Monday, November 30, 2015

I am thankful for a wonderful weekend

We started out our Thanksgiving weekend on Tuesday by driving down to Grand Rapids to see family.  I will start by apologizing for the length of this post but a LOT happened.
 Sara, Leo and their little ones came early and were there when we arrived.  We hadn't seen them since the spring so it was good to have some time to see them and catch up with their busy lives.  Gram loved having her grandchildren around too.
 The youngest little one was there too.  She continues to grow and become cuter and cuter every time I see her. 
 Eva enjoyed having her around too.  She stayed at her house all day on Tuesday and Wednesday.  She loved having her grandchildren around for extended time. 
 Matt, Diana and the girls arrived Wednesday afternoon.  I brought along this car race track that was a big hit with all ages. 
 Isak especially loves trucks but everyone enjoyed playing with the race track set.  I sent it home with these two little ones,   I am sure that they will get more use from it at home. 
 Eva fixed a great dinner of ribs and mac-n-cheese.  We kind of let her cook her own birthday dinner but she IS a great cook.
 We didn't let he bake her own cake.  Jessica gave me the name of a good bakery and a family favorite kind of cake.  Eva was surrounded by her grandchildren and she loved every minute of the birthday celebration.
 This little one loved the cake too. 
 Afterward we had gifts.  The grandchildren were great helpers with the unwrapping.
 Sara is  wonderful artist and this was her gift to Eva.
 Then we had gifts for Isak and Sofi since their birthdays are coming up soon.  I wanted to give them my gifts while they were visiting. 
 Nothing like a little fun with Uncle Matt.  I don't know who ws having more fun?
 Thursday was a big cooking day.  Leo arrived from Coleman and as you can see, the guys liked watching football before the dinner. 
 And the girls cooked. 
 After dinner the turkey really put the guys to sleep after so much time and effort eating a wonderful dinner.
 Sorry guys but I just couldn't resist taking pictures.
 My wonderful husband really zonked out.
 After naps by the kids and the men, we had a late afternoon dessert of pie.  Leo said it was time for him to head home, before the last important activity of taking the family picture.
 Furniture had to be rearranged. 
 Several pictures were taken.  I am not as picky about everyone looking at the camera so my pictures aren't as good as the official picture. 
 I did my best but it seems it is hard to get everyone looking at the camera with their eyes open and smiling especially when you have so many little ones. 
 After pictures there was cookie decorating. 
 Everyone was involved. 
 Even the little ones had a good time although I am sure that the frosting knives were licked a few times. 
 He looks a little serious as he decorates his cookies. 
 Then Eva wanted to give Sara, Leo and their kids their Christmas presents.  It was a wonderful little time watching them open their gifts. 
 The big blocks and the trucks were a hit.
 Friday morning Sara and Leo headed home and everyone else went out to Horocks to buy Christmas trees.  The selection process went VERY quickly this year.  Jess and Doug found this great one for their house.
 Diana was very happy with her choice and surprised at finding it so quickly.  I know they have trees in Tenn. but they are MUCH less expensive here and it has become a tradition to take one home with them. 
 Everyone was happy, they only had to find one for Eva and that was a pretty easy process too.
 Meanwhile B. and I went inside and did a little shopping.  The two of us love to pretend and have fun shopping. 
 That night the tree went up in Eva's living room while she had a crew to help with the lights.  Unfortunately some of them had some problems with their fuse but she solved it later.  The grandchildren were able to help decorate some.
 Everyone got into the act.
 Lots of photo opportunities.
 Even the smallest one was a good helper. 
 Saturday morning Matt and Diana started for home.  Bud and I stayed on to help with the cleanup and decorations. I often put up the old tree from our farm, filled with Mom's decorations.  Once again I completed that little task.  I have put that tree up many times, both at the farm and at Eva's house. It is always a little trip down memory lane, using the old decorations that Mom collected.  I am sure that some of them are almost as old as me. 
 Meanwhile, Bud ran the vacuum and then put together Eva's gift to Jessica's little one. It is a step stool that she can use to get to the sink and help with the meal prep. 
Jessica and Doug checked it over and pronounced it perfect for future use.

SO.....  You can see that I took a lot of pictures and had a great time.  I am very thankful for my sister and her family.  They are very precious and we are so happy to have them in our lives. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

My Guatemala trip

We have been experiencing computer problems, it seems our wifi won't work so I have decided to bypass it and use the 'hot spot' on my phone to connect to the internet.  I really wanted to get my post out.  I am sorry it is so long and there are so many pictures but I have been off the grid for a while so here goes. 
 My  trip started with a birthday dinner in Big Rapids for my wonderful husband.  He turned 61 on November 2nd.  It has become our tradition to meet in Big Rapids since it is a middle point for everyone from my Michigan family. 
 I didn't come home but instead went on to Grand Rapids since I was leaving on my trip Nov. 3rd.  I really needed to see this little sweetie too so Jessica came over to dinner on Monday and we spent some time together.  She just gets cuter and cuter every time I see her. 
 We were picked up at 4:00 in the morning to head to the airport.  This is where I first met some of our team. I only knew a couple of the people from Eva's church that were on the trip but we quickly became a great team. 
 We arrived in Guatemala in the late afternoon so it was impossible for us to make the total 7 hour trip to the mission before dark and you really don't want to be on those roads too long after dark.  The main roads were paved but the twists and turns made it a little more dangerous and we were tired after a long day of traveling.  We stopped in a town called Coban (not sure of the spelling) and spent the night in a beautiful hotel next to a mountain. 
 It had beautiful gardens and a walk down to the river.  On the other side of the river was a large hill that has recently been discovered to be a Mayan site. 
 We had time to go for a walk and check out the area.  As you can see everything is lush and green. 
 Nothing like having fun with the large leaves.
 Our hosts for the trip were Manny and Cindy.  They run the mission called Mission 2 Guatemala and they took wonderful care of us while we were there.  He is a native of Guatemala.
 On our second day we stopped at a park to have a little fun before work.  There was a zip line but Eva and I didn't go on it. Instead we went on a walk with one of the mission workers.  Can you believe that I was crossing this river with only a tree trunk to walk on?  Thank goodness there were rails to hold on to but it was still slippery.
 Our walk paid off with a beautiful waterfall in the forest. 
 I also crossed this suspension bridge.  I did become the designated "faller" on this day though since I fell on a different trail and fell while getting into my tube to go 'tubing' down the river. 
After a little fun we drove on to the mission and prepared for the next day when we had a full day of activities planed in a village.
 A crowd of children awaited us in this remote village where we did VBS in which I participated by being David in the play David and Goliath .  The children were wonderful, like children everywhere.  In the afternoon we did a craft with the women of the village. 
 This is the new church in that village.  On Sunday we came back and dedicated it. 
 This is a good shot of the church in the village.  All of the churches built by this mission look like this.  They have open air windows with bars on them and a cement floor but are very basic. It has a fairly large congregation considering it is quite remote. 
 This little girl seemed to be very attracted to me.  The local people are Mayan and are very wonderful. 
 It seemed to be quite a special thing to have me hold this baby as the mother seemed to want me to hold it.  It was very well behaved. 
 In the evening we relaxed by playing some games. 
 The next day Christopher who is the message and music leader at Eva's church held a seminar for 40 of the pastors and message leaders of churches in the area.  They came from many miles away for this opportunity.  The remaining of our group helped with serving the meals and preparing for the next day. 

 In the afternoon we drove into the nearby city to visit some of the children that our team members support by sending money for them to go to school. 
 This is a typical home with boards and a hard packed dirt floor. 

We also were able to get into a local market to look around but no buying since it was closing time and we needed to get to the ice cream store.
 Saturday we were back in another village for a VBS.
 Once again I found a little friend.
 There was a larger group at this village but once again they all seemed to have fun. 
Sunday we went back to the first village a helped dedicate the church.  That was our last village visit.
 So, here is the wonderful compound that we stayed in.  This is a picture of our outdoor dining area.
 Eva and I shared a room at the end of this walkway
 We each had our own bed and there was AC so it was a comfortable place to go and escape the heat. 
 Another view of our eating area with the kitchen behind.  We cooked our own breakfasts and dinners and there was a cook there for our lunches when we didn't eat in the villages. 
 We did have time to relax.
 Monday we were back on the road to Guatemala City.  This is a typical scene with this little building being a store along the road. 
 We stopped in a MALL!!!  to use the bathrooms and I got myself a latte'  which was the first one in a week although they did have great coffee at the mission.
 That evening we had dinner together across the street from the hotel at the local Applebee's
 Tuesday we had a tourist trip to the city of Antigua which is a World Heritage Site as it was settled by the Spanish.  There were beautiful churches to visit.
 This arch is the 'symbol' of this town.  It is quite a tourist town as I heard many languages being spoken while in the market, even a lot of English.  I did do a little shopping and it was a beautiful city. 
 Eva and I took a Tuk-Tuk ride on our own with the help of our guide and wrapped up the day with a carriage ride of the city. 
We arrived in Grand Rapids late Wednesday so I stayed the night with Eva and drove back the next day.  This wonderful sign was waiting for me when I arrived home. 
It was good to be home but I am VERY thankful for the wonderful experience.  Guatemala is a beautiful country with wonderful people. There is a lot of poverty but the people are wonderful and very welcoming to strangers.
I really enjoyed the experience with the whole team from Grand Rapids and the missionaries in Guatemala.  Many of the Grand Rapids team members have been there several times and have a real dedication to the people of this area.  The missionaries have also dedicated themselves to serving the people of Guatemala while hosting all the American churches that come to help. 
I hope you made it to the end of this post and am sorry it is so long but it is hard to summarize a wonderful experience in a few pictures and words that really can't totally explain this experience.  My life is blessed and I feel more and more thankful after this experience.