Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Visiting Team - Getting Ready

We have a team coming in for a week, and so right now we are a little extra-busy, as we get ready for them. Most of the preparations aren't exceptionally exciting to write about, but since that is what we are doing this week, that's what you'll get to read about.

Meal planning and shopping take a lot of time, as we cook for the teams here at the house. This year, since food prices have jumped so much, we are having to be a bit more careful with the food budget than normal, and that takes some extra time in the planning stages. We try to bake and prepare some items ahead of time, so we have more time to spend with our team while they are here. This team will have 13 members, so we will be cooking for at least 21 people, for the week.

We try to make sure the house is picked up and ready, as we would for any guests. A few things get done specifically for teams, that we wouldn't do otherwise, and this can be a good thing. If we didn't have teams coming through, I don't know when we would actually make it a priority to organize the carport, where donated items are stored. It is a disliked job, so it rarely gets done until it is absolutely necessary. I also try to make sure that we are all the way caught up on laundry before a team arrives (a difficult task in our house), so that we aren't struggling with that when the team is here. Sometimes we need to do some laundry for the team during the week, so it's best that our own laundry isn't hogging the machine full time during team week (as it is most other weeks of the year).

The Land Cruiser has been used as a construction vehicle for months - so it will need to receive a good cleaning before it will be presentable for use by the team. We also try to give it a quick mechanical "going over," as it is annoying to have vehicle breakdowns and flat tires when transporting groups. Of course, it still happens relatively often, but we feel better knowing we tried to prevent problems!

A lot of Allen's pre-team work is making logistical arrangements. He reserves the hotel rooms here in Gracias, and those for the night the team will stay in San Pedro Sula. He reserves extra vehicles, and hires translators, when needed. If the team is traveling outside of Gracias, he arranges for their meals and lodging in those other locations.

Allen also makes all of the arrangements for the work of the teams. Construction teams have to have materials purchased in advance, and we have to make certain that the construction site is in readiness for the work the team will be doing. For medical teams, he determines what specific medicines are most needed locally, and finds out what medicines will be brought by the team. Then he purchases other medicines here in Honduras. Sometimes this takes a good bit of coordination, as we might find that medicines the teams could bring can be purchased cheaper locally. There is also extra paperwork for medical teams, as the doctors have to have a copy of their licenses registered with the government here. Allen also makes arrangements for the locations of clinics, and arranges for the clinics to be advertised in advance.

So, there's a good bit of preparation work, and I apologize for not posting here much this week! We enjoy hosting teams very much, and can't wait for them to get here. (I have to say that, because I know some of the incoming team members are reading this . . . Hi Smirna :-D . . . ) JUST KIDDING! We really do have so much fun with our teams, and wow, do the kids ever look forward to them!

And now, I need to get back to work. This morning the power went out for a while, so I wasn't able to keep moving laundry through the system. Now the power is on, but the water is off. I will remember to be thankful that the pila is full of water, so I can keep the laundry going. I'm off to bucket water into the washer!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Girls Afternoon Out in La Campa, Lempira

Yesterday my good friend Trish, who lives about 45 minutes away in the city of Santa Rosa de Copan, took myself and two of my daughters with her on a trip to the village of La Campa, about half an hour from here (in the other direction).

Trish recently received a large number of plants for her birthday, and she wanted to purchase some clay pots for planting. It is very easy to get plastic planters that somewhat resemble clay, but harder to find actual clay pots. The village of La Campa is a well known source for handmade red clay pottery, so we took a few hours on a Saturday for a visit.

La Campa is one of many villages in our area which is attempting to attract tourism to stimulate their economy. They are doing a lot of things right, as their village is remarkably clean and attractive. Litter seems to be a part of the culture of Honduras, and it takes a large effort to get a community to overcome its complacency about litter and actually keep their streets clean. I was recently in the city of Copan Ruinas, and thought they were doing a pretty good job with this, but La Campa was remarkably pristine!

Here are some pictures of the lovely central area of the village. Keep in mind that we are at the very end of the dry season here. La Campa has done an incredible job of keeping their central area green at this time of year.

Sadly, when we arrived in La Campa on a lovely, sunny Saturday afternoon, there was nothing to do. We only found one pottery shop open, and this was clearly because the owner of the shop lived in the same building. All of the shops in the main area of the village were closed up. The beautiful Catholic church was also closed.

Happily, Trish was able to purchase about six or seven large pots for around $25 at this one shop.

We stopped at a roadside shop on our way out of town, which displayed pottery for sale, but we were told that the owner of the shop was not there, and only the owner knew the prices, so they were unable to sell to us at the time we were there.

It was a lovely and enjoyable trip, but as La Campa is pretty far off the beaten paths of Honduras, I doubt many tourists will consider it worthwhile to travel quite so far. If you're in the area, however, and you want to see a village which is gorgeously maintained, but still authentic, with a dramatic mountain setting, sporting colonial architecture and selling local crafts . . . you really can't beat La Campa.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I'm dreaming of . . .

Do you know how long it's been since I've had an automatic dishwasher?

I've lived in Honduras for 7 years now, so you can easily guess that it has been at least that long. In fact, the last 3 years we lived in Maryland, we didn't have one, either.

Ten loooooooooooooooooooong years without a dishwasher! With my family of 8, you know that adds up to innumerable hours standing over a sinkful of dirty dishes!

It has been determined that, in the kitchen of the new house we are building, there will be an automatic dishwasher.

Delighted doesn't seem to do justice to my emotional state, as I dwell on the luxury in my future!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Back to the topic of Homeschooling

Earlier this month, when I wrote about homeschooling, there were a lot of questions posted on this topic. I'll take on another of those questions today.

Suzanne asked:
I do wonder how you would teach a subject in which you have no competence....for instance, how would I teach Trigonometry unless I had a working knowledge of the subject? In that case would I learn along with the kids?

The answer is: yes and no.

In the early grades, I've been amazed at how much I have learned right along with the children - especially in the area of world history. Really, my knowledge of world history was abominable! It's pretty good now, though. ;-D

Happily, homeschooling has become so mainstream, there are curriculums available covering almost anything you might want to teach. Some of these require a certain level of understanding of the subject by the teacher, but, especially at the higher levels, this is generally not the case. Extremely well written materials are available now, in which the students read and learn for themselves advanced subjects like trigonometry, calculus, physics, biology, chemistry, humanities/literature courses, etc. Students who have learned to read and comprehend well, and have acquired independent study habits, will be prepared for these courses when they reach the higher grade levels. Additionally, there are videos, classes on DVD, online courses, and many other learning options easily available.

In the big picture of life, knowing how to teach yourself - how to research, study, and find the answer when you get 'stuck' - may actually be the most useful academic skill you can learn.

Of course, there are some subjects which are difficult to study at home. Without a well equipped science lab, my children can only go so far in chemistry, for example. If we lived in the US, we could take advantage of many opportunities which have been created for homeschoolers. One very popular option is for homeschooled high school students to take courses such as biology and chemistry at the local community college. These students have the advantage of earning college credits while still in high school.

I feel certain we would be utilizing the community college option, if we lived in the states. If one of my children wishes to specialize in science, I may consider having them live in the US with a relative for a year, so that they would have this educational option. For now, we just try to balance this deficit by remembering how many educational opportunities the children have here (learning to speak fluent Spanish, and having intercultural experiences being two obvious examples) which they wouldn't likely have if we still lived in Maryland.

Really, the academic quality available through homeschooling has been proven over and over, as homeschooled students win education contests (spelling and geography bees, science competitions, etc) across the nation. These days, instead of homeschoolers finding it difficult to get into colleges, they find that they are quite actively recruited.

The more difficult topic to address is the question of socialization. Even as I wrote the paragraphs above, I thought of how lonely and boring it sounded, as if the homeschooled high school student sits alone at his desk, hour after hour, teaching himself out of huge tomes on difficult subjects. I will wait to discuss this question on another day, however. Right now, I need to go socialize my children!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Today's Construction Update

The team house is looking more and more like a building all the time. Today, Allen and his crew created forms, in order to pour concrete around the window and door openings. Here is a formed opening:

Here is a window with the concrete surround in place, and the forms removed:

In case you're wondering, all of this brick, block, and concrete will be covered with a finish which will give the appearance of adobe construction. That's why we aren't paying attention to making a smooth finish between the bricks and the concrete.

For fun, I played with one of the pictures Allen took today, using the Paint program (we're too poor to actually own the Photo Shop program ;-D ), and put some additional brickwork and a roof line onto the picture, to give an idea of the shape of the final building.

Looking at that picture makes me feel like packing some boxes! ;-D

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Yummy Yogurt

At the same time that I ordered that root beer extract, I also ordered some packets of powdered yogurt starter. I've been meaning to get around to making homemade yogurt since Christmas, and I finally, finally, made some this week.

We have a cute little yogurt maker, which turns one quart of milk into yogurt. It takes about 6 hours to make one batch. I have to hold out 1/2 cup of the new yogurt, to use as starter for the next batch. It turns out that my family can consume more than 1 quart (minus 1/2 cup) of yogurt at one sitting - big surprize there, huh? I have seen recipes for making 1 gallon of milk into yogurt, but it is a good bit more work than using the little yogurt maker, so for now, I think I'll stick to making a quart at a time.

A few weeks ago, Allen went shopping in San Pedro Sula, and brought home a couple bags of frozen strawberries. Talk about some happy kids - strawberry yogurt! Rachel plans to try making some strawberry/chocolate yogurt soon. There's nothing like adding chocolate to . . . well, almost anything, right? ;-D

Friday, April 18, 2008

Buying Wood

Today Allen went to purchase some lumber. The pine he bought today will be used to make forms, so that he can pour concrete for around windows and doors.

Here is the local lumber yard.

This is, of course, the upscale lumber purchasing option. Allen had visited several other people, who have smaller lumber sales operations, but they didn't have what he was looking for. We had to pay a bit more for lumber from this yard, but the quality is higher, as the lumber here was actually sent through a saw mill. The other lumber we could have bought was cut to size using chain saws.

This morning we also placed our order with a local carpenter, for the doors and windows for the first building. Progress!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Home Brewed . . . Root Beer!

It isn't easy to find Root Beer locally, and it is Kirstin's very favorite kind of soda. Last year, I found a website with a recipe for making homemade root beer. Only one ingredient - root beer extract - wasn't available locally, so I ordered some of that, and we received it back around Christmas.

In the past few weeks, Kirstin has had a break from her college courses, and so she started experimenting with making her own root beer. The results have met with mixed reviews. Fortunately, Kirstin likes it a lot, since it was specifically for her that I'd purchased the extract. Other family taste testers have remarked that "it tastes like medicine," and "it's okay," although some others enjoyed it more.

One problem with this recipe has been that the amount of fizz is fairly low. Unlike store bought root beer, which generally has an enormous amount of froth, our version is somewhat flat, and once the bottle has been opened, it quickly gets much flatter. The fizz in our homemade root beer is created by fermentation, so a very tiny amount of alcohol is created. I think this may be the reason for the "medicine" comment on the taste.

It's wonderful when we can find a way to enjoy some food or drink we miss from the states, without actually importing the item. Just a tablespoon of the extract makes 2 liters of root beer, so importing the extract is very do-able!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Third Generation Missionaries

Some of you may know that Allen's parents were missionaries, and that he lived in the Philippines and Malaysia between the ages of 6 and 15. Jim and Blanche did some traditional missionary work, and also worked as teachers in the boarding school which Allen and his brothers attended.

In 2001, in moving to Honduras to do mission work, Allen became a second generation missionary. At that time, we had no idea how our children would respond to being uprooted from the US, and taken to live in a third world country. Happily, they have thrived, and all of the children have been a huge help in our work here.

Now, the children are starting to take on ministry work of their own! Russell, along with the young men in his church Bible study group, have collected donated clothing from here in town, to deliver to poor villages in the mountains. Today Kirstin and Bethany left to spend several days helping in a nearby orphanage. We're so proud of how the children have "caught the vision" of serving those around them.

Russell, at 18, is of course thinking about his future, and making plans for additional education and for his future career. At this time, his desire is to continue to work as a missionary here in Honduras, possibly eventually taking over from Allen to continue the ministries we have started in Lempira. He is already much more prepared and better trained than Allen and I were, when we moved to Honduras, as he is already fluent in Spanish, and he is able to exist comfortably within this culture. He knows the country, and already knows so much about how to accomplish things here and how to relate to the people. He is hoping to take some additional Bible training courses, either spending a short time in the states or taking advantage of the internet courses available, to help him in his preparations for working as a missionary.

I am thrilled that my kids have not only adapted to life here, and embraced the ministry work, but have come to love Honduras enough to choose to continue living here as adults. Because of David's unique situation, we are unable to travel from Honduras as an intact family. Many missionary families move back to the US to live, during the years when their older children are transitioning back to living in the states, but this option is not available to us. So, it's a blessing that, at least so far, the family hasn't been torn apart by distance!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Plans are coming together

As the buildings are springing up on our new property, many of the details for other buildings and for certain systems are still being decided upon.

Some interesting and unexpected questions have come up. For instance, today we discussed whether or not we will be putting screens in the windows. The windows will certainly be open much of the time, so normally you would expect window screens to be a given. However, our current rental house has no screens, and we haven't found that to be a particular problem. Of course, we have the occasional large bug or bat flying in the window, and once in a while a bird, but we haven't had a problem with large numbers of gnats, flies, mosquitoes, etc. Now ants, they are everywhere, but I've not found that screens keep them out anyway.

Right now, Kirstin and Allen are working on planning the water systems. We will be piping in water from a not-so-nearby river. There is a significant part of the year where we can expect to get no rain at all here in Lempira. Because of this, we hope to make use of our waste water, for watering plants. So, the garden plans are wrapped up with the plumbing plans.

We are building thick brick walls, which will be finished to look like adobe, as these should be more durable and secure than adobe, and can be expected to be cooler than poured cement or block walls. This week, the design of the doors and windows will be determined, and a local carpenter will begin construction of these.

Of course, all of our plans have to take security into account. Bars on the windows are a must. Will a balcony or porch in a certain location endanger our security? How will the dogs be contained, and what parts of the property will they roam, for our protection?

We also have to plan and install the water and electricity lines over several miles, to get them to the property.

Can you tell we're busy these days? But we're very excited to be seeing so much progress on the construction.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Getting Some Help!

If you've ever sent us an email, you probably know that we are sloooooooooooow at responding. This is mostly because we are swamped with work here. The regular ministry work continues to grow, and of course, the construction work at the mission property is eating up a lot of time. In general, Allen would rather be out working at ministry or construction than working in the office. In the past, I have normally handled the bulk of the communications work, but I currently am busy homeschooling 4 students, and one of those is learning to read, which is a teacher-intensive activity. Plus, neither Allen or I seem to have been especially blessed in the areas of organization or office work skills.

We have been putting out the word, through various avenues, that we could use some help down here, and it looks like, finally, help may be on the way. Another missionary family, currently working in Mexico, is now making plans to come work with us starting late this summer. If things work out well, they will consider making this a permanent move. We are very excited about this. We haven't met yet, but the skills they bring with them - both construction and office skills - seem to mesh very well with the work here, and also may help plug some of the gaps where Allen and I are lacking in either skills or time.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Starting to Weave

Today Rachel wove a few inches, pulled them out, and wove them again. She likes the way her project is coming out, but it is a little more complicated to achieve than she had expected. She thought about simplifying the pattern, but then decided to keep with her original plan. The finished work doesn't look complicated, but it involves working with several shuttles at once, and this requires her to be constantly on her guard against twisted threads. Her main challenge, right now, is learning how to keep her edges straight.

We had a hard time getting good pictures of today's work. Either the photos came out blurry, or there was a glare off the loom.

Not so much progress today, because I actually made her work on some of her other schoolwork, like math, science, etc. ;-D

Supper's looking yummy tonight!

One of the wonderful things about having children is that they do things, like cooking dinner, which normally I would have to do! Of course, there are downsides . . . but I prefer not to dwell on that thought tonight, when I'm about to chow down on Kirstin's shish-kabob!

(I'll be back later to post on the weaving progress, unless the power goes out again, or something like that.)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Looming on the horizon . . . or . . . "Aren't we warped?"

Okay, so puns aren't everyone's favorite form of humor, and my puns aren't that great - but we're excited to see that the warp on the new loom is nearing completion! Once the warp threads are attached to the loom, the actual weaving can begin.

Rachel and Kirstin have worked hard setting up this first project. Rachel decided to make a table runner for our dining room table. This is a nice sized project, and if she gets bored with it, she can make a shorter table runner. She chose the colors to match my dishes.

Here are a few shots of the warping work:

Tomorrow: We weave!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Weird Electrical Happenings Redux

We had a repeat performance today of these strange events. At least this time, we knew what was going on!

First, half of the lights and outlets stopped working (including the power to our computer and modem), and then, a few hours later, the power to the rest of the house went out. So, we had no power most of the day today, until 7pm.

Last night, Rachel finally was able to get her Christmas present loom set up! I had some pictures of the assembly, but they accidentally got deleted from the camera. I'll try to show some loom pictures tomorrow. All day today, Kirstin and Rachel read the books and manuals we have on loom set-up and weaving. They now know a lot of new vocabulary, and hopefully they will actually start warping (there's one of those new words now) the loom tomorrow, in anticipation of actual weaving.

This week is the monthly session of the Bible Training School, so things are a bit busy right now.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

My kids are home from camp!

This past week was the annual MK (Missionary Kids) camp, for MK's in Honduras. This is the fifth year the camp has been held, and some (but not all) of my kids have been involved every year. This year, Boo and Chris were the right ages to be campers, and Rachel was a counselor. This is the first year that Allen hasn't gone as an adult leader. Having recently been out of the country for so long, he didn't feel he could take a week off for camp right now.

As always, the kids had a blast. They visit with friends they only see once or twice a year, but these are special friends. My children have Honduran friends, but there is a certain degree of cultural separation between them, which isn't bad, but is always there, causing them to not exactly understand one another's perspective. When they return to the US, kids like mine, who have lived in other countries. often find that they don't exactly fit in with the other North American kids, either. But the other MK's are a perfect cultural fit, understanding life from the same perspective as each another, living through the same types of joys and concerns. When this group comes together, it is like old friends have reunited, in spite of the fact that some of them have never met before, or have only been together three or four short times in several years.

Allen and Russell were gone most of the week, working on getting a shipment in through the Port of Cortes. So, most of the week, only Kirstin, David and I were at home, and Kirstin was very busy completing one of her college courses. David and I had quite a fun time together, including a lunch date for pizza. Kirstin managed to take David to the neighborhood arcade a couple of times, as well, to play X-box games, which was a special treat for him.

Now everyone is home again, and we are ready for a more normal week, getting in lots of school time (I hope).

Friday, April 4, 2008

Some additional thoughts on Homeschooling

Suzanne and Rachel brought up some excellent questions in the comments section yesterday, and I thought I'd go ahead and make my part of this discussion a separate post. In other words, I think this will get long! But, I'll go ahead and wade in with my thoughts on some of these questions and comments.

Suzanne commented that homeschooling must certainly take a lot of discipline and organization. Now, once we get beyond the fact that my husband would dissolve into hysterical laughter if anyone even used those words in the same sentence with my name, we can discuss this.

Here are my thoughts. Classroom education and homeschooling are extremely different enterprises, and I believe that teaching in a classroom requires these resources (especially organization) to a much higher degree than does homeschooling.

Consider the scenerio. Classroom teachers (and I have great respect for these folks) are vastly outnumbered by their students. Even a small classroom is likely to have many more students than there are children in my relatively large family. Just maintaining control of this many children is a huge endeavor, before any attempt is made to educate them.

Additionally, the children come into this classroom with baggage. One child's home life is difficult, and the student is distracted. Another child stayed up too late last night, and isn't going to be able to concentrate today. Some have fallen behind, and are struggling to learn what was already taught in the past, and are not prepared to learn what is being taught today. Other children are alert and ready to learn. Some are so far ahead of the rest of the class, that they are bored by the lessons being offered.

This isn't meant as an indictment of the classroom situation - ask most any teacher, and they will agree that this is a huge part of the challenge of teaching in a classroom. It's different in homeschooling. For the most part, the teaching is more like tutoring, with a one-to-one student/teacher ratio. It is relatively easy to tailor the lesson to the student, when there is only one student. You don't need to teach 20 lessons on subtraction, if the child has already caught on to this concept. You can jump ahead. Or, if the student is struggling with the lesson, there is no pressure to forge ahead - it makes perfect sense to repeat the lesson, until the child has mastered the material. In a classroom, the child who needed extra reinforcement might be pushed into a test before they had learned the material, and they would receive a failing grade, just because there is a schedule to be maintained. This student will also not be prepared for the next concept, if it builds on the one they just failed to master. But what can a classroom teacher do? They do have a schedule to maintain. If the teacher slows the pace of the teaching, to suit the slower students, the rest of the class suffers. Conversely, if the level of teaching is matched to the fastest and brightest students, others will be left in the dust. Most teachers I've asked about this have said that they try to teach "to the middle." Sadly, while this is necessary in a classroom, it does make learning more difficult and frustrating for the children whose skills fall outside of "the middle."

As the parent, I can teach my child from where they are right now. I am also aware of the child's daily "baggage" in a way that the classroom teacher will not be. I know the child isn't concentrating on math this morning because they were up too late last night, or had a fight with a friend, or just lost a beloved pet. I can let them sleep in and catch up later in the day, or have them work on something that involves less mental capacity (like, oh, handwriting, maybe, or doing some independent reading), or in some way match the lesson to the moment (perhaps writing a poem or creating a drawing to express their emotion is a better idea on this morning, than memorizing spelling words). There really is no need for me to maintain a schedule for the sake of the schedule, since there are no other students being hurt by my catering the lesson to the one.

There is a point to all of this rambling. Covering the same amount of lesson material, to a mastery level, can be achieved in much less time, and with less effort, when there isn't an entire classroom of students involved. So, although organization and discipline are certainly involved in the process of homeschooling, these skills are not required to a level that the average person can't achieve.

And now, that's all I'm going to say on homeschooling today. I know this isn't what my overall blog is really about, so I don't want to post on this topic to the exclusion of others - but I managed to write all of this, and only get to the first of the comments/questions. I'll try to post some more on this topic in the next couple of days, but not to the exclusion of pictures of and updates on chickens, scary roads, mountain scenery, and, oh yeah . . . the ministry work. ;-D

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Home Education - somehow, we get it done!

I've not talked about homeschooling on my blog, so I thought I'd see if I could find anything interesting to say on this topic, mostly because I haven't been able to think of anything else to write about today!

We do use a packaged curriculum, and follow the guidelines, loosely. The curriculum we have chosen emphasizes the use of literature, rather than textbooks, and we all enjoy the times of reading aloud together that come with our schoolwork. We don't follow a planned yearly schedule, with breaks at certain times, we just do school whenever we aren't doing something else. Often, I'm reading aloud to the younger children, while they do ministry work, like sorting donated clothing.

If a team is visiting, we take the week off school, and the kids participate in the ministry that week, to whatever level they are able. My children are learning to be dental assistants, assistant pharmacists, translators, construction supervisors, and many other things! Currently, the children are taking turns having days off school, so that they can help with our big construction project.

This version of schooling has resulted in an unusual education for our children. They love to read, and excel at math, but they also have learned some very interesting, non-classroom skills.

For instance:

Spanish - this one is huge, of course. Officially, this is a classroom subject, but it has been my experience that few people actually learn to communicate in a foreign language through being taught in a classroom. We are blessed to have this opportunity to live where we can learn Spanish through immersion. Each family member has a different level of ability, with Russell at the top, being totally fluent. It's safe to assume that none of us would speak as much Spanish as we do now, if we didn't live here!

Construction skills - all of the kids have a great deal of knowledge in construction. Kirstin wired her own bedroom for electricity when she was 18. Bethany drives the front end loader, at 11. Russell, Kirstin, and Christopher can all lay bricks in a very professional manner. Kirstin can draw blueprints using a CAD program on the computer. Russell is a very competent carpenter, and has lots of experience leading construction crews, in both languages.

Commercial cooking skills - this is mostly for Rachel, who began her cooking career making breakfasts for visiting teams back when she was about 11. For the past few years, she has been cooking dinners and breakfasts for all the teams, which generally consist of 35 to 50 people (including our family, 'cause we eat, too).

Nevertheless, I've had my doubts over the years, that this unorthodox educational method was going to bring about great results. We have so clearly underemphasized the traditional academic subjects and traditions!

However, Kirstin is in college now, taking courses online with Taylor University in Indiana (a very heavily academic school). She hasn't taken a large number of credit hours (she is doing college part-time, so that she can continue to invest some time in the ministry work), but after completing 8 classes, she has maintained a straight 'A' average, so I guess I'm gonna have to get over the idea that she wasn't prepared for advanced academic work!

So, those are the basics of how we do school. Somehow, in addition to everything else we're doing here, we manage to squeeze it in.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Me on TV!

Around Valentine's Day, some friends invited Allen and I to attend a couples' banquet at their church. It was a very nice event, with special music, and a guest speaker who spoke on the topic of marriage (in English with Spanish translation). Following the program, a lovely dinner was served by the young adults and older teens of the church.

This event was held in the sanctuary of the church. The rows of chairs had been removed, and small tables, with room for four people at each table, had been set up in their place. The tables were beautifully set with candles and lovely tablecloths.

Like most church services in the larger churches in our city, this event was televised locally. There was a TV monitor set up at the edge of the stage, and we could watch the televised version of the presentation, as well as the live version.

As the dinner was being served, I noticed that the cameras which had filmed the musicians and speakers were now turned toward the diners at the tables. All throughout the dinner, this particular TV station televised us eating! Of course, Allen and I, being guests and gringos, came in for an especially large share of the camera time.

When we came home from the banquet, Russell told us, "My friends and I were watching futbol, and during a commercial we were switching through the channels, and there you were, eating dinner on TV!"

For about a week afterwards, people would tell me, "I saw you on TV." My kids came home from the park and reported, "People wanted to tell me that they'd seen my parents on TV."

Apparently we made for some particularly riveting television! Perhaps you'll catch us in the reruns. ;-D

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I'm IT! Seven Random Facts

I've been tagged by Richelle at "Our Writing Pad." Here are the rules for this game of tag:

1. Link your tagger and list these rules on your blog.

2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.

3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.

4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Following the first rule was easy. Thinking of 7 facts about myself - facts that I could consider interesting enough to post . . . I found that to be much harder. I even asked for help, from my friends at the Sonlight Homeschooling Forums. Here are a few of their suggestions, intermingled with a few random facts I came up with on my own.

1. I play the harp. Well, I don't really play anymore, because my harp is in Minnesota, and I am here. But I know how to play the harp, as I studied all through my childhood, and through college. I even played semi-professionally for a few years, until motherhood made doing anything other than mothering impractical.

Me, around age 11 or so, with my harp.

2. I have no sense of smell. This makes me uniquely qualified for life in a third world country, where things like sewage and trash are often not handled in the most expeditious manner.

3. In almost 23 years of marriage, I have moved 12 times, and we are getting ready to move to a new house soon!

4. I have graduated two children from high school, homeschooled all the way. I've homeschooled for 15 years, and I have another 12 years or so to go. I'm more than halfway done!

5. We own a bull. He was a gift from the former mayor of the island of Guanaja, given to us in thanks for the work we did on the island. He is a very lovely Jamaican Red Poll, named Sir Loin. Eventually we expect to run beef cattle on our property, but for now we just have this one young bull.

Sir Loin

6. I despise pudding.

7. I spend waaaaaaaay too much time on the computer.

So, there you go. It was a stretch for me to come up with seven things, but I did it! Now comes the hard part. I have to tag some people. I hope they won't hate me. I'm a people pleaser, and I hate to be hated (oh, that's another thing about me - I threw that one extra fact in for free).

So, I'll tag:

Rose at In the Florida Sun

Joyce at and sew on . . .

Merry at Hope Connections

Lorri at The Mac and Cheese Chronicles

Heidi at Heidi's Haven

Amy at Wandering Feet

Faith at The Hayes Zoo in Mexico

I made it! I thought of 7 people who will (hopefully) not be mad at me when they find out I tagged them!