Evie: “for college, I have two preferences…

I either want to go to a bible college, or a pie-eating college”

😀🤷‍♂️

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The end of Bible Quizzing

Today we traveled to Portland for the last Bible quiz of the year. It seems like it might be our last quiz, ever. Bible quizzing is a big activity in the Free Methodist Church and basically involves kids meeting weekly (and practicing during the week) to memorize preselected scripture verses and become familiar enough with the rest of the book that they can answer quiz questions about it. This year, the books they focused on were Hebrews, as well as1 and 2 Peter.

Abigail and her quizzing partner took first place in the competition and Evelyn nailed two full Bible quotes and did an admirable job of staying engaged the whole time even with the distraction of her broken foot.

We love to see them dig into scripture. I didn’t realize it then, but the scripture I memorized when their age has stayed so well with me. 

But just as much, I enjoy seeing them get into things. 

  • This is as close to competitive I’ve seen them get.  
  • It’s been fun to practice with them every week and see them work over a whole year on something. 
  • It’s difficult to watch sometimes but good to see them have these low stakes opportunities to succeed and fail. Cyn & I like the phrase about “prepare your child for the road; don’t prepare the road for them.”  In that way, it’s important to feel for them when they don’t do as well as they wanted and celebrate with them when they succeed. 
  • Being part of a team, feeling the intensity of the competition and being part of a larger tradition.  
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“A juice pun” by Abigail

While drinking an Honest Kids Goodness Grapeness juice packet: “Honestly, Mom, this juice isn’t all that grape.” 😂😂😂

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My Colombia Experience

Hello! It’s me again. I haven’t written since Saint Patrick’s Day (see: Snap! A Leprechaun was not Trapped(Again!).). This will probably be a pretty long post since we were there for a while and a lot of things happened. I will first tell you about it by days, then I will list some recommendations incase you are ever traveling there.

Day One: We arrived in Medellin at around 9:00 after a long day of traveling(3 flights!). A taxi drove us to Uncle Scott’s hostel and we dropped off our stuff in our room before heading out to eat something. Uncle Scott took us to a small open air restaurant where we ate tater tots, mozzarella sticks, chicken, and lemonade. This was our (Me and Evelyn’s) first taste of Colombian lemonade. Being from the states, I am used to sweet lemonade made with lemons and a few ice cubes. This was very different. As we furthered into our trip, I learned a few things:

1: People from the States and Canada (Colombians are Americans too, they just live in the southern part) tend to over sweeten things. This lemonade was surprisingly tart.

2: In Colombia, people do not often use ice. The lemonade was cold, but I am very used to having at least 3 ice cubes in my lemonade.

3: In Colombia, they do not use yellow lemons very often. Technically it should have been called limeade.

(I did not learn this over the trip, but there were also tiny bits of lime skin in the lemonade. I much prefer lime skin-free lemonade or limeade.)

We went back to Uncle Scott’s hostel, where we stayed for two nights.

Day 2: We woke up to our first day in a new continent- Exciting! The sun was shining and it was nice and warm. I immediately got out of bed, washed my face, brushed my hair and put on my new dress- one of the new outfits I had bought for Colombia. We went just a block away for breakfast. Me and Evelyn had waffles with fruit and chocolate sauce- yum! While we were there, we ran into some friends of Uncle Scott’s. They were very nice and told us about life in Colombia. After a while I got bored and went back to the hostel room(There is only so much of adult conversation an 11 can take). Evelyn(who had gone back to the room earlier) and I read books on our beds and ate goldfish. Later Mom and Dad came back; it was time to go to the botanical garden.

We walked for quite a while. It was very hot so we stopped for ice cream. We passed many vendors on the street, selling colorful things. Finally we reached the Metro. It was very crowded, and if possible even hotter. Uncle Scott told us about the Metro.

Metro Facts:

1: There are only four Metro trains in Colombia.

2: The Colombians are very proud of their Metro.

3: The Colombians are very protective of their Metro; so it is very clean. In fact, Uncle Scott told us that if someone was caught putting graffiti on in someone would probably hurt them.

Finally we reached the botanical gardens. We first went to a restaurant for lunch. We (my family) tried a variety of Colombian food including fried plantains, arepas, sausage, and empanadas, which my entire family loved. Me and Evelyn got Lemonade again, and it was pleasantly lime-skin free. Last night, I was tired and hungry. But this was a new day, and I much enjoyed the lemonade. In fact, Colombian lemonade quickly became mine and Evelyn’s favorite Colombian food. After watching a large iguana that had settled itself on a tree, me and Mom went out to the large map to scout out possible places to visit. We decided that the Lagoon(home of fish, ducks and turtles) would be enjoyable. We told the rest of our group and started on our way.

The Lagoon was indeed interesting, and we spent a while there. Then, after observing a particularly bold iguana, we went to the souvenir shop. There, Evelyn bought a doll(later named Evelina, Lina for short) and I bought two compacts, one for me and the other for my best friend Zaema. Then we took a taxi to a colorful little village, home to many little stores. I bought a tiny doll that (after lots of debating) I named Bonnie. After lots of exploring we headed back to the Hostel. We ate dinner at Olivia’s Pizzeria- Delicious!

Day 3: We checked out of the Hostel and went sightseeing. First we went up very high and saw a beautiful hotel. It looked like it belonged in a fairy tale! Then we went to a large mall and had lunch. There were many displays and play places for children. After that we went to the Marriot where we would stay for the rest of our trip.

Day 4: We toured the Vermont School, a possible option for school when we come here. I thought it was great. Mom and Dad had their doubts. When we were leaving the school we met that nice man in the parking lot who told us about the school. We (Mom and Dad) will be looking at more schools. Then we went to a nice restaurant and had lunch. After that we returned to the hotel. We had dinner at a restaurant for Uncle Scott’s birthday.

Day 5: We didn’t do much on that day. Pretty much the only out of the ordinary thing was that we went to a Colombian church. I like RAC much better. But other than that, we all pretty much lazed around. Me and Evelyn swam and read, and that night Mom and Dad went out.

Day 6: We didn’t do much on that day either. We read, packed, and went for one last swim in the pool. For me, packing was very stressful because I always worry on the last day of vacation. I am always scared of leaving something at the airport or the hotel. We did go for a gondola ride, and that was cool. A great way to see some of Colombia up high. We have so much, while they the people down there live in what would be regarded as shacks in the States.

Day 7: If you’ve read my dad’s post you know most of what happened. I’ll give you my experience:

I woke up at 2:30 for one last check of the room. We went to the airport, and ate breakfast. I got a beautiful doll that I named Mariana. I have to earn her for 60 days, though. We got on the plane, where we sat for two hours. They needed to fix a valve in the second engine. Eventually we were asked to leave the plane. Me and Evelyn went to a cafe where we waited for about 6 hours well they got things figured out. In the end we went to a nice hotel for the night.

Day 8: We woke up at around 3:30 that morning and did one last check of the room. After that, we waited for the shuttle downstairs. We got there, and waited in a long line(for about 3 hours) just to get our bags checked and on the plane. Then we found out that the flight captain had not made the test flight and that we might not get out of there that day. In fact, (I didn’t find this out until later) the captain was still in bed! The passengers got angry. They started yelling at the airport people and surrounding them. Even the airport police had to be involved! Finally, they called the captain, told him to get out of bed and start the flight test. At this point I turned to Mom and said:

Me: What do you think is going to happen if the Flight Captain says the plane still isn’t ready?

Mom: Then we’ll wait another day. If the Captain says it isn’t safe, it isn’t safe. 

Me: You think that’s going to matter to all these people?

Luckily, however, the Flight Captain gave the thumbs up and we headed to our new gate. As we sat down, I heard Evelyn mutter, “Let’s hope this one actually works.” Luck was on our side that day, however, and we took off as if it was any normal flight. When we started flying, me, Dad and Evelyn gave a little cheer. 

After an entire day of travel, we got home at around 10:30. I was very tired after staying awake for- if you can believe it- about 22 hours straight!

Well, now we are back home and I am glad. I liked Colombia and I will like living there. I don’t think anything can truly happen to you as long as you have a home and a family to come back to. But it is very nice to come back after a long (extended, in fact) vacation.

And now for those recommendations I promised:

  • Pizzeria Olivia- Wonderful lemonade, pasta and pizza(and other things, I’m sure)
  • A Gondola ride is a great idea, if you happen to be visiting.
  • The Botanical Gardens- Very beautiful. There are lots of exotic plants and funny looking animals.
  • (This is more of a random recommendation) If you have the chance, go for a swim! It does get a little hot now and then.
  • If you are visiting, I will give you 1 last reminder: TRY THE LEMON(lime)ADE! It is insanely good.

Well, I think that’s all. I hope you enjoyed my thoughts!

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My Favorite Parts of Colombia (Evie) [Colombia 7]

  1. The people there don’t have as many things as we do.
  2. The Lemonade there is Yummy: I like it better than the lemonade in Seattle
  3. The Botanical Garden was my Favorite place we visited: seeing all the different animals we don’t have in Seattle (iguanas, the little turtles, the birds)
  4. The swimming pools in the hotels were fun.
  5. The Gondolas are fun, but I feel less safe in them than I do in the gondolas we have on ski mountains. Because: when I look down, I see snow, so even if the gondolas fall, they fall on something soft.
Us on the Medellin gondola system
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Latin American Church, and what We Might Learn from it (Colombia #5)

Today we went to church in Laureles, a neighborhood in Medellin we are quite fond of. After church we were treated to lunch from Pastor john Jairo & his wife Susanna and their two girls, who are close in age to abbey & Evie. I can’t be thankful enough for the time they took to welcome us. They are very busy and did not need to do so.

The spiritual element is one of the key motivations for moving to Colombia. God is bigger than any one of our cultures, and when we experience Him in those culutures we shatter the American version and see Him more clearly, more powerfully, and more vastly.

We have a strong sense of Gods calling on this move. I have become increasingly convinced that the American church is in the middle of a decades-long wreck. Everywhere I go, I’m reminded of how holllowed out and weak it is becoming.

A pastor friend of mine recently told me that the reason the Latin American church is doing better is because they know how to pray. They know how to be dependent on something bigger than themselves and believe in faith in Gods goodness. I sure hope we can learn that if we live here.

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Seeing Ourselves Here (Colombia #4)

We are taking somewhat of a break today, with no scheduled activities so I’m taking the opportunity to catch up on recounting our experiences here so far. (Blogging two days in a row is a record for me! It is only thanks to Tim that this blog has lasted 11+ years since I’ve written under 20 posts in all that time. 😬)

To continue from the last post –

Because of our discussions with Thomas and Tanh at breakfast on Wednesday, we decided to try and get a tour at the Vermont School, a K-12 international school located about 30 minutes outside the city- supposedly one of the very best schools in the city. This school teaches half the day in English, half in Spanish, and also gives students 3 hours of Mandarin lessons a week! Thanks to Tim’s persistence, we did manage to get a tour on Friday morning and a driver brought us to the school. We talked with one of the directors and toured the property, trying to get a sense of what it would look like to send the girls there. Once again, we had a providential encounter – as we were waiting outside the school for our driver, a man parked nearby called out, “Hey! Do you want a parent perspective on the school?” Of course we did, and so Joe Rojas (retired police and military, very much from New Jersey, with a Colombian wife) gave us his very frank assessment of all the good and bad parts of the school. We really appreciated his willingness to reach out and got his contact info for future questions. Ultimately, it is just one school and we will consider others but the admissions process for these types of schools is quite long so we want to be proactive in planning for this aspect of our possible move here.

After the tour, we were hungry so asked the driver to take us to a restaurant that Joe had recommended, because of its willingness to accommodate kids. This little restaurant was along the mountain highway and once again, had excellent food. The girls got their favorite here (lemonade- the girls want to do their own post just about the lemonade in Medellin!) and the owner was kind enough to make dedos de pollo (chicken fingers) for Evelyn, who has struggled with finding things to eat here. Along the drive, we got to see more of the mountains and little industrial areas that have sprung up along the highway. It was evident that a lot of handmade furniture is built in this area. (Check out the video to get an idea.)

Most restaurants in Medellin are open air, since the climate is so pleasant year round. We sat on this patio.
The entrance

After lunch, we hurried back to the city and the girls got in some quick swimming time before we left them in the hotel room to read and relax while we went out for a walking tour with Scott. From our hotel, it was a 20 minute walk to the Provenza neighborhood, which is a part of the larger Poblado district.

A public park with lots of informal seating/table areas. When we walked past this park later in the evening, it was packed!
Not a great pic but Provenza was block after block of fun restaurants and shops.

After seeing quite a bit of the neighborhood, we ended at Cafe Noir, where the menu features a 24K Gold Latte (“Great for Instagram!” our waiter told us. 🤣), which we did not order. However, we did all ooh and aah when our orders came out as they were presented so artfully and couldn’t resist taking a few pics! This was also the first real opportunity for the three of us adults to talk deeply without the girls around and we appreciated the connection time with Scott.

Unbelievable presentation!

Finally, we went back to the hotel to pick up the girls before fighting our way through Friday evening traffic to Fuego y Mar, a restaurant that Scott had picked out for his birthday dinner. We had another amazing meal and ended the night by walking back through the same Provenza neighborhood we had seen in the afternoon. This time, it was full of nightlife, with music spilling out of most restaurants and people all over the streets.

And that takes us to Saturday morning, where we are relaxing in our hotel room. Earlier this morning, Tim went out to get coffee and pastries from Juan Valdez (the Colombian equivalent of Starbucks, though any Colombian would probably be offended by that comparison) and he and Abigail are now doing their regular Saturday morning ritual of Scrabble, Evelyn is reading comic books, and I am about to finally get out of my PJs (at nearly 11am). This day will be a good break before we have a busy Sunday, which we will write about later!

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Experiencing Medellin (Colombia #3)

It is Friday night and we have had a busy few days!

On Wednesday, after the providential breakfast Tim mentioned in the last post, we walked with Scott (my brother who lives here) to the Metro station, about 15 minutes from the hostel, and took the train to the Medellin Botanical Garden. It was a beautiful display of the lush, verdant nature of this city. That day got up to 84 degrees and felt hot, apparently even for the people who live here!

After the botanical garden, we took a taxi up to Pueblo Paisa, the remnants of a traditional Colombian village which has been restored and now holds shops and restaurants. The girls loved it because it reminded them of Encanto!

Wednesday evening was pretty low key, though I did manage to squeeze in a pedicure, which was my first effort at navigating completely on my own in Spanish and went pretty well!

On Thursday morning, Tim and I let the girls relax in the room and enjoyed coffee and pastries at a coffee shop around the corner from the hostel. Around lunchtime, we were picked up by Alexander, a man who Scott regularly uses as a driver. He was super personable and we exchanged lots of questions about our respective languages, as he is learning English. Our family plus Scott AND our luggage squeezed into his sedan – Tim in the front passenger seat, 6’4″ Scott behind the driver, Evelyn in the middle, and Abigail on my lap. Then we drove to the very hilly district of Envigado (people from Seattle, picture the steepness of the hills going from the downtown waterfront to I-5 but on much windier, narrow roads) to drive around and get a sense of the neighborhood. We definitely were able to get a good sense but the real adventures were wondering if the car (which was in fine shape but just unreasonably weighed down) was going to make it up the next steep hill, winding up hills on narrow roads, and at one point, meeting a dump truck, having to back down and get the car again started up the steep hill from a stop. Anyway, we finally stopped at a viewpoint at an incredibly beautiful rural hotel/wedding venue – and the car got a rest. (See this video for the view.)

Our next destination was a shopping mall (which, for those who might wonder, looks exactly like a shopping mall in the U.S.) where we got lunch, did a little shopping, and tried not to be pulled into unnecessary purchases because of the less expensive costs of things. After Alexander dropped us off at the hotel where we are staying for the next five nights, we got settled into our room and the girls got to enjoy the swimming pool for a while. Tim and I later ventured out in the pouring rain (think tropical thunderstorm to break up heat and humidity) to find a grocery store that was advertised on Google Maps as a “supermarket” but turned out to be more like a corner store. We did manage to find most everything we needed there and made a simple dinner for the girls with those purchases.

After getting them settled, Tim and I left for a nearby restaurant and were able to enjoy a great meal and debrief the events of the last few days. We have definitely eaten well here as the prices are affordable (for us) and the food is excellent, both at traditionally Colombian restaurants, and other ethnic or higher end restaurants we have tried.

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A Fortuitous Encounter (Colombia #2)

So here we are!  Medellin, as advertised, is beautiful.  Nestled in the mountains, surrounded by lush jungle, with amazing sights and clean air, it has everything you might want in a lovely city. More on that later.

But a truly Providential encounter happened within the first 2 hours of our first day. We were having breakfast across the street from Uncle Scott’s hostel and were greeted by another family (who know Scott) who have a similar situation to our own.  They have girls our age, and just moved here from Denver to live indefinitely.  Incredibly friendly, and really eager to help, they spent ~2 hours walking us through what it’s like to be an American family living in Medellin.

This fills the biggest need for me while visiting: I want to spend as much time trying out what living here would be like.  We’re not so much concerned with the sights as much as practicing what our roles, structures, and routines would be while here.  Thomas & Vahn were nearly perfect and invited us to visit more so we could talk about schools, the legal system (Thomas is a lawyer), and cultural climate. When I can “see” these things clearly, it helps me to think that we could really do this in a way that would be healthy for the family.

I mentioned Providence.  We are praying consistently about whether this is really a step God would have us take. Meeting Thomas & Vahn, within hours of setting foot here, feels confirming. I know many of you are praying for us as well- thank you!  Please continue to do so, as we try to envision a full life here. 

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Colombia Ya! (Colombia #1)

It’s 345am and we arrive at seatac airport. We are headed to Colombia! This is the first step on a dream cyn & I had before the girls were born, and we decided to speak to them primarily in Spanish. Our goal is to check it out as a possible place to live some time in the future. Prayers are appreciated during this week of discernment.

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