The Long Year

It has been one of the most challenging years and for that reason I have foolishly not been writing. The other day I was driving in my car and thinking about how I need to be writing more and I thought how the busyness of life should be driving me to keep everyone updated in order for them to be more specific in their prayers.

There is absolutely no way to give a real update on everything in a short time so I will just give a brief summary. The kids are doing awesome. As we enter the 4th quarter of school all three have grown a ton physically, academically, and spiritually. Gaby loves school and as predicted is more social than academic, but that aspect will come around. She dances twice a week Bolivian folklore and now twice a week flamenco where Nona dances.

Andy is learning more how to obey and be a leader at school rather than, well the opposite. He is playing soccer twice a week and dancing Bolivian folklore. He is one of the sweetest kids I know, and the most frustrating. (This morning I found hardened candle wax all in the sink!) Josh continues playing a lot of soccer and dancing Bolivian folklore. He loves both. The other day he we were watching his team warm up, he was one of the few kids actually warming up and then suddenly we broke out in dance. Funnier yet a kid next to him the dance and joined in.

Nona, well I just don’t know ow she does it. Dancing, soccer mom, work, giving voice lessons, leading parent dance for school Bolivia Day program, Parent Service Organization at school, the list continues… She loves doing all of these things and it has been great to see the impact she is having on students, especially in the voice lessons.

As for me, my life basically consists of work, helping out at home, then grad school each night. Some nights I am done in time to spend time with Nona, others no. It has been very tough to balance all and I have struggled a lot with it.

We have had some great highlights this last school year. Several students have decided to follow Christ and we have seen growth in their lives. Our family has been able to see some great friends both in a gifted trip to Tampa, FL and then some visiting La Paz. Josh has won some tournaments and will be heading in July to Buenos Aires, Argentina for the largest soccer tournament in South America.

As we look to the end of this school year, we are really excited that we will be able to travel to the U.S. again and finally to Atlanta and Pennsylvania! We will be in Atlanta for a few days to see friends we have not seen in over 10 years, and then we fly to Union City for about three weeks. We are really excited about this since the last time we were in PA Gaby was an infant.

A few months ago I was sitting with Zach Steever, former Bible teacher at Highlands, and we were talking about tough times in life and how when we are both unfaithful in prayer and exhausted in life it is amazing to see how others are praying. We always say it, but thank you for your prayers. These are the greatest gifts we could ever receive. So you can have some more specific items to pray for:

  1. Pray for our family to continue to grow stronger spiritually and our impact in our communities.
  2. Pray for rest and balance in life in the busy times and the upcoming summer vacation.
  3. Pray for teachers. We still need about 8 more teachers to fill our critical spots.

Thank you again for all the different ways you support it. I will try to be better at this and apologize for my unfaithfulness. Thank you for yours!

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First Month of School

It has been a great first month back in school. The kids love their new classes and teachers. Josh is now in the fourth grade, Andy in first grade, and Gaby is officially at Highlands in K4! The beginning of a school year is always littered with unexpected items and issues but it really has been a great start and we are already seeing God work in family’s lives.

We had finished off our winter break with a family trip to Santiago, Chile. It was great to see some friends from Toccoa that we had not seen in years. Joshua was playing in a soccer tournament and even though his teamed struggled against bigger kids, they did a great job. They returned to La Paz and just last weekend finished first in a tournament here! It has been great to begin to build relationships with the families of his team and we hope to be a witness to them as these relationships continue to grow in the upcoming years.

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As school began we heard great news from a family at school that the mother, who had been battling cancer for years, was cancer free! She now has been going to a parent prayer meeting and desiring to know more about the God we serve!

Nona has been doing great as well as the school began she has been continuing to work with the Parent Service Organization. She also has continued with her flamenco classes and continues to help her parents in the funeral home.  Together, once a month, we are hosting a bilingual small group in the house form the church which continues to be an encouragement to us all.

As the new school year begins we would ask for your prayers in the following areas:

  1. Strength and balance in life as we adjust to new schedules including my beginning grad school.
  2. For the school, wisdom in the many decisions we will make throughout the year. We are also in need of another K4 teacher and Physical Education teacher.
  3. For us as a family, as well as extended family, to grow closer to the Lord and to be stronger witness for him in our community.

Thank you guys for all of your prayers. Please send us a message on how you are doing. We have heard from some of you recently but would like to know more of what is going on back home. We know things are difficult all over and are praying for you.

Below are some pics of the kids and this year’s staff at school so you can remember us in prayer!

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5 MONTHS!!!!! WHAT?!

I honestly feel nothing but shame when I realize that I have not posted since JANUARY!!! I did believe I had posted since then, but knew it had still been a few months. Since it has been that long I do not know where to begin.

The family is doing great. Nona is preparing for her family’s annual concerts and is right now in rehearsals with her family and the other singers who will join them. They are doing classics this year with a focus on Motown and it sounds like it will be a great show. They will be doing the concert in three different cities in Bolivia.

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The kids are doing great also. Above is a picture from a small mountain behind our house. Josh and Andy finished the year at Highlands well and in August Josh will be in the 4th grade and Andy in the 1st grade. Gaby will be joining them as she is now officially done with Day Care and will be in K-4. She is excited to start already wants to begin learning things. Andy tried giving her his homework to do!

Andy tried swimming classes for a while, however we failed to find a good program that fit the school’s schedule. Highlands is one of the only schools that ends at 3 PM whereas most Bolivian schools end the day around noon. He returned to soccer where he tries hard but it is obvious he doesn’t always enjoy it. However, the other day he scored his first goal in his game and he BEAMED with delight. After he scored her just walked back to the other side of the field and smiled the whole way.

Josh continues to play soccer about four days a week. His team is in first place in their current tournament and should win it easily. They begin a new tournament in a couple weeks in La Paz and then in July they will travel to Santiago, Chile for another international tournament.

For myself it has been a tough semester but a good one for the school. We finished classes a week ago had had graduation a week before that. I was given the opportunity to give a congratulatory speech during graduation. It meant a lot for me as this was a class with which Nona and I were very close; many of the students attended the youth group we used to lead. Below you can see a picture of the class and the high school teachers at a breakfast we had the morning of graduation.

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As I think back over these months there are a ton of events I wish I could have and would have shared with you. More importantly, I wish I would have taken the time to write so you guys could prayer for a few things. One in which was a small accident I had resulting in a bad concussion. This is one reason why I did not write in the last month or so as it took me a few weeks to recover to the point where I could do much other than my responsibilities at school.

Even without writing and only speaking with a couple of people about it, it was great to hear that quite a few people were praying for me and along with those who are continually praying for us even when they receive no updates.

Our family continues to feel oved by those who of you who are not able to be with us. This is something Nona and I speak of often and thank God that there are so many faithfully praying for us even though we may not be faithful in communicating what is going on.

As I look into the vacation months, here are a couple of items to be praying for as you remember:

  1. Nona and her family’s concerts. It takes a lot of time and a lot of energy over a couple of months. Pray for them to be patient with one another and for safety as we do some traveling for a couple of the concerts.
  2. Rest for all of us. That this vacation time and the short amounts of breaks when we can get away from work will revitalize and help us refocus for the upcoming school year.
  3. Grad school for me. I was accepted into Columbia International University’s Master’s in Education Administration program and will begin classes in August. Pray for me as I am nervous about studying again after 13 years. Also for provision as it not easy to pay for grad school on a missionary salary.

It honestly was overwhelming to hear of all who were praying for us. Thank you for your kind emails and inquiries. We apologize again for not keeping in contact and will try harder the rest of this year. Thank you also for your support and prayers this year. Please continue to let us know how you are doing and how we can pray for you as we remember many of you often.

January Update

Hey everyone! We hope you had a great Christmas and New Year! Since we are in the new house, this year was packed with celebrations for us with family, the school staff, and friends. We had a great time celebrating and being home together as a family.

Before I get into anything new with our family, I want to update everyone on a prayer request I gave MONTHS ago for the father, who has cancer, of one of our staff members, Victor. Finally, after months of being rejected for surgery Victor’s father was able to go in this week and have his surgery! Everything went well and he is now home recovering. Victor wanted me to thank you guys for your prayers and he asks that you continue to keep his family in prayer as his dad recovers and has the next set of exams and tests.

As far as our family, we are as busy as ever. Since I was not able to write for a while I was not able to share how blessed Nona and I were on the different trips we ha made in December. Nona had gone to Mexico City with her mother for a flamenco conference. She loved the dance instruction she received but even more was the time to be away with her mom. I learned a ton at my conference in Atlanta and was blessed beyond words with the opportunity to see old students and friends I had not seen in a long time.

The kids are doing amazing. As I write this Joshua is returning from a soccer tournament in Chile. His team, which we expected to have poor results, finished third and they are arriving home tonight. Andy and Gaby have gone with Nona and her parents to the tournament and they are doing well. Andy is now swimming without floaties and is very excited about that.  Gaby continues to grow and is preparing to enter pre-kinder in August. At this point she is exited to do homework and pulls out her pre-kinder workbook and practices.

I have been home alone for this week and though it has been nice and quiet, which I love, I miss the family like crazy and cannot wait for them to return. I have kept myself busy as we started the second semester this week and I have been researching grad schools as I am looking to begin my masters in education in August.

As we begin this new year I have been thinking about what we know is coming up this year and how can you guys be praying for us. Simplicity is best so I have chosen three things:

  1. Our family, that we would continue to grow together in our relationships with the Lord. That we would love Him and serve Him in all we do. That we would be a loving family that cares for one another and grows closer together. And for myself making the decision on where to study and then as I begin in August.
  2. For the school and all of the decisions we make on a daily basis. As we begin looking to hire new staff for the next year. That we would never forget the reason why we exist as a school and daily share Christ’s love with families.
  3. For Nona and I to find our place in the church and how we can serve more there. We have now been at the church for a year and when we joined we wanted a year to learn more about it and to rest from all of our years of service at the other church. We now want to be more of a part of the church and be involved in small groups or some form of ministering to others.

As always, thank you for your prayers and support. We hope you are doing well and that you had  a great holiday season. Please send us an email or message and let us know what is new in your lives and how we can be praying for you during 2017.

I had planned on adding the family picture we took for Christmas, however Nona has the pin to download the pictures so I will have to wait and post it in a separate post later this week.

It Just Goes By Too Fast

Has it been over a month? Did Halloween pass two weeks ago? What is going on? Today we are handing out progress reports for the 2nd quarter, which means we only have 4 1/2 weeks left until Christmas break and of course Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK! Unreal.

I honestly cannot think of what happened over the last month since we didn’t seem to go through an entire month and yet it has been 5 weeks since my last post.

Two things stand out over the last month. The first are performances. Gaby had her last end of the year performance for her day care. We have been to the last seven of these since Josh was one and now we have gone to our last. I tried to be nostalgic but I couldn’t. To some of you this is no surprise, but Nona felt the same. We are more thrilled that Gaby will be at Highlands in August than we are sad she is leaving the day care.

The other performance was Nona singing in a flamenco festival. The picture is of her group and she is the one on the far right.  Her group did an amazing job and she had  a lot of fun doing it.

The other highlight from this month were small groups. We have been attending a marriage group with other couples from the school and a bi-lingual group from the church. Both have been great and encouraging to us. We feel like we are building new friendships with others and becoming more of a part of our communities. God continues to teach us new things and stretch us in our new roles and surroundings. The biggest thing we are learning is our need for Him in our lives. How He needs to be our focus in everything we do from our jobs to our family life and that we need to trust in Him above anything else. He is sovereign and He is in control no matter how crazy things get or appear in life.

I will end it with that as I know many of you are questioning what is going on in the country and the world around us. What appears like chaos and disorder to us is of no surprise to God. We will always have these times in our lives where we do not have control of what is going on around us and I think these are great moments for us to realize we never had control in the first place.

Psalm 20:7-8

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They collapse and fall,
    but we rise and stand upright.

 

 

October – One Quarter in the Books

I want to start off by thanking all of you for your faithful prayers and support. I am constantly reminded why we are here and the mission of our school to reach this city for Christ. It is not an easy task and I am finding it easier to forget that as I am now working in the front office.

The other day I was asked what I do now and I honestly didn’t know where to begin. For the last couple of weeks, the answer was standardized testing. Other times I would say I work with teachers and do observations for each of them once a week. And yet at other points this first quarter I would say I am in meetings whether in the office or on Skype calls with different support people from any one of several online services we work with. The job changes, this I like, and it always gives me something to be working on.

September was a great reminder for me of why we are here.We saw firsthand how we are in a spiritual battle, which is why I say thank you to start. Around the middle of the month we had our Spiritual Emphasis Week where a church from Texas came and shared with our students for four days and then spent a day with the staff off campus. They did an excellent job and many great conversations occurred as a result of it. In the weeks that followed we saw the spiritual battle continue in many lives of our students. I asked some of you to pray for one in particular, I will not mention the name because of how public this update is, but we continue to work with this student and were relieved to hear they were seeking outside help from a Christian counselor.

Three students I will mention are the three new student I have begun doing discipleship with once a week. Please remember them in prayer that they would grow in their walk with the Lord. Their names are Mateo, Chris, and Eiichi. They are great guys and I am thrilled to have this chance to speak into their lives. I am praying for wisdom and guidance as we just began to meet over the course of this month. Finding time is very difficult for them, but I am hoping the time we are able to spend would be fruitful.

The family is doing well. None continues to dance and work with her parents. She signed up to do some translating and missions trips with the church and hopes to start those soon. The church occasionally does day to week long trips to small towns in the country where they are helping in a variety of ways. We also are going to begin a bi-lingual small group in our house once a week. This is still in the works, but we believe it will begin in October.

The kids are also doing well. Josh and Andy began attending a soccer school that meets near our house. We were shocked Andy wanted to play, but he seems to be loving it. The other day he played his first game and his team got creamed. This was not a huge surprise as Andy was a little more preoccupied by the small rubber chunks that cover the turf, than he was with the game! Josh on the other hand is doing amazing. His team is jaw-dropping. Josh has been staring at defense, which we questioned until we saw the other kids play. Let’s just say the refs were taking pictures with some of these kids at halftime! They’re only 7! Gaby continues to grow and her English vocabulary is expending rapidly. She used to never speak in English, but now she is using a lot of Spanglish.

This has been our month. It was quite eventful. I am writing this in my car while the kids are at soccer practice. This is a picture of the view in front of me. It’s hard to forget the providence of God with views like this all around you.

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Between writing this and sending it, one week, I have amazing news! Our workers have officially finished working on the house! That is not to say there are not jobs to be done, however as far as people coming and working every day, well we are past that part! This is a huge relief for us in so many ways. We will miss having the workers around (I am being serious, three years of seeing them every day is a long time!) but we are also happy they are done. Just another reason to give thanks.

Also, I would like to update some of you on our Bolivian Social Studies Teacher, Victor, and his dad who has cancer. I recently heard that he has not had surgery yet because of high blood pressure. He has an appointment tomorrow to see the progress and see where they are at. Please continue to pray for him, his name is Edo.

It’s been a while. Sorry.

Today is one of my favorite days of the year; Dia de Peaton (Pedestrian’s Day)! It is when all vehicles are prohibited and everyone walks and rides their bikes everywhere. This of course means churches meet on Saturday and there is nothing to do but be with the family and rest. We love it and it is always comes at the perfect time, the end of the first month of school. Today during our walk we stopped at a restaurant to eat Charquekan (llama meat) and Chicharron de Cerdo (fried pork nuggets). The picture is of the kids as we were leaving the restaurant.

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This year, the dia de peaton was much needed and we took full advantage of it after a hard first month. It really is hard to believe that the first month of school is over and that this next week we will be sending out progress reports.  So as I sit here and think where we are now after a month of me working at my new position and all that has happened in our house, I am shocked at all that has been accomplished and even more grateful for God’s providence.

August was insanely busy for us as a family. We started school, had a house warming party/Nona’s birthday, continued to work on the house and slowly get things cleaned and organized, the kids began soccer practice and continued with dance, and we started meeting with old youth in our house for Bible studies. The pic is of our staff for this year.

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The two questions we get more than any others are first, how is the house? It is great. It is so nice to not be crammed into three rooms and to now actually have a kitchen after 9 years! The other day I was standing outside watering the lawn and I could not believe I was standing in a yard! Then today I looked out the kitchen window and saw the kids playing outside, running and laughing. That really made me thankful. All of their lives they either were in my bedroom, their bedroom, or the living room. They had no place to run or play. they couldn’t play soccer in the house and spent a lot of their time watching TV since there rally wasn’t much else for them to do.

The second most asked question is how do you like your new job? I really love it. I always pause before answering, not on purpose, but in reflection because the only thing I do not like about it is that I am not all day around the students. I miss them like crazy, however I have found time to walk around and talk to them, play soccer with them at recess once in a while, and I am discipling three high school guys during lunch time. So even though i am not around them all day, I am able to see them and the reality is I can see more of them. Before I was really limited to middle and high school but now at least once a week  am walking into elementary classes and saying hi to the students there.

August was insanely busy, but very good. Upon further reflection I am incredibly thankful for all of you. Your prayers and support have been monumental these past few months, especially during those months I was not able to write. There will always be things I can just not write about or explain but know that God works through your prayers and you are a HUGE part of what He is doing here in Bolivia.

In the first month of school we saw 5 students make the decision to follow Christ and a few more make other decisions. Not a single person can say they were the reason for that, only God working in the hearts of those students. But as we praise God for what is going on here, you should too, because even though you maybe half a world away, you are just as much a part of the work He is doing in Bolivia as those who are here with the students each day. Thank you and never give up, even when you may wonder if it is worth it.

April Update

Time is flying! It is April already! The weather is starting to change down here as the days get colder and the nights are longer. It may not be winter yet here but I am so happy I am not in Union City, where it is apparently still snowing!

We are heading down the final stretch here as we only have 8 more weeks of school! Last week we had our end of the 3rd quarter parent/teacher conferences. I had to have a few tough ones with some bad news being announced to a couple of families, however there were some other great opportunities to minister to hurting families and even spend some time praying with them.

This past weekend we also had the opportunity to sit in on a parenting conference run by our church.  They brought in a pastor, Dr. Rob Rienow, from the states who works with Visionary Family Ministries(www.visionaryfam.com). He did a great job giving biblical foundations for the family and how God’s plan for the Great Commission starts with the family. It was very challenging and practical.

It was really God’s sovereign timing for the conference as we also came out of Joshua and Andy’s parent/teacher conferences. Though they are doing great academically we do have some areas where we need to do better as parents, especially with Andy and his stubbornness. Please pray for us as parents as we learn how to teach, guide, and discipline our children better. It can be so easy to sit in a meeting with a parent and tell them what to do with their child but for some reason it can feel totally different when it comes to your own kids; we need God’s wisdom each day.

The family is doing well, though. Josh and Andy both had great grades and love the school. They also had a blast in the US with their cousins and visiting different places like Disney. We are very thankful for Nona’s parents who made that possible. The highlight for me was just seeing Nona’s brother and family and spending time with them. I do wish we could have gone to some other areas and seen my family too, but beggars can’t be choosers. We were able to see one set of partners in Tampa and though we were trying to see another family the plans just didn’t work out.

After that quick but nice break during Easter we have come back and have had a very busy April. Starting with conferences and then moving into our school’s Bolivia Day celebration where all the students and teachers will dance different folklore dances. Nona also has a dance recital for her flamenco classes, which she has been working hard on a couple days per week. All of these activities and then of course the craziness of the construction makes for a busy month. Continue to pray for us in these areas and that in all of the craziness we stop and consistently spend time in the Word and remember why we are here and God’s call on our lives.

We pray that you guys also will do the same. It is so easy to get caught up in the work and the activities that we miss the reason why we are where we are and why we do the things we do. May we continually give glory to God in our lives, actions, and words in whatever circumstances he has placed us in.

Thank you for your prayers and support. Let us know how we can be in prayer for you guys.

Blessed and Thankful

Over the last month we have felt blessed for many different reasons which has gone a long way to re-energize us in our home life and ministry.

As a way of piggy backing on the last post I wrote we are happy to announce the loan went through and we were able to receive the first installment. We immediately applied for the next couple and hope they will come soon.  However, with this first part we were able to pay off our little debt we had from building and finish putting in all of the window, almost all of the flooring, the gutters, and some stone on the outside of the house. Thank you for your prayers in this area. Please continue to pray for us, especially Nona as she does most of the work in regards to paperwork and buying materials since my schedule hinders me from doing most of these things.

The greatest part of this last month occurred this past week. I waited to write this post so I could share all about our school’s Spiritual Emphasis Week. (I should have sent out at least an emial so you could be praying). The week was great though. We had Dr. Jim Speigel, a philosophy and ethics professor at Taylor University, speak this week on the topic of integrity. Dr. Speigel was invited because his son Bailey and his friend Ryan are both at the school as exchange students this semester.  I have both of them in my high school health class so it was nice to meet Bailey’s father.

Our main focus for this week was discipleship driven versus evangelism, which was our first semester focus.  Most of the sessions were geared toward the high school students, however we quickly learned the middle school was grasping the concepts and God was working in their hearts.  At the beginning of the week two seventh grade girls came up to us seeking to be discipled. They both come from non-christian families and knew they couldn’t do anything outside of school and were seeking someone to meet with them during lunch and recess. We were able to have one of our groups move to those times so they can participate.

Another praise from the week came yesterday when we heard a sixth grade girl gave her life to Christ. She approached our Librarian, Rebekah Kelly, during one of the small group sessions and asked if they could talk more about what it means to give your life to Christ. Yesterday, after talking, she decided to make that step! She will be plugged into a discipleship group at the beginning of next week!

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This past month the middle school participated in one of the four community services days we have each year. This time we were able to return to a retirement home, which we have been going to once a year for five years now.  The kids love it. Usually we go on Father’s day and serve lunch and then join in the festivities and dance with them. Since Father’s day is on a Saturday this year and during our Easter break, we just went and served lunch and spent an hour talking with the men and women. Each time I take a group there I am always amazed at the love these students pour out on the residents; this year was no different.

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As far as hiring for next year, God has been providing many great candidates and we have been able to fill two positions so far. The first is a new high school Bible teacher. His name is Dr. Bill Hill.  I was able to interview him personally and when I was done it was one of those situations where you knew if we did not hire this guy we would be making a HUGE error.

The second position actually involves myself.  I was not able to speak about this possibility, but after a few months of praying and many conversations with a three trusted people, next school year I will be moving out of the classroom and will be the new Assistant Principal. I am sad to not be in the classroom with the students each day, however I am very excited about this new role.  It will require me to take some classes and attend some seminars, however I am able to push the masters work off for a couple years because of our building project. I do wish I could have been open about it to everyone so that you could be praying, however now that I am able to announce this I would ask for your prayers as I will be doing some job shadowing this semester in preparation for July when I will officially take over.

Please be in prayer for the school as we continue to interview people and are looking to hire around seven more people for various positions from 1st grade to high school.

To finish I would like to share just a couple of fun things that have happened for us over this month that were both answers to personal prayers but also complete surprises. First being that a donor to the school provided me with a brand new laptop.  I was in need of a new one as my old laptop was taking over 10 minutes to start up and coming to its last days.  I was praying for a new one and hoping the one I had would make it to the end of the school year. So, needless to say I am thrilled with this new gift.

We were also given, as a gift from Nona’s parents, a trip to Tampa, FL for Easter break.  This was completely unexpected, however they wished for the family to be together and visit Nona’s brother and his family. So, next weekend we will be in Florida for one week. This is even more special as we will be able to visit with a couple of our prayer partners and financial supporters during this time and are looking forward to seeing them.

Finally, we were able to go to a soccer game this week to see our favorite team from La Paz, Bolivar, play against my third favorite team in the world, Boca Juniors from Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was an amazing game and an incredible experience. I have been to many soccer games and many sporting events in the US and there is nothing that compares to a stadium full of people and your favorite team almost winning a David vs Goliath match. We were winning the entire game and then in the last 5 seconds of the game they scored on a beautiful shot to tie the game. Heartbreaking!!!!! I took some pictures to show  a little bit of the environment. I took a couple small videos too but couldn’t find them in my phone when I was trying to transfer them over.

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It really has been a great month for us as a family and for the school. We feel extremely blessed by God and thankful that He takes care of us in the big and important things in life and even in the little things.

Thank you again for your prayers and support each month. Please continue to pray for us in some of the things mentioned above and for the school that God would continue to use us in making disciples. We love you and as always please send us your prayer requests so that we can be in prayer for you as well.

The House and Carnaval

So we finally, after three years, are going to take some time to share about the house we are building.  Three years ago, after a lot of prayer and taking some big steps of faith, we made the decision to staff in Bolivia long term. With this decision we knew that with three kids we could no longer stay in the three room apartment (with no kitchen) where we have been all of this time; so we began looking for a house.

After 6 months of looking, visiting different places, and praying we really felt like buying land and building would be the best economical move. In our searching for land we started within the urbanization where the school is located, but quickly realized it was WAY out of our price range.  Then one day while looking at other properties with a realtor she said she had one more within the school`s urbanization. We figured we might as well look but knew it would be too much.  It turned out that it was a couple who were getting divorced and they just wanted to sell quickly, so they were asking only 1/3 of the going rate in the area! We prayed and asked our parents for advice and felt this was the land we should buy and build.

Three years later, and a loan, we are almost done building and our target moving time is around the end of May of this year.  There is still a lot to go, however with this loan, which hasn`t been processed yet, we will be able to move very quickly and finish by then. (Comparatively speaking, it is just as expensive to build and pay off a loan as it is to rent an apartment for a family of five). The following pictures will show you of what it looks like within the last month of building. I will explain them below.

So the cheapest method of building here is with bricks and cement with a coating of plaster over top. The first two pics on the left are of the house in the front and side.  I won`t lie, it is a little big, but not as big as it looks. We are on a slight hill and the architect felt it was better to only dig in a little so on the side photo where the cement retaining wall meets the brick, that is where the house actually starts. The retaining wall is probably not necessary, but it allowed for a garage.

The bottom left pic is of the kitchen and in the background you can see what our breathtaking view! The right pic is of the guest bedroom, which was not part of the original plans. That happened was, the original plans had all of the living areas of a house in the first floor and the bedrooms on the second.  The third floor was really only a small guest room and some storage.  Our thought was we wanted a Mediterranean style house with different roofs, however when we began building our contractor told us that with the price of roofing (which is pretty expensive here) it would be cheaper to make those areas rooms and just have one big roof. So this tripled the size of our third floor and made our house a lot bigger than we ever planned or really wanted.

So that is the house in a nutshell. We are very excited to move in and really hope that happens before June, since my parents are coming to visit at that time. I am happy to finally share this with everyone. We know many of you have seen Nona post things on Facebook and I hope this gives everyone a little better idea of what is happening.

Other than that we just want to share some pictures from this weekend. if you didn`t know this weekend is Carnaval in Latin America. One of the things people in Bolivia do is play with water, so each year we have a school-wide Water Team Day.  I think I have explained it before but basically everyone (K-12) is placed on a color team and will be on that team until they graduate. We do competitions twice a year with winners for each and then an overall winner. So Friday was a half day with water competitions. We started the day with a chapel, which is the first picture and then we go outside for the games and end with the announcement of the winners (Joshua is on Green team which won the first competition this year and were the overall winners!)

This weekend we also went to a fair with the kids and some of the youth. You can see Sergio(left) and Josaphat(right) who I have been discipling for three years.  They are Seniors now and our family will miss them like crazy when they go off to the US for college.Natalia is in the middle and has been at Highlands and was with our youth for many years. (sorry the pics are small). The other three are of the kids playing with water in the streets downtown. Kids dress up and have HUGE water fights all over the city.

The last pic is of Josh raising the Flag of the Sea during the Bolivia flag ceremony at school. This is a big honor and he was selected by his teachers as one of the best elementary school students.

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I didn`t know I would have this much to share, but I hope you learned a lot more about our house and life here.  Thank you as always for your prayers and support. I will concentrate next month on some more specific things to pray about.  In general right now for the school pray for us as we need to fill 15 positions for next year. Our director and assistant principal are going to the US for meetings and a recruiting fair for the next two weeks, so please pray for them and that God would bring us the right teachers.

We also want to thank God for what He has been doing in our family the past few weeks at our new church.  We have been able to meet a number of new families and have gone out to eat with them after church.  We feel like God has really blessed us with this church and are very excited to go each week. We have been studying Ephesians these weeks and God has challenged us a lot in our marriage and parenting as we are in Ephesians 5 & 6. We do not just want to go through the motions in our live with Christ, but to really live out our faith in front of our family, the school, and neighbors.  We pray this is your heart as well.

Thank you again. Please update us on how you are doing and how we can pray for you