.  I used to be afraid of returning to the States. I thought it would feel like a dream, familiar but strange at the same time, probably because I’ve had several dreams about it already. I talked to one of my friends who’s lived in Guatemala for over a year. She said there weren’t any strange feelings when she visited the States. I guess I thought that my dreams would be a reality.

Before I moved to Guatemala, I had a horrible dream about someone coming into our home and stealing everything. I tried to forget about the dream. But now that I look back on it, I know that my dreams are nothing but thoughts.  And that bad dreams like the one I had, don’t come from God… or the outcome of my dream, feeling scared of Guatemala, is not from Him.

Now I feel excited about going back to visit. I always thought I had two “lives”, one in the States and one in Guatemala. But that is not true either. I have one life. I am just in another part of the world. That humbles me. Being in another part of the world, shows me how “small” the earth is compared to what I had imagined and learned about it before. It shows me how big God is because in this country, I see so many more little details, little pieces of God’s masterpiece, and then I realize that I am just a stroke in God’s beautiful painting.

I used to be a lot more scared about moving to a new school too.  Not just because it’s another big change and that I will have to adjust and make new friends, because I love that part but it will all be in Spanish!  I was skyping with my Grandma today.  I practiced my Spanish with her.  She encouraged me.  She was so proud of all the Spanish spoke.  Although I have a lot of Spanish to learn, I have accomplished so much. I need to focus and be thankful about what I have, and keep going rather than dwelling on how far I have to go, and worry about what I am lacking.

God has taught me so much recently.  He has taught me to have faith, trust, peace and love.  If I have these qualities in my life, I can let go and let God take care of the rest. When I go back to Colorado, and to Intellego, I will be equipped on how to handle things.  Love God by loving my friends and classmates.  Have peace by humbling myself before God, and being calm in all situations.  Trust in God that He will protect the way.  And have faith by taking God’s hand and LIVING life.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

It's almost time to move!

It's almost time to move and I’m a little nervous.

In June we will be moving again. We were shaken and rattled when we moved here...we are going to shake and rattle again. 

I don't have a lack of faith, just a nervous ponder. I see three big hurdles ahead. I know this move encompasses many more. However three surface again and again as I prepare myself to embrace the change.

We are moving out of Guatemala City to a town called San Lucas. Why? Well, it’s much closer to El Rosario and it has a good Guatemalan school for our kids.

Hurdle 1 (in no particular order).
The new house. We have found a house to rent :) One we like with just enough space. However it has so much less than the one we’re in now. Our current house is furnished....with everything from a coffee maker and dishes to bed sheets. It was move-in ready. It was nice to arrive and have everything set up, but honestly it has too much stuff.  Less stuff will be nice, but...
The new place is unfurnished. It has nothing.  NOTHING.  Not even appliances. No beds, no sheets, nothing. In Guatemala unfurnished means no stove or refrigerator. So there are things we will need to buy. Things we will call our own. I think we’ll start with a coffee pot :)  The challenge or hurdle is that things cost more here. Fruits & vegetables cost less... household items big & small, cost more. The good news is we've learned to live with less & we are ok with used. 

Hurdle 2
Tuition. Our kids will be going to a Colegio, a private Guatemalan school.  I have had the pleasure of teaching at their current school which is for missionary kids. I do not get paid, however my kids receive free tuition because I teach there. It has been an amazing blessing.

Why private? Well, public education in Guatemala will not prepare our kids to go to college and more importantly it would not be safe for our little "gringos". They may look a bit Guatemalan... but they would be potential targets at a public school. 


Hurdle 3
Submersion. Guatemalan schools started in January. Their calendar school year runs January through October. Our kids finish this school year on the American calendar in May. They will have a few weeks for summer break and then start school mid-term in July at the Guatemalan school. They are ready and they are brave. It’s a Spanish speaking school. It will be a long rough semester. PLEASE pray for their strength and endurance. It will be complete language submersion. It's going to be tough. 

So as spring fever is coming...this first year of school in Guatemala will be over before we know it... and then we will be on to our next challenge as we continue down this missionary road.  If you are reading this and you know our story, please pray for these hurdles... and the many others we will face with this new move!

We are still looking for a few people who would be willing to pray about supporting our mission monthly.  If you would like to support what God is doing through us in Guatemala, click here.
If you are praying about support and have questions and would like to Skype or talk on the phone, do not hesitate to contact me directly. You can email me at vondasisneros@gmail.com or call our Magic Jack number in Guatemala, 970-449-9449 (local call for you). I would love to hear from you! And we would love to tell you all about our ministry in Guatemala.

Follow our journey and read George's blog  at www.GodCalledUs.com


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Blog I did not Post. "Our American Bubble"

As I spoke to a good friend on the phone, she said "your life seems so American there!" It was an uncomfortable statement for me. I said, "It does! We are in a bit of an American bubble." I often wonder what friends and family back home think. I didn't know how to answer and had a hard time explaining, because I know it can seem that way.

Yes, we could replace your American lives here. It's possible. If you want American fast food, it's here. If you want the latest electronic item, it's here. If you want to work out and take Zumba, yes, it's here too. I have been asked to sell Mary Kay! How American is that?? It's almsot all her and if we have not seen it yet, I'm betting we could find it (except for brown sugar!)

In so many ways our lives seem and could be very American and at some level you must remember, we are Americans! So as I sit and reconsider the statement “your lives seem so American there.” I have to ask...

Is having 10 ft. concrete walls around your yard wrapped with razor wire, American? Are you kidding me? In Colorado walls with razor wire are called prisons, not homes. Razor wire is used to keep the bad guys in, not keep them out!

We do not live in an American bubble. We live in a suburb of Guatemala City. We find the American school a huge blessing, and the “American” things a comfort amidst the radical change we have been through this past year.

In Guatemala we purchase non-refrigerated eggs off the shelf and milk in a box. That’s not American. In Guatemala we do not flush toilet paper. Most people here do not drink the tap water and those who do, shouldn’t! Traffic laws here are optional and pedestrians do not have the right of way. Men, women and children walk along the big busy dangerous highways late into the night begging or selling everything from fresh flowers to pirated movies. In Guatemala it is normal to have guards with shot guns or automatic weapons at every store. The meat is mostly just scary!

We can drive just over a block from our home and see smoke billowing out of the doors and windows of many tiny homes, a reminder of American blessings and of this countries need. When it rains we know that most of our friends in the village of El Rosario are just a few of the many people in Guatemala who will have another cold night sleeping in the mud (my eyes water at these realities.)

We drive past the entrance to an orphanage everyday on our way to school. It is one of many orphanages that are filled with babies and children whose parents are missing or just don’t care. The children in these mostly understaffed orphanages are blessed. In Guatemala, adoptions have been frozen for over 5 years so even an understaffed orphanage is better than the streets.

At every corner there is someone with needs. We have a choice to run to the rescue of so many and actually do very little because we would be spread so thin. Or watch and pray and put all our efforts exactly where God is asking us. We will take our time. We will go deep. We will find comfort in the familiar things. We will grow familiar with the Guatemalan things. We will continue to serve the Lord daily with all we do. This is not an American bubble, I misspoke, this is our mission field.

If you would like to support what God is doing through us in Guatemala, click here. Follow our journey at www.GodCalledUs.com

If you have questions or just want to catch up, do not hesitate to contact me directly. You can email me at vondasisneros@gmail.com or call our Magic Jack number in Guatemala, 970-449-9449 (local call for you). I would love to hear from you!