Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Highlights from 2014 (part 1, Senegal)

We had a pretty big year this year.  From finishing up our first term overseas (including almost a year in Senegal, W. Africa) to driving literally across and around the U.S., it was a busy year with a lot of transition.  The theme was definitely that God is matter what

Ups and downs characterized this year in a major way, with wondering why we had been through so many changes and disappointments with our path to missions.  And although our time in Senegal was rocky and challenging at times, it was marked with a distinct sense of PEACE.  We felt God's hand in our being there and overall didn't struggle with major cultural shock in a the way many people do when transitioning to life in Africa for the first time.
However, that didn't mean we didn't experience stress...cultural, marriage and familial.  And many issues we had just pushed to the side during our time in France had cropped up again and again.  In His faithfulness God provided a godly woman right across the hall in our apartment who also happened to be a counselor who helped us with many parenting strategies and just listened.  Not only that but Daniel and I both were able to meet on a regular basis for counsel and prayer with our Wycliffe friends (who also happened to close...right across the street!).  We were also blessed with friends...both Senegalese friends we were sharing with and expats as well.

During these first few months of 2014 Daniel worked at the Wycliffe/SIL center in Dakar repairing motorcycles and other vehicles.  He enjoyed the work for the most part and learned a lot.  Including....that everything takes SO much more time to get done in Africa!  A wise missionary friend told us that if you get one thing accomplished each day, you should choose to feel good about your day and we try to remind ourselves of that often:)

 One of the major highlights of our first term in Senegal was a visit from the Daniel's parents, George and Karen!  It was so encouraging and fun to introduce them to our life in they blessed us by bringing many care package type gifts from the US from our partners...thank you!

Another fun trip was a family trip up to Beersheba (farming God's SIL project in a nearby town)....we avoided the pythons that live near the lake and met some fun people.  We even got to see a pig escape out of her pen and saw firsthand how to re-capture a pig!  Just today Marianna was asking when we could go back there. 

After a while we started to dream about possibilities outside of Dakar so Daniel spent almost 3 weeks traveling first to the southern part of the Senegal, then the north.

 Daniel with Pastor/teacher Augustine

Later our whole family took a short trip up north, to Richard Toll.  That was a lot of fun and we could definitely see ourselves living up there someday.  We'll see what the future holds!
 Visiting Richard Toll, a village, and celebrating Olivia's 5th birthday (in 110 + heat...but thankfully it was dry heat!)  We loved the area and the people up there though. 
 Louis with new friends and PUPPIES!

The next month we made the trip back to the USA for our first furlough.  Our travels went smoothly (thanks to a lot of prayer!) and we spent a month adjusting in WA state before starting two months of cross country travels to visit friends, family and partners.  It was an exhausting, but worth it, trip.

This fall we starting homeschooling, celebrated my (Rachael's) dad's 60th birthday, attended School Psychology and expositional preaching conferences, Daniel completed a welding course and completed half a dozen home improvement projects (pictures and details to come next post).

Although I am exhausted thinking about this past year, I (and our family) are thankful for the many ways God has provided for us and for the ways difficult things have caused growth and drawn us closer to Him!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

October Fun!

Two of the most "fall" things I can think of are leaves and pumpkins. As you can see, we've been making up for lost time in both departments! One of our homeschooling activities for recess has been raking leaves every few days for several weeks. Gets those "wiggles" out!

We granted Grandpa's wish to carve pumpkins with the kids.  Our one request was that the design be fun and not he found mickey mouse!  The kids had fun and we ate lots of yummy pumpkin seeds afterwards! 

Working hard on scooping out the pumpkin "guts!"...but save those seeds--they're yummy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Our first year in Senegal (video)

Daniel put together a short video (5 minutes) with highlights from our first year in Senegal and how to be involved.  Here is the video:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fall fun: apple days and cider pressing

Some pictures of our recent adventures the great Wenatchee area with friends and just enjoying frugal fun around town.

The kids got to ride a horse for the cost of a donation!  They loved it!

Wenatchee youth circus.  I almost donated my children to the cause but then  thought better....

Cider pressing at the Smith' fun!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Menu Plan (Trim Healthy Mama Meals)

Working on a menu for the next couple weeks for Trim Healthy Mama with lots of their "Fuel Pulls" incorporated since my weight loss has stalled after a good start on the plan.  

Make for Dessert:
37 cal brownies

Hot Custard

Chocolate Chia Peanut Butter Pudding

Muffin in a bowl


Veggie Egg White Cups

Cake Batter Frappa

Strawberry Vanilla Breakfast Bowl

Cookie Bowl Oatmeal


Sandwich on oat fiber bread
Quick Tuna Medley


Meatloaf, mashed cauliflower, salad
Baked Chicken, Quinoa, Broccoli
Stir Fry (over rice for the family)
Taco Salad
Cheeseburger Pie
Marinated Fish, vegetables
BLT Soup

Our first "run" (we walked a 5K)!

Today I conquered an item on my "bucket list" for during our furlough...Dad and I complete our first 5K. It was fun to "train" for it (we walked almost every night this past month or so) and just to complete it. The weather was perfect and hey...we did something active and fun together:) We are planning to do another one, a longer one around Thanksgiving. Both of us are needing to lose a few pounds (yes, our doctors told us!) so this is good motivation. Here are some fun pictures of our time this morning: