Thursday, April 23, 2009

Epic Mountain Adventure

Early Monday morning, Nate and Wilf headed out for what turned out to be an unforgettable experience. Some parts of the adventure they will never forget. Some parts of the adventure they will wish they could forget :) Part of the problem was that Nate and Wilf were both still recovering from some stomach sickness which just didn't seem to want to go away...!

[The village is in the background of this picture!]

After a 3 hour hike from the bridge to the village of Patuy, they met up with the lay-pastor from that village, as well as several men and boys who were going to accompany them on their big trip!

[Loading up the mules!]

The plan was to hike up Ximiagua, one of the tallest mountains in Guatemala! After a brief rest in Patuy, they began their ascent. Thankfully, once in Patuy, they were able to load up some mules with the backpacks. The packs were especially heavy because of the need to carry food and water, along with sleeping bags and everything else!

[Poor Nate didn't have a lot of energy after several upset stomach sessions! But it did mean he got to ride a lot of the way up!]

They hiked for four hours straight up the mountain. (Emphasis on the up...and up...and up!) But there was lots of encouragement for the trip...incredible views, beautiful pine forests, and especially the abundant blackberries! And the higher they got, the nicer the weather became. In fact, it was downright cold at the top!

[Here's Nate with some blackberry stains around his mouth!]

One of the worries was about having enough liquid along for the trip. They were assured that there was an ample water supply near the top of the mountain -- which was true -- in part! The locals filled their water bottles in the horses watering hole. Wilf and Nate just couldn't bring themselves to do that...especially with the quantity of manure that filled the watering hole!

They settled down for the night, only to be awakened at midnight by the beginning of the rainy season! That meant packing up, and hiking till almost 4 AM, getting lost in the fog and rain...and eventually making it back to the village of Patuy where the hard wooden church benches seemed like Hilton's finest beds! (They were also very thankful to have an outhouse again for the rumbly tummies!)

Overall, though, they were very thankful for this unforgettable trip...and for the great time out with the guys from the church in Patuy!

Monday, April 20, 2009


Last Monday morning we headed out to the city! It seemed hard to believe that ten weeks had gone by since the kids and I had left town at all! We were all looking foward to a mini vacation.
After some running around in the city on Monday, Tuesday morning we drove three hours to Panajachel. Panajachel is a town located on a beautiful lake surrounded by three large volcanoes. It was really exciting to see some new areas of Guat.
We were very thankful to see that the place we had booked on-line was so beautiful! It was very Guatemalan (which we like-when we are in Guatemala!). We had a two bedroom cottage with a lovely front porch.

Our room didn't have a kitchen, but a delcious breakfast was included and served in this cute restaurant.

It was not very busy here so we had the place pretty much to ourselves! It was perfect for a family with five little kids. Although the temperature is quite a bit cooler than at our home, we still enjoyed the pool.

Even though Panajachel is located in such a beautiful spot, it is not a fancy resort town. The town dumps their sewage directly into the lake so swimming is not really...attractive. Most of the hotels (ours included) are located several streets up from the lake.
Many local Guatemalans make a living by taking tourists out on the lake. I think our boat trip was a highlight for all of us!
The one big disappointment was that all of Guat. is living under kind of a haze right now. They are burning all the sugar cane fields and as a result the view was not very clear! We took these pictures off the internet to show the three large volcanoes a bit clearer than we were able to see them.

This shows you how hazy it was for us! Disappointing, but still beautiful.

The kids loved being in the boat! Mainly we boated along the shore-just a short distance around the lake. There are some really large places-owned by either Americans or rich Guatemalans.

Panajachel from the water.
An evangelical church having a baptismal service in the lake.

After two restful nights in Panajachel, we went back to the city. In a much earlier post, I posted some pictures of the seminary we usually stay at while doing business in the city. When that seminary is full, we stay in another seminary. This seminary is very nice as well although much smaller and not as good for kids. Still we are very thankful for both of these places!

The apartment we stayed in is just to the left of Nate.

Saturday morning we packed up the truck and headed home!

We are so thankful that the Lord kept and protected us.
We arrived home Saturday afternoon and the kids were joyfully meet by all the other little blondies :)
Thank-you for your prayers!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Week-end

Easter week-end is quite different here than back at home. There are no chocolate bunnies in the stores, colouring contests or Easter egg hunts. Instead, the entire week before Easter is a holiday and there are lots of parades, parties and loud music!
While the parades look very "religious" with statues of Jesus, various saints, and of course Mary, most people view the holiday as a chance to have a good time.
Daily these parades marched by our house or on the other main roads. On Good Friday, people spent all day making a long "rug" down the main road in town. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures, but it was a real work of art! The rug ran down the middle of the street for a long way, and it was made out of coloured sawdust and pineneedles. Using forms or large stencils, they would make designs or pictures using the coloured sawdust.
After all their hard work, a large procession came marching through with lots of candles and various statues. Sadly, the statues of Jesus are always of His death. There was never any parade to celebrate the wonderful resurrection of Christ.
Wilf spoke this morning on Colossians 3:1-
"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God."
How we pray that people will know the joy of being rasied with Christ!

In contrast to all the visiting and partying going on around us, our Easter week-end was quite quiet. The kids have some new favorite activities!
Playing the game of "war" :) with Nico and Ellen up in the mango tree!

One of the "fads" that Nate picked up at school was playing with a trompo or top.

The boys at school can do all sorts of neat tricks with these things and Brad and Nate have spent hours trying to master it. The first trick is getting it to spin at all! Then you can work up to having it spin on your hand.

Another "fad" the kids picked up at school is playing with little round trading cards. You can collect these cards from little chip bags, winning them from a friend, or scrounging for them around town!

The boys have had a lot of fun playing with these! The tramp seems to be a favorite spot to play.

Kristen is not into trompos or trading cards. The other Sunday we went to visit a family from church in their new home. The eldest daughter was doing the family washing in the pila (or sink) that everyone has here. She was so fascinated by the process, that she convinced Ellen it would be fun to do some laundry in our pila!
She had a great time, but I think in the end she is pretty thankful for our washing machine.

And Ryan will play with anything! He spent a long time playing with this small, green orange that had fallen off of one of our trees. Who needs expensive toys?? :)
Early tomorrow morning we are heading to the city. We need to do some paper work, Wilf has to visit the dentist again, and our cupboards here are a bit bare! We also hope to take a two night vacation to see a little bit more of this country we are living in.
Please pray for us as the violence in the city has really increased. A lady we know in the city was recently threatened with some extortion death threats, and had to move out of her home. Lia and Nico had their tire slashed (as a robbery set-up), and saw a shootout between the police and a gang. The Pastor of the Presbyterian church was held up at gun point while paying a bill at his bank.
While all these events do worry us, we are learning that trusting Christ for "all things" includes trusting Him in these matters as well.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Turning up the heat!

For the past five months we have enjoyed fairly cool, beautiful weather. Well, over the past two weeks, things have really warmed up!
And while all our friends up north are looking for ways to enjoy the warmth, we are looking for ways to escape the heat!
I know I have mentioned it before, but I'll say it again, I am SO thankful for this pool. For the past five months, we really didn't use it very often. The pools are not heated and we never really felt hot enough to go in. Now that the heat is back, the kids are begging to go every day.

I can't say that I mind! We all love the opportunity to get off the compound for a while and there is something for all the different ages to enjoy. With very little else to do in town, we are very thankful!Ryan loves this heart shaped kids pool! There is a bench all the way around that is a perfect height for Lauren to walk on, so she loves it now too. She used to be content to sit in her stroller and watch us all swim, but those days are over now!
Just recently, the owners added this great new waterslide. It has really made a trip to the pool exciting :)

Unlike at home, there is no lifegaurd for this water slide. The kids have a blast doing all sorts of things on it!

Having fun with Ellen and Nico! Brad will go down the slide if Wilf or I catch him at the bottom. He is not quite ready to be part of a train though....

Until you live here, it is difficult to explain how good it is, not only to cool off once in a while, but to be out from the four walls that we live behind. Many times I have felt very...refreshed (in more ways than one!) after a trip to the pool.
The kids and I don't have opportunity to travel around with Wilf very often. I have not been out of this little town for the past two months-if you can believe that!
All this to say, that God is very good, to give this recreation and "outing" for us!