We're back! Ever since realising we needed to do a blog post again, since we're back at work and into a semi-normal schedule, Backstreet Boys won't leave my head. I even turned to Sam this morning and tried to give him a "Backstreet's Back" rendition and I am pretty sure the look he gave me was along the lines of, "Please don't. Stop now." I bet you've all realised that this is Amanda writing... I mean, Craig would never ever lower his standards to listen to the Backstreet Boys, while I had posters plastered all over my room when I was younger. Actually, they weren't posters so much as pictures ripped from my friends's magazines and newspaper articles as my Mom would not let me spend money on boyband pictures. Actually she did buy me New Kids on the Block PJs once, but it was because they were on sale and she had no idea what she was buying. But... I digress.
I don't even know when our last blog was, and I am very sorry for our absence, but the last three-to-four weeks have been slightly crazy, so we appreciate your patience. We shall start with the business that I have not yet been able to get over yet: Craig left me in Bolivia and went gallivanting! Joking... I'm fine, its really not still keeping me up at night or anything. I am totally OK with the fact that he got to go away on holiday for a week without me... and he went out for nice meals, and went to a gorgeous wedding (Congrats, Douglas and Chantal!!!!), and went for nice meals, and saw his family, and he ate BBQ, and went to Monticello, and ate at this apparently new amazing bagel place, and went golfing (OK, that one didn't keep me up at night). There must have been cake at the wedding. I love cake. I'm fine...really. In all seriousness (this time, I really am being serious), Craig had a great time and we're (both of us) glad that he got the opportunity to be there for Douglas and Chantal's big day. The only thing I regret is that he couldn't bring me back bagels from this new, apparently amazing bagel place. I love bagels, but I doubt they would have gotten through customs. I got two T-shirts though, one being a UVA (University of Virginia) top, to go with my Ohio State top from the Limings (thanks, guys!). I think collecting lots of university clothing defeats the purpose of being loyal to one specific place and therefore wearing their clothing, but as I am not American I think I might be exempt from this. I feel strongly about not going around in UofT clothing or Western clothing though. I went to Mac and I will only wear Mac clothing. I digress...again.
So, Craig went to party it up in the States and as Sam and I were dropping him off at Trinidad airport I kept thinking, "I can do this. It's only three days till my Mom gets here to help. People look after their own children by themselves all the time. It can't be that hard." And the first day went well, no worries. I didn't go to work the next day to be able to stay in and watch Sam and we were fine...but I think at some point that day Sam figured out he hadn't seen Craig in a while and he got so clingy. This kid wouldn't let me go. I also went from doing 50% of the work to doing 100% of the work and, to be honest, there were moments when I wasn't sure I was going to make it. I showed up to Youth Group on Saturday night and I looked and felt like a zombie. I had to apologise to my small group for being unable to have a decent conversation; my Spanish flew out the window and I was only understanding little bits of what was going on and I couldn't remember anything, like their names. It was bad. And then Sunday came and my Mom arrived. Yasssss!!!! I essentially said, "Here... take him. I need a nap." And even though he was clingy with everyone else with Craig gone, he grabbed onto his Grandma with both hands. He loved her more than me most days I think, and I didn't even care, because it meant I got naps. And I love naps...and bagels.
And then...the Brass Tacks team arrived! FT has been back and forth with Brass Tacks for about a year now trying to organise a team to come out and do some construction work for us on unfinished parts of our building. They are an organisation based in the UK that helps missionaries and missions projects with builds and construction, and we are very excited to have them with us. I think it might have been the day Craig left when I received an email from their Director asking if they could move the construction project up from July to...right now. They had to cancel a job in the Middle East and didn't want the workers who had taken time off from their own jobs to lose out of working on a missions project. I looked around slowly (at no one in particular, because I was alone) and said, "OK...I guess so." So, on Friday afternoon I went to the airport (my third time in eight days) to pick up Paul Dodds and Aaron O'Neill who are here working on the completion of FT's second dorm room and trying to sort out our septic system, which is a shambles, apparently (I had just kind of gotten used to the smell after six years, but apparently it is unpleasant to newcomers). They hit the ground running in a way I have never seen, not even interested in resting for a bit. I was willing to take a nap in their place, since they wanted to work, but my afternoon turned out too busy to do that. Shame.
And then that evening... well, I got to be a judge in a talent show. All the AWANA Clubs in Trinidad came together to host a talent show amongst all the kids involved in the various churches in order to raise funds for the annual AWANA Olympics. It was an honour to be asked by my church to be the judge from El Jireh; it would have been more of an honour if they had not asked Craig first (as the musically gifted one in the family) and had to accept me as his replacement because he was going to be out of the country on that date. I am sure his judging would have been better than mine as my judgements consisted of, "That kid was better than those kids... I think." In the category of musical instruments, the first participant played the recorder and I couldn't bring myself to give him a high score. I felt sorry for him having to receive the weight of my own personal baggage, but I was having unpleasant flashbacks to elementary school that I just couldn't get past. It worked out in the end because the kid who won that category played the drums in a rock number and he had a drum solo and everything. I knew if Craig was there he would have been able to tell if the kid was playing in time and all the technical stuff that comes with playing the drums, but I was at least able to figure out that he was better than the other kids, in rhythm or not. One of the choreography numbers was called Magical Princess and six little girls came out dressed as fairy princesses and did a choreographed number to a song about princesses. It was cute at first, but got dull really fast as they kept doing the same thing over and over and some of the princesses didn't know the steps... so they got a mediocre score from me because by the end I was like, "Yawn!" But the judge next to me gave them a 10 and I wanted to yell, "You're being manipulated!!! This is a talent contest, not a cuteness contest!!!" But my shouting would have fallen on deaf ears, so I stayed silent and stewed in the unfairness of it all. It also turned out that I was the only judge who actually was fair in the judgements and didn't automatically give out 10s to the groups and kids from their own churches. Ya, who knew that fairness was optional in a Christian talent competition. Because of my fairness our church was the only church that didn't win anything. The prize for the winners of each category was a whole roasted chicken (when Craig found out he laughed and said, "That is so Trinidad"), and as I drove a whole pile of youth home after the contest I got hit with a lot of, "It's your fault that we didn't get a chicken", "I wanted to eat chicken." Well, la-di-dah...we all want something we can't have. I will not compromise my morals for chicken, whether it comes with french fries or not and I told them just that.
Oh my goodness, this blog post is long... and Craig hasn't even gotten back from the States yet.
So then Craig arrived back from the States the next day and on Sunday morning we had an open air evangelistic service in honor of the church's 11th anniversary where we served cow's head soup to all our neighbours. I went and I chatted with people, but I couldn't bring myself to eat any cow's head soup. There are some sacrifices I have made in the name of ministry, and I will continue to give away my portion of cow's head soup to the children who have none for the sake of the gospel, because I am awesome like that. It was a great event where there were at least 100 people, with at least half of them being from the local community and not regular attendees.
In the afternoon we had Sam's first birthday party!!!! Sam is now one!!!! He spent most of the time attached to his grandma as he was confused as to why so many people were in his house. As was I, as half of the kids who attended were not invited. I kept turning to Mariana saying, "And who's this one?" Kids kept coming up to me and saying that the order of people jumping on the trampoline wasn't going fairly and I kept thinking, "Who are you?" Apparently word got around over cow's head soup, so all the neighbourhood kids turned up... and a good number of youth showed up uninvited as well, as you don't normally invite teenagers to 1st birthday parties, but I acted like it was all cool and they were actually welcome, which they were, because I had had the crazy idea the week earlier to order two massive cakes instead of one and order 150 empanadas instead of 75, so there wasn't even anything to stress about. It was the most awesome first birthday party ever...which Sam will have no recollection of. Sigh.
Sam is up now and I have run out of time to write more... essentially, we left for Santa Cruz in the car on the Tuesday after running around like headless chickens on the Monday trying to get ready for the Tuesday. We then hung out in the hotel, swam, ate a lot (sadly, no bagels) and generally rested. Thanks, Mom, for the holiday! Sam got spoiled rotten by Grandma... and the car was very full on our way back, so much so that we had trouble getting his stroller back in the car after dropping my Mom off at the airport and we had a moment of panic when we didn't know what we were going to do. But elbow grease and a lot of brute force is always the key.
We have been back at work this week trying to catch up with a lot and trying to help the guys in the big construction project. Craig is right now out with them trying to get some more supplies. Unfortunately, a lot of building and construction terms that we don't really know in English are words that we definitely don't know in Spanish, so a lot of our translating at the stores have been, "You know... the thing that goes in the thing", with a lot of hand gestures. But so far, so good.
- Pray for Paul and Aaron (from Brass Tacks), for their time here in Trinidad.
- Pray for a family in the church who have recently suffered a terrible bereavement, with a mother and daughter murdered. Pray for wisdom as to how to help this family move forward.
- For a refreshing few weeks with family, in the USA and here in Bolivia.
¡Que Dios les bendiga!
Craig & Amanda