Oh boy, where to start?! Honestly, I've been meaning to blog for over a month now. I've waited too long and now I have too much to share for this to be a short post.
Here's a quick break down of our past month:
We had some highs:
-Wesley lost his first tooth!
-We had a blast camping on the beach with some friends.
-We bought a vacuum which has helped tremendously with -getting rid of the flea problem. Wyatt has way fewer flea bites since my last post.
-We finally got window screens installed on our windows. No more flies! For those of you who have not experienced the flies here in Mexico, it's like an epidemic. We are talking swarms. They're everywhere and love to invade our homes and spread harmful bacteria. They can be a main cause of us contracting Salmonella and other horrible illnesses. Down here you can't just easily buy screens premade and install them yourself. You have to hire a window expert to make and install them for you. And now you know why, the day they got installed was Christmas in July for us!
-My genius brother, Jason, who also lives down here full-time, installed WiFi in our apartment. A big bonus plus for this blog! Thanks again, Jason!
Rich had a great opportunity in assisting our friend, David, with building a roof for a local pastor's church.
Our friend, Hope Manzano, whom we live with, needed to go to the States for two separate trips. We helped watch her four girls whom she cares for while she was away. Wesley has become good friends with two of the girls, as well as Hope's son, Brishon. Having their friendships has helped Wesley to adjust better to life here in Mexico, away from his Stateside friends.
We also helped to watch my parents' kids. while they were away on a trip to the Bahamas for a conference.
Rich joined our church's worship team, playing guitar and occasionally leading the congregation in an English worship song.
Rich and I have joined a weekly music writing night with the worship leaders from our church. The worship band has been writing their own worship songs and would like us to use our talents to add to their songs.
On Monday nights we started attending a class my parents teach on the subject of the Kingdom of God. My parents are very gifted biblical teachers and we're enjoying learning from them.
On Thursday nights, we attend a worship service where a few local missonaries have been gathering for a time of prayer, praise, and sharing what the Lord has been speaking to us individually.
Friday mornings is another time where I join local missionary women to fellowship, pray for one another, and share what the Lord is teaching us.
My sister, Esme, got married! It was a beautiful ceremony and reception. During the reception they set apart some time to have a small time of worship singing. Rich played guitar and lead a few of the songs. It was so sweet when Wesley had a lightbulb moment and said, "Mom, I have a new uncle now!"
We celebrated Liam's 4th birthday. Dinosaur themed of course! Hope graciously let us host the party in her home.
Towards the end of August, my big project was setting up my classroom and preparing lessons plans for teaching school. This year I am teaching 4 students : My two sons, Wesley and Liam, as well as my niece, Stacy, and one of Hope's girls, Carla.
It's been a challenge figuring out how to teach several grade levels at once. (Preschool, Kindergarten, and 1st grade.)
We added a new member into our Payne family. Meet Toto, our cute little kitten! We have high hopes that Toto will grow up to be a fine mouse hunter as we have discovered Ratatouille and his pals living in our walls.
Rich is still working on building our kitchen. As you will find out in our "lows" from this month, we have taken turns being very sick so progress on our kitchen has been slow.
The Lows From This Past Month:
Now for the lows. In my last blog post I mentioned I had mastitis and was treated with antibiotics. As soon as I recovered I caught a stomach bug that was going around. A few days later, Wyatt caught a virus and had a fever for four days. A week later I got really sick again. I got diagnosed with Ecoli which had me in bed for a week. Rich got a mild version, but thankfully the kids never got it. I wouldn't recommend Ecoli as a weight loss program, but I sure did lose a few pounds! After a week of full recovery, our family got hit with sinus colds. Rich got it the worst as his turned into a sinus infection. He's on antibiotics and still recovering.
Our family has been hit over and over with illness. I guess we really shouldn't be surprised though since our bodies need to adjust to living down here. We are trying hard to be careful about how our food has been prepared and cooked, as well as lots of hand washing!
It's easy to get discouraged about serving down here when we seem to always be sick. But God has been teaching me about the power of choosing. Choosing which thoughts I choose to dwell on, what words I choose to come out of my mouth, and how I choose to react to difficult circumstances. If I camp out in a mind full of negative thoughts...well guess what, I'll find myself continually in a bad mood. I've also come to realize it's impossible to curse and bless out of your mouth at the same time. Go ahead. Try it!
So I am choosing to praise the Lord during difficult times, speak forth truth and not constantly complain, and speak out loud everyday several things that I am thankful for. It's certainly not always easy to do. But camping out in negativity will only give a foothold to Satan. I'm sure his agenda is to discourage, divide us, and send us quickly packing back to the States instead of impacting God's kingdom down here.
What's up for this next month:
Rich has a lot of opportunities for using his musical gifts in teaching. He's been building relationships with the guys from a local ministry called Missionaries In Training (MIT). He is preparing to start teaching them music classes as a part of their worship program.
A few of our local missionary friends have also expressed their desire for Rich to teach their children private music lessons.
There's also talk of Rich teaching music once a week to local children at a ministry called Oasis. Oasis has an after school program that provides a safe place for kids to play, receive homework help, create crafts, learn through enrichment classes, and eat a meal.
After we finish our kitchen, Rich volunteered to dig a big hole in Hope's yard for a pila. ( a water containment system for the house). He also plans to build a cob wall for Hope's garden.
And if all that wasn't enough, we are praying about starting a house of prayer. There is no shortage of ways for us serve down here.
Adjusting has been difficult, but fun and rewarding as well.
We miss you all so much! We are planning a visit up to Camarillo in the beginning of October. We would love to see as many of our Ventura County friends and family as we can then!
A shout out to those of you who have been blessing us financially. Thank you so much! It's an encouragement and a blessing to see the Lord providing for us through your giving.
-I think the first one should be obvious : health!!!
-For myself, wisdom and energy in homeschooling, especially in figuring out how to effectively teach multiple grade levels at one time
-Discernment as we pray about starting a house of prayer
-For unity between Rich and I and the other missionaries we are in contact with, as the enemy would love to divide us at an opportunity.
-Financial provision to finish building our kitchen