Friday, April 10, 2015

Family Fun Night- BINGO!

This month's Family Fun Night was BINGO.  We alternate with a movie night and a game night.  BINGO is fun and everyone can get involved...even the little kids. 

We started with a short devotion from Romans 6:23 with an object lesson that involved a candle flame and a balloon that pops and a bloon filled with water that doesn't pop. (Thanks to Marybeth Heatwole Moore for the idea).  They LOVED it.  Everyone kept saying "Do it again!"  We followed with a short discussion which was good and helped me to trust that the object lesson didn't trump the verse.  In other words, they understood the point.  The verse was essentially: "We pay for our sins with death, but through the work of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for us, God gives us eternal life."  A good verse for the Easter season. Praise God for that gift!

Next up was a light dinner (sandwich, chips and dip, and a cupcake).  The food part of the evening is always popular.

We had time for three BINGO games.  Each time we played until we had a winner and continued until about 8 people had won. Then everyone dumped their beans back into a pile and I erased the board and we played again.  So thankful to MaryBeth for the donation of candy for prizes.

Here are some pictures from the evening.

 A little abnormal...

 Winning a candy prize.

More winners and Fermin pretending to sneak one from the pile.

The littlest ones had a blast.

Fun!  Thanks to Sulmi for taking the pictures :-)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Annual Central American EMM Missionaries Retreat

This year the retreat was in La Ceiba, Honduras. La Ceiba is in Northern Honduras and a popular spot for Honduran families from crowded cities to vacation by the sea for Easter Holy Week.  This year Kristel came with us.  It was nice for Sulmi to have someone to pal around with. It took us two days to get there and two days to get home.  We drove the van 7 hours from Orange Walk to Punta Gorda, Belize and spent the night with Kristel's aunt and uncle. The next day we took theTaxi Boat to Guatemala.
There we were met by Phyllis and Galen Groff. They drove us across the Honduran border to La Ceiba. We arrived 33 hours after we left OW.  Half the fun is the journey, right? Phyllis and Galen have been missionaries in Guatemala for "forever".  They took 9 months off and are now going to be living in Belize!  (Yea!!! So glad to have them close.) The Garifuna church in Dangriga has invited them to come and encourage the church to be all they can be for the Kingdom.  

Phyllis and Galen Groff

We stayed at Pico Bonito.  It is a beautiful "jungle lodge" half-way up a mountain.  It was quiet, peaceful and rainy.  It rained the whole time (I pity the Hondurans who planned beach vacations), but we had a great time relaxing, visiting with each other, learning, praying, eating, resting, reading the Bible and swimming in the rain.

Linda Witmer and Saralyn Murray

Our speaker was Linda Witmer.  She is a registered nurse and administers the EMU Lancaster Campus nursing program.  Linda was a missionary in Guatemala for 23 years before returning to the US ten years ago.  Recently she has also focused on giving "spiritual direction" to people who want guidance or suggestions for reflection. The highlight of this retreat for me was meeting her.  I had known "of her" but we had never met.  I appreciated her transparency and thought, "Gee, if we were in the same town, it would be so much fun to keep sharing like this." She agreed to fill the "pastoral role" that I do not have filled by someone on my MST. 

The interpreter this year was Saralyn Murray.  What a thrill to meet her!  Long ago, when I was twenty-something I did voluntary service with MBM (now Mennonite Mission Network) in Wayne County, Ohio.  Back then during the school year I administered a preschool for Deaf children, but during the summers I worked at Camp Luz.  The Mennonite camp was run by Randy Murray. During my time there he fell in love with Amy Yoder and married her.   Together they have three girls and two adopted nephews.  My memories of Amy and Randy are so cherished.  I went back to visit several years ago and met Saralyn when she was about 10.  What a surprise that she later chose to study ASL at Goshen College and is now an ASL interpreter.  Having her at the retreat was like having a 24 year old version of her mother with us!  They are so much alike: both love laughter and fun.  It was a blessing to have Saralyn interpret!

I was also thrilled to get to meet Melanie Nofziger, her husband and their four children. The Nofzigers work in Telgucigalpa, Honduras.  They are brand new to our team.  Melanie and I had communicated by email and had sent each other newsletters, but it was wonderful to chat face-to-face.  I also wish that Melanie lived "in the neighborhood".  Other members of our team include Bobby and Amanda Peoples.  They are getting ready to have their first baby in May.  We had a surprise baby shower for them and enjoyed playing some games and joining in their excitement.  I thank God for this holiday with other missionaries.  It made me feel refreshed and linked to a whole cloud of witnesses.