Monday, June 24, 2013

An Exciting Adventure!

Tomorrow morning Jon and I along with 5 other adults and 25 teenagers will be heading to Guatemala!  We have been planning this trip since September 2012.  It has been so exciting to see God working just in all the details of this trip already.  You see after I went to Africa last summer - I felt that the young people in our youth group needed to have a similar experience as I did.  Well one of the couples that I went to Africa with shared with me a mission trip to Guatemala with Paradise Bounds Ministries.  I thought it sounded like an amazing trip and decided to talk with the other youth leaders about it.  You see we thought that we were going to have a small group of kids this year - like 15 and really thought a trip like this would be something we could do.  We had so many obstacles to go through before this could ever even happen.  First of all it was going to be more costly than our other trips  - $60,000.  We were also concerned about our (and the youths) safety.  Also, when we plan our summer mission trips we start in January.  We had to submit an application by the third Monday in September - our youth group doesn't start back up until the Sunday after Labor Day - so we had to move on it quickly.  We went to talk to our consistory to get their support - which we did.  Then we had a parent meeting to make sure we would have their support for a trip like this.  On that night we had 19 youth and their parents show up that night.  Before they left for the evening they had to fill out a paper letting us know if they would allow their kid(s) to go, could they pay the $200 to put towards the trip and were they willing to give any more (if so how much).  After the meeting was all over we had 100% say yes they would let their teen go and we had around $10,000 committed to our trip.  We felt after that night that God was calling us to Guatemala.  We wouldn't find out until mid-late October that we were one of the groups selected to go!!  We were so excited.  We did several different things to raise our money.  We raked leaves, picked up walnuts, held a pancake supper and sent out support letters.  You know how I told you we were worried about the money - well we had it all raised before Christmas plus more!!  God is GOOD!!  It's been absolutely amazing to see God crush what we thought were huge obstacles - things we saw as mountains - now are more like an ant hill!  I cannot wait to see what God has in store for us in Guatemala!!  We are definitely going to be stretched on this trip.  First off, we will only have electricity from a generator that only runs for 4 hours out of the day!  Yep, that means no hair blow dryers, curling irons or any electricity of sorts.  We will basically have no communication back home.  We will be updating a blog - so you will know what and how we are doing but that's it.  The water is undrinkable - so we have to be careful not to drink it and to hopefully not get sick.  For three days we will be building five homes.  During those days we will eat lunch with the community - they will be serving us the food - so we hope to not get sick from that as well.  Two days we will be doing a medical clinic in remote villages.  Along with those days we will show the Jesus DVD and share our testimonies with the people.  Our last day their we will spend the morning in their orphanage and in the afternoon head to Antigua to shop in the market.  One of the other sponsors made up a prayer calendar and sent it out to those who financially supported us and for those that requested it.  I'm going to share it on here with you guys so you can be praying for us!  We really could use your prayers as this is a whole new experience for all of us!!

Tuesday, June 25 - This will be a long travel day, our planes leaves at 9:30 am from Des Moines, travels to Denver, Houston and finally arriving in Guatemala at 9:02pm.  Pray everyone is responsible and keeps track of their passports.  Pray for patience for everyone and for safe travels.  Also pray for those who have never flown before or may be afraid to fly.  Pray everyone's luggage arrives with us, safe travels to our "home away from home" and a good night sleep.  (I'm going to add to this - pray for everything to go smoothly at the Guatemalan airport).

Wednesday, June 26 - This will be our first day of home construction.  Pray for safe travels to our worksites and that we will accomplish what we are supposed to.  This will be a day we will be excited but nervous at the same time.  Pray we can show God's love to everyone we come in contact with.  Pray for the families we are building homes for.  Pray for good working weather.  (I'm also going to add Pray that we will have a good meal and no one will get sick)

Thursday, June 27 - Our second day of home construction.  This might be a day that some of the kids (and maybe adults) are getting homesick; pray God will fill that void.   Also pray for our loved ones at home, because I'm sure they are missing us too.  Pray everyone will be filled with the Holy Spirit at our devotion time tonight.  And that everyone is willing to share where they see God working.

Friday, June 28 - Pray that we are all staying healthy, that we are handling the food and getting enough sleep.  This will be our last construction day so pray we can finish strong.  Tonight we will be the night  we dedicate the homes to our families and invite them to accept Christ.  We believe this will be an emotional high for us.  Pray everyone is willing to share their testimonies with the Guatemalan people.

Saturday, June 29 - This will be our first day of helping in the medical clinics and building relationships with the remote village people.  Help us to love them like Jesus loves them.  Pray for those coming to the clinics that the medications we take them will be healing.  Pray communication will not be a problem.  Also, pray for safe and easy travel, we understand we could be traveling on very bumpy roads several hours away.

Sunday, June 30 - This will be our second day in the medical clinics.  Pray for this village, that when the Jesus film is presented, that many people from the village will come to see it and many will accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.  Pray the Bibles will nourish their souls and that the food we give them will nourish their bodies.  Help us to connect to the people.

Monday, July 1 - In the morning we will get to go to the Open Doors Orphanage and play with the children.  Pray for the children, that they may be well cared for and maybe someday be adopted by a loving family who can take care of them.  Pray for us as this will be an emotional day when we have to leave the children behind.  This will also be our last day here.  Pray everyone has connected with God and grown closer to Him.  Pray for a good night sleep as tomorrow will be another long travel day.

Tuesday, July 2 - We fly out of Guatemala at 6:40am, fly to Houston and arrive back in Des Moines at 5:02pm.  Pray we all make it through customs without any problems and that we have good weather to fly in.  Pray for those who may be homesick, that they day goes by quickly.  (Pray for those coming to pick up this youth - that they arrive safely)

Feel free to add your own prayers!  We are all so thankful for all of your prayer support.  I'll definitely let you all know how the trip went.  I won't be able to update here - however you can check out our blog that we will update when we our down there.  It is:  http://teamcentralreformediowa2013.wordpress.com.  Not sure how often we will be able to update - just keep checking!!  Thanks again for all of your prayers and we will talk in a week!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Go Cubs!!

It has become a tradition over the last (I think) four years for my Dad's side of the family to go to the Iowa Cubs game for Father's Day.  It actually started out going on Mother's Day, but one year there was no game on that particular day so Father's Day quickly replaced it.  My Uncle Steve gets all the tickets and then blocks off an area so we can all tailgate before the game.  Before the game starts they let the fathers (and mothers) go out on the field with their kids to play catch.  This has become a favorite thing for the boys to do.  My Uncle Steve also usually arranges for someone from our group to throw out the first pitch.  One year my older sister did it, another year Anthony and my nephew Michael did it.  This year we had the newest father - my cousin Jake - throw out the pitch.  He even took his son out with him (or should I saw his wife did)!  After the game is over they let the kids run the bases.  The kids look forward to this part before the game has even started!  Unfortunately this year the Cubs lost, but we enjoyed our time spent together as a family at the game!  Here are a few pictures:






Jon and his boys
 




Playing catch!
 
 
 



The youngest members of the family - Hannah and David!  They both did really well at the game.
 
 
 


 
My family! I bet my Dad never thought he would have 12 grandchildren - 10 of them being BOYS!
 
 


 
My Dad with his girls!
 
 


 
My Grandma and Grandpa Ferguson with the boys!
 
 
 
 
 
Family picture after running the bases!

 

 

 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

FINALLY!!

It is June 13th and we FINALLY got finished up with beans today!  Or as a farmer will always tell you, "for the first time, anyway!"  The following pictures were taken the last time we were in the field planting beans (I guess that was May 24 according to my camera).  We were just 65 acres shy of being done before all the rain came at us!





 
 
 
 
This is the latest in my married life (that I can remember) that it has been this late getting the crops in.  I know my husband will be so much happier now that it is finally done.  Now to finish custom side-dressing and custom spraying!  Well I guess that is part of the reason you have a hired man to help get all those things done!!  Although we got a lot of rain and it's been a long drawn out planting season I am secretly happy for the wet days.  I've had my husband around!!  We've enjoyed a few weekends of date night, he has helped a ton with the basement demo, we've shared several lunches at home together and he has even joined us for other things he would normally miss out on!  So, to me, all that rain was a little blessing in disguise!  Don't tell him I said that!  For now we will celebrate having all the crops in (for the first time)!

High Hopes!

With all the nice weather we've been having lately - I find myself wanting to be outside and not inside doing all the things that I need to be doing.  So today since it wasn't too windy and not too hot I thought it would be fun to take the boys for a bike ride.  Well, we live on gravel which isn't the easiest to ride a bike on.  However, I grew up only riding on gravel roads and it made me tough - so - I thought it was time to make these boys tough!  Plus I didn't have the pickup to haul all of our bikes anywhere and I knew they wouldn't all fit in the trunk of the car.  The boys were excited!  We talked and decided we were going to try and ride our bikes to Grandma GG's (since that was where the pickup was - and we could put the bikes in the back and drive home)!  I should tell you all that it is probably a good 5-7 miles to Grandma GG's!  We packed a cooler bag with our water bottles and we were set to go!




This was BEFORE we left!


 
One picture with Mom before we go!
 
 
So we took off down our lane and I could tell right away we weren't going to get very far!  I should share a little bit of information here:  Anthony has decided that he now wants to ride TJ's old bike - which is a tad too big for him.  He has to put one foot on the pedal and hop on - he can't touch the ground with his feet when he is on the bike.  Will got a new bike for his birthday - which works well for him - however, with his muscle weakness - he struggles a bit with hills.  And Charlie - he is a good bike rider - however his bike is way too small to keep up with the rest of our bigger bikes.  SO, as we are riding down the lane (which has a downward slope) the boys get to going a little too fast and I see Anthony fall over in the ditch - lost in the tall grass.  Will doesn't use his brakes - he is dragging his feet to try and slow down.  Well Charlie - he was doing pretty well..  I quickly told the boys to stop and that we needed to have a little chat.  We decided we would try to make it to the stop sign, take a water break and then figure out our next plan of action.  Let's just say we didn't make it to the stop sign before I decided we were going to go back home.  I was really hoping to get a little exercise all the while having fun with the boys.  Well we weren't having much fun.  So once we got back home we sat under one of the shade trees and had another discussion.  I thought that maybe it would be fun to go for a four wheeler ride instead.  So Charlie and I rode one and Anthony and Will rode the other.  Only this time we decided to go to Grandma Fergusons (it's only about two miles away)!  We made it there but Grandma was gone.  So we drove back home and got ready to go to a ballgame!  I learned a few things before we take our next adventure: 
1.  Pack the bikes in the pickup and drive to a highway, bike path, in town, or anywhere non-gravel to ride on cement! 
2.  Call to see if someone is home before heading over to their house. 
3.  Realistically think a plan through BEFORE telling the boys! 
 
Overall I had a good time hanging with my boys!  Like I've said before we were "making memories!"

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Day of Races....well sort of!

This past Saturday morning was the 5th Annual Jace Race in New Sharon.  This race is done in memory of a nine year old boy who lost his battle to brain cancer.  This race has become dear to my heart for a couple of different reasons.  First of all this was the first 5K I ever participated in - all because the year before I couldn't walk from complications of my surgery.  So I had decided I was going to train and run because that year I could!  The other reason - this family has been such a big support to my family after TJ lost his battle to brain cancer that I wanted to support them.  Although Jace and TJ's journeys are very different - we both know what it is like to loose a son way before their time.  I get texts on those days that are a little extra hard, every now again when our schedules allow we do "coffee", they can totally relate to how we feel, give us helpful advice and just listen.  I'm really glad I can call them friends - because that is what they have been for us. 
I have participated in this race 3 years.  I was really hoping to participate this year - but with the work in the basement my allergies and asthma are on overload and I knew my lungs wouldn't be able to handle it.  So this year the boys and I offered to help.  We, along with my sister-in-law and niece manned a water station.  It was fun to watch the runners run by.  Some took the water quickly, others skipped it and some stopped by for a drink and a quick hello!  The boys had fun handing out the cups and then later going to pick up all the cups that were thrown along the course.  Charlie even gave some water to a walker's dog!  We ended up running out of water and gave the runners ice on the way back by.  Then we ran out of cups, so we decided to close up shop and walk to the finish line to watch the rest of the runners come in and to watch the awards assembly.  Along the way we picked up more cups and were cheered on by other people!  My sister-in-law and I found that funny - do people really think we would do a 5K in jeans and flip flops?!?!

 
This was before the race started!
 
 
Well later that day we had tickets for the Nationwide race at the Iowa Speedway.  Unfortunately (and fortunately) the weather was great for Jon to be in the field.  So, I needed another person to use his ticket - the boys decided to invite their cousin Matthew.  So, after the Jace Race was over we quickly went home, changed our clothes, grabbed a bite to eat and headed off to go get Matthew.  We stopped for gas and cash and were on our way.  We wanted to get up there at a decent time because the boys wanted to do the autograph session - which started at 2:30.  In previous years when we've gone - we have just made it - so I wanted to be there plenty early.  Well, I guess you could say we got their early enough - the main gate wasn't even open yet!  The boys did well waiting in line and once we made it through the gate we headed off to the autograph session.  I tell you what - we just made it again!  We were the last ones to get wristbands to guarantee to get autographs!
 
 
Here they are sporting their wristbands!
 
 

 

 

The boys with Brian Vickers!
 
 


 

The boys with Trevor Bayne!  Matthew and Anthony were both excited that "he touched my back"!
 
 
 
 
 
 
The boys with Travis Pastrana!  I actually wanted my picture with him - but they had to keep the line moving!
 
 
We also saw Elliot Sadler, Austin Dillon, Michael Annett and Sam Hornish Jr. - they were just in the other line so we weren't able to get their autographs or our pictures taken with them.  I did get some pictures of them alone though!  After the autograph session we walked around - the race wasn't to start until 7pm so we had plenty of time to kill!  There was a booth that said "become a Jr. Pit Crew", so we stopped to see what that was all about.  The boys got their own personalized lanyard, their names put into a drawing for a private tour, their own private autograph/meet the driver session with Eric McClure!  I wasn't even allowed to go in with them - I had to stay on the other side of the fence!  They were also to get t-shirts, but they didn't arrive in time. 
 
 
Meet and greet with Eric McClure!
 
 
After all of that we continued to walk around.  We stopped at the US Cellular both where the boys got to pretend they were on a real pit crew.  They "changed the tire" while being timed.  Those pit crew guys make it look so easy!  After we had walked around and seen everything we wanted to we decided to head for the fan walk.  The kids were free and it only cost me $10!  So we walked down all the while qualifying was going on.  So once we got down there we were able to see a few other drivers thru the fence!  That was pretty fun.  We saw "victory lane", got a few freebies, and decided to head on back up.  This time we decided to take the tram so we wouldn't have to walk all the way back uphill!  It was getting closer to race time so we decided to grab some food and head to our seats.  Pretty soon after driver introductions started.  It was almost time for the race to start and then............it started to rain!!!  We waited for a little while in our seats and then decided to go down and hang out under the grandstands to try and stay a little dryer.  We had decided that we were going to try and stick it out.  The rain finally stopped, we grabbed some kettle corn and headed for our seats again.  This time we all decided that if it were to rain again we were going to go home.  They got the dryers out on the track and it was looking a little better.  We waited a good hour and a half for them to work on drying the track when all of a sudden it started to rain AGAIN!!  We grabbed our stuff and headed for the car.  Once we got to the car I called Jon to tell him we were heading home.  He had heard that they cancelled for the night and it was rescheduled for Sunday at 10am.  We drove back home and headed for bed.  Jon and I were unable to go the next day - we had a team building day with the youth group for our upcoming Guatemala trip.  SO, my brother-in-law graciously took our boys and his son (Matthew) on Sunday.  I think they had a good time - thank you again Ed for taking them!!
 
 
Beside Victory Lane
 
 

 
In the Fan Walk - getting ready to catch the tram!

 
Waiting in our seats BEFORE the rain!
 
 

 
In our seats for the second time - waiting for them to dry the track!
 
 
 
I really had a fun time with the boys.  I was so glad we took Matthew - they behaved pretty well and never even fought!  There was a part of me that felt like I had my four boys again.  Many people would ask - "are they all yours?"  I finally got tired of saying three of them are but this one is my nephew - that I just started saying yes!  Matthew said he was ok with it!  I honestly got to do all the fun stuff with the boys and had a GREAT time!  I love times like those.  As Jon would say, "Making Memories!"



A Night of Fireworks!

This past weekend was Spring Festival in our little town.  I remember going to this as a kid every year - it was always so much fun.  There would be a parade, games for kids, an old timer baseball game, oh the list goes on and on.  I find that the older I get the things that used to be so much fun as a kid seem to not impress me as much as an adult.  Well, the Spring Festival has had it's shares of ups and downs - but they are really trying hard to make it like it used to be and for that I am thankful.  We don't always get to participate in everything the weekend offers - but we try to get to a few things.  This year they had fireworks on Friday night.  So I took the boys into New Sharon - we stopped at Vic's Dairy Crème to get some ice cream to eat while watching the fireworks.  Vic's was having an old style 50's car hop.  It was so fun.  All the employees were dressed up like people did in the 50's and came out to our vehicle to take our order.  Once we got our treats we parked the truck up at the Co-op to watch the fireworks.  It wasn't long before Jon pulled in with the tractor (he had been side-dressing).  We cuddled up in our blankets and watched the show!  We enjoyed our time and the nice display of fireworks!  Thank you to the Spring Festival committee for all your hard work!  Here are a few pictures of our night.



 
I'm not the best at taking pictures of fireworks - this is one of the better pictures I got.




 
Jon and Will watching the fireworks.
 


 
Another not half bad picture of the fireworks 


   
The boys and me!
 
 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Another Season Has Begun!

Since our kids have been old enough, they have always played ball.  This year we were going to have one in minors, one in rookies and one in t-ball.  The thought about living the summer at a ball field almost exhausted me.  Well, when ball sign up came around both Anthony and Will decided they didn't want to play.  I was completely shocked and slightly excited all at the same time!  With Jon's Dad being sick and having treatments we weren't exactly sure how this spring was going to be.  So I guess you could say it was a blessing that the boys decided not to play.  However, when t-ball sign up came around Charlie said he wanted to play.  I had tried to bribe him into NOT playing (just to make our life more simple) but realized it's just t-ball.  All the games (and practices) are just up at the school and only about an hour.  We can do that - so we signed him up.  He is once again coached by Uncle Dan and sponsored by Goemaat Farms.  Only this year they are called the Grizzlies, their uniforms are yellow and I only know five kids on the team!  It's a little different but I'm sure by the end of the month we will know all the kids.  He had his first game the other night - I was in the concession stand so I didn't get to see much - but Charlie told me all about it.  He never had to hit off the tee and he slid into home and was safe just by a half an inch (all according to Charlie)!  It's fun to watch this age play ball.  I will admit there are times it can become frustrating to watch - but overall New Sharon really has a good t-ball program and they all have a lot of fun!  Here's to another season of t-ball!  Go Goemaat Farm Grizzlies!!



Monday, June 3, 2013

You've Been Selected!


So do you remember last year our families decorated an ice cream cone in memory of TJ for the Iowa State Fair?  Well this year they are doing concrete ribbons.  My sister-in-law informed me and asked if we wanted to do it again this year.  Well, I really wanted to, but I just didn't think I needed another concrete ornament in my yard/flower garden.  So I asked around to see if any of our other family members would want it in their yard.  My mom graciously offered to take it if no one else wanted it.  Well, time went by and I forgot all about it.  The day before our entry was due my sister-in-law reminded me that we needed to have it in the next day.  I told her I had a home for it, but no creative ideas since I had forgotten all about it.  Thankfully I have a creative sister-in-law - she had an idea and I loved it, so we submitted the idea.  We just found out last week that we were selected again!!!  So last Friday both Shawna and I went up to Des Moines to go get the ribbon!  I tell you the place you go and pick it up has some very unique concrete things!  We loaded it up in the back of the truck and brought it back to my brother-in-law's shop.  Now all the family will get together and decorate the ribbon.  Stay tuned to see how we will transfer this:
 
 
 


into something that will honor TJ's memory!  I am excited and can't wait to see the transformation!  On a side note - it is much smaller than the ice cream cone!  We had such a great time last year working on it together as a family.  I loved how there was a little piece of TJ at the fair.  And since we had an entry we were given a list and map of all the other cones - so it was like we had our very own scavenger hunt every day at the fair.  We found every ice cream cone last year - this year I hope to find every ribbon.  It's fun to see how everyone starts with the same thing yet the outcomes can be so different!  Stay tuned for the transformation!

Basement Demo!

Saturday, Jon decided we were going to work on getting the basement completely gutted.  We recruited some good help and we did it!  It is amazing what many hands can do.  Here are some pictures of our day and what we all got accomplished.


 
Will and Gavin knocking down the walls!  I made sure to tell Gavin the next time he comes to Aunt Tami's he can't beat on any walls again!  I keep telling our own boys the same thing!
 
 
 


 
Carson was a HUGE help!
 
 


 
Gavin was also our mouse remover!  We found way more of these than I would have liked to!  But I guess at least they are dead and now out of the house!  Thanks Gavin!
 


 
We all packed into the truck to have lunch in the park with my sister. 
 

 

 
So how do you get six kids motivated to keep knocking down walls?  You tell them they can kick them down!  This was the only wall left to knock down before lunch and it seriously took us 20 minutes once we got back from lunch to get the whole thing knocked down!



 

 Even Lane with his broken arm came to help!  He did pretty good considering he could only use one arm!  He did make me nervous a couple of times.

 



 
 
All Done!  No more wall separating the unfinished and finished part!
 

 
 
 
 Another view of the north side of the basement - another wall gone! (can't get the picture to be bigger -sorry)
 
 
Thank you Jason, Carson, Lane and Gavin for all your hard work.  And thank you to those who offered to come out but we had no more work for you to do!  Maybe we will recruit you for another day!!  We have just a few other things to do yet - take carpet off the steps and to tear down some walls to the old bathroom and we will be all done with the demo part.  Next step....the basement people will come to fix our basement walls and then our contractor will come in behind them and finish it out.  When it is all done we will have the boy's bedrooms downstairs, a full bathroom and a family/hangout/toy/play area room.  It will be nice when it is all said and done!  Next up... demolition on the main floor!!  Stay tuned!!