Friday, January 29, 2010
On Tuesday, we went to the market so they could "experience the culture." We had been there about an hour when I realized that my wallet had been stolen. So much for experiencing the culture! Instead of seeing most of the market, we had to come home so I could call my credit card company, my bank, and the Indiana License Bureau to report my stolen cards. I had let my guard down, I guess, because I was beginning to feel comfortable in my surroundings. I lost my focus, and I paid the consequences. Now, of course, I'm much more careful, and maybe a little paranoid! But I know what I need to focus on when I am at the market. Stay alert, be mindful of everything around me, and pray.
On Wednesday, we took Mark's parents to Los Manantiales (The Springs). We found the place with no problem, even though we had hoped to get there with the Tomtom (Global Positioning System). When we programmed the place in, it said it had no route for it. We felt pretty confident that we could find it so we went on, and got there in record time. But on the way back, we decided to use the Tomtom to get us home. The problem with that is that it took us a different way that we were unfamiliar with through Cuernavaca! Instead of the major highway we took to get there, we were stuck in city traffic in an area we were unfamiliar with, hoping we would get home before dark! Since I'm writing this, you can be assured we did find our way home, but we have learned that the Tomtom doesn't always know the best route to take to get home. We will stay focused on what we know next time.
The last incident happened yesterday as we were beginning to paint in the apartment. Aaron was on the top of a ladder. If you've ever looked at a ladder closely, you'll notice a warning that says do not stand on the rungs above this point. Well, they mean it! Aaron was on the next to the top rung, and fell backward onto the concrete floor below! I was in the room, and saw it happen. I can still see it happen when I close my eyes. He could have been hurt badly, but instead came away with a few bruises, scrapes, and a sore wrist that is now in a splint for a few days. What I saw was very strange. I turned as he yelled, and saw him falling backward. As the ladder got a few feet from the floor (Aaron was tangled up in the ladder and could not get away from it.), it seemed to slow down for a second, then finished falling to the floor on top of Aaron with his feet tangled around it. Aaron says he turned and stopped his fall with his hand, but when everyone came in, he was on his back. I'm not sure how it happened exactly. All I know is that God was there! And not only was He there, but He planned it so there were a doctor and a paramedic visiting the Ranch yesterday. Aaron was well taken care of, and I praise God that he is okay, although a little sore today. I will remember this incident every time I doubt whether He is with me.
I am hoping that I have learned some things from this week.
1) Stay focused on what is truly important.
2) Stay on the right road, and don't get sidetracked by distractions.
3) Stay in His will, and He will be right beside you.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Friday, January 22, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Snowmen on a van coming down the mountain
With the Zaragozas gone on vacation it has been pretty quiet here. I used this to my advantage, because there were a few little fix-it projects I wanted to take care of. The biggest was the leaky kitchen faucet. For some reason even the smallest plumbing projects can take all day. I began by fixing the hot water that would not shut off, but also discovered another leak under the sink. The good news is that it only took one trip for parts and I think it is all fixed. I am glad we Americans were the only ones here that day since I had the water for the kitchen sink turned off for a while. The other big project was repairing Julie's desk in the school. It is built from a large piece of counter top on top of two small file cabinets. The problem was that when the kids leaned on the front of it, everything on top dumped on the floor as the top tipped. The drawers were in rough shape too, so I did a little work on each drawer. They should last a little longer now. I hope she does not want to move it now because it is all fastened together, and will be hard to move very far. I also worked on one or two small things around the house while it was quiet and there weren't little hands to wander off with tools I left on the floor.
Cirino and Alejandro have been working on the apartment roof, adding cement to the low areas so water won't stand on the roof. They have also been plastering the walls that will be the new section of the school. The work on the roof had to happen between rains so it took a long time. I have been finishing drywall seams and doing wiring in the apartment. Some of the electrical has to be surface mounted on the cement, so I have been installing conduit too.
Yesterday and today have been much nicer, in terms of weather. Cirino had told me last week that we would be able to seal the roof on Tuesday. I thought to myself, "If it stops raining." He was right. Yesterday I began putting sealer on the roof. I was surprised by how much loose dust there was. As I started putting the thick red sealer on the surface, I was having trouble getting it to cover because of the dust and the rough texture. I was about to go look for help when Lucy asked if I needed any thing. She came up and started sweeping the roof. The more she swept, the more dust there was. But she stuck with it and stayed ahead of the sealer. Aaron came up about the same time and started applying sealer with me. We had to work the sealer into the rough surface to get it to cover. Before we were finished, Lucy had giant blisters on her hands (I told her to quit or get some gloves, but she refused), Aaron and I were both stiff from bending even with the long handles on the brushes, and sunburned where we had missed with sunscreen. It was hot enough I put shorts on for the afternoon. What a great change in the weather. We worked until almost sundown and used more than half of the all the sealer we had for one coat on the apartment section of the basement. Today Aaron and I did the second coat. It was much easier and the sealer went much further. We got along very well and were finished and cleaning up by 4:00pm. Aaron said he was glad to help today because it kept him busy while he is waiting for his grandma and grandpa who are arriving for a visit tomorrow. We are all excited about that.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
"Anybody want to play chicken?"
Monday, January 11, 2010
Victor and I swimming with Daniel, Jocelin, Ruth, Caleb and Ana!
Ana ready to explore!
Josiah, me and Joanna on the rope crossing! Who's gonna fall in first?
Ana ready to swim!
Erika, Josiah, Caleb and Jocelin swimming in a pool created by the natural springs.
Ruth and Angie having fun together.
Lolis and Ana swimming together. Cool goggles, Ana!
Caleb ready to hunt for fish in the natural springs and streams.
Angie crossing the pool on the rope.
The Zaragoza family leaves on our yearly family vacation tomorrow for a week! It has become a family tradition to take our family vacation in January for several reasons: 1) January is our least busiest month as we have finished the previous year's agenda and activities and we usually don't schedule any crusades until February. So, January gives us a good chance to reconnect as a family before this year's activities begin. 2) An increase in year-end donations provides the funds needed to afford a family vacation for a family of 14! 3) January is a low vacation time in Mexico. We wait until everybody else is back in school and at work because prices at vacation hot-spots go down and we don't have to worry about crowds! Vacation is much more relaxing when we have the pool or beach to ourselves and I can actually play with the kids or read more than a sentence in my book without counting to 12 to make sure we haven't lost anybody (literally!).
So, we are heading to a natural beach on the Pacific Coast near Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo in the state of Guerrero! As always, we appreciate your prayers for safe travel and that this would be a blessed week as a family - that each of the children would feel Victor and my personal attention towards them, that they can enjoy each other's company and that we could work as a team so that we have lots of time to play and relax! This is an especially important vacation for our family as we have three more children than our vacation a year ago. This is Jocelin's first family vacation without her Mom. Of course, this is Daniel's first family vacation with us, too! One of our older girls commented the other day: "Every time we go to the beach we have a little kid with us!" Actually, the younger children are a huge blessing for the older kids (although the older ones may not always recognize it) because the smaller kids get so excited about small and simple things. They help bring the innocence back into the older kids' lives and, in a way, give the older kids "permission" to fully enjoy the little things too! I'm not sure I am accurately expressing this concept. Our older children have gone through so much junk in their short lives that the magic of living, the innocence of childhood, has been robbed from them. They tend not to find joy or wonder in the little things of life. However, the Lord has provided a great set of teachers in their younger siblings! When the older kids see the younger ones get excited about something it teaches them how to get excited. What is even funnier to watch is when the older kids then follow suit and get excited they act like they are doing it "for" their younger siblings, as if to encourage the younger ones or validate them. You know they just really want to get excited themselves, but don't have the self-confidence to just let themselves go, so they "blame" their excitement on wanting to encourage the younger kids. So, we pray that on this vacation each child can be a child and fully enjoy sand between their toes, building a sand castle and watching it wash into the sea, a bonfire on the beach, family movie time, the wonder of a sunset over the ocean, the way a crab scurries over the sand and all the other wonders at hand!
Of course, this is Lolis' first vacation with us! Poor thing - her list of "firsts" in this past month is quite long! She enjoyed her first movie a couple of weeks ago and this will be the first time that she sees the ocean. When we went on vacation several years ago and it was Fidel's first time to see the ocean, he stood on the beach and stared at the blue expanse of water below and the blue expanse of sky above and declared: "Two skies!" So, we'll see what Lolis will do - probably the same thing she does most of the time around here - giggle!
OK, I wasn't going to write several thousand words - that was the reason for uploading so many pictures - oops! Well, enjoy the pictures....and the words!
May the Lord bless you with His presence, purposes and power!
Friday, January 8, 2010
Monday, January 4, 2010
To start with, I would like to share our latest family photograph with you. Several weeks ago, on the first Sunday that Lolis was a part of our family, we got all dressed up for church because it was our church Christmas program and most of our family, along with other Refuge Ranch staff members, were going to sing. (Scroll on down several posts and you can see the video of us singing, if you haven't already.) Somebody had suggested we all try to wear some combination of red, black and white. So, our family was the most coordinated we have ever been and we decided to take a new family picture, especially since we had just added a new member. So, with Ashleigh as our expert arranger and Lucy as our expert photographer (and Adobe PhotoShop editor!) here is our latest family picture!
Back: Fidel (9), Josiah (8), Lolis (12), Martita (14), Angie (16)
Middle: Joce (7), Julie (33), Victor (38), Caleb (5)
Front: Diana (15), Daniel (2), Ruth (4), Ana (3), Martha (11)
And now...what many of you have been waiting for...the Fishers of Men 2010 calendar! Following are the dates for all of our major crusades and work teams. (We also hold numerous one and two day crusades throughout the year in the metropolitan Mexico City area that we refer to as "local crusades". I have not put those on this calendar as they only last one or two days at the most.) We would love to have any of you join us on one of these crusades, whether you have specific medical abilities or not, there is plenty to do on a crusade that you can help out with, no matter what your talents and abilities. We would also love to see you on a work team here at Refuge Ranch. Whether you join an already scheduled work team or come some other time, just let us know and we would love to welcome you to Refuge Ranch. There is always lots to do!