Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Where Hubby Grew Up

I am delighted to tell you that we are third-generation missionaries. It is an honor to carry that title, and I do not take the heritage that has been passed down through my husband's family lightly.
On Christmas morning, I sat in a church building in Texas with 25 members of the original Sloan family (some last names have changed through marriage). Since we all serve on the mission field, none of us has a home of our own in the states. For this reason, we were all gathered in a church building, sleeping old-fashioned Baptist style - on cots, in sleeping bags, on air mattresses, and some even on church pews - just to be together for the holidays!

As we sat together during devotions, Tommy (hubby's oldest brother) raised the question, "I wonder where we would all be if Popsy had never been saved and gone to the mission field?"

"Popsy" and "Mimi" Ashcraft, as they were lovingly called, were the first generation of missionaries in our family, called to the field of Mexico.
Then, the Ashcraft's daughter, Billie, followed the Lord, along with her husband to various parts of Mexico as well. My father-in-law passed away six years ago, but this dear couple along with their eight children has called Chiapas, Mexico home since the early '80s.
Since we were recently in Chiapas, Mexico, visiting home, I took pictures of the property where my husband grew up to share with you. Even though this was not my first trip to hubby's childhood home, it was still fascinating to me to be there and realize all that has been done for the cause of Christ on this property.

The Sloan's home as well as their church and Bible institute are all located on one property. My mother-in-law still lives in this home and the church continues under the pastorate of her son Philip Sloan since the homegoing of his father.

Enjoy these pictures!

The house where hubby grew up

Small yard to the side of the house. David's mother dreams of putting playground equipment for her grandchildren here one day. With 28 grandchildren and 3 on the way, that wouldn't be a bad investment!
Front of the Sloan home
Storage shed in the backyard
Home and church within the same property
Church that David's father started, which is now pastored by Philip
Church entrance from the outside street
Church and wall around the Sloan's home

Street outside of the property, with mountains in the background
Looking down the opposite side of the street, with more mountains in the background
Unfortunately, when I went to the other side of the house to take pictures, I was distracted by my children playing with their cousins and never finished photographing the rest of the property. You can see in the background of the two picture below some of the staff housing and nursery area. The dormitory and classroom are not pictured at all, but are located to the left of this building, behind the church.

There is an outdoor baptistry right next to where the girls are playing
With faces as cute as these, wouldn't you have been distracted too?!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Three Little Princesses

Probably the hardest thing about being foreign missionaries is leaving family. So, that is one of the sweetest parts of furlough... reuniting and catching up on the last couple of years.
For our children, that usually means meeting cousins they have not met. Since we are in an ever-growing family of cousins (for our children), there are always new little ones to meet.

When we came back this furlough, there were six cousins we had not met. And, for us, this is typical. After all, there are 28 cousins on hubby's side of the family with two on the way!
On our recent trip to Mexico, Brianna was able to spend some special time with two of her thirteen girl cousins (one we had never met; the other we barely knew). Their Mimi bought them matching dresses, and these three princesses waltzed through their backyard childish kingdom with fluff and flair, as though they had known each other their whole lives.
Brianna, cousin Sophie (Fizzie's daughter) and cousin Debbie (Anna's daughter)

Heading off to never-ever land...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Three's a Charm

There is so much to catch up on here in blogging world... And since I look at this little address of mine as an online journal, catching up is something I really want to do. So, we'll start with some updated pictures of my three little charms:

Davey, age 8 1/2

Brianna, nearly 4 with Nate, age 6 1/2
With darling children such as these, can you see why we decided we wanted a fourth one?! I am so grateful to the Lord for the beautiful family He has given me. A lady in a store recently saw my bulging tummy and commented that I am going to have a lot of children, to which I replied, "We are making an investment for our future!" Yes, some people invest riches in the bank. We, on the other hand, are investing in children! Riches will pass away, but our children are our Christian heritage that will keep on reaping rewards for generations to come. Does it get any better than that?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pictures of me... at 30 weeks

I have tried avoiding the camera these days... but apparently, I have been avoiding the computer as well by the looks of my blog and the very few posts I have done in the last couple of months!

I still have not been to an American doctor, although I do have an appointment coming up. Our traveling schedule has been very intense to say the least. We just made it back to Texas today, where we plan for me to give birth to little Micah James around January 28th. From this point forward we will be making smaller trips, always returning to this area. It seems surreal that I will be holding another baby in my arms very soon.
Mommy and 6-year-old Nate
I am feeling absolutely wonderful... just more tired with this pregnancy than the previous three. I am sure that has everything to do with age and having more children to be Mommy to as I wait. Hubby has been very understanding and does his best to help. What would I do without him?
I only have about 38 days to go. Wonder if Micah will be a "blondie" like my boys...? Or dark-skinned and dark-haired like my Brianna...? Isn't it so much fun that we don't choose for ourselves?

Monday, November 22, 2010

South of the Border

I'll bet you'll never believe where we are... south of the border! And when we do things, we go all the way. So, not only are we south of the border.... we are really south of the border - almost in Guatemala! It took us 30 hours by bus to get here.

So, why are we here? This is where hubby grew up as a second-generation missionary, and this is where some of his family still lives and works in the ministry. We came here for two weeks for David to speak at his mother's annual ladies' banquet and so that we could visit with his family that the kids and I have not seen for 6 years.

The kids have been loving playing with their cousins.... some of these cousins they have never met before! I watch them play and see a sense of belonging in them. We are not just guests in a home. We are with family. This is such a rare moment for us that we are soaking it all in.

I am taking oodles of pictures! However, since we left many of our things in our van at the border, I accidently left the cord that connects my camera to my laptop. So, pictures will come later...

The only thing I am really hoping and praying for is that little Micah James will not decide that he loves Mexico so much that he wants to become a Mexican! I am 30 weeks along with him and just trying to keep him put for now!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Reverse Culture-Shock, Part 3

This is the last post in a three-part series of things my children have found to be different in America than what they are used to on our mission field of Ukraine. To find part 1, go here; to find part 2, go here. If you are viewing this post in your inbox and the pictures do not line up well, go straight to my blog to view them.

1. Canned biscuits (I had so much fun with this one the other day! We were staying in a missionary's home, and the pastor's wife had sweetly left breakfast items in the refrigerator for us to cook for ourselves. One of those things included canned biscuits. Very cunningly, I called my 8-year-old Davey over to help me open the can, knowing full well that it would pop and scare him! And who says missionaries never have fun?!) 2. Dishwashers (Most homes have these and many ladies do not think twice about the way their lives are made easier because of them. But, I'll refrain from being jealous and just laugh at myself when I cannot figure out if the dishes are to go on the little wires sticking out or between them. Ahem.)
3. Homes without fences or walls (Did you know that most Ukrainian homes [and even cemeteries] have iron fences or high concrete walls around them? We have not built one around our home yet, and our loving church people keep reminding us that we need to prioritize that to keep burglars out. So far the Lord has protected our belongings, but we do plan to put up a wall or fence soon.)
4. School buses (For some reason my children have been just fascinated with "school bus sightings" and they love to yell out when they see one. In Ukraine, the children either walk to school or ride a city bus.)
5. Home construction (Ukrainian homes are always built out of very large bricks or huge slabs of concrete. They sincerely cannot understand why Americans build their homes out of wood. Reminds me of The Three Little Pigs. I guess they worry about the big, bad wolf blowing American houses down, and in some regard, they are right when you consider the damage that can be done with tornadoes and hurricanes.)6. Porches (We have never seen a Ukrainian home with a porch.)
7. Speed detectors (These are scary! If you accidently go over the speed limit you'll be caught! Since we are on the road so much, we have to be extra cautious.)
8. Electronic "Your Speed" signs (Ah, such nice reminders!)
9. Traffic bridges (Wow! Sometimes we feel like we are on slow-motion roller coasters when we loop around and on top of other freeways! This also causes much excitement in our van.)
10. Massive sports stadiums (The kids were "itching" to go to one of these, so we were able to take them to a high school football game last week at the Christian school I attended long ago, and they thought they were going to be on TV! Boy, did we get a laugh out of that one! Good thing is, they are still too young to understand the difference between high school and professional games!)
11. Two- and three- car garages. (Some of our beloved Ukrainian friends would feel blessed to live in a house the size of some garages we have seen here!)
12. Pick-up trucks (We are currently traveling through Texas, so you can only imagine how many pick-up trucks we have been seeing. We have never seen a pick-up truck in Ukraine, so a pastor recently and ever so graciously took our kids for a ride in one. They were thrilled!)
13. Homes-on-wheels (You would never see one of our concrete homes in Ukraine being hauled like this!)
14. Everlasting supply of toilet paper and paper towels in bathrooms (Enough said.)
15. Air-conditioned homes (I do not know of anyone in America who does not have an air-conditioned home. I do not know of one person in our Ukrainian church who has an air-conditioned home, including us. And, yes, it gets hot enough in the summers that we could really enjoy them. But, the funny thing? When we come back to America, we all always get colds.... from the air conditioners!)
16. Waste (The trash cans Ukrainians use in their kitchens are not much bigger than the ones Americans use in their bathrooms. Ukrainians do not have much to throw away, and it is incredible to us to see how much Americans have to toss, donate, sell at garage sales, or store in their garages.)
17. Modesty in America (For the most part, we are always pleasantly surprised at the general modesty of Americans compared to Ukrainians. Ukraine is an Eastern European country, and I think that most people know that Europeans are known for exposing too much skin.)
18. American flags in front of most businesses. (One of my kids innocently asked, "Is this to remind them this is America?" It was a pleasure to use this opportunity to explain why Americans are proud of their flag and its meaning.)
Ukrainians ask me on a very frequent basis, "Do you like it better here or in America?" Well, that is certainly a question that is hard to answer, and I usually say something along the lines of, "I love it both here and there."
America is the land where I was born and reared. It is the land where I found God and learned of His Son Jesus. It is a blessed country that is most certainly easier and more comfortable to live in.
Ukraine is the land where God has called our family to live and minister. God has blessed us in this country for following His leading there more than eight years ago. Our hearts have become forever knit with the Ukrainian people, and even though it is harder to live there, we love the simpler way of life which causes us to be grateful for even the little blessings in our lives. Though we enjoy our time here, we lovingly call Ukraine "home."