Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas at Nate Saint Memorial School

So, I know that Christmas has come and gone, but if your pre-Christmas routine was anything like mine then you know I am doing good to get these edited and out a few days after Christmas.  The School Christmas presentation was wonderful and both kids had scripture to recite. It was a lovely evening- and there was food!. Then a NSMS Christmas tradition, the kids decorated the Christmas tree in the waiting area at the hospital.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Siblings and Sugar

Today's post has nothing to do with anything but having a little fun and sharing the best photos I will ever take in my entire life.  I will probably never be able to capture such a story again.  Enjoy.....

Friday, November 30, 2012

Giving and the Last Part 0f 2012

Our family Giving thanks on Thanksgiving 
As 2012 comes to an end  I just wanted to remind all of you about (hint, hint, nudge, nudge) end-of -the-year Giving- that all so important last minute effort to give some money away in hopes of getting more back in April.    We have big plans for this summer and are all looking forward to working in Ghana, Africa iin July.  So, I thought before you spend everything on Christmas presents I would remind you that any gifts to our ministry are tax-deductible which means you can help out foriegn missions and get a little more returned on your taxes.  You can follow this link to give.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Family Traditions

Since not all of you are on FaceBook----Around here we tend to do things that.... well..... are sometimes crazy or at least strange.  We tell our kids that it gives them an excuse for how they "are."  Our first Christmas in Ecuador we recieved a Christmas day present from Chad and Andi Irwin - a very generous pair of Turkey feet.... yes, Turkey feet- very perfectly wrapped.  The next Thanksgiving we recieved another pair inside of our turkey and I started thinking- which is always dangerous.  The Turkey feet took on a mind of their own and began celebrating the holidays as well.  This year they were very busy.
Stealing the last cupcake

Going for the candy corn

Cheering for the Long Horns with Joe

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Life As A Homeschooling, Laboratory Director Mom

I think I mentioned a few months ago that back in April I was asked to become the director of the hospital laboratory. Dra. Narcisa Brito, who had been the laboratory director and who has worked for the hospital for over 20 years agreed to become the new Hospital Administrator. We have all been very please working in this capacity with Narcisa and are impressed daily with her ability to balance "work" and ministry.

So, that left an opening in the lab. The timing was interesting, because I had just decided to home-school so...... after much prayer and lots of discussions about what I would be doing, I became the director of the laboratory at Hosptial Vozandes del Oriente! I work with an amazing group of women.  They care so much for the patients and for accurate and quick results. 

Well, since April, I have gotten overwhelmed countless times and tried to quit twice but you know how that usually turns out. We have tweaked the schedule, acquired an amazing lab coordinator and spent countless hours in prayer trying to figure out how it all will work, but now, at the end of November, things have hit a steady pace.

Me with some of the lab chicas- yes, I know I'm a giant next to them!
Each morning after getting Bella off to school, Sebastiao and I start school. We work until 12:30ish when Bella returns for lunch and then after lunch we continue until Sebastiao leaves for art, music or PE at the school. When he leaves for school, I go to the hospital and work for a few hours. The kids stop by my office when the come home from school and it always nice to see them there. Of course there are phone calls and emails all times of the day and night and time on the computer at home, but I try to leave "school time" as just "school time"and make sure the children know they are my first priority.  Somedays I'm more successful than others.

There are days when I wish I was just a normal, "stay at home" mom- whatever that is. Days, when I wish I could just lay in the hammock and read a book while the children are at school or have time to do something crafty before 10 o'clock at night, but then I go to the hospital and by chance do something that is helpful.... and it all seems worth-while and God's plan seems clearer and just a little bit closer.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Work or the Very Least the Perception of Work

I tend to be a bit of a control freak....maybe a slight understatement, but for those of you who, like me, need to at least have the sense of control of meaningless things that really only matter you- this post of for you.

This morning while sweeping the back porch (before I mopped it- because it is impossible to have a good day without a sparkling clean back porch) I was thinking over all I had to do today-

-frost the cupcakes for the Thanksgiving presentation at school tonight
- go to the store to buy the things to make frosting
-put dinner in the crockpot so we can eat before the presentation and not devour the cupcakes on the way to the school
-make sure the Parkview group has reservation in Quito for their upcoming trip (a bright spot to the day)
-go to work
-wait for a phone call from work
-actually comb my hair and put on make-up before I go to work
-clean up breakfast dishes
-unload the dishwasher
-start a load of laundry
-grade Sebastiao's work from yesterday
-oh yeah,....... and teach Sebastiao- (5th grade is challenging for the teacher)

Well to say the least I was a bit overwhelmed and when I get overwhelmed I get petty.  I start comparing, which we all know is the root of all evil.  I have always been perplexed by the saying, "There is no rest for the wicked."  For me, being wicked requires almost no effort.  I have never had to spend time in prayer asking God to give me sarcastic comments, but I do spend a lot of time asking him to give me nice words and a caring attitude.  But I digress..... So, while in my emotional sweeping/moppin upheaval, the Lord spoke to me and reminded me that everything I do is working for him- not working for the kids, or working for Joe or working for the hospital, but working for him.  However, that wasn't comforting in that moment because, my next thoughts were how much harder I would need to work and how much more important the clean  back porch would be and how much more tired I would feel (yes, I need to be medicated!)   Then God reminded me that he gives a day off and gives rest- not just metaphorically speaking in your heart as we are dragging around working, but in actually asking me to sit for a few quiet moments alone (yes, I said alone) For those of  you who are moms ALONE is what we once used to be while going to the bathroom- remember, when no one else is around not even yelling at you through a closed door.  God is showing me that I need to do the tasks he has set before me but I also need to truly rest, be in his presence and trust that no matter how trivial or important my tasks are, they are for him.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Why Love?

This print is available here
Tonight I heard an interview with Ricky Martin (no, don't get excited... he didn't make some amazing profession of faith).  He was talking about some song he sings and how it had a very "Budist" message.  He said that because he loves himself, he can love others.  That caught me as really sad.  If I had to depend upon how I felt about myself in order to treat others well, we (read that You guys) would all be in a world of hurt most of the time.    What a wonderful thing that I can love others because Jesus loves me and sets the bar pretty darn high for how we are to treat others. Thank God we have more to live for than our feelings, we have his ultimate sacrifice, the perfect example of how to live and the most amazing future.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sebastiao's Blog

Sebastiao's newest blog post is up- enjoy!

Sebastiao The Explorer

Got Summer Plans?

We are very excited to announce that we get to help out with the summer intern program this year in Ghana!  We are looking forward to working alongside new, young missionaries and getting to know Ghana and the amazing HCJB missionaries who already serve there. 

If you or someone you know is interested in missions, healthcare, engineering, community development, media, communication, business,or radio ,  and serving for a month this summer as a Summer Intern, please follow this link.  There are opportunities in South America, North America, Europe, and Africa- but if you want real adventure....of course you will want to come with the Martins to Ghana! As you can tell, we are looking forward to this. We have always wanted to work in Africa and what a better time than during the coolest time of the year there. It will be quite the summer for us with the Parkview Baptist Youth group coming in June, July in Ghana and then the USA in August for Home Mission Assignment. Don't worry (small smirk), I will be writing plenty more about Ghana and the Summer Intern Program.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sundays are For More than Just Football

When I first met Joe, 15 years ago, he didn't strike me as the "preacher" type.  Don't get me wrong, he was a Godly man and great physician, but to picture him preparing a sermon and then standing in front of people would have been a wild notion.  Gracias a Dios, Joe is an amazing Bible teacher and he has gotten the chance to really shine the last few months.  He has been preaching most Sundays at the hospital service.  The hospital doesn't really have a church, but they do hold services every Sunday morning for the patients who are hospitalized as well as the staff on-call.  The service can vary from 4 to 20 depending on the week.  Joe has been teaching from Thessalonians the last few weeks and I have learned so much.  While we miss being in our church in Puyo each Sunday, I am grateful that God has blessed Joe to preach as well as be a doctor.   Sorry I don't have any pictures, but it just never seemed appropriate during the services. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Granadillas and Costumes and Children..... Oh My!

Here in Shell, we don't have boring old pumpkin jack-o'lanterns at our house, we make GRANADILLA-LANTERNS.  Fun, yummy and portable for snack at school! 

My mom sent Halloween Peeps, so we made them into Peep Pops and even roasted a few over the stove.

The kids where very excited about dressing up for Halloween this year so they had their costume ideas ready early- unfortunately we didn't have their costumes ready early.... but as long as they are finished before dark on October 31st it all OK- right?

Isabella was a vampire bat and posed like this all night. 


 Sebastiao was a gold Lego Brick.
This year's trick-or-treating group was the largest I think we have had in the last 3 years.  There were about 27 children.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Birthday Party for Old People

Thank you all so much for sending Joe wonderful birthday wishes.  We have had a lot happen in the last few days, so Joe had a very low key birthday day, so we have decided he is going to enjoy a birthday week

We had dinner at home, a little pumpkin cake and the children for entertainment.  Evidently Joe has gotten to the age when the kids are just excited he can blow out all of his candles by himself.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Birthday Joseph

Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband.  Today is Joe's Birthday!   Please join Sebastiao, Isabella and I as we honor the best husband and father a family could be blessed with.  Thank you Lord for this amazing man.  If you get a chance today, either leave a comment for him here or email him your birthday wishes.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sebastiao's Update

Just to let you guys know, Sebastiao posted yesterday on his blog.  We have been terrible (read that busy) parents and haven't helped him update it in way, way, way too long.  But as part of his writing assignment this week for home-school, he has written a piece.  We hope to make this a common part of writing assignments, so hop on over there when you get a chance.

Sebastiao The Explorer

Monday, October 22, 2012

Quenaweno y Compasion

As many of you know, I had the opportunity to take another trip into the jungle, this time to a Huaroni community called Quenahueno.  It's located on the Curaray river, not too far from where the 5 missionaries were killed in 1956.  Our purpose was to perform check ups on children that are sponsored through Compassion ministries.  We partnered with Compassion a few years ago and were able to perform the required check ups and it was a great experience for us.  Accompanying me were Dra Paulina Roldan, a third year family practice resident, and Jonas Lopez, an Ecuadorian missionary with Compassion.  We left on a Tuesday and were able to do all that we needed to do in 2 days.
Jonas and I on the banks of the Curaray River

This was out first trip with Compassion ministries this school year.  There are over 40 communities and 1300 kids that need these checkups, so we'll be busy for the foreseeable future.  The plan was to fly in and see the sponsored kids and with the remaining time, also see those adults that wanted an exam and other children who aren't sponsored by Compassion.  Compassion has had a presence in the jungles of Ecuador for decades and really made a difference in the lives of many of these kids.  Jonas, the missionary standing with me, was a sponsored child many years ago.  As you can see from the picture, Quenahueno is a small community and we had no problems getting in or out.

While there, we had a fun time with the kids.  All seemed to be in good health and eager to interact with us to some extent, albeit from a distance.  There was one boy in particular, Omar, who was as quick as a whip.  He helped to unpack our things, carry medicines, and was familiar with many of the bible stories that we discussed.


Paulina Roldan examining an infant.

Jonas sharing the Word.

Soon it was time to pack up our things and head back to Shell.  Our time in Quenahueno was enjoyed by all.  Next week I head to another Huaroni community which is much bigger, ToƱampari, and hope to have more pics to share with you.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Posting Comments

We love comments-  yes, I'll admit it, I get very excited when I see that there are comments waiting to be read.  Part of the obstacle of writing a blog is getting past the barrier of, "does anyone want to hear what I have to say?"  We love to hear from you and love when  you email us and request to hear more about certain aspects of our lives.
Please be sure that you leave your name with your comments so we know who to love more than everyone else-

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Contextual Clues

Remember contextual clues from school?  When you have to figure out the meaning of a word from the information around the word?  Well, most of the time I feel like I live contextual clues.  On a good day, I understand about 75% of what is said to me (either from missing vocabulary on my part or people talking too fast), so I have to put together the other 25% from what I do understand...... Sometimes I am correct and sometimes...... I am very wrong and sometimes I understand but still have questions....
Additionally is the cultural aspect- just because I understand the words, doesn't mean I understand.  How many times when you have a conversation at work with your boss or an employee, especially over something very tricky and you think through it and make sure you phrase things just right- use just the right words so that your true meaning is understood.  There are little nuances in any language that say more than just the words spoken.  Currently, I am learning to understand as well as increase my comprehension and read into contextual clues through more than just the words.

I (Tracy) have been the laboratory director at the hospital since August and it has been wonderful for my language skills and has really truly shown me just how much I don't understand about the cultural aspect of the work environment.  So.... I will continue to fumble, ask lots of questions and hopefully grown leaps and bounds in an amazingly short period of time (I can dream, can't I) but more importantly through it all, show God's love and grace to those I work with, because after all, the rest is just the details.

Just as long as I don't turn into this person, I think we are going to be alright......

Monday, October 8, 2012

Some Days (and people) are Just Stranger than Others

Have you ever felt this way? I do almost every day.

I do almost every day of my life.  There is something to be said for thinking outside the box or better yet, finding another shape all together to be outside of (and yes, I'm aware I ended that sentence with a preposition- sorry about that).  But, that is the beauty of being a child of God.  We were all created in his image, no matter how strange we may seem.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Birthday of a Decade

Sebastiao turned 10 this year.  I asked him to stay out of double digits, but you know how kids listen these days.....  One of the good things about living outside of the country is that you can have multiple birthday parties on multiple continents.  Sebastiao had and early birthday party with my father whose birthday is the 3rd of August, while we were in the states.  Then he had a birthday weekend in Ecuador.  We started off the weekend with lunch on Friday and opened a few presents.  Then we had breakfast with a good friend and opened a few more presents.  We tried to go climb to a waterfall, but the rest of the country decided to celebrate with us, so we just played in the river for a while until I fell in the river submerging our camera.  The next morning we went bird watching (way too early in the morning) and saw some incredible sights.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Jungle Trip Tomorow

Please pray for Joe tomorrow.  He is flying out to the jungle to do physicals for Compassion Ministries.  The community is Waroni and they will be seeing about 50 children and their families.  Please pray for their safety on the flight, while in the community and more importantly for the love of God to be spread as a result of their trip,  just as Jesus cared for people's physical needs along with their spiritual.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

God's Purpose

As many of you know, we start each Monday morning at the hospital with a time of devotion that is led by one of the staff.  This month it's been Dr Javier Alcocer.  Javi is a good friend of ours and someone who takes call for us at the hospital from time to time.  This month he's been talking about sin and how it relates to our health.

Today he read from John and relayed a story that reminded me so much of an encounter that I had while in Haiti in December of 2010.  In John 9:1-12, John recounts how Jesus healed a blind man by making a 'dressing' for his eyes with dirt and some of his saliva and telling him to wash in the Pool of Siloam.  What had been asked of Jesus was why this man had been born blind.  It reads:

"As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus,"but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. . ."

Javi then related how he'd been on call one evening when an elderly lady had come to our ER to be seen.  She was blind, depressed, and suffered from many medical problems including diabetes and hypertension,  To top it all off, she had been in a wheelchair for the last several years.  Javi asked her what he could do for her and she stated that she needed something to help her sleep.  Javi looked through her chart and saw that she had tried on a number of medications without help.  After spending more time with her he soon discovered that she was burdened about her family and their salvation as she was the only believer in her family.  Javi spent some time in prayer with her and gently suggested  that God may have burdened her with her illness and immobility to be able to witness to her family in a way that on one could.  She and her family lived in a remote area and were unable to attend any kind of church.  She began to understand all of this and left with a new found purpose.  What Javi was able to do was show how God had a purpose for her illness.

As many of you know, I spent 2 weeks in Haiti in December of 2010 as part of a small team from HCJB sent to assist Samaritan's Purse.  There'd been a major cholera outbreak that was ravaging much of the country following the earthquake from the previous year.  During one of our late night shifts, a little 4 year old girl came in with her parents with worsening cholera symptoms.  After many failed attempts we were finally able to gain IV access, however, she died anyway.  It was a very difficult experience for many of us.  After that shift, we all returned to our quarters tired and disillusioned wondering why this one little girl wasn't saved when others in much worse state had gotten better.  Later that evening we discovered that a team from Samaritan's Purse had gone by the little girl's home to pray with the family.  What resulted from that encounter was a profession of faith from her parents and 11 other family members!  What God had done was to use the death of this little girl to bring her entire family and many of her extended family into His fold.  We rejoiced as a team for not only their salvation but also for God allowing us a small glimpse into His purpose.  As we all know, we are often still left with the 'Why' and must trust our faith that He's in control.

What Javi did was remind me, once again, that God is always with us and always using circmuunstances in our lives for His great purpose.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

First Day of School

This is our beautiful Isabella on her first day of 2nd Grade at Nate Saint Memorial School herein Shell.  She looks so grown-up in these pictures-  It is hard to believe she is already seven and a half.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Life Begins

I know it must  seem strange that I am posting this after we have already been here 3 years, but even after more than 3 years there are times we still feel the strains and aches of living in a foreign country and I'm afraid we always will to some extent.  We will always stick out everywhere we go, we will always (well everyone except Joe) sound like a foreigner when we speak and we will always have questions about cultural issues.....and some days that is just more than you want to deal with. Some days that is just irritating and/or overwhelmingBut (and yes, this is a big but), that is part of being here and (apart from how it feels some days) that is a small part of our lives here.  We pray that those things that Satan uses to overwhelm us fall into the background noise so that we hear God leading us-  leading us to follow him and do what he has calls us to.  So, yes, Life does begin at the end of our comfort zones, because within your comfort zone, you are the one doing things.  It is only outside of your comfort zone that God is able to take over and lead us to the things that amaze, enlighten and make us more like Him.