Tuesday, March 31, 2009

We're Home!!!

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So nice to be home!!! I know I didn't really do a great job of keeping people posted the last half of the trip but things got seriously busy and there was only time for sleep, besides the internet was iffy most of the time. SO! I will update this week as my schedule allows and will try to put together a couple more slide shows that summarize the end of our trip. So much was going on that it was really fun to listen to people naming off highlights over the phone on the ride home. I wasn't even aware of half the stuff going on there were so many events happening simultaneously! So everyone knows, we are all home safe and sound. Nobody got seriously sick (food or water) just a couple of colds. My friend Harry Davidson is successfully past his first surgery and will be looking at at least one more next week. There is an update page you can join on facebook if you like. Today is the last day of March and that means 14 more days to do my taxes! I can't help but wonder how everyone's first day back went. Kinda weird not having everyone around 24/7. My 14 hour day ended FINALLY, I actually downed an energy drink for the first time ever and felt like I was interpreting on crack! It was awesome till I hit the wall 2 hours too early. Now I know why all the guys were drinking 4 and 5 every day in Mexico! Anyway, tomorrow is another early day. More later :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Day Two Let The Work Begin!

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Day Five - Still Alive!!!

Day 5!
Today was a creative day, we painted the children and adult ministry rooms. The room is so bright and cheery. The kids came upstairs at one point and got so excited! One boy said, "Oh! It's so beautiful!!!" I wanted to cry. I got to put serveral verses, including my life verse in Spanish on the walls. It was really messy and fun. Everyone is very tiered, but the upstairs is officially done and the downstairs is being painted as I type this. Tomorrow we will start hanging cabinets counters and installing appliances and fixtures. After I was done painting "graffiti" the upstairs, I went to photograph the soccer players. The kids were great, I got hit a couple of times, had my eye in the camera and not on the ball! I got some sun but no sun burn, yea! There was a bit of miscommunication this evening, when we got home, everyone was dressed up and went to youth group and held a "purity event." Some people didn't even know it was dinner time. I was paint and dirt head to toe and needed a quiet spot in my day so 4 of us stayed home and had a quiet evening. We are all feeling more refreshed and the group came back and said it was awesome. I got to skype mom and dad tonight, we had a bad connection but between mom fingerspelling and . Sounds like Harry has a long road ahead of him but he has a great surgeon (same one dad had) and is getting a pair of rods (just like dad) next weekend. We are praying for the best possible outcome, just like dad's, but Judy and Harry are just greatful to still have him alive and are okay with whatever the outcome is. A man plans his course but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

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Day Three Continued and day 4 :)

Wow! So much has happened today (Day 4) that I can hardly remember Day 3! So back to yesterday which was only Monday, believe it or not, we got a late start. The showers here are ice cold. There is coffee in the mornings so I cant complain. The girls and I practiced puppets in the sun, it's really starting to look good and they are very entertaining, I'm just praying our CD holds out cause it was skipping a lot. Getting to the church the guys went to work on their respective projects and the women began to sort all the donated soccer gear and the goodies for the women's tea on Friday. At one point, Pastor Frumencio and another kid, who were airing up the soccer balls, started laughing real hard, then after like 5 mins they were still laughing and even though we didnt know why, it made us laugh even harder when Frumencio started whooting and laughing like a gril and then people started to come looking what is all the fuss about and they would start laughing, I still have no idea what we were all laughing about but my stomach muscles hurt today and I'm sure its from our 30 min laugh fest. PV asked Frumencio if he knew of any Deaf people he could talk to. He said yes he knew one and would get him here, later he came back and said I have good news and bad news. Bad news, cant get ahold of the guy, good news there is a deaf school 5 mins from here and you are speaking there tomorrow at 10 am. PV's mouth dropped open and just exploded to life, I know this is what he had been waiting for, to love on people just like him. He thought he might meet one or two but to be invited to a deaf school? AND he was alowed to talk about God? We were so excited! PV and Tom did an amazing job fixing the mud job upstairs in the children's ministry rooms. I helped mud the screw holes and then I handed one of the mexican kids a sander and we sanded out both rooms, then the girls and I put the first layer of paint on. At first I was working with a 2" roller. Then one of the big rollers handle broke and was discarded so I grabbed that one and worked with no handle LOL!!! At least it covered more ground! Anyway, we thought we had gotten a great deal when we bought 5 gallons of paint for $8 but when we put it on, we realized WHY it was only $8, it was so thin it didnt really cover anything. After that Tom was so kind as to come back to La Sombre and turn on the hot water heater for us girls, we were whiter than the walls! It was so nice to have a hot shower. It was also nice to come home to the smell of Chicken Fajita's! Judy really out did herself and Leslie chopped a ton of veggetables! There were even left overs and I had them for breakfast :) Judy make's great authentic mexican food having grown up here and we are going to look for a blender today so she can make us real salsa. She made a mexican egg dish this morning...it smelled great! I'm jumping around! Anyway, after dinner and showers some of us went to watch the church men's team play soccer. It was so fun and SO COLD! Pastor Frumencio is such a crack up, he brought a bull horn and blew a siren for every goal. He would yell "kick it even if it isnt even close!" or "We gotta goal but we're still hungry!" or "careful there son dont kick it to the stars!" It was hilarious. Sergio would interpret for us. I went home and fell in bed not sure why I was sooo tiered. This morning I woke up and could hardly move. I'm embarrassed to say I don't think my body is used to working like that! Nobody got much sleep last night, poor Jordan is so sick and her cough sounds horrible. Tony's knee is not doing well either (he just had surgery 2 weeks ago for a torn miniscus) He is working through the pain and hoping to get done with his part today so he can take the rest of the week off. This morning we got up "earlier" and got to work. Painting continued, construction continued, soccer registration started, I called home and heard about Harry's accident. Please pray for my dear friends Harry and Judy in Alaska. Harry was hit by a dead tree leaning on a tree he was cutting down, he is in critical till the swelling goes down enough to do what ever surgery is needed to put him back together again. He's got a nice head injury, something wrong with his esophigus and crushed his back. He is in and out and I'm sure my mom and dad are a great comfort to them both. I wish I could give them a squeeze but my prayers will have to do for now. God knows I love them. Anyway, after dad and I hung up the team gathered round and prayed for Harry and Judy and then we were off to the deaf school. I dont even know where to begin. The look on their faces was priceless, they were enrapped with PV, a deaf american, who goes to university and who loved them enough to come all the way to their classroom to tell them so and an interpreter who has no deaf family that "just learned" sign and came all the way to their classroom. It was such a blessing just to make them feel so special. They were all hugs and questions and smiles. It was hard to go, I could have stayed and played all day. We exchanged signs and emails. I hope we get to go again before we leave. I think all were blessed by this meeting. On the way home, one of the hispanic women who went with us told us that it was her brother who was Deaf but was embarrased to come to the church. PV and I will go to her home and visit with him. They live a block from the church! Who knew! Back to work :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Day Three

Today was exhausting. We just got back from watching the Heaven's Door Men's Soccer game. We lost in a shoot out, but their new jerseis looked great! More about that later, I'm hitting the hay but I wanted to mention first that PV and I are going to a Deaf School tomorrow to tell the kids they are loved and worth their weight in gold. Please pray for PV, that God gives him the words every kid is needing to hear. Pray for me that my shoulder will not get any worse, with drywall, painting, puppeteering, (and I thought signing would be my biggest source of pain!) it's swollen a lot. Good night all, God Bless you!

Love Jen

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Let the work begin!



This day was quite amazing in a million ways. For one we got up early! Crazy, I know. I woke up at 5 and was up and ready at 7am! We began our day with a visit to the church to unload the trailer full of goodies and supplies and see what we were up against. Upon arriving, we met Pastor Frumencio and his family. Of course our interpreters hadn't arrived yet so it was fun gesturing and using what little Spanish we could collectively recall. The little boys really took a liking to Erin because she played soccer with them. Unfortunately, games were cut short by the gusts of wind that got up to 40+ mph! They were still asking for her at 9pm tonight. At the church we gathered in a circle and I gave a little Deaf Culture 101. It was hilarious, I had them do this experiment where everyone at the same time had to turn to their right, and tap the person, wait for them to look them in the eyes and then say, "Welcome to Mexico!" Even though they said it was really hard, they passed with flying colors and I've noticed a huge difference in the way they communicate with PV. We prayed over the project and then directly got to work. I'm serious when I say not 15 minutes later there was a wall up between the soon to be kitchen and computer rooms. PV and Michelle went upstairs and started working on finishing mudding and taping the children"s ministry room. The girls and I started sketching for the mural that will go on the walls. A group tried to leave and go grocery shopping when we realized that after unloading the trailer, we lost the keys to the van and trailer. Someone grabbed a sawzall and proceeded to cut the Master Locke off the trailer so we didn't have to tow it around anymore. After a long search, we gave up and went to lunch at our favorite taco stand instead. Then we went shopping for food and paint and other materials. While at the electrical/plumbing store, Tom lost the keys again, only this time he found a hole in his pocket and they were hanging out in the bottom of his shorts. We still haven't found the first set of keys (a concern for prayer) but we have found the source of the problem. Getting back to the church us girls decided to go back to La Sombre (a place of rest) and practice puppets for Children's World. It was so entertaining! It takes way more arm strength than any of us really have. Kudos to all you puppeteers! After a very yummy dinner of spaghetti thanks to Michelle, we started wondering where in the world the men were! They finally got home around 9pm only to eat and head back to the church for more. PV ran out of Mud and so they got back around 11:30. He showed me some pics of how much they got done. Its insane! the wiring is in, the plumbing is in, all the walls are up. For not thinking we would start until tomorrow, we are well on our way. Thank God for the extra day and the extra strength we shouldn't have had! Now it's midnight so I'm gonna post this and hit the hay! More to come tomorrow :) Good night and God Bless!

Day One The Trip Down

Whatch Out! PV's driving!!! Tony has given him the nickname Road Warrior. To catch y'all up here's what's been happening. Everyone met at Orchards around 5pm. Due to one hiccup after another, PV and I finally arrived around 5:50. Departure time was 6pm and we were on the road by 6:30. You should see the trailer! Next time it gets opened I will take a pic. It's literally busting at the seams. We actually had to ratchet it back together. There are 7 people in our van and 8 in the other. 2 people left Friday morning before us and 5 more are heading out at 3:30am Saturday morning. Scott crossed into Mexico early Saturday morning and drove around lost for 4+ hours in the sand. Poor things! They finally made it to the compound only to find out that the stores in Mexico only sell used wood and he has headed back to the boarder to wait in the 3 hour line into Yuma to get our lumber and sheetrock. We, on the other hand, made it to Woodburn around 7:30 for dinner and left around 8:30, hahaha, not even to Salem and it's 8:30! We had a good laugh and then everyone crashed. Next thing we know we were in Grants Pass and it was midnight. 5:30am I woke up and we were in Sacramento (I think!) There we switched drivers and PV took control. We passed Harris Ranch in the morning so the stench wasn't too bad. We jsut ate at Denny's near Newman and consensus is that we don't stop till we hit Mexico, except for gas.

WOW! Good Morning! So to catch you up, we switched drivers right before the grapevine, Tom at the wheel I finally got some good sleep. We prayed all the way down for a green light at the border. As we drew closer to Yuma, we switched drivers again, Tony got the honors of driving us across the border. Tom called 4 people asking them to start praying about our crossing with us. As he hung up the last call Rubber Duck came over the radio and told us to pull over, his van was over heating. (Yes we have named the vans, ours is Big Ben.) The van was actually completely out of oil! Praise God! We were within a mile of a gas station! All was good, back on the road, we hit the border at 10pm and got a red light. Upon opening the back of the trailer, the guards eyes got as big as saucers (it really was stuffed to the gills!) they said we could move along. Praise God again, I'll give you a red light and still get you through! We finally ate our first real authentic Mexican Tacos (or 3) at 11:30pm. Arrived at the compound only to find the gates locked and no one awake. No Problem! We took it off its hinges backed the vans in and unloaded them and trailer, I was asleep by 1am, to the sounds of air mattresses being filled, before the lights were even out. God is very Good! After 31 hours of travel, we are all safe and sound.

The Marathon

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Granddaddy's Hands


Well folks! It's official. As of today Tate publishing has accepted my Aunt Beth's art work for the book. Yea! They were thrilled with the quality and looking forward to working with us. Production starts April 1st, two days after I return from Mexico. I will let you all know what that is like as we go through the process. I can't hardly believe that its actually happening. I hope this book blesses children as much as the process has blessed me. Unfathomable! Here is the painting of the cover just to give you a taste of reality. These are my granddaddy's hands :)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ecola Reunion

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The Begining

Well, here it is. 2009 and I've finally broken down and learned how to blog. This is the best way I know how to keep all of you, whom I love very much, in the know on how my life is going. Since I'm gearing up for a great year of new adventures, I figure this is the best way to keep one and all up to date.

So, what does this year hold for me? I said adventures and I meant it in the most broad terms. This means everything from traveling here and abroad to having my very first book published. There is so much to do and we are nearing the end of the first quarter, so first things first TAXES!! All of you who are laughing because you know me and paper work, no worries, I have not let you down, I still haven't done them. But before I get ahead of myself, lets look back at last year and catch you up to date.

2008 was a year. Yep, lots happened, I will just touch on the stuff that still impacts me today, ie my most lovable familia :) In January my entire immediate family, minus grandchildren went on the HCI Cruise. Awesome! Yes, chalk up another sunburn for Jen and tans around for the rest of the family BUT now I have a brother in law that burns like me so I was not alone. Spring break I went with my friend Sara Martin back to Lopez Island and toured the San Juans and took a side trip to Victoria BC. My dear friend Lane from the marina was home and we met his daughter Brittany who upon hearing we were going to Victoria joined in the fun. The stories are hilarious, the pictures are amazing, I wish I could say more. Two weeks later I took a trip to South Carolina, and then 2 weeks after that I moved out of my cute little apartment into a huge house with my lovely roomates Sara Martin (texas) and Rosemary Tracy (alaska) AND left for Alaska. Yes, it all happened that fast. Buddy and I spent the next 5 months working for IHS Construction, back behind the wheel of my favorite FORD pulling a trailer and earning the nickname "4 ton Jen." Why? Well here is the other exciting part. My baby sister Margaret got married to this great guy Zach. We all moved home, yes I mean all, Kara, Rusty and the kids included. It was quite a summer, minus the rain, it was pretty darn awesome. It included a massive family fishing trip one week before the wedding. A trecherous hike over Crow Creek Pass, and a Llama trek with my mom, Aunt Coleen and Cousin Brenna. So yes I eventually decided it was time to return home in the middle of September. And the fun just didn't stop there. My friend Jenny Dodd and I went and had an Apple Weekend at the farm. We picked, pressed and pureed! I really enjoyed the time with Nana, and the fellowship while sitting by the fire. Overwhelmed by Granddaddy's lingering presence, I jotted some thoughts down and shared them with Jenny. Needless to say, I submitted them to Tate Publishing and promptly forgot about it. October, November, December! They all just flew by! Kara gave me another Neice around thanksgiving time. Evangeline Moyra joined our family. Mom bought me a ticket home for Christmas. Thus my 6th month in Alaska began with a phone call from Tate. Yes they wanted to publish my book.

That brings us to 2009!

I decided I wanted Aunt Beth to illustrate my book so we started working on gathering paintings, scanning and getting ideas for missing pictures etc. We just submitted the pictures today just in time for the April 1st deadline. That will start the production process, editing and whatever else that entails. I will keep you all up to date as it happens.

The women on my mom's side of the family decided to take a trip to France. I decided to extend my stay, since I'm going I might as well see some places I've always wanted to see. SO! Nana, Barbie, Tawni, Mom, Kara, Evie, Lu, Margaret, Beth, Coleen, Brenna and I are headed to the region of Provance on June 16th (Happy Birthday to me!) I will keep you posted.

Now for more recent events. We had a mini Ecola Reunion at my house a couple of weekends ago. We gathered for home made pizza and fellowship. SO good to see old friends and the kids WOW, 8 total, oh the insanity! It felt so much like old home goup nights, I loved it! I hope we do it again and not 15 years down the road, AND I hope more will find us and join us. We had Shane and Aaron Gray and their 4 kids, Buzz, Adam and his girlfriend and her daughter, Rob Rainwater, and Liz!!! yes Elizabeth Woods now Anderson found me on facebook right before it all happened so she brought her three kids. Praying for her hubby in Iraq and his safe return.

Last but not leaset!!! I am going on a Mexico Mission trip as a team member/volunteer Interpreter (ASL not Spanish!!!) leaving Friday March 20th. We have so much to do and so little time while we are there! Nothing like tackling the impossible in Gods name to prove He is possible right? So here are the goals so you can be praying: Drive to San Luis Rio Colorado (Friday-Saturday), Construction (plumbing, wiring, drywall, mud and taping, painting, installing fixtures Sunday-Thursday maybe Saturday), Soccer Tournament (expecting 450 participants, Monday thru Saturday), Women's Tea (Wednesday-during construction), Marriage Conference (40 couples Thursday and Friday), Childrens Ministry (every night), Pastors Leadership Conference (Saturday) Big End Event Saturday night, Drive Home (Sunday-Monday). There it is folks, there are 22 of us going! If we have internet I will keep you posted. Otherwise look for an update when I get back. Someday, I'm going to learn how to download photos to this thing too!