One of the more eventful days in my life so far.

Today was the first day of school for our little church school. 11 children and 2 teachers. I’m teaching English, history, and spelling. Emily teaches math, reading, and science. Dad plans to come in every week or so to teach bible. I’m very excited about that. I have a hard time taking enough time for each class and he’ll be so good at it. The kids will love it.

This is our first year using desk dividers. I was a bit uncertain about how the children would feel about them but they seemed delighted to have their own little space. Paul, Sharon and I made the dividers out of 2x4s and a 20 yard roll of burlap. Since the boards were donated and I bought the burlap in bulk they only cost about $40 total. Definitely worth it to me!

You can see we have a very industrious group of students! I expect to see them all make honor roll:).

I’ll post some more classroom pictures eventually. I didn’t have time to take too many today. We did take a group photo but I left the camera at school so it’ll have to wait. 

When I got home there were 4 extra kids around. So I helped finish supper, feed the kids and wash a stack of dishes

Tonight I had a kids club meeting. (I can’t believe we’re finally starting a kids club! I have wanted to do this for probably 10 years!) The four of us met at the building to decide what supplies we need before the whole youth group comes in to clean and fix things.

Yes, that’s our building. Everything has been setting there for 10 years at least and is covered in a good quarter inch of dust. I’m thankful our youth girls aren’t squeamish and nimminy pimminy. They all see this as the adventure it is. Hooray!

We had one little visitor already. She and her dog, Mason, kept us from getting anywhere close to bored. Several other people also stopped to ask what we plan to do there, so hopefully by the time we’re ready to start we’ll also have a crew of children waiting.

And then tonight we have the most exciting event of all. My oldest brother and his wife have two brand new babies! Asher River and Allison Brooke were born about 7:30 tonight. 

For some reason, tonight I’m thinking of a meme I saw once that said “Sometimes I’m surprised by what I can do and other days I shut the car door on myself” (don’t tell anyone but I have literally done that. How is that even…)

So anyhow. I should be in bed now. School teachers should never stay up late but I think I’ll have a cup of spiced cider yet.


Remembering Me

It was one of those good cousinly discussions. ‘Where do you see yourself in ten years’. A good question. My sister and I, and a cousin, and we went in circles and from all angles discussing this question.
So join the discussion. Where will you be in ten years if you keep on making the same kinds of choices you’re making right now? What is your goal for where you want to be in ten years? How do you need to change your choices today to achieve that goal in ten years.
My cousin was quite honest. He said if he continues the path he started he’s likely to end up in prison 10 years from now. But the good thing is, he realizes this and can choose today to make better choices from here on out.
So can I. I might not end up in jail, but 10 years from now, do I want to have a reputation for being argumentative, bossy and overly thrifty or will I change my choices today so that my reputation is that I view money with an eternal perspective and am “always ready to give an answer to any man a reason for the hope that is in me”. Do you see how my natural tendencies can be sanctified so they become a means of helping instead of hurting?God gave us talents and opportunities but oh how Satan loves to take those and use them to destroy instead of build up.
We’re in a spiritual battle, folks. When we do nothing, we lose. Battles aren’t won passively. We must act. Act now. Don’t wait 10 years to realize you aren’t where you want to be. Take one step now. Just one, and tomorrow, one more. The turtle won the race, you know, one step at a time. We win our battles the same way.

The reunion continues

We were honored today in church,  to have uncle Sujet share his life story of growing up in Haiti. We spent the afternoon lounging all through the house. Uncle Paul arrived and Joel and Veronica left.

My brother Leon and his lovely wife invited us all to spend the evening at their lovely little haunt. 

Here’s Aaleyah with the marshmallow she roasted all by herself!

And this cake looks fairly mangled now but I was so proud of it. I actually managed to make a professional looking cake for once and it was so easy! Definitely something I’m making again. (just don’t tell mom that I used an entire pound of butter for the frosting)

Mary said once that sometimes when she’s in Haiti she thinks of our kitchen and in her mind there’s always a layer cake on a cake stand in the corner of the counter. So now I always feel like there should be one there when she comes. Unfortunately this one never made it to the corner of the counter but at least she did get the chance for a piece if she wanted it.

The reunion begins

The Yoder family has rarely done anything the conventional way. We choose our own path, doing things the way we wish to, heedless of how “it’s supposed to be done”. This trait is most obvious when we get together in large groups. 

The reunion starts officially Monday evening. That didn’t stop about half the family from showing up yesterday or today. Mom’s cousin Veronica text her this morning to say that there are also going to be here for the weekend. 

Washing dishes is always a problem at every reunion. There is a rumor that a certain aunt always washes all the dishes at every reunion. This rumor was started, and seems to be spread mainly by said aunt. It is hotly denied by all other aunts in the family. This year our dish washing aunt couldn’t come. (she’s instead diligently working at a pharmacy in Haiti) We we’re all a bit uncertain as to what would happen. The remaining aunts were silent on the subject until last minute. Then they announced a plan wherein the nieces and nephews are on charge of the dishes. This turn of events has left us wishing more than ever that our dear aunt could be with us. Because the official reunion has not yet started we have yet to see how the new plan will work out. I admit I have my doubts. Not all of our cousins are exactly ambitious. To prove my point I’ll share this conversation I overheard.

cousin 1: Are you going with me to pick up Esther?

cousin 2:What are the pros and what are the cons.

cousin 1:The pros are that you get to be with me, and we’re going to middlesboro. The cons are that you have to get off the couch and walk out to the car.

cousin 2: I think the cons out weigh the pros.

You get my point. Somehow I don’t see them doing dishes. And besides that, the plan is only in effect on official reunion days. That leaves us with several days of dishes before and after. Tonight after everyone else had headed for bed, I washed the dishes. by myself. And I had to admit that in my memories there is a certain aunt who nearly always did those late night dishes. I hold her in highest regard.

Matt and Paul doing a late night Kombucha trust.  (making more dishes)

Veronica and her children pick up toys.

grief strikes

Philosophers might say that grief is not all bad; that many a person has, through times of grief shone brighter, become stronger, walked more perfectly in grace and humility.
A very wise man could perhaps understand this and learn to embrace grief as something real and neccessary for life, may even be able to comprehend it’s purpose in making us whole.
I am not wise, nor am I a philosopher. I hold grief at arms length and pray fervantly that it might not touch me again.
It comes sometimes in distant ways. My friends cousin was killed today. Killed instantly, and he so young,so full of promise. It came a month ago in like manner. Another friends cousin, taken. gone.
And even in this way, where it doesn’t affect me directly, I am afraid of it. Afraid of what? I do not know. I only know that the feeling in my stomach feels very much like fear.
I cry with them, and as Sheila Petre once said, my tears are not for them alone. I cry, remembering the days I walked the path that they must now walk. Perhaps my tears are selfish. I cry for me, for the life I have lost, the dreams that were shattered. And perhaps my tears are also fear. Fear of what may still lie ahead. In my life. In the lives of humankind.
“Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee” has more truth in it than we like to admit. One life lost diminishes us all.

Art in Washington D.C. 

I’ve always enjoyed art in a passive sort of way. You know, it’s of course important but I really didn’t know much about it. I still don’t really but in preparing for the school year (I’ll be teaching at our Church school this year) I’ve learned a little more about art, and the great artists; this has deepened my appreciation for art and made me much more aware of the presence of art all around us. 

When we planned a trip to Washington D.C. I didn’t really think about art. I had always viewed D.C. as a very historical place; I love history but I was delighted with the art that I found there as well.

This is in the capitol building 

We had a delightful guide who told us the stories of the artists who did these paintings. 

 This painting underneath the dome portrays George Washington and flanked by honor and virtue and surrounded by 13 angels symbolizing the original 13 states 
 I was just as delighted by this 2 inch painting my brother purchased from a street artist outside the natural history museum. Definitely worth the $5.00 he paid for it. Art is valuable no matter how small. 

A bit of beauty 

I don’t have anything to share about this. I just think it’s pretty and I thought you might like it too. It’s better for me though, because I know the girl in the photo, know that she really is beautiful inside and out. And I see her hold life as perfectly and beautifully as she holds the flower. 

It’s been a long day

Today was good. Very good. But it was also one of those days when you’re not exactly sure how you managed to do everything and still have some bored moments in between. 

That’s larry and Joel drinking their morning coffee
Mom’s cousin Veronica and her family were here for brunch, along with grandma and grandpa. Larry stopped in to relieve a case of ‘fear of missing out’ aka FOMA

We we’re just finishing up brunch when Bert got a call from Matt who said “hey, I kinda bought this house”. We had all thought Matt was safely sleeping in his room. Turns out, he went to an auction and bought a house. Good for him.

katelynn playing house
Four little boys wishing desperately that I would relent and let them get into the water

We are having family meetings at our church this week. The couples session was this afternoon so I was left with 5 little boys and one little girl and Sharon left to take care of some more kids. 

And tonight was the youth session. Very interesting.

in church
The girls class. That’s Maya, looking at the camera. Isn’t she pretty?

And after that we had the youth group and all the ministers and visitors here for supper. And afterwards, when everyone left, I found my phone and this:

brother bert and cousin josh
And approximately 50 pictures like this:

hi josh!
Now I agree that Josh is quite handsome but I’m not sure what to do with 50 pictures of him, so I’ll share this one with you.

A breath of Rain.

I need rain to grow. I’m not saying figurative rain. I mean real raindrops on my face, puddles to splash in, cool breezes. On these warm summer days I start to feel like the flowers, droopy and wilted. I need water. And when the rain comes, like the flowers, I too lift up my head and spread my arms to catch a bit of rain. I drink it up, not literally, but in my spirit I am refreshed and revived. I have strength to live again.

      My brothers, used to my weirdness, simply mutter under their breath and keep working, as I take off my shoes and socks and dash out into the storm. I’m only outside for a minute. But that minute is the most beautiful of the entire day.

Call me old fashioned.

Sometimes I kind of envy those home-stead type of people. You know, the ones that plow their fields with horses, live without electricity and have a year’s supply of food in their basement. More often I envy the real home-steaders of long ago who lived like that of necessity. I want the challenge of those days, and the realness of them. The simplicity. I know they were hard, I know I’m romanticising them, but I don’t care. Something deep inside me wishes we could go back.
And then sometimes, when I see the rows of fresh baked pies that mom made, or see the racks of herbs drying in the closet, or when I stop to realize that my hobby (besides reading and writing) is making candles, then I think that maybe I’m not so different than those home steaders long ago. I bet we have a year’s worth of food in our basement too.
But then there are the times when I know we can never really go back to those days. Not really. I drive a car. I like to use my laptop to design all kinds of things, and I have to admit, I’d be a bit lost without my smartphone.
But while I like the convenience of these things, I’m also afraid of them. Maybe not of them as much as if where they will take us. I’m afraid we’ll forget the important things of life, like picking blackberries, reading a good book or sitting on the front porch. I don’t like superficial relationships, I want to drink sweet tea together and talk about our dreams.