Thursday, September 24, 2009

Headed to Louisiana and Mississippi

We returned home last Thursday, and we were met by some pretty excited children at the door. Then we only stayed at my parent’s for two nights before heading off again to Brownwood, TX.

We are/were back in Yoakum for a very short time. Doug left town again yesterday to go to Waco and speak to the youth group at the church he grew up in. After he returns Thursday (today) at lunch, we will do a quick turn-around and leave again for Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We will be at Barry & Aimee Staples’ house Friday night from 6 to whenever and Saturday morning from 10 to noon if anyone wants to stop by and see us.

Saturday evening, we will leave for the Reservoir in Mississippi. We are looking forward to worshiping at Pinelake on Sunday. There will be a reception for us Monday night from 6-8 at the gym if you are around and can make it. And we will also be at the Wednesday night service at the main campus.

I hope that when we get settled in Virginia, I will be able to be more consistent with writing. But right now we are still busy everyday finalizing so many things before we can go and packing and re-packing for all of our trips. I'm also trying to get an early "Christmas-type" card out before we leave for Virginia, so those people who don't know where we are living or where we are going can get an update and a prayer card.

With a heavy heart, I look forward to seeing everyone in LA and MS, only to say goodbye again for a little bit longer this time. Thank goodness we have email and internet as we go.

Friday, September 11, 2009

First Day of School

Last post today. Sorry for the onslaught, but I have high speed internet for the first time in a month, and I couldn't resist.

A couple of you asked to see pictures of the girls on the first day of school, so here is the token picture with the over-sized backpacks and the unsure grins.

Caleb had no idea he was about to lose his two favorite playmates for 6 weeks.

Snakes (but not on a plane)

Karis was climbing a tree in August, and she ran inside breathless to tell me there was a snake in the tree. I said, "Is it green?" We have lots of grass snakes that climb my parents' trees, and I knew I didn't have to be worried if it was green. She said, "No, it's grey with diamonds on its back."

Well...maybe we should get your grandfather.

It was indeed a grey, speckled snake, about a foot long, with small white diamonds on its back, but no rattles. My dad caught it, checked for fangs, which were non-existent, and then after all the kids touched it (mine and Kelly's kids), my dad let it go down by the creek.

In about five minutes, Jonathan (Kelly's oldest) yelled, "SNAKE."

Everyone ran outside again, but everyone lost sight of it. My dad saw movement, stepped on it, saw that it was an 18-inch coral snake, and then cut it's head off. Even though I had already told my children the rhyme, it was a good reminder that "Red and Yella kill a fella."

Everyone got to examine its head to verify that there were no real fangs. It was then that I learned that their mouths aren't big enough to bite more than your toe. Then the kids took turns touching and handling the body of the snake. My mom said something curious to my dad, "Keith, don't they usually travel in pairs?"


My dad said that since 1987 when he saw the first coral, he has only seen a total of 6 coral snakes in the yard. That's enough for me!! Of course, that is not counting the rattlesnakes and copperheads we've seen. Yikes! Dad mowed the grass later that day.

Well, it would be great if the story ended there, but it doesn't.

My kids and I went back to Katy to finish up our move, and my dad caught another snake on the carport. The cats had cornered it. My dad thinks it was an indigo snake. He took it to the creek so that it could continue to hunt rats or mice. It was FOUR feet long.

The story is still not over.

We moved from Katy to Yoakum , and our first Thursday there, our neighbor who came to pick up mom for Bible study, walked up and saw that the cats had cornered another coral snake under the 4-wheeler. My dad, in the middle of brushing his teeth, was ordered by my mom to come in a hurry! My wonderful dad swept it out, stepped on it, and cut off its head.

It was Karis, this time, who wanted her picture with it.

Maybe God is taking extra measures to make sure we are ready for Africa...

Kylie is 7!! (On August 21st)

Kylie had a fever on her birthday, and she hadn't been feeling well for days, so we didn't do a whole lot. We let her chose where we ate for lunch (Double Dave's), and we gave here a journal to record her journey to Africa and a bulletin board that she asked for. She wants to be able to hang pictures of her friends and familiar places in her room in Africa, so now we are trying to get some pictures together for her.

Listening to Kylie's singing card...

Why is it that the packing peanuts are always a more popular hit than the actual gift?

Pictures as promised

I'm just going to upload a few, but you'll get the idea.

This is the compost toilet with everything pulled up so you can see the bucket sitting in a Rubbermaid tub (in case of accidental leaks). The sawdust container is on the right with a mug for each-"time" use.

This is what it looks like when the seat is down. Pretty normal, right?

This is the compost pile outside. The one on the left is "cooking," and the one on the right has just been added to. After he dumped his bucket, he added cow manure and then some coals from his wood stove. It's all about mixing the nitrogens, hydrogens, and carbons.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Noah Project, Part 2

Well, our training went a lot quicker than normal because...we don't know a lot. Basically, it came down to us learning everything and finding out how to set up our solar system and finding out what we needed to buy, but since we are not very "electrical" savvy, our teacher said, "You're going to need to get an electrician for your needs."

We aren't really THAT dumb, but the problem is that we will not be building a solar system from scratch. We will have to tie in a solar system to an existing grid. He kindly told us that it's really easy to blow yourself up doing stuff like that.

BIG NEWS! I used the compost toilet. I held it all the first day, but I decided I should really give #1 a try, so on day 2 (yesterday), I geared up, and gave it a try. Not bad. A little different. A little more odor than usual (although Doug told me I was smelling the sawdust). But all in all, not bad. Of course, I'm not picking up the 5 gallon bucket to haul it out to the compost pile and then cleaning out the bucket.

I also forgot to mention that Jack really loves to teach people unique ways to insulate their houses. He trains missionaries for a living, and his job is to help them do projects with what is available in their country. The walls in his house are FIVE feet thick. His kitchen window has a window over the sink and then a 5 foot shelf before the other, outer window. Guess what is in betweeen the walls? Hay bales. Yep!

He trains people to do insulation with polyestor, tires, Wal-mart bags, and SO much more. Doug and I learned LOTS of stuff we will never use, but Jack is training us to train others. What better way to get the attention of a Ugandan woman to listen to the Gospel than telling her how she can make her house cooler at night? Or how she can use a solar cooker to cook her food all day in the sun while she is out working? Or how she can have a more productive garden that will provide food for her family?

LOTS of information! Today was our last day and we learned about gray water (dirty water like washing machine water and bath water) and black water (toilet water and water with chemical cleaners in it) usage. We learned how to catch rain water and how to make tanks to drain off gray and black water.

One example: We need to wash our cleaner clothes first and then re-use that dirty soap water for the second wash. Also, after I rinse my clothes, I need to save that water for the second wash. Basically, washing is a big deal, but it's also a big water user, so we have to be careful.

Enough of that, I know you aren't all into this.

We are leaving tomorrow. I think we are going to get to see the Garden of the Gods and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs in the morning and then get the opportunity to visit with friends there we haven't seen in five years. We have a late flight out of Denver tomorrow night, and then we get to see our kids. YEAH!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Noah Project

We arrived in Denver yesterday and drove three hours to Rush, only getting lost a couple of times. We were taken immediately to the home of Don and Nancy who are providing us great food and a comfortable place to sleep.

Today, we met with Jack Dody for about 7 hours of training. We are going through a textbook he wrote called The Noah Project, which you can download at We took a tour of his home and property, took a tour of another house he is building down the road, and we spent the majority of time learning how to "hook up" a solar system. We climbed on his roof and checked out his system, and then moved inside to see how it all fit together.

My brain is swirling with words like amps, watts, inverters, chargers, volts, and batteries. I'm pretty sure I didn't understand most of what I heard today, but repetition is helping. Doug and I also got to practice soldering with a hand held unit and also a blow torch (yes, even me).

Jack and his wife, Marilou, are not hooked up to electricity or a water system. The Sun produces energy for them, and they catch rainwater on their roof for all their water needs. The rain gathers and flows to a 4000-gallon tank that sits under their bedroom floor. They filter their drinking water and all water from sinks and shower flow to an indoor flower bed. After it is used there, it is pumped out to water the garden and trees thay have planted. Nothing is wasted.

We also saw his "sawdust toilet" and all the steps their waste takes after it leaves the house. After you go to the bathroom (while sitting on a toilet seat placed over a 5-gallon bucket), you cover your waste with a couple of cups of sawdust.

When the bucket is full, you dump it in a compost pile outside, which is mixed with other waste food from inside and different things from outside (like leaves, charcoal, and animal manure). When the pile gets full enough, Jack will cover it and let God "cook" it for a year while he starts another pile. After a year, it is perfect for gardening and other uses. It's really made a difference for Jack out here on the high plains of Colorado. The ground here is a fine sand. How fortunate my mom is in Texas to have good soil and not have to go through this process to grow her garden!

Nevertheless, it was good to see nothing going to waste (no pun intended). This process would be very helpful for the sanitation problems in some countries. How blessed we are! I won't take flushing a toilet for granted again. I can't wait until I have my pictures to show you! I'm sure you can't wait to see them either!

I'm told the reason I'm tired at 6:45pm is because of the altitude. I don't know if that is the reason, but I'm going to take advantage of not having kids to put to bed and put myself to bed.