Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Moulding Chronicles November 2013

Dear Friends,

Last month Ed took a trip to Torotoro in the north of Potosi to train 7 of FH’s staff in the principles of Foundations for Farming (FfF) and to plant a ‘Well-Watered Garden’ of Maize. The training sessions were a steep learning curve as Ed began to realise how difficult it actually was to share these ideas clearly in a second language.  This left him a little deflated at the end of the first day, not being sure how much information the staff really captured. However, the second day was more encouraging as the staff began  to talk about what they were learning and how it would change some of the ways they would do things in the future. After the theory session Ed then worked with them planting the Well-Watered Garden. 

One of the other obstacles that presented itself upon arrival was the fact that the land had been ploughed up just the previous week.  This was a problem due to the fact that one of the key points of FfF is to not plough the land.  However, we went ahead and planted the garden anyway as there was no other space available. Despite the obstacles it was very exciting to be creating a garden at last, having talked about it for so long. Ed came away feeling encouraged because the staff had captured various important points from the workshop and were beginning to understand the FfF principles, the supervisor was also happy with the workshop as it had provided an opportunity for the team to have time to work, play and laugh together as the garden was made.

Due to a lack of staff time and having already created their work plans for this year, Ed will not be teaching FfF to the farmers this year, however, the staff are working with a number of families on vegetable gardens and so they hope to apply a number of the principles that they have learnt with the families they work with. So hopefully next year Ed will be able to take this a step further and with the staff teach some of the farmers. 

When Ed spoke with the supervisor this month about how the garden was growing he heard that parrots had come and eaten most of young shoots that were growing so the staff had to replant and put up some scarecrows. Hopefully this will help and Ed will travel again to Torotoro in January to see how they are doing and then in March/April time for the harvest. During one of these trips we hope to be able to go as a family and see some of the other sights of that region which are said to be quite spectacular.

These last couple of months have been quite draining for us all both emotionally and physically.  We were finally able to get away for a few days at Lake Titicaca this last weekend for a much needed break however we are still feeling very tired as holidays with small children are never that restful, so would appreciate your prayers for more energy.

Thank God for: 
  • Time away at the lake to enjoy some family time
  • A positive first year of homeschooling, where both Alana and Sarah have learnt a lot

Ask God for:
  • Being wise in taking regular breaks for ourselves as we keep running ourselves down before we stop
  • Wisdom in how to best support and encourage the families in our group 

 Ed, Sarah, Alana, Isaiah & Lucas

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Teachable moments

I am learning to make the most of teachable moments as and when they arise.  When Alana asks a question I am beginning to learn to enjoy seeking out a full answer to give her rather than just a quick brush off, as well as having some fun in letting the creative juices flow.  The other week we were reading together from the book of Luke in the bible when we read about the houses being built by the foolish man and the wise man, which led our conversation around to the importance of building on a good foundation.   With all the new buildings being built up around us here in La Paz, it was fairly easy to introduce the concept of a building needing a good solid base. One building site in particular that is close to us has attracted much attention from our family, or rather Isaiah due to the huge digger that has been excavating a big hole, requiring us having to stop and watch the digger at work.  

After talking about these buildings we decided to take things a step further and try out our own little experiment, with the help of some Leggo.  Having built 2 houses exactly the same we then added a foundation structure to one of them and then sat them on some soil, having buried the foundations of the one house. We then tried knocking them over, taking note the force that was needed for each house. I think that Alana was quite surprised to discover how little effort was needed to knock over the house just sat upon the soil, where as the one with the foundations was much more difficult to shift.

Since that experiment she often now talks about the foundations of buildings as we walk past building sites, which has given rise to talking about how within our own lives we also need a firm foundation so that when hard things happen in life we are able to remain firm in who we are and in who God has created us to be.

Moulding Chronicles September 2013

Dear Friends,

God is so amazing, He has proved himself to be ever faithful as he has provided finances over and above what we were asking for. A big thank you to all of you who have responded to Gods promptings and who have contributed to being a part of Gods answer to our prayers, you are wonderful.

Another answer to prayer in this last month has been the approval to push forward with the pilot for the foundations for farming project. Talks are now underway with the regional offices in order to figure out where and how to next move forward.  We are also very thankful that the health of the boys has improved and thus allowing us to catch up on some much needed sleep.

Having shared much about what Ed gets up to in previous letters we thought that this month we would share a little of what life is like on the home front. With 3 little people around all day everyday things can get somewhat rowdy at home, and with no playgroups or mums and tots to go to we have to get a little more creative, and I am having to learn to be ok with getting messy.  

A Homeschooling lifestyle has been a challenge but on the whole a very positive one where together we have been learning much more than just academic studies.  

Two mornings a week Alana goes to ‘Kumon’ where she is studying Maths and Spanish.  From there she has homework to do every day (except Sundays) which we do every morning after breakfast.   We then get out of the house for a breather to either buy bread or play in the park, before returning for a snack. After this Lucas has a morning nap. Isaiah has just recently started joining us for our study time, where by Alana and I focus on her studies until lunch time. Our afternoons are then free for playing, or ballet (which Alana does 2 times a week).

I am so thankful for the privilege of being able to be at home learning with my children.  Yes there are times when I just want to scream (sometimes I do!), but the moments when I hear them happily playing and giggling, or Alana suddenly talks about something we have just been studying, of which I wasn’t sure she was understanding at all makes it all so worthwhile.

Thank God for:

  • Providing the finances we needed
  • Approval of foundations for farming project
  • Improved health of the boys
Ask God for:
  • Guidance for the foundations for farming pilot 
  • Patience and understanding of each of our children
  • Wisdom in some of our more complicated relationships

Ed, Sarah, Alana, Isaiah & Lucas

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Deuteronomy 6:5-7

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Food and fellowship

In some cultures it is very easy to get to know people and form relationships, where as in others it can be a little more complicated.  One would almost expect a people orientated culture such as Latin America to be one of those places where relationship building is easy, however our experience has proven otherwise. Whilst in general there is a greater focus upon relationship over task completion, it is the initiation of a relationship that poses a problem.

We have now been involved in our present church for the last 4 1/2 years, and are still just getting to know some of the people by name as opposed to just recognising them from the backs of their heads as they sit in front of us.  Within the church set up here it has been difficult to get to know and speak to people as people trickle into the service up to and beyond an hour of its official start time (for a 2 1/2 hour service!) ourselves included as even with sunday school 1 hour of worship is somewhat taxing for little people  - and even big people at times.  Then as soon as the service is over, people can't get out the door quick enough to get home for family meals.  This leaves people feeling very disconnected and as strangers with one another.

One of our desires when putting together a families group was to get over this problem and create a situation where by families could get to know one another, and to look to each other as a source of friendship and encouragement.  This has worked out really well, and it has been an encouragement to us to see people now stopping and talking with one another after a sunday service and making plans for this and that.

We didn't want to see the group become exclusive and looked at ways we could open up this relationship building to the wider congregation, and so as a group we organised a 'Dia del campo' inviting everybody from the congregation to join us at one of the parks for a BBQ and games.

We were not sure at first how many would show up, but as lunch time grew closer more people from the church turned up with their lunches till we counted about 70 adults, plus children. Once everybody was filled up we had some fun with a few games which involved people interacting and chatting with people they had never spoken with before, including ourselves.  The following Sunday it was evident that new bridges had been formed as we noted more people taking the time to say hello and chat with others.

Ancient Egypt

This last month we have been kept busy by working on our project of ancient Egypt, with my usual plan of two weeks spreading over into 4.  But thats ok, it meant that we could take our time and enjoy the different activities we were working on. Rather than explain it all the photos do a better job showing all that we did and some of the fun we had along the way.

Our Map of ancient Egypt
Building a pyramid
Mummified children
Our first science experiment
Mummified Apples

How did the Egyptians grow such abundant crops when it only rained maybe once or twice a year!!!

Excavating a pyramid

The sacred cat

Making papyrus paper

Dress like an Egyptian

and share your story.

A friendly visitor from the river Nile

So now we move away from Egypt as we study the story of Moses.  When asked how she wanted to put together her work about Moses her reply was to make a movie, so that should be fun.  Watch this space.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Moulding Chronicles July 2013

Dear Friends,

Change is never easy, I (Ed) really don’t like change. I like to have a routine and know what I am up to. I can, however, get distracted very easily, so at times it is a challenge to keep focused particularly if I know that nobody is checking up on me and what I am doing.  My ability to remain focused becomes more of a challenge when I know that what I need to do will result in change and the unknown for me.  

Last week I felt challenged as I read a daily devotional on 2 Timothy which talked about how God planned works for us to do before the creation of the world!  As I take the small, slow steps towards the trial of the farming project, this comment got me thinking, God planned for me to do this, therefore I need to stop worrying about it and step out and get on with it, and then see what God will do through it. If it never actually goes any further than the proposal I know that God has been and will be teaching me more through just the process.

So with that in mind, the budget has been submitted along with a suggestion of location. We now have to wait for approval before moving onto preparing the training materials. At this phase it is entirely in Gods hands as we have just discovered that there are major financial issues from a global level which will impact all existing and proposed projects.

Aside from the farming project my role within work has changed (again). l am now be the assistant to the programs director instead of the country director as it was felt that his work load was heavier and thus in need of more help and support.  On the positive side this will hopefully help me to understand more of the operations side of FH, however it also means adjusting to a new boss. It has had a bit of a bumpy start but is now improving and challenging me again on my work attitudes and motivating myself to get on with what needs to be done.

Our church families groups met together for a BBQ last month, during which many expressed a desire to join back together as 1 group. Upon reflection we decided that this would be a positive move as the smaller groups lacked core families meeting consistently together. So this month we were all back together with a few changes, the biggest change being that the pastors took care of the children in one location whilst the parents met in another, enabling the adults to enter in the discussion without the distraction of the children.

These last two months have been very waring for us as a family with the boys suffering from repeated bouts of sickness and diarrhoea, and thus a trip to the Drs, whilst trying to support the boss and his wife who both had emergency operations within a week of each other.  All are doing  better now, though Ali the Bosses wife is still in a lot of pain. It has left us feeling pretty wiped out and in need of somehow recharging our own batteries, ready to face whatever challenges come up next.

We have really appreciated all of your prayers and words of encouragement during this time, they have helped to keep us going. 

Thank God for: 
  • Financial provision as we are now only £60 short of our monthly target 
  • Sustaining and protecting us during these last 2 months which have been very challenging on many levels
  • God’s grace as we serve him in the way He wants.

Ask God for:
  • Gods continuing encouragement and our obedience to follow him
  • Health and full recovery for the boys
  • Wisdom as we serve God through the relationships we have

Ed, Sarah, Alana, Isaiah & Lucas

Monday, 27 May 2013

Moulding Chronicles May 2013

Dear Friends,

Since our last letter much of what we wrote about has now moved forward which is much to thank God for.

The new format for the families groups  have taken off well and people have been positive about the new approach.  The groups are now much smaller having been divided into 3, but provide an opportunity where by everybody can contribute in some way or other and now enables us to involve more families. As we become more focused upon the families we find ourselves challenged as we hear of the many difficulties and problems that so many of these families and couples face. And yet encouraged as we see how new relationships are forming between families and how these are beginning to encourage and support one another.

The discipleship groups within the office  have also gotten off to a positive start.  For the first time staff are really beginning to grasp and understand what lies behind the values of FH and what they then mean in practice.  

Foundations for farming has taken a step forward in this last month.  The completed proposal has aroused sufficient interest so that now it is being moved forward with an initial trial planned for July this year.  This is both exciting and a little daunting at the same time as to where it might lead. 

For Sarah, Homeschool has moved into a more predictable rhythm with realistic expectations of what can be achieved. It has caused us to think a lot about how and why we do things. When you send a child off to school you don’t really have to think much about their education, you just assume they will learn, and hope for good reports on parents evenings (or at least thats what I assume) where as with home education we are constantly reviewing and assessing how things are going, what’s working, what isn’t. It causes us to question how we can encourage an enjoyment of learning and a desire to learn.  Why we are teaching such and such, is it a pointless exercise or does it serve a greater purpose?  

It is also a journey in learning about our children and their characters, and the things they enjoy, as well as aspects of our own characters, both good and bad!   Providing an education is a big responsibility, but its so much more than just letters and numbers on a page, its about learning about life in every shape and form.

This month FH published its 2012 annual report take a look at this link to see what FH has been doing globally over the last year. 

Thank God for: 
  • Growth in the families groups
  • The learning and growing taking place in the discipleship groups
  • Interest in the Farming project

Ask God for:
  • Guidance, wisdom and courage with the Farming project
  • Continuing provision of financial support we still have a shortfall in regular monthly support
  • Patience and insight for homeschooling


Ed, Sarah, Alana, Isaiah & Lucas