Tag Archives: kiddos

U.M. Army – by M

Staci and I just got back from a week long mission trip in Huntsville, TX. For those of you who aren’t familiar with U.M. Army, the trip consists of putting students into small groups of about 4-6 with an adult. The teams are then sent out to do work on different people’s houses. Many of these people that the students work for do not have the means to be able to pay for the work that needs to be done to their house.

This week I had 9 students in my group. It was an extra large group because we were really hurting for adults this week. My group had the oppurtunity to work for a lady we’ll call Ms. Sara. Our project was to build a new front, 8×8, covered porch, as well as a 4×8, back porch.

It was a tough week. We had record setting heat, and not a lot of time to get a whole lot of work done. Not to mention that, although I do have remodeling experience, I have never built anything from the ground up.  But it was awesome to see how God worked through our group as well as the whole UM Army group throughout the week.  And it is cool to think that I now have the know-how to do some pretty awesome building projects.

Monday was a tough day. We ended the day not having completed much except for putting a few really deep holes in the ground (that had turned out to be in the wrong places), and built the beginning of a porch frame that was the wrong size. Our group finished the day extremely defeated. But God lifted our spirits on Tuesday as we finished the day having our 4 corner posts set as well as the beginning of our deck.  The highlight of our group’s week (except for finishing the deck) came Tuesday afternoon.  At this point, we had our 4 main corner posts in as well as our frame and cross braces.  Everything had 5 screws in it and was ready to go… well, ready except that we had forgotten to check if the door would open once we put the decking on.  I asked, very reluctantly, for a deck board that we could place across our frame.  I placed the deck board, reached for the door, pressed the handle, and began to pull…  Time stopped…  My heart stopped… it, it, it, IT WORKED!  The door swung open with about a half inch of clearing!  We cheered!  But the test wasn’t over yet.  I moved the deck board over to double check the door.  It swung closed!  WOOHOO!  After making so many mistakes and having so many defeats within the first two days, this was definitely what our group needed.  Tuesday ended with a make-shift deck and stairs that just allowed Ms. Sara to get in and out of her house.  Tuesday complete.

Wednesday we began hot and early in the morning.  We all decided that we needed to at least have the deck mostly complete and the stairs in so that Ms. Sara could easily get in and out of her house.  So with our spirits much higher, and a goal to reach in mind, we began hard at work.  As we tried to dig in for the stairs we hit a big problem (pun intended).  Ms. Sara’s yard was covered in all kinds of crazy tree roots.  We’d dig for a few inches and hit a root.  We’d eventually break through after 10 to 15 minutes of beating it with a shovel or pickax.  Then we’d dig another couple of inches and hit another root.

We figured ways around the roots and continued to work and work:

Finally by the end of the day, this is what we had:

We were almost finished.  Thursday would bring us to the final sawing down of the 4×4 posts, finishing the handrails, and puting on the roof; all pretty daunting tasks.  We began slowly as we hit another snag.  Our circular saw decided it didn’t want to cut anything anymore.  We changed the blade and still nothing.  Luckily our Color Group Leader had an extra with him that we were able to use that day.  The afternoon capped of with a visit from my Pastor and his wife, as well as our UM Army director, and others from the group as we wrapped up the roofing job.  This is what it lookied like as we finished Thursday:

So Here’s a nice before and after shot (ps.. the before shot is just of the staircase that used to be in front of Ms. Sara’s house.  I took the picture of it once we had already moved it.)

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Now Ms. Sara can easily get in and out of her house and even set a chair out on her deck and enjoy the cool evenings and breezy mornings.

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Oh and I can’t forget the awesome job on the back porch that half our team did.  Before, there was nothing. After, there was this:

The truth is, this picture doesn’t really do the justice of the difficulty of this project because of the steep grade on the backside of the house that you can’t really see in this picture.

Anyway, my group knocked this one out of the park and finished the week by painting up this blue house on Friday:

I’m really proud to have been the leader of group “Yellow – S”!!!

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I also had the opportunity to speak Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights as well as lead worship on Thursday.  It was such an awesome experience and it was awesome to see all the work that God had done through the week.  It really is too bad that we have to wait a-whole-nother year until the next trip.  But Staci and I leave soon for our Big House trip with our middle school students which will be a lot similar, but on a lot smaller scale.

It’s awesome to see so many students doing so much for the good of others and connecting with each other and connecting with Christ.

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When was the last time you went on a mission trip? What did you do? Where did you go?  What did God do?

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– M

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Babies and Kids Galore

Saturday was great!  We loved being able to spend time with my dad’s side of the family.  There were sooooo many babies and kids there!  And since I absolutely love little ones, I was pretty much in heaven.

Look at these adorable little faces!

They all got passed around a ton!

Our “baby” from last year is a big girl now!  And her mommy is going to have another baby in 5 months!

My grandparents

We all went upstairs to watch a video for my cousin’s 8th grade graduation, and there were kids everywhere!

She’s in kindergarten now!

Michael’s little buddy liked his nose.  Hehe.

The last time I had seen her, she was about her brother’s age (her brother is in the pic above).  It’s so crazy how fast they grow up — and I hear it’s even crazier when they’re your own.

14 people weren’t able to come, but we still had a wonderful time!  I love my family!

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–Staci

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Family Time!

Michael and I are going down to TX tomorrow morning for my dad’s side’s FAMILY REUNION!  I can’t wait.

He’s one of 10 kids, and there are 50-something of us including my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, their spouses (only 3 of us are married), and 1 great-grandkid.  And there are PLENTY of kiddos.  There are 6 of us cousins over the age of 20, then a few more who are teens (I’m thinking 7 but I might be wrong), and the rest are between a few months old and pre-teens.  There are 30 first cousins.  All of those people (or at least as many as can make it) under one roof for the day makes for some LOUD FUN.

Oh — and they’re Brazilian.  Which makes it even LOUDER and FUNNER (sorry, Mom.  It just went with the sentence better…).

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Here are some pics from our get-together last year.

My little fam:

And the whole fam (minus a few):

A multi-generational game of soccer (it’s equivelant to playing touch football at American family gatherings):

My cousin’s wife and the only great-grandbaby (so far) — oh, and it’s worth mentioning that she’s the only one in the (biological) family without brown hair…so apparently the VERY dominant S. family genes aren’t as strong in 3rd generations.

Which isn’t the case with all of us 2nd generation-ers.  We could all be siblings.  See?  All 3 from different parents.

Brotherly love:

And silliness:

The older “girls”  —  my cousin is on my right, and then 2 cousin-in-laws and my cousin’s baby on my left:

I can’t wait to be back with my big, loud, talkative, loving family.

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–Staci

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Vacation Recap Day 6: Pastries & Kiddos

Day 6:

On Tuesday morning, I woke up to a quiet house.  Michael’s dad had gone to do some work, and everyone else was still asleep.

Even though I’m a people person in so many ways, I need my alone time too.  And since we’d been on vacation, I hadn’t had much of it.  I don’t know if anyone else is like this, but I’d also been missing my time with God.  It seems like this happens every vacation.  Needless to say, I was very happy for the quietness that morning.

A few hours later, everyone was awake and Michael’s mom fixed us breakfast while we visited with his grandma.  It was really sweet to be able to listen to her memories and things.

Some of Michael’s extended family from the Valley stopped by, and we visited with them until his dad came home.  It started getting closer and closer to the time when we needed to leave, and Michael and I decided to go to the Mexican Bakery with his dad to save time on the way out.

I’d never been to a Mexican Bakery (they called it something different, but I can’t remember what they said…) but Michael was really excited about it.  When we went in, it looked like a self-serve donut shop (like at the Wal-Mart bakery)–but it was full of Mexican pastries instead.

I had no clue what anything was, so I asked Michael to help me pick out some things to try.  I’m not a huge sweets person.  I’d rather have fruit than chocolate, and I’d rather eat cake than the icing.  But there were lots of pastries that looked like they’d be good.  We ended up getting these:

The three sugary things are Michael’s, and the three plain things are mine.  I don’t know what any of them are called.  I’d love to say that I tried everything and it was all wonderful, but in reality, I only tried one little bite of the heart-looking thing all week.  I was nervous that we were going to be late to my aunt’s house that night, and I just lost my appetite.  And then I just forgot about them the rest of the week.  I think Michael ate one of his things and then forgot about the others too.  But the one bite I did eat was pretty good.

When we got back to Michael’s grandma’s house, we were all packed up and ready to go.  Before we left, we took some pictures with his grandma.  She is SUCH a sweet lady.  I’m so happy that we were able to spend so much time with her.

There ended up being no traffic, and by the time we went to his parents’ house, changed quickly, and drove to my aunt’s house, we were only about 30 minutes late–much better than what we were expecting!

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When we knocked on Rachel and Jay’s door, we heard lots of running around and screaming inside.  “They’re here!” “They’re here!” “Open the door!”  Let’s just say, it’s so easy to feel loved when you can hear little kids being excited to see you!  My Aunt Rachel opened the door, and there were three adorable, excited cousins waiting.

And they were ready to play!

We had so much fun getting on the floor and playing with E, S, and N!  They’re all three just bundles of energy.  We played with little figurines and cars and all kinds of things.  S found a toy gun and started “Pow, Pow!”-ing everyone, so we all had to act like we’d been shot.  Michael also became a jungle gym.

All this time, we were also visiting with Rachel and Jay.  I guess you can say we had a lesson in multi-tasking with kids.  It was the best of both worlds.

E was being SO sweet to me.  She kept on giving me big hugs and thanking me for coming to see them.  I can’t believe how big she’s getting–she’ll be starting Kindergarten in the fall!  And the boys are growing up too!  The first time Michael met them, they were still in diapers, and now they’re running around and talking like big boys.

After dinner (Rachel made an amazing lasagna!), we went outside to play for a while.  When I walked outside, this is what I saw:

He’s going to be a good dad someday!

Rachel and I sat and visited while Michael played with the kids, and then he came over and joined us–his hair stylist came along…

When we went back inside, the kids had a few more minutes to play with us:

And then it was “relax time”.  Jay put in Snow White for the kids to calm down, and we had a chance to sit down and visit some more.

E wanted to take some pictures with my camera, and these are a few of her shots:

I love looking at pictures that kids take!  It’s so cute to be able to see their perspective.

Part-way through the movie, it was time for the boys to go to bed.  But we made sure to get a picture before they went!

Aren’t they so cute?!  We’d had so much fun with them!  All three of them had gown up so much since the last time we’d seen them (a year ago at a family reunion).  After the boys went to bed, we stayed for a little bit longer and visited some more.  Oh–and Rachel inspired us to get serious about training for a race.  It was great to hear all about hers.  She’s done shorter races and half-marathons and even some sprint triathlons!  (**We haven’t started actually training yet because my back has been messed up since our trip, but we’re determined to soon!)

We left with big smiles on our faces.  It was great to be able to spend time with some of my family, and to visit with the “grown-ups” and play with the kiddos.  It’d been a really great time!

We left Rachel and Jay’s and went to HEB to buy some stuff for our picnic lunch at Six Flags Fiesta Texas the next day!   We were SUPER excited!

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–Staci

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