Monday, August 22, 2016

First Day of School 2016

Hello, hello! Hooray for getting back on the blogging schedule! 
Today was our first day of school! We are starting our FIFTH year of school. That seems hard to believe, but on the other hand, it seems we've been at this forever. This is our life now and it is hard to remember how things were before. What did we used to do with our time?!
Summer is officially over and school has begun. We have a very exciting new addition to our class - our very first GIRL! Can you believe that in four years of schooling we've only ever had BOYS?? Nicole and I are so happy to have Sara with us this year! We now have a ninth grader, two seventh graders, a sixth grader and a fifth grader. 
I've already seen a glimpse into how Sara will change the ambience of the classroom. She is playful, lively and likes to egg these boys on! As the only girl, she has a special edge. If I were her, I'd definitely be demanding my due honor on the playground! At recess, I saw how her and Austin made quite the team. They are probably going to end up getting the other boys in trouble....they are mischievous! 
We started the day off with prayer. Dad taught the Bible class for the morning - he spoke about good teachers and good students of the Bible.
The opening prayer of the day wouldn't be complete without Beau wandering in and finding someone to snuggle up to. In this case, he meandered in when all eyes were closed, leaned his body on my legs then slowly slid down to the ground in a puddle of laziness. In Beau-speak, that means "rub my chest with your foot."
While Dad was teaching Bible, I looked out the window to see the volcano letting out a very dark-colored plume of smoke. At first I thought it was just a weird cloud because it was coming out of the side of the volcano, but it quickly grew larger and larger.
Of course I immediately go to google to see what is happening. Sure enough, there was a small explosion that threw ash over the city of Mexico. (We are in Puebla so we didn't get any!)
After a nice belly-rub, Beau went and flopped down in front of my desk. That was this morning, and now at the end of the day, he hasn't budged. He is currently snoring softly. As long as he doesn't start producing offensive odors due to his total relaxation, he can stay!
Beau seems pretty happy to be back to his normal school schedule. I think this spot is much more comfortable than his dog house.
I get a kick out of reading time. After lunch, the kids come in and choose a book to read for the next half hour. It kind of makes me happy to see Austin prop his foot up on his watch Fabby get lost in a book while slowly spinning in his chair...everyone just relaxes and things are calm. Seeing this made me really happy to be back in school.
The teachers :)
I hate myself for admitting it, but this selfie stick is so handy.
All the kiddos!     
Here's to another great school year! 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Youth Meeting in Cuautla

This past weekend we went to Cuautla for a youth meeting. We've been looking forward to this since the beginning of the year. Abner was the driver behind this entire event - he planned everything from the location to the speakers to the food - although he ended up being the night preacher, which I know was Elder Wakefield's decision and not Abner's.

The bus came and picked up at 8 am sharp. We started the two-hour trek towards Cuautla. Thankfully, the bus did not break down and had zero mechanical problems on our way there and back!! Before starting our journey, however, Elder Wakefield made a quick appearance on the bus to lead us all in a rousing round of "Aqui estan los que dicen aleluya" which then morphed into "rum sum piddle paddle wip wap woah" or something rather..... This was met raucous laughter from all the church people and even his grandchildren. We had no idea what language he was speaking. It livened us up, for sure though!

Austin acting out what looks like a monster fighting his way to the front of the bus
 The place the local pastor rented for this youth meeting ended up being a very unexpected surprise. It looked like an oasis with so many trees and green everywhere. It was beautiful!

Is it weird to include a picture of the "facilities"? It was also part of the experience....
Pull the chain in the upper left corner to empty the bucket on the shelf above and flush... :)
 Nicole, Abner and I were scheduled to do the music for the first service. There was a gooooood group!! It was so exciting!

 It was a little hot, but thank the LORD the building was open on either end so the air did not get stale. I also brought my trusty little fan, which helped bring me through a pretty warm day without having a panic attack!

Pastor Isai Garcia led the service and had several of the young people testify. Austin's was my favorite. He said it like it is!!! 
He started with something like, "I'm happy to be here, I can feel the powerful presence of God already"...and then....
"I am looking forward to hearing the preaching because my church needs it!" 
HA! This garnered a great laugh from the congregation.

Bro Juan Ramirez (I have to say - he's from MY church!!) preached the day service. As usual, he did wonderful! He is an excellent preacher. He talked about spiritual warfare and the things a soldier is to bring into war. 

Nicole took a selfie in church. Behind her I was saying, "At least turn your screen brightness down!!" Haha. Yes, we are terrible. I'm sure it was an accidental selfie, right, Nicole?

We took a break after the service to have lunch and do some activities with the youth. 

 These little gals love to pretend to get me and Nicole's names mixed up. It's the funniest game in the world for them! Of course we have to always act outraged and frustrated with them :)

 After lunch, a very exciting activity took place. Our first "national" Bible quizzing competition! I giggle when I say sounds so official and organized! Really it was though - for the past three months the young people from four different churches have been studying the book of Acts. There was an excitement in the air among the people - the day had arrived and it was time to compete!

Before the tournament started, Nicole explained the rules.

Abner filled in any blanks and gave a pep talk to the teams. 

Sis. Elvira, Pastor Isai Garcia's wife, read the questions. She was perfect for this job!! She spoke clearly and remained calm the entire time - even when the coaches and audience were going wild. 

 Of course Austin was my favorite little Bible quizzer. He kept getting over-excited and would smack the table repeatedly, instead of just once. (We don't have buzzers so the kids just hit the table when they have the answer.)

 Somebody got caught taking a little siesta during the quizzing...

 The score-keeper was having a good time, apparently!

Jabes, the boy with the glasses and white shirt on the front row was firecracker for the whole game. I was SURE his team was going to win! He definitely won MVP....
All of the participating Bible quizzers
In the end, the winning team was the young people of Los Apostolicos de Puebla - Elder Wakefield's church and Abner's team!
Pastor and the team coach signed the award certificate


 The evening service started again with music led by Pastor Isai, Sis Lety, and Sis Naomi. 
They did a great job and we had a jukin' and jivin', tongue-talking time as the Holy Ghost moved throughout the congregation.

 Many of the young people gathered up front to dance and worship God.

I got a kick out of watching yet another fanatical Garcia going wild in worship - this is Bro. David, Pastor Isai's assistant. These guys know how to give it all they got! 

We had a bit of a funny incident happen when Bro. Mario had a time of prayer for the sick. Sis. Mari, the lady in the tan sweater, fell about two weeks ago and severely hurt her arm. It has remained badly bruised from the tip of her hand all the way to her elbow and she cannot stand to move it. That is why she has it in a sling. Because of the way social medicine works here in Mexico, she has not been able to get in to see a doctor and get an x-ray. She came up to be prayed for and many of us ladies gathered around her and began to pray. Sis. Alicia began massaging her bruised and swollen arm, fervently praying as she did so. I was believing in faith as much as the next person, but when Sis. Alicia began pulling on Sis. Mari's fingers as if trying to pop them, I got extremely nervous. I didn't know it at the time, but Nicole was watching this all from afar and says she was dry-heaving watching this play out. Sweet Sis. Alicia - she meant no harm!!!! But she had her eyes closed and couldn't see the agony on poor Sis. Mari's face as got her arm worked on. I didn't want to do anything out of turn or offend the elderly Sis. Alicia, but I couldn't help frantically smacking her shoulder and whispering in her ear, "Hermana. Hermana....HERMANA!! CUIDADO!" (Sister, be careful!) 

 As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, Abner was scheduled to preach the night service. He was very pumped up and excited about what God had given him to preach. He could barely contain himself on the way up to Cuautla!
He was brought to the pulpit, read his text, then began to preach. He had everyone on the edge of their seats from the start. About ten minutes into his message, I started recording. It was so good. I've heard Abner preach many many times, and he always does a wonderful job, but I'd never heard him quite like this. He went down the line preaching holiness, integrity, honesty, and living a consecrated life as a young person. For my Spanish-speaking friends - if you'd like to hear the recording, let me know - haha!

He talked about living inside the city of refuge. He used the example of Joab and Abner (the one from the Bible :) Joab lured Abner outside the gates of the city of refuge. He might've told him what a great man he was, how much he was admired and respected. Joab might've told Abner, "Come outside with me for just a bit - I want to show you something." Maybe they started walking as Joab asked Abner how he'd been doing. Like old pals.

"'re a great man." Maybe Joab leaned in to give Abner a great bear hug... 
But Joab was armed.

However it happened, Abner died that day - the death of a fool. 

 If only he would've stayed inside the walls of the city of refuge. 
Don't think the devil will be kind to you if you take even one step out of the gates. He's out for your soul. Don't give him a chance!!

I do believe that commitments were made, and lives were re-dedicated to the Lord. There was a powerful move of God in the altars. 

A group of new converts came from a new work being planted in San Juan del Rio. This lady was completely desperate for the Holy Ghost. I am so happy to be able to tell you all that she got what she came looking for! I haven't seen someone get the Holy Ghost like this in a long time. She was so overcome with joy and thankfulness!!!!

As people finished praying at the altar, they began to form a line in front of the fire that was built. We had a consecration service where each person wrote down on a piece of paper a commitment they were making to the Lord. One young lady even brought her pants and threw them into the fire, committing to dressing in holiness.

The line was very long, but what a special moment it was. Each person was prayed for, their new commitments and dedications brought before God. It was a very somber and sweet time.

 One little girl from Elder Wakefield's church got in line with her piece of paper ready. Everyone's vow to God was personal and not read by anyone else, but Elder Wakefield said he was too overcome with curiosity. What could this little girl possibly have in her life that she needed to give up? What was she vowing to the Lord? He asked her what she'd written and she replied, "I'm not going to cut my hair anymore." (She'd had an incident about a year prior where she chopped off her hair - her parents were horrified and she got in big trouble.)
Elder Wakefield told this story with tears in his eyes - this is a moment that even the littlest girl there will never forget.

 After the meeting was over, we all boarded the bus once again, this time heading back to our homes in Puebla. There wasn't a lot of talking on the way back - we were all pretty content to sit in silence, watch the rain fall, and ponder the sweet move of God that we'd all experienced.

What a great blessing this meeting was to our young people. We are blessed to have such good churches to fellowship with, and blessed to hear this good truth being preached. 


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