Saturday, April 19, 2014

Catching Up: November

We celebrated Halloween at the beginning of November (a few days late due to just having completed our move out to the camp). Here's some of what we did:

We painted pumpkins
The finished products (Side note: I think it's hilarious that I went to so much trouble to find orange pumpkins here in Ecuador, and what color do my kids paint them? Green!)
We carved jack-o-lanterns.
Alex wanted a pirate jack-o-lantern.
We went to a costume party and Bingo night hosted by the Tabacundo Church of Christ. Ben made a very cute elephant!
I also added a new activity to our list of Halloween traditions. We made and decorated guaguas de pan (bread babies) in honor of Dia de los Muertos, the Ecuadorian version of Halloween. I got the recipe from a friend of mine, and she has the recipe and a lovely write-up about the holiday posted on her blog here. Here are some pictures of our guaguas:

We hosted a Harvest Party for all Operation Ecuador missionaries and a few other expat friends again this year. Having the party out at the camp meant that we could add in some fun activities like a hayride for the kids and a hotdog roast around the fire pit. Here are some pictures of the fun:

Rusty hitched the trailer to the tractor, filled it with hay, and took the kids on a hayride
Ben driving the tractor with Daddy
Roasting hot dogs
The kids came in costume and we even had trick-or-treating after it got dark
Devo around the campfire
The kids got to frost and decorate Halloween cookies
Much of November was taken up just by settling into our home at Camp Bellevue, trying to re-establish a routine in homeschooling, and figuring out our roles as camp administrators. We were thankful to have the Reeger family nearby as well as Jhon and Laura, who also live and work at the camp, to help us as we made the transition.

In addition to managing a small staff of regular employees and hosting both local and North American groups (the bulk of which occur during the summer months, although we do have occasional groups throughout the year), the camp also runs an After School Program for children of low-income families in the community. The program runs from 2-5 p.m. from Monday through Friday during the school year and is provided free-of-charge. The 100+ children who come receive Bible lessons, tutoring with their school work, snacks, and hot showers twice weekly. It is a great way to use our facilities to bless the community throughout the year, and we consider it one of the camp's most important ministries.

Circle time! These kids love to sing.
Devotional -- listening to a Bible story
Every so often, the teachers perform a little skit for the kids to reinforce the Bible lesson.
At the end of every six weeks, the kids are given a test over the Bible stories from previous weeks. Those who perform well are awarded a special prize. This was November's award ceremony.
At the end of the month, we celebrated Thanksgiving. Our family drove into Quito on Thanksgiving Day and had a lovely dinner with the Marcum family. We stayed the night and traded off childcare so each couple could have a date. Rusty and I went to see "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" and had coffee afterwards. On Saturday, we had about 30 expat friends out to the camp for another Thanksgiving Dinner. We ate, played games, and just enjoyed the blessing of a shared cultural heritage. This event brought back such wonderful memories of Thanksgivings in Kenya when all the missionaries would gather for several days of food, fun, and fellowship. Rusty and I hope to make it an annual event at the camp!

Carving the turkey
We give thanks.
A game of horseshoes
Cheering on the dads in their horseshoe game.
Burning calories after a very big meal!
* Thanks to Julie Marcum and Mari Hernandez-Tuten for many of the pictures of the Harvest Party and Thanksgiving at the camp. When I am hosting an event, I often forget to take pictures, so I am thankful these two ladies brought their cameras and snapped so many great shots!

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