Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Home for the Holidays: Halloween

This past year, for the first time, we celebrated the entire holiday season, from Halloween through New Year's in our own home. What made it doubly special was that it was our first time to celebrate the holidays in Ecuador. We were able to continue some traditions as well as start some new ones. Here's a little peek into how we celebrated Halloween (posts coming about Thanksgiving and Christmas as well):

We have started meeting monthly with other Operation Ecuador missionaries for a time of worship and fellowship. Rusty and I hosted October's "Praise and Potluck." In addition to the meal and the devotional, we decided to plan some fun Halloween-type activities for the kids. We invited them all to come in costume and let them trick-or-treat in the house by stationing adults with candy behind closed doors. Rusty also built a totally cool box maze, using old cardboard boxes from our move. The kids had the best time in it!

The maze took up all of our school-room, plus most of the hallway
Benjamin loved playing in the maze!
English devotional
All the kids, ready to trick-or-treat

A couple of days before Halloween, we carved some jack-o-lanterns. Round, orange pumpkins are not to be had in Ecuador, but Rusty found 3 big green ones at a little green grocer near our church. We carved them up for Halloween, and then later, I baked and pureed them so we would have pumpkin for holiday baking. On Halloween night, we made pizza and watched the Charlie Brown Halloween special. I made cheese and ham pizza for the boys, but I used roasted pumpkin and red onion on ours, and it was really yummy! (I have been cooking my way through a book called 1 Crust, 100 Pizzas, and this was a recipe from there.)

Alex helping me carve the pumpkin
The finished product
The other pumpkin we carved. I needed a design that allowed me to carve out a big rotten spot in the side, and this is what I came up with!
I wasn't expecting very many (if any) trick-or-treaters on Halloween night, so we weren't really prepared for the inundation of children. Rusty had to run to the store to buy candy, while I turned kids away and told them to come back in an hour. I was pretty embarrassed, but I guess I'll know better next year, and they didn't seem to mind. We actually had more trick-or-treaters here at this house than we've ever had anywhere in the U.S.! When Rusty got home, the boys put on their costumes and he took them trick-or-treating up and down our street. Who would have thought they would get to trick-or-treat while living in Ecuador?

Monday, January 14, 2013


That's the word that comes to mind when I think back on the Continent Care Connection (CCC) Conference that I attended in October . CCC is put on each year by Great Cities Ministries, one year for the women, the next year for the men. This year, it was my turn to go to Brazil and spend a week on a beautiful beach near São Paulo, and Rusty's turn to stay home with the three boys. I'm thankful that Rusty recognized my need for this week away (probably more than I did, actually), and encouraged, no insisted that I go, even though the cost, what with the plane tickets and the visa, was much more than we had anticipated.

I have not been away by myself for more than a night since 2004 when Rusty sent me to a scrapbooking conference as part of my birthday present. Since kids came along, we have been able to get away together for a night or two to celebrate our anniversary almost every year, but it has been a long time since I have gone somewhere alone for an extended length of time. Certainly not since I had children. So it was soothing to just be me for a few days, to not have to think about anyone else's needs or the demands of life, ministry, educating my kids, running a household, learning another language. Sometimes I almost feel like I'm losing myself in what life and my small children require of me, so it was nice to be able to step back from all that for a little while and find the "me" beneath all those externals.

All week long, my senses were soothed by warm ocean breezes, pounding waves, barefoot walks on the beach, birdsong, the familiar, lilting sounds of Portuguese, delicious food that I didn't have to cook, and the skilled hands of a massage therapist. The CCC team who facilitated the conference included two licensed massage therapists, and every participant was treated to a half-hour massage. I swear it was the shortest 30 minutes of my life! They also pampered us with two gifts each day of the conference -- everything from books and music to fun lotions and jewelry -- and snacks and treats from the U.S.

And my soul was soothed by beautiful seasons of praise and worship (in English!), the blessing of new friendships, the comfort and clarity I found in talking things over with a counselor (and with my sister), and the reassurance that I am not alone in my struggles. There was extended time set aside for silence and solitude each day, and I spent a lot of time writing! Writing is cathartic for me, so this in itself was extremely soothing.

I'm thankful for the nourishment and refreshment that this week provided me, both physically and spiritually. Times like these are so important for missionaries, and I am grateful for all who make the CCC Conference possible each year, whether through their financial support, or serving as part of the Care Team, or through the hours spent in planning and preparation. This matters. This is important. Thank you.

A few pictures below:

A hug from Dottie Schulz
Worshipping God with my sisters

My Connection Group
So glad I got to experience this with my sister. We were even roommates!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year!

I'm over here today, on my brand new blog, Writing Project 365.

Don't worry, I still plan to continue posting updates on life and ministry here at the Campbell Chronicles -- I have several posts in the works right now, actually! But I've been feeling the need to "stretch my wings" a bit more in my writing, and this new blog is where I'll be doing that. Additionally, I wanted to take up the challenge of writing a few minutes each day for an entire year!

Come on over and read my first post for January 1, 2013. I'd love to have you follow along as I "write my way" through 2013.