Closing Out April

I am not sure the last time that I spent a day in my office—and it certainly looks like it. My desk is always a good marker of what my mind looks like, so I guess my mind looks like a chaotic mess right now. I do have an as-yet-unused stress ball on my desk now (Thanks, Sonya!); maybe that will help.😉 I feel like I’ve been running a lot the last few weeks, and I fear I may be spinning my wheels in some ways, but I do see progress.

The Store

We are officially open! It has taken a lot of planning and work to get here, but we’ve made it at least this far. We spent many days and evenings and even nights (Thanks, Caleb and Percy!) in prepping the space. The store looks nice, so if looks count for anything, we should be successful.

Caleb and José did a huge amount of work in researching things we would want to stock the store with, and the three of us did the shopping. Though it felt like we’d purchased a tremendous amount, the store is not really that full of stuff. We would like to have more shelves in for more inventory, and we are eagerly anticipating fleshing out the baking and cooking side of the business, but that will probably need to wait at least a month, as the well has run beyond dry.

I’ve been watching some instructional videos from a fellow who opened a small store and has chronicled his experience over the last few years from the beginning days of research all the way to where they are now. A repeated thought is that it takes much, much more investment than you plan for to make a store profitable and that we should just plan to be running out of our resources repeatedly the first year. So, since we are, maybe we’re on the right track? 😅

Caleb is managing the store and doing a good job of it so far. José has taken the role of purchasing agent/business office. The rest of us are workers. Esmeralda and Leonela will take Monday through Friday for now. Our family is taking every Saturday. We’re both looking forward to that and also dreading(?) it. Having a full day away from home each week doesn’t look exciting, but we will be together as a family, so it looks exciting and doable in that way. Lots of juggling to come, I’m sure.

We had our first sale, which was S/7 or about $2! The customer was a local witch named Samuel. He was mostly drunk when he entered. He has a shop above our store where he reads the future, creates potions, and casts spells and curses as his business. The Light and the Dark are clashed up against each there! Samuel said he knows that the Samuel of the Bible was a very good man, but that he is a very bad man, so he drinks a lot to enjoy himself and to not think about how bad he is until he dies. I told him after he dies that he’ll meet God, and he said, “Yes, I’ll have to give account for what I’ve done, and it won’t be good!” May God’s power be realized in Samuel’s life! Pray for us.

Shopping for the store
That was just the first load!
Everyone doing their part
James assembling shelves
LaShonda making price signs
Steph doing the last bit of painting
Caleb organizing all the things
Esmeralda, Leonela, José pricing things
Caleb made the beautiful bar that we’re working from.

The School

School is still going well. I have been happy to be less involved with things this year. Rosita is highly capable and motivated and makes school interesting while they learn. We’re getting close to our first marking period, which is hard to believe. Everyone seems to be progressing pretty well overall.

Tomorrow evening, the English teacher, Sarina Summy, arrives from Virginia, Lord willing. We’re looking forward to integrating her into the schedule at three days of English per week while Rosita takes two days of Spanish. Rosita is looking forward to having more time at home again, but she will miss teaching all the time.

One slight problem we have is that our English books have not yet arrived. I had hoped to have them here ahead of the school year or at least ahead of the teacher, but that did not work out. We have a few English books here, but we likely won’t start English school until the main order arrives. That may be a week or two more, I’m not sure.

Though we try our best to plan ahead, sometimes things like this happen. We’ll make the best of it.

These desks are great for dry-erase markers.

The Church

There haven’t been many big changes at church the last couple of weeks. One interesting thing is that we had a remote service last week, which felt rather odd again. Nearly everyone was sick with some sort of bug that affected the digestion. People complained of intense stomach cramps and achey bodies, some experienced vomiting, most of them had high fevers. Made me think of a mix of salmonella and coccidiosis, but who knows. If I am not mistaken, I believe I am the only one to not get sick from the church here; even Percy’s family was sick with it. I don’t know how I escaped, but I’m grateful.

José’s family is still looking for a house, but they have two in mind. They have met with one owner and plan to meet with the second soon. The one house they are looking at is one field over from our place, which would be ideal for them in many ways. They are praying that the owner asks for a rent they can afford so they do not need to be too far away from school and church.

Caleb and Belinda are now just waiting. The baby can come whenever she feels like it as the due date is this week. They had a checkup yesterday, and everything looks great for the baby’s arrival. Maybe the next time I write, I can introduce you to their little one. Belinda’s sister Joletta has purchased tickets to arrive soon, maybe this Saturday; I forget. She’ll be around to help Belinda for a bit before she heads back to the States and then off overseas where she will be serving in a missionary clinic (Joletta is a nurse).

Alicia was very, very ill with the sickness and was mostly in bed for days. We tried to help by visiting and taking meals as a church. She is fully recovered now. Esmeralda and Leonela have been keeping busy with the store now that Yeni has gone. It was hard for Leonela to focus on anything other than Yeni during her visit, so it’s almost like Leonela has just gotten back from another trip now that Yeni has gone; it’s good to have her back.

We keep on with Bible study with Rafael and Elisabet. We could not have the study last week due to the plague among us, but we are looking forward to resuming again. They both seemed fairly moved to hear José and Rosita share their testimonies. Pray that the Spirit draws them to salvation.

Bible study
Esmeralda’s birthday
Steph is teaching Esmeralda to sew, and this is the first dress she did for herself.

The Farm

Do we still have a farm? Sometimes, I forget until I have to go milk late at night after arriving home from Cusco. The farm has been floating along in maintenance mode for the moment. I feel bad for the animals and for the fields that we are neglecting, but we have only so many hours in the day.

We’ve decided to sell the pigs for now because we are just stretched too thin. The goal is to wait three months and start back up with them. I am not purchasing more bulls right now because the store is taking everything, but I hope to begin my purchasing schedule in July or so, if possible. I have a pile of bunnies to sell, and I’m not sure when I’ll have time to sell them. But by and large, things are okay on the farm level. It will just be in a bit of a sabbatical for now.

Esmeralda did purchase twenty sheep that are roaming about the farm. They are definitely sheep without a shepherd at the moment, but so far they haven’t caused too much trouble besides eating a few tree saplings—our saplings are doomed from the start, I feel.

Sunrise the other morning
My lettuce and kale cutting the other day
Walking the cows to the barn
New bunnies


I already mentioned Rafael and Elisabet and Samuel. Besides that, we continue our regular efforts of evangelization with periodic tract sharing and such. We are scheduled to go out this Saturday again.

Besides that, we are hoping that the store becomes another outlet for sharing the gospel. We definitely want to shine the Light where we can. One simple thing we can do from the beginning is to give a tract or an invitation with each sale, but we want to take opportunities to talk with people—people like Samuel the Witch—so that they too can hear about Jesus.

There are many opportunities here. We need to be careful not to be so busy with making money (even if it’s only S/7!) that we don’t have time for our main goal of making disciples. We need your prayers and the Holy Spirit’s power and direction in that.

The Family

Besides the brief affliction of whatever happened last week that some are still recuperating from, we are doing well.

School keeps us busy alongside farm life, and now we’ve added the extra responsibility of the store. Our family never wants for something to do.

The garden is in harvest. The nights are cold enough that the summer squash are unhappy; they’re not growing like they could otherwise. We are enjoying zucchini, spaghetti squash, yellow squash, and more. The lettuce and kale has peaked, and some is going to seed, which we are giving to the rabbits. Our late peas and beans are nearly ready to harvest, too. The season is ending well. I think the rains have pretty well ended for the year.

Everyone is excited and nervous about meeting the new school teacher. It will definitely be a change in dynamic to have another person around, someone new to learn to know. I’m sure it will go well.

Oh! I almost forgot. My friend James and his family did arrive. I think they’re around here somewhere. I have been neglecting them dreadfully, but James, in his typical pragmatic fashion, said he’s glad he could be working in his room upstairs during the days while I’ve been running around doing stuff for the store. They have adjusted well to the altitude, but sadly, they did catch the fever-stomach-bug-sickness-thing. They’re about over it. I think James maybe only had a slight headache, so it may not even have been that—he’s too focused on his projects to take time for pesky human stuff like sicknesses. 😆

Speaking of James being here, thanks so much to all who sent something with them to let us know you’re thinking of us. We would like to thank those that we know of if we can, but I want to say a special thanks to Evan’s family. We were certainly surprised by the suitcase you sent! And to the various ones from Pike who sent something, we could tell the thought that went into your specific demonstrations of love. Very kind and thoughtful of you.

Lots going on. We’re happy and blessed and busy. Thanks for coming along for the report.

James and LaShonda, Jimmy and Jeremy
Going through treasures
A jumper LaShonda brought for Daisy