back to life in the fast lane

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Down in El Paso, we had just crossed the border. Raul and Juan Carlos dropped us off at Harvest Christian Center, where we’d parked our cars several days earlier. Only a few minutes later, a couple from Waco showed up with their two dogs.

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It was the planned rendezvous for the transfer of ownership of “Bear,” the 4-month-old French bulldog that would become part of the Anderson family.

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Quinn and Dusty were certain there would not be room in their lives for another dog, but Cassidy convinced them away from that certainty, resulting in a search for just the right pup.

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She didn’t seem traumatized by all the new humans surrounding her.

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Here’s a good look at “Issy Bear,” who will grow to around twice this size.

– – –

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Unrelated, but a pic I needed to share—snapped by John or Erin down on the job site. Mauri in his Cubbies hat. I hold dear several favorite pictures of this man, and this one will join that select few.

– – –

Our faraway “kids” have adventured into life in Virginia.

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I screenshot this from Facebook. The Carlson family will move from their temporary dwelling at Beth’s parents’ home in Herndon, VA, to their “new” home in the Dominion Valley area of Haymarket, VA, on December 16. The babies will be baptized that same day. Ben is flying there from Michigan to be godfather to one of the girls.

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Here’s a rare family photo. I hope Ben can get some good pictures next weekend!

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For some reason Taylor was eager to have at least one child with blue eyes. Wish granted! When you fall head over heels for a beautiful woman with brown eyes, it stands to reason your children will likely have the dominant brown eyes. Maybe he hoped for one Swedish trait to carry down the generations.

– – –

We’ve enjoyed connections with our local kids/grands this week. Last Sunday we were invited to observe Lincoln’s response to the train set we gave him for his birthday.

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He knew just what to do with it!

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Just look at that face.

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We stuck around for a snack and some more play time——for Mauri!

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Back at home, we spent the next 45 minutes decorating for Christmas. I realize this is a small investment, but let me tell you our house is stunning dressed with candles (battery operated, come on at dusk, go off at dawn) in all the windows, wreaths on the doors, and our little tree cheering the room where we spend the most time.

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See it there behind us?

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Still——we thought John and Erin’s house was perfectly decked for Christmas too.
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We’d gone over to rehearse with John for tomorrow’s worship at NFC. . .

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. . . while the girls entertained themselves.

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Earlier in the day we’d walked a few blocks to Sage’s school to hear her class’s Christmas program. Parents were invited to come forward to take pictures. We didn’t have the best view of our singer, but after the songs, we heard Sage’s name called to receive her class’s award for being the most grateful.

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We participated in the “silent cheer”——waving both hands in the air (silently, as opposed to clapping). The silence was broken by uproarious laughter when the principal got “pied” during his closing speech.

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an eighth home for the holidays

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I don’t imagine Quinn will love this photo I’ve chosen to start the story of this year’s Thanksgiving “build” in Juarez. But her role is central in organizing and shopping for and facilitating the project every year, and it seems even more daunting to think she pulled it off this year with the use of only three-quarters of her limbs. Randee managed to distance-shadow Quinn to assist when needed, not an easy assignment for a daughter-in-law who prefers to pretend she isn’t slightly disabled from foot surgery.

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While Mauri and I road-tripped to El Paso, others loaded “Faith,” the Babies of Juarez trailer. So I had to count on some of the team already gathered to send me a few pictures of that first important part of our Juarez adventure. Marissa, fresh home from college for Thanksgiving, digs into the effort.

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Her boyfriend, Kaden, joined in too, though he stayed behind to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family. Cassidy and John are always ready to help.

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We appreciate even more the blended-familyness for this build, as Erin’s parents joined us for the first time. Sage and Brynn get after a cleaning project.

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Here’s the loading team. Dusty is an experienced trailer packer with the spatial awareness required to utilize every square inch of space.

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Randee, Krista, and John texted pictures to me while Mauri and I traveled through New Mexico, enjoying this crescent moon over the landscape.

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As usual, the team met at Harvest Christian Center in El Paso the following afternoon, where we transfered baby supplies and furnishings for the family to the Missions Ministries trailer that will cross the border.

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My man can lift a whole kitchen with two hands!

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Conferring . . .

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Down at the Mexico team center, the trailers are unloaded, and the diapers and formula for Babies of Juarez pose for a donor photo.

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That is followed by a whole-group effort of moving all the supplies back to the storage rooms.

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The young ones devised a way to carry all the loose, unpackaged stuff in one swell foop!

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Diapers are shelved by size.

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Formula by any means to make it fit!

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Our days always begin with group singing, devotions, and a hearty breakfast. Then off to the job site.

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The previously poured foundation serves as our gathering place to hear Colton’s construction tutorial.

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Three generations of Hatch/Macy women pound those huge framing nails.

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Cass adds to the hammering cacophony.

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Mauri even found me pounding at some nails.

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Feast your eyes on my first nails (top two). Those beauties are 4 inches long!

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Krista helps Javier nail the siding to the frame.

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The trim team.

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The narrow lot means we work in the roadway.

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Color coordinated granddaughter . . .

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Raising the walls!

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One side keeps holding . . .

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. . . while the other wall is raised. Don’t let the panorama curve fool you.

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She’s smiling, but it was not easy for her to watch and not work.

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The interior framing is added while the long walls are held in place.

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Then the end walls go on.

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And finally the roof!

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Leonel gets right on the electrical while the sky is still exposed. Bags of insulation pulled in.

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Sisters Ashley and Sarah take on the less-favored job of measuring and cutting insulation strips.

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Once there’s something to walk on, everyone wants a turn with the roofing nails.

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Sage is deemed ready to join the roofing team.

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Luis enjoys roofing his own home!

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The morning’s work is complete, the home halfway finished.

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Back at the team center the guys find a change of pace on the court.

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At lunch the kitchen crew stopped our conversations to make a presentation. You see, every Thanksgiving our team brings gifts of jerky, peanut butter, and a chocolate treat for each member of the Mexican Missions Ministries staff. So this year the kitchen staff, construction crew, and security guards pooled their resources to give each member of our team a gift. Claudia, the only one who speaks English, said some nice things about Quinn, who is a regular presence there in the dining room.

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They were so cute and pleased to present their gifts, I feel compelled to share every picture I took.

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OK, last one.

In the afternoon we served food and shared activities with the neighborhood. Sage is learning Spanish in school and was eager to use her growing language skills.

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Cassidy shares her skills another way.

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And Mauri has discovered a brand new skill. He and his stick-on mustaches proved a big hit with the boys.

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Handsome!

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You won’t find Dusty at the “Food Outreach” without a babe in arms.

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John and Erin made big bubbles to share. Another hit! Visualize Bailey behind me in a dusty soccer game.

The next morning, after devotions and food, we’re back on the job site. Another glorious day!

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Everyone is eager to see what colors the house will be.

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Kariña was especially pleased with the choice. She digs right in, along with her boys and their neighbor friend.

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I overheard Brynn ask, “Do we actually have to paint the whole house?”

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She soon learned the benefit of the group effort.

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Meanwhile, inside the house more heavy lifting. John and his dad-in-law are reminded of the advantage (or disadvantage!) of being tall.

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While Scott and Mauri bend to reach their targets.

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Sage’s turn to learn how to mud the seams.

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Marissa and Guh (Randee) hard at work. I’m not sure Marissa received her due kudos for painting that under-eave part. Most of us don’t have the arm strength for it.

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A ladder helps!

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Scott snaps wife Lea, another champion painter.

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The family who paints a baño together . . . what’s that saying?

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There was never a more eager or fastidious painter than Kariña!

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Neil touches up the spots the rest of us missed.

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Cousins Quinn and Krista cooperate for yet another “series” pose, though this year Q is without a brush or roller.

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Me ‘n’ my girl.

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I don’t dare caption this photo, but I’ve smiled quite a bit thinking of various possibilities.

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Now that the inside is swept, it’s time for the family’s attention to be diverted while we carry in the furnishings, etc.

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Lea is the master designer, likened to none other than Joanna Gaines. She shops garage sales for just the right items to trailer in. Joy permeates the rooms as she directs the decorating, every detail considered.

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She even brought soccer goals for the backyard of boys.

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The view from that spot.

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While the decorators finish up, Mauri and I stroll around to see the house from the back.

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There it is! Can you see it?

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Here’s a wider look.

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Time to dedicate the house! Scott presents the Spanish Bible from our team.

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Then we gather around to pray for the family and their new home.

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A Kodak moment: the passing of the keys.

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The anticipation is high, but the family has no idea what awaits them inside. They know only that there will be beds.

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Kariña and Luis see their furnished bedroom (with a framed family photo on the bedside table) and are overwhelmed with emotion.

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Just look what Lea has done for their boys! “Fixer Upper”—right?

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Our family photo grew by two this year. So great to have Ed and Joy with us!

I tell ya—it doesn’t get any better (but it could, if you want to join us next Thanksgiving)!

All of that accomplished in two mornings!

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Two years ago a donor gave funds for this house, so the Mexican crew built it on their own. Imagine! Then Lea and Quinn drove a trailer of Lea’s shopping treasures down to finish the inside for this grandmother who is raising eight grandchildren in this small house. The children don’t have official papers so can’t attend school.

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They help carry in food and supplies, purchased and trailered across the border.

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Krista, hidden in the shadow, makes good use of her Spanish! She learned it was Grandma’s birthday, so we all gathered around to sing, “Feliz cumpleaños a ti!”

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She invited us inside, but I took only this one picture—for Mauri. Next time we visit, I’ll ask (through Krista) who plays!

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The kids just love to play, which Erin learned by . . . playing with them!

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Colton too!

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Soon it was time to load the van for our next visit. You can see the love between Grandma and Quinn (and Quinn’s protector mom-in-law making sure she doesn’t fall on that rocky surface).

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Erin opened her arms for farewell hugs.

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And the kids came running.

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Then a visit with Jasmine. The year we built for her that smile was nowhere to be found.

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Then on to Bethel Orphanage! My participation this year involved helping carry all these boxes of food and supplies from the van to the kitchen. Quinn’s recent connection with Midwest Food Bank made it possible. Remember when we toured it last June? What a blessing to be the transporters and deliverers of all this needed food and supplies!

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After a brief opportunity to clean up and a quick run-through of the song our team prepared, we were off to church! Any description of this part of our trip would be completely inadequate, so once again I’ll invite you to join us sometime for a first-hand experience. We often practice a song that is well known on both sides of the border, but this year we learned the chorus of “Niño Lindo.” In Spanish! It rang through my head night and day for days and days.

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The next morning, all packed up and heading back to the U.S., we added one more highlight to our trip. Here Quinn stands between Pastor Francisco and his wife, Eloisa, and in the background you see the women’s shelter all ready now for its first inhabitants. God spoke to Eloisa’s heart regarding the need for a safe place for women and children in abusive situations. She searched the colonias for a reasonable location and finally found this one.

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Her first vantage point was from that window in the abandoned neighboring property. She discovered a decent-looking building with land for growth and a high safety fence. She readily saw the potential but didn’t have access to $15,000 to purchase it. “Eloisa is a force!” says Quinn. The cost would not deter her. So she pulled Quinn from a job site last year to show her what she’d found.

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I want to make sure you understand this was all God’s doing. He lets Eloisa and Quinn and all who participated in the fundraising stand back in awe at how much he can make out of our small efforts.

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Here’s a glimpse inside. Joanna Gaines couldn’t have made this space any homier than Lea and her crew, who paused their busy lives to make yet another trip from Arizona to the colonias of Juarez, Mexico, to bless and provide a safe place for women and children.

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This isn’t part of our build, but now that I’m telling the story I thought you might like to see that representatives from the city have come to visit the shelter and rated it highly. “They were surprised by this place,” Eloise wrote to Quinn (in Spanish, of course, translated by Google), “They said it is a very safe, very happy place.” The women asked how she bought this property, and Eloisa answered: “I believe in the power that prayer has, God opens doors to realize what He has deposited in your hands, people who believed in this project who believed him God.” Now she waits for the final approval to open “Welcome Home,” writing to Quinn.  “. . .we will see the fruits of this project very soon, is not in vain waiting, God will surprise us greatly.”

Can you see why I love this trip, can’t wait for another year to pass?

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This photo op could not be passed up! On this trip were three sets of grandparents, each set sharing grandkids with one other set. Mauri and I were the common thread with all five grands in this photo.

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I didn’t get everyone on the team pictured here, but I can’t miss a chance to reintroduce Sarah and Colton, whose job description with Missions Ministries is too vast to include here. But two more dedicated instruments of God’s grace could not be found. They do everything with the same cheer that shows on their faces. We are so grateful they give up Thanksgiving with their family to spend it with us.

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Border-crossing hacky-sack tradition.

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We’ve reached the finale in El Paso. The Andersons pull out of Harvest Christian Center with an empty trailer, ready to be refilled with diapers and formula for their next build trip in March.

Posted in family matters, travels | 2 Comments

another this-and-that post

While I spent my days at the office—last week especially full because of upcoming travels—Mauri has been overseeing several home projects. It’s one thing to hire others to do the work and another thing to make sure mutual understandings are carried out. Thankfully, most of the projects came together just in the nick of time for us to fly to Arizona yesterday.

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Here is the nearly finished deck. We think it is absolutely wonderful. That angled part to accommodate the steps became necessary because of the lawn and watering system we had put in last summer. You can see the pavers on the far left. The workers spent much time mitering the Trex to perfection.

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This alcove was given the same attention, even though it will soon be occupied by shelves with Keepers of wood pellets and what not.

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Rainy nighttime pictures are nice but make it hard to see this secret entry to our crawl space.

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The workers moved to the front, where the project took slightly less effort. But was no less ostentatious! It was mostly finished when we left.

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We got word that Mauri’s cousin Doug died. He is a man of renown, the landscape architect whose work we admire every time we drive the long entry road to the Portland airport. He describes some of his childhood, at times shared with Mauri, at the link above.

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That’s Doug’s dad, Uncle Jay, pictured between brothers Mahlon and Dwight at the 2000 Macy reunion.

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Out in Virginia, sad faces show some nasty bug has infected the nearly never-still Declan. Cuddles are nice but preferred from someone who isn’t feeling sick.

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A different day shows a more normal scene for the Carlsons, waiting for their December 16 move-in. Limbo is never easy, but at least they have a comfortable place to wait it out.

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You saw this boy last week in family pictures, but it’s hard to not share his kindergarten school picture this week.

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On our way! At the airport filling our bellies for the flight to Phoenix.

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After church we “braved” a new-to-us restaurant by high recommendation. As I took this picture I said out loud, “It seems my travel photos always include what we eat.”

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We were not disappointed! Yes, that’s cornbread CAKE——delicious cornbread with butter cream cheese icing. Yow!

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What would you have chosen?

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These two are too cute, right? Marissa and Kaden are both freshmen at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, and since they agreed to let me photograph them a few minutes ago, I get to end this post with their happy smiles.

Thanks for sharing this and that with me on this lovely 80-degree Sunday afternoon here in Queen Creek, Arizona.

Posted in 514, family matters, grandkids, in the neighborhood, this and that, travels | Leave a comment

and the beat goes on

I’ve opened a file on my desktop and named it “This Week.” I drop photos depicting the “this and that” of my days into the folder, wondering which if any of the pics will make it into a blog post. Let’s have a look!

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Several Sundays ago I actually stood in front of our congregation and TALKED! I’ve sung for people in front of church since my parents stood me on the front pew of First Baptist Church in Wheaton, but talking to a group is a totally other matter! Still, I sucked up my fears and told folks about my sister, who has been filling shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child for 19 years. One year she filled 50, other years not fewer than 20. I finished my inspirational speech with “See you at the Dollar Store!”

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So I went to the Dollar Store to finish off our shopping for these four boxes. Nowhere close to my sister’s annual goal, but we sure had fun doing it.

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Today was collection day! You can see we weren’t the only ones who had some fun. What a huge blessing to be part of this worldwide ministry to children. There are collection locations near you, and it isn’t too late to pack a box or two yourself!

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We had an unusual morning at NFC because our Hispanic congregation joined us. Combined leadership led opening song, which we sang in English and then in Spanish. If you look closely you’ll see Bob Gilmore in the wheelchair. Bob and his wife, Maurine, and their kids were part of the beginnings of the Hispanic church 35 years ago, so it seemed only fitting he should join in this way. Bob still has a clear tenor voice; I wish you could hear.

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The handbells played and the men’s quartet led the other songs. The/A Spanish professor from the local university, George Fox, attends our church, so he interpreted the whole sermon.

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After the service most of us walked across the street to Friends Center, where the Hispanic cooks put on a feast for both congregations, filling the room with the sounds of community.

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Back up the clock to Friday afternoon when we became temporary custodians of these two granddaughters for 24 hours while their parents enjoyed a getaway.

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They gifted their Gus and Gum with lovely necklaces. We made potholders, too, built marble tracks with Gum, and watched “Sing.”

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And of course ate ice cream. That’s what kids do with their grandparents, right?

At the designated time we dropped the girls off with their cousins (and aunt and uncle) as custodians for the remaining getaway. We had a good time and hope they did too.

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I can’t not show you a few shots from a photoshoot by PhotoMacy of the Pete Macy family.

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See more HERE! The little dude, Lincoln, isn’t even two yet (but soon).

And some miscellany . . .

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If you had only five letters on your Scrabble tray, and they lined up just like this, wouldn’t you think it was a sign of something in your future?

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A cousin posted this on Facebook and I was completely drawn back in time. It’s an island separated from mainland Winona Lake, Indiana, by a narrow canal. I could tell story after story of things that happened in my long-ago past up through my recent past. The cousin who posted the picture lives along the water of this island. She and her family can look out their window to see the spot where my sister and I are seen in this picture:

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We are who we were!

Believe it or not, I didn’t share everything in my “This Week” folder. But I can’t leave out this one more thing.

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Do yourself a favor and watch this short story about Alma Deutscher. It will renew your faith in the future. (Thanks, Craig!)

Posted in family matters, grandkids, in the neighborhood | Leave a comment

life, continued

Last week we left off with a glimpse of our glorious fall color display. This week we will begin with a glimpse of the reality.

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We might pay dearly for year-round lawn service, but this is the week we appreciate their work more than any other. Our maple tree fully sheds its glory in one week. Mauri just ordered a “roof brush” and a 20-foot extension to reach what isn’t considered “lawn.”

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Meanwhile, around the back, progress continues.

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Keith and Derric are both daddies of daughters; Keith expects a call any time to hear another daughter is about to make her entrance.

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Building a deck on a very old house that needs an opening to the crawl space and an angle to accommodate the new lawn and sprinkler system added less than a year ago and some rot repair under the house from an unflashed door install years ago and managing a design than meets code (breath) all add to the challenge of this small/large project.

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But we’re going to LOVE that we chose Trex over wood.

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Being in the middle of a deck build ourselves made us particularly interested in the deck of the house we toured this morning via FaceTime with Beth. The Carlsons are in the purchase process of this home in Haymarket, Virginia, (Dominion Valley, to be exact), and it turned out Beth could walk us through the whole house with her phone at the same time Taylor was seeing it for the first time.

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Of course he had seen it via pictures, and the two had shopped together to discover the floor plan they both liked.

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There’s a longer story of course, but they got a cash offer on their house in Arizona, and it closed just as the movers were packing up their house (under Taylor’s supervision) and loading the truck.

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After an overnight with Quinn, Dusty, and Cassidy, he flew to Pennsylvania for several days of brush-up training before heading down to Beth and the kiddos, who are living these days with her parents!

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And while all of this is happening, Beth is working with a Realtor to help her find this house. I’ve been showing you only pictures of the deck and the very intriguing “man cave” that quickly turned into the “family cave.”

This abbreviated story will give you a peek into the speedy progression of the Carlson move from Arizona to Virginia. I call it “divide and conquer”! Beth managed her part while looking after three babies, and Taylor managed his part while continuing to work and travel.

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In order for Declan to not get lost in the shuffle, Beth (or her dad) takes him to morning preschool for socialization.

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The school sends parents photos throughout the morning and Beth passes some along to me. (She knows how much I depend on pictures to keep up with her ever-changing children.) I can’t help but notice the sense of order in each one. Imagine a circle of chairs holding two-year-olds, having them listen to instructions and raising hands for attention! Can you find Declan? He looks very happy to be there with his new friends.

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It made me especially happy to see these two on their first date night for a very long time. Whew!

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Meanwhile this little guy, who isn’t yet two, got dressed in his dragon costume to go trick or treating last Tuesday night.

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Big brother dressed as Catboy. We were invited to see all five of the local grands in their Halloween finery, but we had to leave before the others arrived. Thankfully, friend Rachelle offered to send me pictures.

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Can you find Waldo? He’s standing next to the ninja.

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Here’s the whole crew!

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Brynn (Moana) and Sage’s (mermaid) costumes might have been influenced by their trip to Hawaii last May. It was a trip with their whole family, not connected so much by blood as by relationship. And one reason they all made the trip together was to celebrate their 40th birthdays.

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Today we spent a few minutes with this girl, who turned 40 today! Happy birthday, Linsey!

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Otherwise, we had a fairly normal Saturday. But a highlight was checking my turn in Scrabble to find Judy had played the word Nill. This has particular significance to me because it is my maiden name! I have worn a necklace for many years that spells out my initials: SENCM. The first three letters represent the first twenty years of my life as Sharon Elaine Nill.

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This highlight led right into my lowlight for the day: giving myself a haircut and severing my silver necklace with a too-vigorous stroke of the clippers. It might be the most expensive haircut I’ve ever had.

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But seeing as I’ve been giving haircuts for the past 50 years, starting with Paul in 1966 and continuing to the two heads I worked on today——I think I’ve saved us a small fortune, enough to rationalize the repair needed on today’s misguided snip.

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prepping for halloween

It’s entirely possible most of my posts in the coming year will illustrate the title of this blog: “a little bit of this and a little bit of that.” Working fully full time again along with substantial freelance work makes Sherry a dull girl. I don’t mean that life is dull; it only means we can’t indulge in many blog-worthy adventures that take us from home.

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Outside our back door some adventure will come to us when Square Deal demos our back deck on Monday. We had this “choir loft” built enough years ago that the boards have rotted and Mauri had to put out cones to avoid falling through.

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This was the third design, and it has changed yet again from this. But you can see we are doing away with the stadium in favor of an actual deck.

Meanwhile, we enjoy the adventures of others via social media and text.

Quinn had an adventure yesterday.

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Poor dear had this foot fixed a number of years ago, but the surgery was botched and she has suffered with crooked toes and painful pins because of it. We trust this surgery will result in a fully functioning foot. Between Quinn and me, we’ve provided too many bandaged-foot pictures for this blog. Enough!

Dusty and Cassidy are holding down the Anderson fort.

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Cass and a friend provided some entertainment today making Halloween treats for a party.

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Speaking of Cassidy, here she is at her home away from home—the colonias near Juarez, MX. She took a break from school to build two houses, first with a group from her school and then with a group from her church.

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Meanwhile, Halloween prep continues here in Newberg. We are enjoying Indian Summer, as you can see.

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And in Virginia, Beth had some fun dressing up her three——Declan in the center as Cat in the Hat and his sisters, Avery and Emery, as Thing One and Thing Two. Cousins Regan and Riley and their brother, Callan round up the number to six. Yes, Beth’s sister also has twin daughters.

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And because I absolutely can’t not post a picture of my little darlings, the one in the middle now daddy to those babies above——I take you back to 1976!

And finally, a glimpse at Oregon’s color season.

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Sky on fire!

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babies

The Carlson twins are ever changing. They’re now permanently on the East coast (not counting the occasional visits this direction), so we must rely on their parents to continue their habit of sending pictures regularly.

Emery and Avery 10.12.17

They’re three months old now. Emery on the left; Avery on the right.

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Same order only decked out in their scary jammies.

October 2017-Babies distribution

Here’s an update on the “other” babies. Quinn texted this picture while she was in Juarez for back-to-back house builds last week. The first was with a group from Cassidy’s school (Cassidy included); the second a group from their church, Redemption Gateway. Gateway had conducted a diapers and formula drive just prior to this trip. The collection was so immense, it barely fit into “Faith,” the Babies of Juarez trailer. Naturally, those on site were excited to witness this distribution day, when mamas come to the Missions Ministries team center to receive a share of the supplies.

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That was my unsubtle segue to the announcement of our annual Dorothy’s Match—with the added Legacy Match for 2017.

Here’s the letter that tells all about it:

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If you want to participate this year in either match, your donations will have a great effect on the lives of dear families in Juarez, Mexico. Here’s a link to the above-mentioned PayPal site.

IF YOU RESPOND BY NOVEMBER 8, the diapers and formula we purchase with your donations can cross the border with us into Juarez for our Thanksgiving home build.

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