Monday, September 10, 2018

My Faith Boards: A Cherry Pie Story

Years ago I wrote a blog post about looking forward to having a list of my own "cherry pie" stories. (You'd have to read the post to understand the cherry pie reference.) Today I have a faith story to share that's little, but special to me because it demonstrated to me how much God loves me and sees me, even in the little things!!!

Seven years into our life in Peru, and I've learned that trusting God for His provision means so much more than I thought it did. It means trusting Him for EVERYTHING. I've learned (and am still learning) to trust Him in not only our financial provision, but also...
  • in my everyday decisions
  • for guidance in how I educate my kids
  • with navigating health decisions that are confusing
  • to provide friendships for my kids and community for Dan and I
  • to teach me what I need to learn, when I need to learn it
  • to find solutions to problems, big and small
But one thing I've learned over and over, is that God loves me, and He not only takes care of the big things listed above, but He also likes to give me little (and big) gifts, just to show me love. He cares about the desires of my heart! 

On to the story...

During our first months of marriage, Dan and I lived in South Korea and were having difficulty adjusting to our new life there. We went to visit a friend of Dan's cousin who was also an expat in Korea, and he made us feel so at home during that weekend. One piece of advice that he gave us about adjustment was that wherever you are, no matter how long you intend to live there, make it home. 

We took his advice and went home to our tiny apartment and bought a couple little things to decorate the wall and a small houseplant. It was amazing how such a small thing helped us to feel more "at home"!

Eighteen years later, I still make sure in each house we live that we have a few things to make it feel like "home". But, in those same eighteen years, Dan and I have moved houses fourteen times. After so many moves, I've gotten a bit lazy about decorating and making our house a home. Decorating a house costs money and takes a lot of time, and after putting in the time/money only to pack it all up and leave months after you finish...well, it can get a little old. 

The future of the house we are currently living in feels uncertain, so when we moved in, I didn't put a lot of effort into fixing it up or decorating. But my oldest daughter, Lucy, is more sensitive to her surroundings than I am. She likes things to be beautiful, and before we went on furlough last year she talked to me about how our house isn't very homey and she wishes we could make it prettier. I started thinking about how it would be better for my family if we had a nice place to relax in the evening, and how I wanted my kids' memories of home to be pleasant. 

So I've been on a mission the last year or so to home-ify our house and make it feel cozier and more welcoming. Being on a limited budget, I've tried to be pretty creative/resourceful in doing so. Little by little we've decorated and made the house feel nicer, but there was one empty wall space in our living room upstairs that I couldn't figure out how to fill. 

One day, I found an old board in our yard that the kids were playing with, and thought of an idea for something I could make with it to fill that wall space. The problem was that I needed four boards like the one I found, and I only had one. I walked all around the piles in the area around our house looking for more, but couldn't find any. So, learning as I am to present all my needs and desires to God my Father, I prayed and asked God if He would help me find the boards I needed. 

A couple days later I went outside and there was a board, the perfect length and size, lying in the dirt road just off our porch. I smiled and picked it up and set it aside with the other board. I now had two boards.

A few days after that, I went outside and saw yet another board, in almost the same place, just the right length and size for my project. I picked it up and set it aside, and went and told Dan all about how God was dropping the boards I needed into our road! 😉

I expected a fourth board to appear in the road as well, but it didn't. I kept an eye out, fully expecting God to bring me the last board, but several weeks passed and I never found another one. I thought a couple of times about going somewhere to buy the last board, but I felt really confident that this was something God wanted to give me (why? I'm not sure) so I kept waiting. 

Maybe a month after I found the third board, the kids were playing outside with one of the neighbor girls and they wanted to make a bonfire. They couldn't find enough scrap wood to burn, but the neighbor girl announced that she had some at her house and she'd ask her mom if she could bring it over. She came back a few minutes later with a big armful of scrap wood and dumped it next to the fire. And of course, right on top, among branches and random pieces of wood, was one board, just the length and size I needed for my project! 

The four boards in their original condition

Johny and I sanded the boards and stained them together.  As we worked we talked about how God had provided these boards for us. I said, "Do you know why God gave us these boards?" He said, "Yes! Because you prayed!" It was a great opportunity to explain to him how prayer isn't "magic" but just us talking with God in relationship. We talked about how God enjoys giving us gifts because He loves us, just like Daddy loves buying special treats for Johny whenever they go to the grocery store. We also talked about other special gifts God had given us, like when John got to see a mama bear with cubs up close in Lake Tahoe!
Then we nailed the boards into a frame shape...



And wahlah! The finished project! On it hangs photos of places that are special to us, along with a reminder that we can trust God for all things...


Katie

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Hiking into Beauty

At the Oasis Care Center, we have an after-school program called the Kids Club. The club has 30-40 kids in it, who all come from families needing a little extra support, for various reasons. The kids who come to the club have a safe place to be after school while their parents are working and receive a big, healthy meal for free.

Our goal for the Kids Club is to form a safe, fun group where the kids have a sense of belonging, develop friendships, and form influential relationships with mentoring adults. In recent years we have been trying to re-shape our Kids Club to be more relationship and discipleship focused. We want to not just to be better able to reach their hearts now, but also to have more success in the future maintaining our relationships with them and helping them through the tough teen years.

The Oasis school is a primary school, and so once children enter 7th grade they switch to a different school and we often lose touch with them. We have tried in the past to start teen after-school programs but without much success. Our hope is that the mentoring relationships they develop now will be ones they feel safe to come back to as they enter and navigate through adolescence.

With that goal in mind, fun group outings have been something we have wanted to do more of with the kids. So Saturday morning, with the help of a team visiting us from Cornerstone Community Church in the Lake Tahoe area, we took all the kids on a morning hike! What an adventure that was!

Lima is brown, brown, and more brown. And during this time of year the skies are mostly gray. But tucked into the hills behind our house is a little-known wildlife area called Lomas de Lucumo. This part of the hills is situated in such a way that it receives a lot of moisture during the winter months, and for just a few months of the year, plants and flowers grow, turning it a very lush green!


About thirty kids and thirty adults gathered at the foot of the "mountain" at 9am. We had invited all the dads of the kids along (we are always looking for ways to get dads involved!), so besides the team and several teachers/staff members, we had four dads join us for the hike.


The air was cool, wet and refreshing, and smelled lovely with all the vegetation. (Except for the beginning when we were passing by a farm.)


The kids loved looking for treasures, like snails and flowers, and everyone agreed the view was beautiful! Most of the staff and dads had no idea that this beautiful hiking area existed, despite it being just 20 minutes from Manchay. They were pleasantly surprised and we heard of many plans to return.



A favorite find by the kids were these clovers, which they chewed on as they walked. Everyone hoped they would be lucky enough to find a four-leaf clover.


Teachable moments abounded...here Dan is explaining to several rambunctious and competitive boys that being the first to the top isn't as important as helping one another and making sure everyone reaches the top together. I'm not sure the lesson sunk in during this trip 😉, but the boys definitely had fun!



The entire hike takes about three hours...but with sixty people and so many little ones, we only made it to the first lookout. But it still felt like an accomplishment!

Teacher Selfie!
Coming down was a muddy, slippery mess. We kept everyone alive and in one piece but our clothes and shoes didn't fare so well!



We were reminded all through the hike of God's goodness to us, in providing this little cove of beauty for us to enjoy together!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Twelve Months I Didn't Blog

Woh, it's been a long time since I posted here. A little over a year! I blame Facebook for my lack of blog posts, as it's so much easier to write a quick post on Facebook than on the blog. But I enjoy writing here, so I'm going to try to start doing it more often.

I also realize that this will probably be the only recorded memories I'll have for my kids when they're grown. I'm terrible at making photo albums and their baby books are only a few pages long each. Poor John doesn't even have a baby book! So this blog will be it.

So for the sake of my children, here is a super speedy photo recap of:

The Twelve Months I Didn't Blog


May 2017: Lydia turned ten! The rest of this month was a blur of sickness after sickness...it wasn't a great month.

June: In June we had two interns live with us, Jordan and Janelle, on either end of the photo. This was a fun night where we took some of the older girls from the Children's Home for a night out in Lima. 

July: On the first day of this month we flew to the states for our 6-month home assignment. This photo captures perfectly the fun of our July-California with all the Linehans, and that means lots of cousins. Here 's all 14 of them, plus my brother Tim who is holding his son. (He had hurt his foot and couldn't stand.)

August: August was mostly spent enjoying the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and reuniting with old friends.

September: I had to decide between a photo of one of our many camping weekends, or of Davy with her friends on her 8th birthday. The sweet birthday girl is the winner!
October: This was our view of Dan for the majority of most days while we were in the US, not just October. We also traveled a lot in October, with trips to Phoenix, Lake Tahoe, and Alberta. He fit study time in whenever he could.


November: November was spent in my hometown of Burbank, Washington. It was fun to be with my parents and show the kids my old stomping grounds! Also in November, John turned four and we got to spend Thanksgiving week with Dan's side of the family.

December: Lots of fun times with my sister's kids during our weekly "Cousins Day"! We also enjoyed spending the holidays in the US for the first time in six years. We headed back to Peru just before the New Year.

January: We felt like this most of January as we recovered from our travels and readjusted to life in Peru. We also traveled to Pucallpa for our yearly missionary conference, which is always a great time. This is the kids in the airport after the conference, tired from their busy week and ready to be done with airplanes for a while.

February: This photo sums up February pretty well. This is a trip to a water park with the Children's Home. February is a hot month so we try to be in a pool or the ocean as much as we can!

March: The first couple weeks of March are the last weeks of summer vacation before school starts up again, so the kids try to fit in as much time playing outside with friends as possible. 

April: Lucy turned 13! Lucky for her and all of us, the day of her birthday grandma and grandpa arrived for a visit!

May: We'll end where we began, as now we've come full circle. It's May again, and Lydia is now 11! 

Friday, April 7, 2017

All About John

In July we will be heading to the U.S for our second home assignment. I was thinking about all that has changed in the three years since we were last home. Since we go home every three years, so when we first moved to Lima, our kids were 2, 4, and 6. When we went on our first furlough, the were 5, 7, and 9, with a new 6-month-old addition named John. This time, our kids will be 3 (turning 4), 8, 10, and 12!

It is strange and sad to have our families miss out on such huge chunks of our kids' lives. And likewise, to miss out on so much of our nephews/nieces lives, too! Kids grow so fast, and a lot changes in three years. 

I was thinking about how, in some ways, this will be the first time a lot of my family and friends meet Johny. I know they met him as a baby, but they haven't yet met Johny "the kid". So as a sort of introduction for everyone who doesn't yet know Johny the kid, this post is all about my Johny. 
  1. John is what they call "tranquilo" in Spanish. Meaning, he is an easy-going kid. For a three-year-old boy, he is pretty calm and quiet. He can also be shy when he meets new people, but it usually doesn't take long for him to open up. He has a sweet and gentle heart. 

  2. John loves animals. If you want to get John talking, ask him what his favorite animal is. He'll tell you all about jaguars, dolphins, and elephants. He spends a lot of time pretending to be different animals. I don't mind when he is a dog, cat, or cheetah, but his sloth impersonation can test my patience! (Maybe a future wildlife biologist?)
  3. John has always loved to draw. Even when he was just a year and a half, he could sit sometimes for a half an hour, practicing drawing little circles and lines. Next, he started drawing "funny faces" (and I have proof of it all over my walls. 😏) Now, he likes to draw people and animals, and he especially likes to staple pieces of paper together to make "books." (Future author and illustrator, perhaps?)
    The left he calls "Funny Johny".😊The right is a collection of animals.
  4. John adores Spiderman, Superman, Batman, and all things superhero. If he is in a bad mood, I can usually coax him out of it by talking about superheroes. What tickles me most about his love for superheroes, is that what he is most fixated on is not that they have special powers, or that they fight bad guys (though he likes that part too). He is especially impressed that they help people. What does Spiderman do, Mom? Does he help people? Does he save people from the bad guys? Does he beat the bad guys up and take them to jail? And what does Superman do?...That's a conversation we have almost daily. I hope that his super-passion for helping people will always stay with him. (Hmmm, maybe a future police officer?)
And now to let you in on a little secret...John is neither a wildlife biologist, author, or police officer. Watch the video below (made by John and his sisters, and watched by John a thousand times each day) to find out his TRUE IDENTITY!!!



Katie

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Through the Eyes of a Kid

 
Hi,

I am going to write about what a missionary conference is like for a kid like me. It is much more fun to be a kid and not an adult at these things.

                Reasons

1. You do not have to go to meetings every morning, instead you get to go to a kids program. 😊

2. You get to run crazy. (Most of the time.) But if you are an adult, you just talk. 😑

3. You get lots of candy and you don't care about diets. 😉


At conferences sometimes teams come down from the States or Canada to take care of the kids which is awesome and fun.

                        Reasons

1. Teams are always real fun. 😁

2. They bring candy that you can't get here or are too expensive, like Skittles, Sour Patch Kids, Good n' Plenty, candy bracelets, Ring Pops, Butterfingers, Starbursts,  Fun Dip, Goldfish, Tootsie Roll Pops, Jolly Ranchers, Kool Aid Packets, and lots more.😄

3. Super cool crafts, like making our own beach balls, hats, shell, bracelets, etc. 😆

There are two places for our conferences, the beach and the jungle.  This year it was the beach. Here are some pictures.

Every one loved the ocean
                         
And the water slide.


This is all the missionary kids. There are three other kids my age. Three kids around Lydia's age and one kid Davy's age.
There are two kids older than me and nine kids younger than Davy. 


If we walked a little ways we would come to a whole lot of rocks. We found a lot of ocean animals like a squid, an octopus and a starfish and these weird things (below).
I called these asparagus, but they are alive. When you touch them they move. 

Highlights of the Trip
 
Once when we were down by the beach we saw two destroyer ships. I was standing by two boys and the first one said, "Wouldn't it be awesome if a nuclear bomb shot out?" and the other said "Oh yeah, that would be soooo cool." And I thought, "No, that would be terrible. It is so NOT cool." I told two other girls and they agreed with me.
 
Another highlight was that it never rains in Lima and it rained at the beach every night, which was so much fun.
 
One of the kids walked by the pool and found an iguana in the pool. She told every one and we all watched one of the workers try and get it out of the pool.
 
We swam every day.
 
 
Well, that's the 2017 missionary conference.
 
 
 
Written by Lucy
 
 
 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

How We Celebrate Christmas

We are a tad past the holiday season, but...I decided to post this anyway!
---------------------------------
A friend of mine asked if celebrating Christmas in Peru is different than in America. So, I thought it might be fun to share what Christmas is like for us.
 
We just celebrated our sixth Christmas here in Peru, and Christmas for us has become a mix of Peruvian and American traditions--with a couple Anderson-isms thrown in for good measure.
 

How We Celebrate Christmas

  • Christmas Music: We like all the American classics, and the Michael Buble Christmas album is a fun favorite. But Peruvian/Latino Christmas music has grown on us. In our house you are just as likely to hear "El Burrito Sabanero" playing as you are to hear "Jingle Bells". (Not the kind of burrito you eat...the kind that Mary rode on!) That "tuqui tuqui tuqui" line is catchy!

 
  • Christmas Cookies: We love Christmas cookies and bake batches and batches all December long!

 
  • Panetón and Hot Chocolate: Christmas cookies are the American Christmas treat of choice, but here in Peru, it's all about the panetón. Panetón is a sweet Christmas bread with candied fruits and raisins, and we love it. It is almost always served with a cup of hot chocolate, which is never actually hot, but only slightly warm. The weather here at Christmastime isn't exactly hot chocolate weather!


  • Chocolatadas: A chocolatada is a Christmas party, which always ends with the serving of panetón and warm chocolate. We have a chocolatada every year at both the Oasis and the Juniper Tree, and families of the kids are always invited.
Excited for the chocolatada to begin!



The kids always receives lots of goodies at the chocolatadas.

The Juniper Tree houses always have a house decorating competition which is judged during the chocolatada--here is the Purple House celebrating their victory!

  • Christmas Tree: Most people here who have Christmas trees use artificial ones, but we wanted a real one. We bought this unique pine tree (common here in Peru) at a nursery, and potted it. We've used it every Christmas for the last several, and we put it out in the yard the rest of the year. It's a bit (okay, a lot!) Charlie Brownish, but we like it because it is real.

  • Juniper Tree Christmas Dinner: Every year we have a big turkey dinner with all the kids at the Juniper Tree along with "extended family" and friends associated with the Children's Home. We sing together, eat, have a telling of the Christmas story, and the kids usually prepare some sort of skit or choreograph, etc.
The newest addition to the Juniper Tree enjoying her first Christmas with us.

They worked hard on their dance!
  • Christmas Eve Burger King Run:  Yeah, I know that sounds strange. When I was growing up,  we always celebrated Christmas Eve by putting out an assortment of snacks and grazing all evening while hanging out and playing games. But here, with most of our traditional snacks not available, we've been experimenting with new traditions. We've tried lots of different things, most failures or requiring too much work. Last year we had a family meeting and brainstormed what special thing we could on Christmas Eve. We decided it would be great fun to hop in the car and drive to Burger King to get burgers, fries and a shake, coming back after to hang out and play games. But due to the almost two-hour round trip drive to get there, plus the post-fast food stomach pains, we've decided that it wasn't so fun after all. We'll keep looking for a new tradition!



  • Midnight Fireworks: In Peru (and much of Latin America), Christmas is celebrated with fireworks. Most Peruvians let off fireworks at midnight, immediately followed by their big Christmas dinner and opening presents in the middle of the night. Since we celebrate with just our family on the actual Christmas, we prefer to keep our American tradition of opening presents on Christmas morning. But we still get to enjoy the fireworks of all our neighbors!

And that's how we celebrate Christmas!

Katie