January 2016

We just got back from our once a month trip to our future new home. Jeremy said it best, I think, when he said, “Be careful what you ask for because it could be even better than you thought.” 

It is so strange: anytime we have gone to Mexico it always feels like going home. As if we never left and we fall into the days easily. This trip was no different except we had a home to go to. Our home. 

The apartment turned out to be fantastic and we started talking about if we would really even move from it if we had the choice. It’s not too big and really not too small. It takes me approximately 5 minutes to clean the kitchen, two to pick up the whole house and everything has a spot where it goes {and it has to go there because there is no where else to put it}. We love it!

   
 The boys settled into their space…bunkbeds, Dad’s custom built-in & fold up desks for school and surviving with no internet or TV {which was great for all of us!} The best part: friends. Friends living so close you can just yell out the window to see if they can come over and walk them home in two minutes when it’s time to go home again. We might need to increase our food budget, kids eat a lot when in small herds!

   
On the formal ministry side of things, we met, set dates and got “to do” lists. Along with @openarms.org email addresses…as small as that is, it is still surreal. Talk turned The Camalu Project Dedication, Spring Break plans and a final move date. 

June 10, 2016. That’s the day. 10 years in the making. Along with packing up our life and moving to Mexico it’s also our 16th wedding anniversary. I’m sure the coincidence isn’t one. It’s like returning to the day we started to start anew. It makes my soul quiet when I think about it and I don’t know why or what it means but in my heart it’s very pretty, if that makes sense.

We arrive June 10th and the first of many summer groups arrives on the 12th. From there it’s a whirlwind of groups, organizing, ministry projects, construction and long days with short nights. This is why we are moving slowly now and settling in…ain’t nobody got time for that when summer comes!

And regarding the things in the “Reality Check” post, it all worked out fine! Someone donated a heater to us and if you wear your jacket and scarf with the heater going during the day you good to go! {I’m not complaining…I love cold!} The propane tank and I became quick friends when I figured out it heats, not only the shower, but all the hot water in the apartment. I overcame my fear and was cooking up a storm! Heidi, God bless her soul, had a line dig from our apartment to the daycare water tanks so water in the shower is now a real thing and we don’t have to rely solely on city water! We met our neighbor…doesn’t seem like a serial killer so I can rest easier…with the door always locked anyway, of course. And after really stopping to think that yes, it’s different but when you look around, you’re talking about first world problems in a country with third world crisis and it shuts you up. Slap in the face by God never fails me.

  
Someone asked me about support and this is still my answer: technically we are only 10% funded and 100% relying on God to come through for us. If you would like to financially support us, comitt to pray for us or help in any other way, please email me lindzee@openarmsmexico.org

We are on countdown. 4 months, 16Days. 20 Saturdays. And we will officially be moving to Mexico! God is good. His promises remain. His Word is steadfast. 

  

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What are we going to do? (Part 1)

Ohhhh this question: it plagues me, keeps me up at night (if I let it)!! It’s such a multifaceted question. Which is why this post is only “Part 1”.  I’m not sure how many parts there will actually be because there are so many subjects to cover in answer to this one small question.

But, here goes: What are you going to do (insert) –> in Mexico? God has pressed the >> button on this subject (see the previous post)! 

The last post summed up: (but totally worth the read, so you should read it too!) starting in January we will be spending a week every month in Mexico – for many reasons. The first being that Heidi and Daniel (OA Directors) will be needed in Camalu at the second daycare site as it’s opening approaches. Second, they have asked Jeremy and I to be a part of the leadership team that will run the origional campus in La Mision while Heidi and Daniel are off site. And lastly, it’s going to help the staff, OA kids and our boys to adjust to our new role at OA.

The role. The “what are you going to do in Mexico” question answered. As part of the leadership team, Jeremy and I will be: doing admin, starting organized sports, organizing and scheduling groups before their arrival, facilitating the activities the groups are doing while in Mexico and helping with the “American side” of the minsitry. This in itself is a big job! 

OA has so many groups every year to serve! Thers’s small groups of five people staying for the weekend to larger groups of 100 people staying for a week or more. The amazing part of this role is that (God in His awesomeness) we have done this before. On a small scale while we have been there on trips ourselves and on a larger scale when we oversaw the group from Taiwan when Heidi and Daniel were in the States having their second child. We love this part of the ministry! Seeing people who come consistently to serve and people who are having their first mission experience is awesome. To watch God call people to different things and see them answer the call is something we never get tired of seeing!

In a more “unofficial” capacity, we will be wearing lots of hats! Loving on kids and their families in a consistent Christ centered way, filling in wherever and whenever is needed (we have never been above cleaning toilets and don’t plan to change that anytime soon!), providing support for the staff & volunteer missionaries and whatever else God has for us! 

So, that’s what we will be doing in Mexico! 

This is 5 months away. FIVE. MONTHS. #weremoving #summer2016 is fast approaching!! Stay tuned for “What are we going to do…about school, for money, with NPI” and who knows what else! 

If you’re interested in sponsoring our mission to fight to keep families together please let us know!!! 

Us, pictured with Daniel & Heidi back in 2013-when moving to Mexico was still just a dream!!

Reality Check

In December, we {Jeremy and I} had an opportunity to spend our first nights in our Mexico apartment. We headed down with the intention to start making the space functional for us before we embark on our “one week a month” journey.

It was cute. I packed a tub with a few things {Jeremy’s tools, a couple of small canvas prints I got on clearance, four pillows, a desk, 3 dish towels, coffee pot, 6 mugs, drop cloths and curtain fixings}…like I said, cute {like a kid packing their own bag for an overnight trip for the first time}. Super thought out, not so much. 

Anyway, our major goal was cover the windows on a budget, or lack there of. So Pinterest to the rescue: cheap, washable, wouldn’t die if they went missing = drop cloth curtains! Jeremy was skeptical but willing because it cost next to nothing compared to buying actual, adult curtains. Hours of drilling into the concrete wall, 5 drill bits and a possible muscle tear later {poor guy} and POOF curtains! And they are cute, functional, block out the cold/heat and strangers can’t peer into our house from the freeway…win! 

We also started making the closet in the living room into a “cloffice”. You know, a space to use as an office, homeschool desk and bookcase when there is no space for such nonsense. It’s a closet office!! Don’t judge me. Jace and Ryan have been known to bunk down in Ben & De’s walk in closet when space was tight!! Americans take space for granted. I’m learning to make more of less and it’s so functional. However, I do chuckle at my previous dreams of a “homeschool” room. Bahahahaha…not happening!

We mapped out our furniture dimensions with masking tape. It boils down to,  “Look all around our house in the U.S: ya, none of that is coming.” I’m considering in the last couple of weeks just putting everything we are taking in our master bedroom (yup, it’ll fit) and inviting friends (or even strangers if I’m desperate) to come take what they want. Really. 

I could end this here, but that would be a little deceptive because the nitty gritty had nothing to do with anything we did in the apartment. The reality check…

It started with the stove. I followed this strange cord from the bottom of it into a cabinet. And there it sat: a propane tank. Like the one under your bbq on your back porch. In that moment I thought to myself, “Crap. I’m going to blow us up trying to cook dinner. How much does it cost to fill this thing? How many times am I going to have to fill it a week?” Reality check. Not impossible but scary & different.

I laid in bed staring at the ceiling listening to our neighbor, who shares the main wall of our apartment, entertain friends. Listening as in I COULD HEAR EVERY WORD like he was sitting in the end of my bed. I thanked God I’m not completely fluent because panic was settling in and had I understood  every word, I would have melted down. My thoughts: I haven’t had neighbors in 20 years, what if they start shooting, they could be cooking meth in there…I don’t know these people! Reality check. Enter in the Holy Spirit, deep breathing and something dumb I told God one time that He brought to my remembrance. {keep reading}

Fast forward to the next morning. Long story short apparently the water pressure from the “city” isn’t enough to push water out of our shower. What are you going to do, you ask? One of two things: pray that a tank and pump can be put on our apartment or fill huge pots with water, boil them on my propane stove and take a “bucket bath” in the shower. PS when you flush the toilet the water in the kitchen sink turns to a trickle. BUT more importantly people I have boys!! Dirty, germy, stinky boys who need daily showers!! Pray. I almost can’t wrap my mind around this one despite the fact I’ve shrugged it off to others.

No heat. Cement house. Tile floors. It was chilly.

To sum it up, one time I asked God, “Why would you send us to Mexico? That’s so easy. When we are willing to go anywhere, why send us someplace where we are so comfortable.” God reminded me of this and the fact that He had never answered me. Until now: it’s not going to be easy or comfortable. 

Please pray for us: trust in Gods plan, essentials that we will need starting in January (like electric blankets & tamale pots-for showers!), that we would be able to adjust as a family and for finances while in mission.

You can email me at lindzee@openarmsmexico.org if you have any items you are able to donate or are interested in sponsoring us as we help keep families together in Mexico!! 

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE: WE HAVE A GREAT SHOWER & FLUSHING TOILET!!
JEREMY GETTING HIS CURTAIN HANGING ON!
THE “CLOFFICE”

God pressed the >> button…

God is awesome. And funny. So, so funny!! We have been sitting on this #weremoving Mexico dream for almost 10 years. Yes, really. And the last 5/6 years have been spent knowing we would be heading to Open Arms in Baja.

So all this time we have have talked, planned, dreamed and looked forward to #summer2016. And since Spring break this year we have gotten real serious about this move and what it will look like. But now, per His usual, “You are just along for the ride” theme, we are being fast tracked!

Rewind to mid May when we went to La Mision for our 15th wedding anniversary. We were chatting with Heidi (Director of OA) about the future & all of our big dreams. Open Arms’ big dreams included. You see, they themselves are in the brink of big change too: they have started building a campus in Camalu (about three hours south of their original campus in La Mision.)

Part of the deal with the new campus is that Heidi & Daniel will be spending a lot of time in Camalu and need a leadership team in La Mision. The staff  and volunteers requested that Jeremy and I be part of that leadership. WOW.

We were so surprised! It’s one thing to think you have spent all these years building trust, investing in people and truly loving, but when it’s confirmed by those very people, the feeling is amazing! It’s like validation for all the long trips home from Mexico at all hours with two toddlers in the back seat! All the tax returns that went for mission trips mattered. All the time spent to be present for even the most “normal” days mattered. Every prayer, moms class, youth group, church service and kids church service taught by us mattered. It all made an impression on those who we sought to serve. It was humbling and our enthusiastic YES resounded just like that, all caps and no doubt.

So, the goal is for Open Arms to open their campus in Camaluin January of 2016 and Heidi & Daniel will need to be there for long stretches of time but that’s not #weremoving #summer2016. Sooooo, how’s that going to work? Well, the conversation was kind of like this: “Hey you remember when you guys came down for a week every month for two years? Ya, we need you to start that again in January.” Again our YES resounded just like that. In caps and no doubt!

So, starting in January we will begin to spend a week every month in La Mision. We will start to settle into our new position, adjust to the schedule, let our boys become acclimated again & have a chance to be hands in before #summer2016. We are really excited that we have this opportunity! It allows us to ease into our position – hopefully building even more trust with the staff at OA, learning the daily ropes and easing into the big move. It will also help the transitions with the kids, moms and volunteers  at NPI. This feels like the opportunity of a lifetime, like this big dream is really coming true! It’s exciting and scary…but mostly amazing!!!

We have a few prayer requests: pray for safe travels (this will be a lot of time en route both ways!), for wisdom as we begin to step into this new position, for our boys to adjust (again) to the schedule at OA and for NPI – we need a team of dedicated people to lead when we are gone!!

One of {almost} everything…

a1 a3a4 a2

One. It’s the smallest number (for those of us who are not mathematicians). It was a super exciting number…at first. Now, it’s also the freakin’ scariest number. Let me explain.

Since last year I have felt smothered. Like I can’t breathe. All the stuff we have in our home has been closing in on me. It’s everywhere! We have a hall closet. FULL of STUFF. Tons of kitchen cabinets. FULL of STUFF. Closets in every bedroom. FULL of STUFF. And I’ve never noticed any of it before. I’ve been surrounded by all this crap (honestly I don’t even know what is in most every cabinet) and it has never bothered me. But in the past year it all started to close in and all I think about is getting rid of it all! I really think The Lord is preparing me for #mexico2016.

Fast forward to the here and now and I’m freaking so excited about having one of everything!! Like one set of measuring cups (not the 17 haphazardly placed, mismatched sets floating around somewhere), one set of teaspoons (with ALL of them present) and so on. You can see where this is going.

a

Less. Less stuff. Less crap, #downsizing. Yesssssssssss. I’m longing for it. Looking forward to one of {almost} everything. Almost everything because a girl can’t go with just one pair of undies, you know? But less in the areas that require more than one. Less clothes (that we don’t wear), less toys (that aren’t ever played with)…less, less, less I say!!

But then I realized one of everything applies to more than all of our material possessions. We have one Christmas left in the only home our children have known. The home we have lived in for 15 years. Where all of our memories are. All of our struggles have happened here, in this place. Our triumphs have reverberated within these walls. One: Christmas, one more set of the boys’ crazy double birthdays, one more Father’s Day BBQ with all the kids…one more year at home.

It hit me. Hard. One of {almost} everything just became about time, memories and the reality that we are leaving it all behind to run the race that has been set before us. We are leaving the memories, family, friends and even our older children (who are and will be on their own paths in life next year) behind. Wow. That strikes a chord I haven’t dealt with. I’ve been so focused on the posesssions that the “one” of what really matters hasn’t even registered.

My prayer is – “Lord, you know. I feel you preparing me, but please be there when it hits. When I realize my mom isnt next door and the place I’m laying my head isn’t my home that I’ve known for over half my life. When I start longing for things I couldn’t wait to leave behind, God comfort me. Set my feet on firm ground in what you have laid before us.”

One of {almost} everything just became real as hell.
“Things to Do Before You Move Your Whole Family To The Mission Field”

See #’s 1-2 in previous post.

#3. Decide where you are going to live. After shopping around both online and in person we decided that we will live on site. In the third floor apartment over the medical/dental clinic (God willing) at Open Arms. It’s a two bedroom & one bath apartment. The benefits far outweighed the negatives of this decision. So, check that off the list! (In depth post about housing later!)

So Many # and So Many Explanations

A couple of weeks ago I added the hash-tag #weremoving. Subconsciously I guess I was trying to be sensitive and soften the blow both to those who know our plans and add crying emojis after everything remotely related to #weremoving and those who had no idea what I was talking about. We haven’t been keeping a secret but now its a reality #weremoving…in one year. Well, one year (ish) only because we don’t have a number date. We are chalking it up to “next summer, summer 2016 and one year”.

This isn’t some spur of the moment decision that we are mulling around. This has been a move in the making for 7 to 10 years! Really. We went to Mexico for the first time in 2005, many of you reading this were with us. Little did any of us know it would literally change everything. We began to feel then that we “could” see ourselves living in Mexico. You know, after “the kids grow up”. It was a nice thought. That’s not what God had in mind. After a few years and connecting with our friends at Open Arms (check it out at openarmsmexico.org because we will be living there and it’s an awesome ministry!) we began to see a different future unfolding for our family.

Long story short we knew we were called to full time missions after Garrett and Bailey graduated high school. That’s happening. June 2016. See where this is going? That leads us to that #weremoving post. I  used it when we sold our 9 person suburban. That suburban had seen all five of our kiddos through many, many years of family travels. We downsized to a Chevy Trailblazer. Smaller car (5 people). Less gas (for those long trips back to Visalia). This was our first step to #downsizing (another # I used in said post). Our first public announcement of our departure.

10391807_101527933204637_4121333_n            Mexico

(These pictures are from 2009, the first year we went to Open Arms as a family!!)

It was met with questions, honest opinions, great support and raw emotion. It was a game changer in a way we never expected. Good and bad. The only thing we can say is – this is God’d decision. Not ours. Honestly I would do the selfish thing and up and move to Idaho with sweet Chelsea! REALLY. In a heartbeat. If only it hadn’t been for this path God put us on. As the year moves on and we prepare, downsize, realize the sacrifice, adjust emotionally, help our friends and family adjust and search out how God wants this done: pray for us. All of us. Jeremy & I, the kids (all 5), our parents and friends that have become family.

This isn’t easy. It’s exciting. It’s an adventure. It’s amazing. It’s also: kind of sad, hard to let go and a HUGE adjustment in mindset. I plan to blog about this move. About us personally, our ministry here in Visalia, our new ministry in La Mision, Baja California and everything in between! I’d love to share this with you and anyone who is interested in watching (or reading about) us as we look ahead to all God has in life, family and missions for us!

On a side note for all those who love lists and want to know EXACTLY what it does and will take for us to make this happen I’m starting a “Things To Do Before Moving Your Whole Family To The Mission Field” list=)

1.) Sell your gas guzzling ride for more functional, smaller, more gas mileage friendly wheels. As I said above we sold our monster suburban and downsized to a 2003 Chevy Trailblazer. I love it. 5 seats. Less gas. Perfect for this move. Although in the next year we will have to raise funds to buy all terrain tires – essential for the roads of old Mexico=)

2.) Sell you CA King size bed because it IS NOT fitting in your 900 sq foot on site apartment! So we went with a queen that was almost brand new and given to us. As we sell things we are socking the moolah away so we can do one of two things: buy things we need before we go (think bunk beds, all terrain tires and the like) or save it if we can and use it as support as we trade in our income for the generosity of those who believe in what we are doing in Mexico!

So far that all we got besides dreaming big, talking about how this will look in one year and praying our hearts out!