Monday, August 4, 2014

Last full day.

This post was accidentally deleted while I was exploring features of the blogger app. It is from 8/1/14, our last full day at the ranch.

Mrs. B:

Our last full day was one of the most entertaining, and provided an opportunity to explore the city and to shop! And shop we did! As we drive back and compare our purchases, look over the week's pictures and reflect, we have very mixed feelings. Our experiences over these last ten days have been so diverse and stretching, and our bonds with each other, the Acosta family, and the Ranchito children are so significant that it is hard to leave.  On the other hand, we can't wait to get into our own beds, take showers where we can leave the water run while we soap up, and no longer wait in line for the bathroom. We do miss our families also, and can't wait to share the details of what the Lord has taught us about ministry, hard work, Mexican culture, and relating with others. We have much to process together with our church family. I am very grateful to Mai Khanh, Joe and Brianna for planning this trip and all the plethora of details that go into organizing such a significant endeavor for 16 of us.  

Now for some details about the day - We started out a little earlier for breakfast and were on the road by 9:30. The drive into Guadalajara was about an hour and we stopped first in Bugambilias where we got our money exchanged for pesos and tried to get oriented to each dollar equaling 12.5 pesos. To make things more confusing, their prices use a dollar sign like we are used to, but with the amount of pesos. "$25" thus equals about $2 in US currency. From there we went into the market area of Guadalajara and after being prepped about how to keep together and avoid getting pick pocketed, we set off to find our treasures. We also met up with Sofia Ramirez-Gonzalez who made connections with those on the previous trip. We went off in groups with some Spanish speakers in each group to help us navigate the vendors and to work the deals. The market is so colorful and animated, with so many hand made gifts and musicians AND PEOPLE!  We went from the outdoor courtyard into the three level indoor market, sure to send any claustrophobic straight into a panic.  After bargaining and securing amazing deals, an excited group of Americans found each other and set off for an upscale Mexican restaurant called El Patio, where we were serenaded by Mariachi singers, who also know one American song - "Happy Birthday" which was sung to Mrs. Sallard! There were Spanish dancers and musicians entertaining us throughout the whole meal, which was delicious!! As if that weren't enough, there was a potter there with a potter's wheel making a large array of ceramic items upon request for keepsakes. He made our group everything from minions to elephants to turtles, guitars, tennis balls and hummingbirds. From there we had several hours to walk the promenade and shop in the more posh stores. The wares were all so tempting, and the whole area was a feast for the eyes. It is safe to say we shopped till we dropped, and were happy to head back to the "ranch". Some inviting soup and sandwiches awaited us and then a wrap up meeting with Chuy, and the challenge of getting all of our clothes and gifts back into our suitcases. Should be interesting. 

It has been a great honor to be here and observe the powerful work that is being done at Ranchito  and to be a teeny part of it. We would likely all agree that we have been the greater blessed in this endeavor. Now to the last challenge of the week. That packing.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

This lady, Man.

So there's this lady like two houses away who starts screaming over a megaphone at like 7am every day about chicharones and whatever, I don't even know because it's so muffled. But out of all the dogs barking and donkeys whining, I'm going to not miss her the most.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Winding down

Tomorrow (today for you's guys on EST time) is our last full day here. Today we concluded VBS, worked in the field, and I even had to play nurse for a short time when a little girl was accidentally bitten in the face by a dog. Tomorrow we are getting up early to go to the city and do some tourism at the historical sites as well as a little haggle-style shopping in some marketplaces. Here's Christiana's take on today.

"So today was the final day of VBS, and it was somewhat bittersweet. While it's a relief to have completed what seemed to be a successful event that engaged, entertained, and educated the kids from town and from Ranchito, I will definitely miss seeing the faces of the kids from town that have become so familiar to all of us within the last few days.

The morning started off very interesting, with a couple hours of rain that threatened to cancel our last day of VBS altogether. However, it turned into a couple hours of bonding time with the Ranchito kids and a couple of the older kids from town who are all related to the Acosta family one way or another. We played soccer with the kids in the rain, and either watched or participated as the kids dumped cups of water on each other and got themselves "muy mojado" by emptying overhanging tarps full of water on the unsuspecting victims underneath. After the rain, as wet as it was, several of the kids from town still showed up at 11 AM, ready and excited for the last VBS, which was definitely encouraging to all of us! Today they learned about the redemption story, and how the only way to get to God is through his son, Jesus Christ. My favorite part was watching the kids do their crafts though! We purchased a Polaroid camera and took pictures of all the kids, and it was so fun to see their reactions as the films developed and their pictures appeared. The boys especially really enjoyed decorating the frames for their pictures, and it was so worth seeing their smiles as they completed their frames.

After VBS, several of our group went out to the fields that Chuy owns to fertilize the fields, while the rest of us stayed to help out at the house. The girls and I decided to try making mangolassi for everyone, an Indian drink made with the mangos we girls had been chopping for over an hour, which turned out to be a big hit! A highlight of the evening was the Ranchito kids singing a birthday song, and the gluten free no-bake cake one of the Acosta girls made for my mom's birthday today. It was really neat to watch them get involved and even care about the birthday of someone they've only known for a week!

Right now, we're outside watching the movie "Megamind" in Spanish with some of the kids who came to VBS and the kids from Ranchito - definitely an interesting experience! The movie is definitely better in English by the way! In the interest of spending the last couple of nights with everyone, I'll end here and wish everyone back home a great weekend!"

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A day of growth as a team.


"Today was the third day of VBS. Before the lesson, we played several games of volleyball and Baby in the Air, and the kids made small shields for their craft. We had to set up the volleyball net, and it was so knotted that it took us about fifteen minutes to disentangle it. We then sang the Spanish songs that we learned yesterday. Gabrielle, Laura, Mrs. Boyajian, and Mrs. Sallard were the leaders for today's lesson, and their theme was faith.  The superhero for the day was Captain America, since he had faith in his team while completing his missions (hence the shield craft). The Bible character of the day was David, and they discussed how he had faith in God during his fight with Goliath.  They also had a small skit of the fight.  Joe played Goliath and one of the kids from the ranch played David.  After VBS finished for the day, we had a small snack and played some more volleyball for another hour or so.  We then took down the volleyball net and had lunch.  We ate bacon (heaven came down and glory filled my soul) in a spicy jalapeño sauce with rice and tortillas.  They also served cinnamon rice milk, which sounds odd but was actually quite tasty.  We have been hanging out since lunch; I messed around on the guitar a little bit and then took a much-needed nap.  Right now the leaders of tomorrow's lesson are practicing their skit, so every time I look up, either Elisabeth is playing dead on the floor or Brianna looks like she is about to land in my lap.  However, things like that are pretty much normal at this point, so I will leave you with that encouraging note regarding our sanity."


"As we start to wind down our VBS here at Camichines, it seems to be more and more evident the witness we brought, and are still bringing, to these kids.  Each day the line of kids that had memorized their verses grows longer as does the participation in the singing and lessons. Even the corner, where the cool guys hang out, was doing the hand motions and singing to the songs.  To see that was encouraging.  The theme for today was faith.  Everything we did, in some way, reflected that theme.   For example, in volleyball, we had to learn to trust each other to get the ball and to do what was needed to win.  Gabrielle, Laura, Mrs. Sallard, and Mrs. Boyajian lead this day's lesson, and it went very well.  They, at first, talked about Captain America and how had faith in his companions to always help him.  Then they talked about a small boy, who had faith in God, to be his help.  The small boy was David of the Bible.  The children were very much into the story, answering questions and participating in every way.  

Some high points of the day were, a group of people singing jingle bells with a kid, hanging out as a team and laughing.  This kid loves to sing and pretend to play instruments, but usually he is over in a corner doing it by himself.  Today, however, a whole bunch of interns and team members sang along with him.  I personally did not get to see that joy in his face, but I would have loved to.  And after VBS we were told to just relax and not do much work.  Many people took a nap, (including me).  But after I woke up I came down and sat and talked with a few team members.  Stephen would play the guitar and Joe would sing improv.  The stuff he came up with was hysterical.  

Of course we had some low points.  There was some conflict, which I will not talk about here, but I can say that it was resolved and apologies were given and received.  And there is always the problem of a lack of sleep.  Making sure we are well rested as well as one top of our work.  We take naps almost anytime we can and waking us up is a challenge (this morning I had to throw a towel in Isaac's face to wake him up).  But regardless of these minor challenges we still are enjoying our time and our witness to the town people."

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Juegos aguas, gigantes, y pizza


"Today was the second day of VBS. We spent yesterday evening learning songs in Spanish to sing with the kids. We practiced them this morning. The kids showed up at around 11 and we played water games and made superhero masks for the craft. I helped with the crafts and with the games for the little kids.  
Then we sang songs with them in Spanish. We even learned "Praise Ye the Lord" in Spanish!
The superhero for today was Thor and the Bible heroes were Joshua and Caleb. We gave each of the kids a jellybean. Some of them were gross and some were good. They had to eat them. We were trying to illustrate bravery to them. The theme of the lesson was that Joshua and Caleb were brave even when they saw the giants in Canaan. Christiana and I read the story and the rest of the team taught the kids hand motions to go along with the story. 
The day went very smoothly and at the end of VBS we walked to a soccer field with some of the children and they played soccer with some of the team members. We are learning a lot of Spanish phrases to use with the kids. 
We came back and ate chicken and rice for lunch. Elisabeth, Stephen, and Jamilyn did the cleaning up after lunch today. We are taking shifts doing clean up.  In the afternoon, some of the team members prepared for tomorrow's lesson and the rest of us worked with Chuy on moving sand and sifting gravel for the playground. Some of the girls and I also cleaned the street in front of Ranchito.  We also ate the leftover jellybeans from the morning. Some of the tastes included canned dog food and grass clippings. 
After that, everyone showered and we went to Cocula (the town where Mariachi began) for pizza. The pizza in Mexico was better than most pizza in the U.S.  We walked to the grocery store and picked up candy as prizes for when the kids say their verses in VBS.  Some of Chuy's cousins who help at Ranchito came with us and we enjoyed trying to talk to them in Spanish. It was fun and relaxing just to walk around. Then we came back and had a devotional. Now everyone is in bed excpet me and sarah and joe and mai-khanh and we are sooo tired is this good enough?"



"This morning we were woken up by "And I will Always Love You" sung in Spanish over the loudspeakers. After everyone was awake, we went down to breakfast and then prepared for our second day of VBS. The morning went by really quickly and before I knew it, VBS was starting. I helped with crafts again today. We had the kids put stickers on plastic masks. They turned out really cool. It is really encouraging to be able to start to speak more and more Spanish with the kids as the week goes on. We sang a lot of songs in Spanish today with the kids. The songs are a lot of fun to sing and the kids really seem to like them. Today the VBS lesson that we taught the kids was about bravery. We had them do hand motions to participate in the lesson as Joanna and Christiana read them the story. 
One of my favorite parts of the day was when I had some time to play with one of the little boys at VBS. I played with him with his little toys cars for about 15 minutes. He was so cute and although we couldn't speak to each other very well, we had a lot of fun playing together. He liked to crash his cars together and see how far he could get them to go across the courtyard. He liked to race them, too. After that, we played some water games which the kids really loved. It is so hot here and everyone loved getting soaked with water. After VBS, we took some of the kids down to the soccer field to play for a while. 
After that Elisabeth, Joanna, Christiana, Jami, Anita and I went out in the street and picked up trash. Then we all went and helped shovel sand and rocks with everyone else. We have been shoveling this one pile of red sand and rocks for the whole time we have been here. We have to sift the rocks out and then we take it to the playground. Hopefully when we leave, the pile will be gone because it seems to be never ending. When we were finished with that, we all got ready to go out for pizza. After we ate, we walked around the city in the rain. It was a lot of fun and the city was so beautiful."

Monday, July 28, 2014

VBS, la primera día

9:50 p.m.

Today was the first day of our VBS here in Camichines. Around 10:30 this morning, kids from around the village began to trickle onto the property. At first it was a slow stream of children and then around 11:15 more and more children began pouring in. The first thing on the schedule for the day was game and craft time. We split the kids into three groups: older kids, younger kids, and a group of about ten kids for crafts at a time.

We played four games with the older kids: Simon Says, Four Corners, Red Light Green Light, and The Queen Wants, which is a specialized version of a scavenger hunt in which the "queen" requests something in the area and the first child to bring it back earns a point. Everyone enjoyed all of the games, and all of the children were very competitive.

After about an hour of assorted games with the children, we walked back into the yard and prepared for the lesson. We started out with a few songs and then Ben, Stephen, Joe, and I delivered our lesson. This lesson was based primarily on obedience and we used Moses and Superman as examples, which was a good way to grab the kid's attention. After the lesson, we gave a few examples of obedience in everyday life to see if the children understood the lesson.

As soon as the lesson ended, the children ate a quick snack and then we all headed down to "la concha," which is a large, square slab of concrete that doubles as a basketball court and a soccer field. A few of the children from the village came to play and soon we had enough people for 6 teams of 6 people each. We stayed at the concha for about an hour and then headed back to the house for lunch, which consisted of tortillas, beans, and fresh fruit. 


     Today we woke up knowing that we had a busy day ahead of us. It was going to be the first day of the vacation bible school that we were holding, and I, like some, had no idea what to expect. The day before, all we were told was to just "go with the flow". Breakfast consisted of pancakes and fresh fruit. After breakfast, everyone had, like everyday, a little time for devotions by themselves. Some spent this time, however, to start cleaning up the courtyard, preparing for VBS. Most of the activities were going to be held there, so we swept and covered up all the machines. 

     Then, at around 10:30, the kids started to arrive. Everyone was assigned to a activity such as games for the older and younger kids or crafts. I was assigned to the games for the older kids. We started off with red light green light in the courtyard. Then, we moved onto the street to play games such as simon says, four corners, and mare y tierra. For the younger kids, they played games such as duck duck goose and also simon says. Capes were made today for crafts, and the kids had markers and stickers to decorate. After all these activities, the kids sat down for their lesson on obedience. Snacks were served for the kids following the lesson.

     VBS ended around 2:30, but most of the kids stayed to go to a soccer field nearby. After everyone was finished with playing soccer, we had some time to relax before going into one of that classrooms to watch a play that the kids had put together. For the rest of the night we practiced songs and the lesson for the following day's VBS. We ate chicken parmesan for dinner that was made by some of the team members.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Un maravilloso reencuentro Domingo en la Iglesia.

Friends and followers,

Today was a much appreciated day for rest. It's amazing how we take Sunday, The Lord's Day, for granted. In our culture, it is often just another day for commerce that happens to be on a weekend, or a day to watch football. Here, where you work hard outside all day while the sun is up for 6 days straight, Sunday is a highly coveted relief. Jamilyn Donaldson is today's blogger. However, I would like to say that the highlight of my day was reuniting with Horte Segura, Sofia Ramirez-Gonzalez, and Esdras. It was really great to see all of them after 5 years. Also, doing about 50mph on a quad through muddy fields with Bri on the back was a pretty awesome time, too. We have taken many pictures but unfortunately the internet here isn't strong enough to upload them. There will probably be a massive dump upon our return. Here's Jamilyn:

"This morning we prepared to go to church. Everyone ate breakfast and sat in one of the rooms until we left for church. We all piled into two cars, all the kids, us and the interns, and the Acosta family. :) and drove about an hour to the church. We had eight people in a five seater car, and 22 people in a "Rockhill" van. Once we got to the church, we joined a Sunday school class.  We learned about how we find assurance through Christ and we can't save ourselves through works. After the class the service started. We sang many songs and there were scripture readings in between the singing. Then the pastor gave the sermon and afterwards we had the Lord's Supper. After the service we talked with Horte and then later, we all ate lunch at the church. We took a group photo and then piled back into the two cars and drove back to the house. The rest of the day was filled with games, singing, playing soccer, and it rained. After the rain let up we played soccer again and then went out and handed out flyers in the town of Camichines. When we were finished handing out flyers, we came back to the house and sat in the room again. We had our debriefing time and devotions."