On January 2nd, it's time to reestablish the routines of daily life. Camp employees come back to work after several days of vacation, the after-school program starts up again, and the boys and I dive back into homeschooling. The weekly ladies' prayer and Bible study group starts meeting again on Friday afternoons after a break over the holidays. Rusty gifted the family with "The Muppet Show" (every episode ever made!) on DVD for Christmas, so we begin watching an episode or two in the evenings with the kids. Rusty and I also reestablish our more-or-less weekly lunch date, usually combined with grocery shopping. Our go-to restaurant in Cayambe is the Vaca Loca -- great food, yummy ice cream, and fast and friendly service.
I usually leave my Christmas stuff out at least until Epiphany (aka Ethiopian or Orthodox Christmas) in early January. This gives me time to enjoy it after the hustle and bustle of the holidays. This year, I have crock-pot freezer meals to prep for a pregnant friend, plus a family camping trip coming up, so I decide to pack everything away on January 6th.
We have decided to attend Sunday services at the Pisulí Church of Christ (a church plant in North Quito that we helped with several years ago) for the foreseeable future. The church is really struggling and can use our help to work through some issues. Going to church here makes for long days on Sunday -- the drive is 1.5 hours each way, so we usually leave about 7:30 a.m. and don't get home until mid-afternoon. Usually, we eat lunch out, and sometimes we do some shopping, since we are already in Quito. A fun family tradition is "brinner" (breakfast for dinner) on Sunday evenings.
During the second week in January, I put together 12 crock-pot freezer meals for my friend who is due at the end of January and begin planning for our upcoming summer groups. We also go camping for one night with the Marcum family. We camp at Chachimbiro, which has some great hot springs! We have tried several camping spots together over the years, and we all agree that being able to enjoy the hot pools right next to our campsite is a big plus!
I devote the third week in January to getting ready to begin teaching English classes to the kids in the after-school program. I am taking over this responsibility from Jerica, who is no longer volunteering at the camp. I organize, clean, and set up my classroom, familiarize myself with all the materials, and prepare for my first lesson. I also dust off the nice digital camera and spend some time each afternoon taking individual and class pictures of all the kids in the program to update the "picture wall."
We have groups at the camp the last two weekends in January. The first is just using the facilities for the day, but we still have to prepare lunch for everyone. We plan for 100 people, and 137 show up! I tell my staff that sometimes I feel like I'm supposed to be Jesus and just make more food appear as we serve it! The second group is smaller, but stays one night and so requires three meals.
Since returning from our furlough at the end of November, 2017, we have been slowly settling into the extension on our house. The extension was actually completed ("made usable" is probably a better way to say it) in the summer of 2017, but since we are so crazy busy during the summer months and then were gone for nearly three months in the fall, we haven't had time to do much with it yet. Rusty has spent a good part of his free time this month working on a backboard from old pallet wood for his dart boards. He gets that finished and hung, along with our "places we've lived" wall, which features a license plate from each country and state we've called home through the years. Shelving is also finally installed in our bedroom closets, allowing me to unpack and organize clothes that have been in storage for several months. I am then able to move a bookshelf out of our room and back to its new home in the playroom, where I can unpack and organize the five boxes of children's books I packed up when we began the process of knocking out walls to connect the extension to the rest of the house.
The final week of January finds me teaching my first English classes to the kids in the after-school program, helping set up for the "School Store," (scheduled for the first week of February), writing our quarterly newsletter, and planning our Superbowl Party. Rusty attends a wake for the sister of one of the camp employees who was killed in a tragic hit-and-run accident.
Some daily moments from January (clockwise from top left):
- New Year's Day -- taking apart the gingerbread house
- Homeschool -- we were studying machines, and their assignment was to sketch their bikes
- 12 crock-pot freezer meals -- my baby gift for an expecting friend
- Super Piano Player!
- Catching the camp alpacas so they could be shorn was a group effort! (Shortly after this, the alpacas went to a new home.)
- After-School Program -- the teachers made a new batch of play-dough, and the kids enjoyed playing with it for craft-time one afternoon.
- Our "Places We've Lived" wall -- we still need to get our hands on a Japan license plate!
- Elizabeth and her Uncle Josh, keeping warm by the campfire