Happy New Year!

Wow! I cannot believe it has been 3 months since my last post! Time flies when you’re transitioning to a brand new country, language, and culture. A lot has happened since October. The Cubs won the World Series! Boy, was that a crazy time. We got a puppy! “Rizzo” fits our family just perfectly and is quickly becoming the second best dog ever (Rocky will always be the BEST of course). We finished our time at language school and moved to El Ayudante over Thanksgiving weekend!

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Rizzo! The newest Herbert
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First meal in our new house!

Every year El Ayudante hosts a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner for all of its Honduran and North American staff. I’m not going to lie, we were a little worried about the food. I’ve always hosted Thanksgiving for both sides of our family so this was going to be different. Most Hondurans don’t even eat turkey! Would we have all the flavors and comfort we were hoping for? Well let me tell you, we were NOT disappointed! The food was delicious and  the fellowship was very special. We started our time in worship, both in English and Spanish, ate some yummy food, and then each of us shared what we were thankful for (in Spanish!)

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Everyone wrote their thanks on a leaf

The moving process was a lot of work but pretty entertaining. How did we have so much STUFF? The very last load from Siguatepeque looked a little bit like National Lampoon’s Vacation, but everything made it here in one piece. We made quick work of unpacking and then our dear friend Kelly came down to help us paint and finish settling in.

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The boys’ cool room
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Shasta’s room
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So sweet when friends visit!

During the middle of December I had the privilege of taking a kid-free getaway to celebrate my mama’s retirement! My sister and I had planned a surprise trip for her to Belize so I met them and my Dad in the Belize City airport. From there we took a plane to Dangriga and a shuttle to Hopkins. The resort was so nice and located right on the beach. Us girls went snorkeling, my dad went fishing, and we all went to explore some Mayan ruins. I think we all really enjoyed spending some quality time together – just the four of us. I hope my mom enjoyed the time away as she faces this new transition period in her life. I don’t know that she is “done” working, but I know she will miss her Kaiser family very much. From there we said, “Nos vemos,” because my parents are visiting in February and Amanda is coming in March!

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Yay for sister time!

As I returned from Belize it was time to hit the ground running to prepare for Christmas and VISITORS! Shane’s parents arrived on December 18th and his aunt and brother arrived on Christmas Eve. It was such a fun, busy time. I think it was almost as good as being home for Christmas. I felt completely unprepared as far as shopping goes, but God is good and come Christmas day everyone had lots of fun presents to open and I think we all felt very loved. I also cooked a turkey dinner and we had the Mohagens over to join us. One benefit to not being home for Christmas was the ability to take a trip north to the beach. We all spent a few days there after Christmas just playing, relaxing and enjoying the view.

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We wouldn’t let them get away without doing a little work 😉

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Shane’s parents and brother left on the 30th and Aunt Suzy left on January 6th. And then what? Well, to be honest we went through a little bit of the post-holiday-transitioning-to-a-new-place blues. We got really homesick for the first time since we left. Fortunately we know that it’s “normal,” but that doesn’t make it any less hard. The adrenaline has worn off, the new and exciting has lessened, the family has gone, and now begins the real work of starting our jobs here and building a new life. We are still learning the language. Funny as it seems, three months of language school doesn’t mean you’re automatically a fluent speaker. So we have a teacher coming to our house four hours a day to help us push forward. Language is just so, so important here. You’re never going to build deep relationships unless you can speak and understand with confidence.

Speaking of relationships, we had a wedding here last week! The first team of the year helped us to make 2 couple’s dreams come true last Friday. It was so neat for Shane and I because we actually had the privilege of being here last year for EA’s first ever wedding and now we were able to attend the second. The team and all of the staff did an amazing job preparing everything for the big day. Even the kids LOVED serving food and drinks during the reception. Pictures just do not do justice to how beautiful and special it was. It was a great reminder of why we’re here and that God has indeed called us to be here for such a time as this.

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We also had some supporters of ours and the Mohagens here for the last two weeks. Janice is a dental hygienist and Paul is a realtor. We had gotten to know them because Paul and his daughter were our realtors for our last two home purchases, but they have known EA and the Mohagens for a long  time. They’ve always wanted to come serve and finally had the opportunity. It was so nice having them! Janice served in the clinic most mornings and in the office some afternoons. Paul didn’t know how he would serve but simply that he would help wherever needed. Well, when he saw that our new learning center was ready for paint he took that on as his baby. He nearly painted the whole thing himself. He also did some painting at the mission house. Someone who loves painting – what a blessing!

And now we are back to regular life for a while until the next team comes or my family comes to visit. There’s lots of planning and preparation going on for the new year of ministry here at El Ayudante. Our focus for 2017 is education. “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” Psalms 86:11. That is our focus for this year, that every aspect of ministry would grow from an educational standpoint, both practically and spiritually. We look forward to all that God will show us in 2017!

Thank you so much for loving us, praying for us, encouraging us, and following along!

~ Jess

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