Friday, November 20

A Walk in the Park

Parque Villa de Fañe in Guasave is absolutely gorgeous this time of year. The city has been renovating it, so it's very different from the park we used to visit when we first came here. A small railroad runs around the perimeter of the park, the city pool has been patched and painted and is now open to the public (for free, no less), the old and incredibly dangerous slippery slide and broken ferris wheel have been removed and the swings and monkey bars have been spiffed. Even the small "zoo" (I use that term loosely) has been cleaned up and the animals look to be in better shape (still makes me sad to see them in captivity, but at least their habitats are clean.) In short, it is a great place to spend the day!

Yesterday the Baginsky family left for their home in California. They spent about 3 weeks with us hanging out and experiencing our life and ministry here. Micah and Doug spent a lot of time planning our upstairs addition (keep praying about that!!!) and even got a couple of cool projects done. Emily and I spent a lot of time in the kitchen (by choice) and the kids mingled and meandered and just generally enjoyed each other's company. We just love when missionaries come to visit!

I have about 200 photos from our time in the park. Don't worry, I'm not posting them all here. You only get to see about a dozen.

I was really happy to see that they hadn't removed the carosel. It still isn't fixed, but it's so...quaint! Don't you agree?

The Baginskis and the Coults (minus Sarah)
Like the watermelon? More about that later!

This park is a favorite with the boys because of the great skateboard area. Mom, on the other hand, prays a lot when we go there!

A beautiful place for a picnic lunch or just a walk in the shade.

Proof that Doug and I were there!

We were sad to see our new friends leave, but so blessed that we were able to spend time with them praying, working and playing, too! God is so good to us!

Tuesday, November 17

Playing Baseball till the Cows Come Home

About a month ago Joaquin, one of the brothers in the church, approached Doug about starting a baseball camp for the kids of the area. It didn't take a lot of persuasion to get all our boys interested!

The kids from Boca meet with kids from the local village of Alomito six days a week (two days for each of three age groups). Joaquin played semi-professional baseball for several years and is passionate about the sport. Joaquin's passion for baseball paired with Doug's passion for youth is making quite an impact on these young men!

Jessee prepares to bat while Andrew looks on

The majority of these jovenes come from homes where the father is either absent or totally disinterested in the raising of the children. Along with instruction in baseball, Doug and Joaquin are hoping to instill in these boys a sense of accomplishment, personal responsibility and dependability. It's a big job!

Each day's training session starts with a time of warm-ups and a couple of laps around the cow/baseball field.

Most of the older boys have already been playing baseball for a few years, but have had little or no serious training. The biggest challenges in this group are breaking bad habits and overcoming bad attitudes. However, the men's consistency, along with their baseball ability, is winning the young men over. Even though several of the boys have found themselves running laps because of disrespect or lack of attention, they keep coming back and are improving with every training session -- both in skill and in attitude.

The men also struggle with the lack of equipment. We haven't had any serious injuries, but at least one black eye could have been avoided if we'd had batting helmets which fit all the kids. Of course, if the kids didn't horse around so much, there would probably not be as many fat lips and bruised knuckles, either, but better equipment won't solve that problem! We call that "self-correcting behavior". In the older group, Joaquin and Doug frequently have to tell the pitcher to slow down his pitches, since they don't have catcher's gear.

When Joaquin showed up at practice with a big piece of fishing net and a piece of rope, the younger boys wondered what he was up to. He tied the net into a nearby bush, but still the boys didn't see the purpose.

Only when he lined them up and demonstrated a proper batting stance, did they understand the point of the net. Pretty creative and worked like a charm!

Andrew takes his turn at the batting bush

I don't normally try to upload video, but I wanted to share this. Most of you won't understand what Joaquin is saying to the boys, but you'll definitely understand the boys' response to his demonstration.

The boys were obviously impressed!

Practice ends when the local cowboys herd their cows through the baseball field. That's the signal that the day is ending and it's time to wrap things up!

With the help of Doug's sister and brother-in-law in Oregon, we're making an effort to raise funds and gather equipment (new and used) for all the kids. If you're interested in helping with this project with either a financial contribution or the donation of used equipment, please send us an email at !

Thursday, November 5

Fishy Fellowship

On Tuesday, Doug and Esteban took Andrew out fishing (early birthday present). They did well -- although they missed the tide on the way back in and ended up having to haul their nets a bit farther than they had intended! Oops!

They arrived home tired and dirty...and just in time to leave again for our Tuesday night Bible study. One of the wonderful things about the culture here is how flexible everyone is. That can be a frustrating thing when you're trying to actually get something done according to a time schedule, but generally it makes life flow a little more smoothly and less stressfully.

Instead of rushing around trying to eat supper before we left, we just left and took supper with us! When we arrived at Lupita's house, she had just gotten home from Guasave, so bringing supper along worked great for her, too!

I felt bad about her having to make all the tortillas for the group, but she insisted that #1 You can't eat fish with flour tortillas and #2 She'd much rather make corn tortillas than clean fish. I had to agree with that! We let the menfolk take care of the fish-cleaning while Basi and I chopped veggies.

A missionary family from Sacramento arrived on Sunday and it was great to be able to share our friends with them. Unfortunately, we're having to share them with the mosquitos, too. Ugh! Poor thing!

We're praying for a couple of cold nights and cloudy days so the mosquitos die down a bit. Meanwhile, we swat and put on repellant and stay indoors between 5 and 6 in the evening. To be honest, repellant doesn't work that well. The best way to keep the skeeters away is...smoke.

So, we have now celebrated Andrew's birthday twice this year -- and his actual birthday isn't until Saturday. Lucky kid! Tomorrow we're having a pizza party with the neighborhood kids. Of course, I'll take lots of pics of that, too! Now that the duck has moved out of the brick oven, we should be able to use it to cook in!

As we were leaving the get-together on Tuesday night, I heard Lupita say to Julio, "Parties that just 'happen' are always better than those that you have to plan." I'd never thought about it, but it's so true! How many times have I stressed over the preparations for a birthday party? Way too many! I'm learning from the people here to just let life "happen" a bit more and not try to regulate it so much. It's hard for me, but God is faithful!