March 23, 2012

Adventures in Packing

The most frequently asked question we have received after announcing that we are moving to Ecuador is: "What will you do with your stuff?" Good question; here's an attempted answer:

I will never complain about packing when moving again. I hope.

Packing, as I had formerly known it, is the process of putting your possessions into boxes, trailers, or cars and relocating them. This process normally involves an unfulfilled vow to get rid of things you really don't need, declutter your life, and to finish in a finely tuned and organized fashion. The reality of this deep clean/organization effort is that after a few things are thrown away, sold at garage sales, or donated to Goodwill - there will still be several boxes packed with mismatched socks, electronic parts, sentimental trinkets (whether you remember the sentiment or not) and a myriad of things you really don't need but are worried that you might and don't want to spend money to replace them - so into a box they go!

This summarizes pretty well the goals and subsequent failings of my packing expeditions over the past 5 years of marriage. We have moved 6 times during the last 5 years so I've had opportunity to reflect!

This move is different. This time we are relocating to a place we have never been, we cannot take much with us and we don't know if/when we will move back. This time, I have to meet the idealistic packing goals. This time, I really do have to get rid of everything I do not need and finish in an organized fashion - and I only have 1 1/2 weeks left in which to do this. PANIC!

In theory, I would love to get rid of everything we own that does not immediately impact our goals/needs for moving to Ecuador. Why store what you don't need? I hate the idea of storage.

BUT...what if we only stay in Ecuador for 3-6 months? What if we stay for 10 years? What if we move back and don't have the basic necessities or money to buy them? Things like sheets, blankets, towels, and of course - Christmas decor?!? What do I do with the pottery place settings or nice cookware we got from loved ones for our wedding? What do we do with the nice sets of tools we have? They cost too much to replace, and if we ever move back, we know we'll need them! What do we do with boxes full of old letters, pictures, sentimental gifts, and childhood memorabilia?

We have sold the majority of our furniture, and will leave our appliances with the house we currently live in. We have sold my Explorer, and will sell Geoff's truck. We are re-homing our beloved bunny, Doc.  We have a huge garage sale/Goodwill donation pile that contains many items I would not be parting with if we were not making such a drastic move. I have sorted through everything we own at least 4 times, thoroughly, and I still feel disorganized.

We are keeping the Aspen log bed that we built together in Colorado. We are keeping our pottery and cookware. Though they have been thinned, we are keeping basic sentimental items like pictures, notes, childhood memorabilia...and of course Geoff's Lego sets. We are keeping a tote of basic linens; sets of towels, sheets, blankets, etc. along with a few other items would be too expensive to replace. We are keeping our mountain bikes, and my road bike.  These things will go to my parents house. Thank you!!!! We have loaded our favorite DVD's onto our external hard drive, and will store necessary papers and documents in online storage.

I still feel like we are keeping too much, but I'm not done packing so I'm sure the next filter will remove even more debris. All that to say, we are doing our best to get rid of what we don't need, and to be responsible stewards of gifts that were given to us and of belongings that may still serve purpose for us in the future. It's hard. We are short on time. Please pray for us!

March 21, 2012

My Jeep - The Explorer

I've always wanted to drive a Jeep. To be exact, I want that Jeep, the one in the picture. A steel blue, TJ or CJ model with standard transmission. Yes. That is my dream. Windows down? Not sufficient; take the whole top off! Road blocked? No problem. Fun? Absolutely. Practical. Not a chance.

With inflated price tags, poor gas mileage, bad safety records, and uncomfortable road travel my dream of owning such a Jeep is pretty hopeless. Still, I dream of it, often. Geoff lets me test drive one every once in a while. It doesn't help. I still wrestle with my fleshly desire for this ultra impractical, wonderfully beautiful vehicle that should be described instead as simply a TOY. ..but I really want one.

As a consolation prize I have been thrilled to drive my brother's old car, a '98 Explorer Sport, for the past couple of years. With the necessary standard transmission set up similarly to this Jeep and a decent amount of power, this car was fun to drive! I could roll the windows down and nearly pretend I was in my Jeep. Okay, not really, but it's as close as I will likely ever get and therefore I referred to it as "my Jeep." I even put hibiscus print seat covers in it that would have looked great in the true Jeep, but were definitely goofy in the Explorer. Oh well.

In the packing process of moving to Ecuador, our cars, obviously, can't make the cut. On Monday, we sold the Explorer. It wasn't as sad as I thought it would be. I liked the couple we sold it to and think they'll really enjoy it. I am so thankful that we were able drive the Explorer for a time. It got us from point A to point B as good as any car - and it had automatic windows which was thrilling to me.  I've never dreamed of an expensive new car, there are too many things the Lord needs us to use our money for. Obviously, I instead only dream of worn out, overpriced (for their age), off-roading vehicles. That's a much better use of the Lord's money. I know, I know, it's not. That's why I don't have one! I thought I'd confess my dream nonetheless! I'm so thankful to have been provided the luxury of having this car as transportation when we needed it.

March 18, 2012

3 Year Olds

For the record - I love 3 year olds. Its the age I get to teach at preschool (though they are rapidly turning into still amazing 4 year olds) and it is the age all of my nieces turned this week!

Happy Birthday Kinley & Ansley!
We got to travel to Ft. Worth last weekend for my brother's twin girls birthday party and had so much fun! They had a great party at the amazing indoor playground at The Hills. Their mom, Katie, went all out on amazing breakfast foods, great decorations and party favors. It brings me incredible joy to see these happy, healthy, beautiful girls who only 3 years ago were premature tiny babies covered in tubes. It broke my heart to greet my new nieces while they laid tiny and alone in their incubated beds. Watching them run and play, happy and healthy 3 years later is all the sweeter for it! They are so much fun to be with! I look forward to my time with them more and more. It was fun to watch them play with their friends, open presents, and talk with friends and family.

After the party we got to go back to their house to open a few more presents and of course play with the dogs. It was raining outside, afterall, why not take the kids out in it to play fetch with the labs in the pool?  Poor Molly, my brother's yellow lab, could never overcome her fear of jumping in the clear water so had to whimper and watch while Reyah fulfilled the retriever duty. It was probably a sign of intellegience on Molly's part, but alas, nothing will come between Reyah and her ball! Reyah wasn't thrilled about jumping in the pool either, it's much different from running into a pond, but she had a good time anyway and the girls loved throwing the ball in and watching her jump in and swim to get it!
Amazing form! :) 

My brother, Jason, and Geoff

We spent the previous night in Dallas staying with my sister Jana, and her husband, Justin. They are great hosts, and we always look forward to our time with them. It was so fun to get to spend time with the whole family.

Ruby helping dad on his bday

This weekend we planned to travel to Abilene to see Geoff's sister's 3 year old, Ruby, but their plans changed so we haven't been able to celebrate with her yet - but soon! We always enjoy spending time with Ruby and treasure every opportunity.  Ruby is a passionate, spirited, joy filled little lady, always entertaining and pretty cute to top it off! I love watching her sing favorite songs from church - there's little better than watching kids find joy in their Lord.  We were disappointed that we didn't get to see her on her birthday weekend but were thankful to be able to spend a couple of hours with Geoff's parents - and we got to see at least a few of his siblings as well!

The closer we get to moving from Early and beginning our transition to Ecuador, the more we treasure our time with family and friends. What strikes me most about this is how much we take for granted that we "can" go see each other anytime. I should treasure these times just as much whether we were moving out of the country, or living in the same town. Perspective is everything. Who are we to know what tomorrow holds - treasure the time you get to spend with those you love today.


March 13, 2012


Welcome to March! I's halfway over...I really am that behind. This month so far has been a blur in many different directions as we try to sort out all the final processes before moving from Early in less than THREE weeks. Geoff's last Sunday is April 1st, and we will transfer to Belton from here in transition to...ECUADOR!

I realized after the last post that I never said where we were moving, so again, Ecuador! We looked at several areas when deciding where to move, starting with Roatan, Honduras where we had contacts already and one of my favorite families on earth were planning to move there as well. Their plans were delayed, but we were already excited about Latin america and learning Spanish so we began to explore the opportunities in countries throughout Central and South America. We finally decided on Ecuador (it won a tight contest with Costa Rica) due to the low cost of living, good availability of Spanish schools, and easier visa requirements. Those are the practical reasons we chose Ecuador. There are of course many additional details about Ecuador that we are very excited to experience. We plan to travel there with a 6 month visa, with learning Spanish as our top priority. If all goes well and the Lord blesses us to remain - we plan to apply for a 2 year visa, and repeat as desired.

Since Geoff and I were first married, we have tried to be as responsible with our income as possible in order to pay off all student loan and other debt so we could have the freedom to do something like this. We were able to pay off all of our debts by the end of last year, and have been saving like crazy since then. We are selling almost everything of value that we own and our prayer is to have enough to move to Ecuador and be self-supported for as long as possible. By self supported, I do not mean we aren't trusting in God's provision, but that we don't feel led to ask a church or individuals to sponsor us, or help pay for this venture. That's where we are right now. We may get involved with outreaches and opportunities that might warrant fundraising, but as far as our personal expenses go, we are dedicated for now to working for that as much as possible.

So, why are we moving? We want to learn Spanish, and we want to live in another culture. Those are our primary motivations. We have further hopes and dreams about ministry possibilities, but we are starting here for now because until our Spanish greatly improves we can't be much use to a ministry in the area! Even if we return to the US after a short time, we know the experience of living in another culture and having a better grasp of the Spanish language would refine us and be a blessing. We are excited about spending our time in Ecuador building relationships with people who are so much like us, and yet so very different in culture. We are excited about taking Spanish lessons and being able to us the language on a daily basis, hopefully making it easier to master! We are excited about volunteering in the community we live in, whether teaching English or working with orphanages, all while bringing the presence of Jesus into the lives of all we encounter.

We will be launching a website soon that will have updates, our mission, pictures, and contact info on it. We want as many people as possible to experience this journey with us, whether following along online or flying down for a visit! Thank you to all of you who have already been an incredible encouragement as we take this leap of faith in hopes that God will do great things through us! We are really excited!