Mexico, May 2014, Soccer

Most mornings in Mexico we visited drug and alcohol rehab centers. In the afternoons we visited parks.

 
You couldn’t do it in America, but in Mexico we went around to announce a soccer tournament, and each evening a crowd turned up.
We went to several different fields of grass, concrete, and dust, sometimes chalking lines for boundaries and sometimes dragging a stick.
 
While the men headed up the soccer games, the ladies played with the children and shared Bible stories. We drew on their faces, turned cartwheels, played hillbilly golf, and washers.
Several of the women, me included, were much impressed and moved by the great need that the children showed for love and affection. They flocked to us and hung on us, sometimes hanging on to our t-shirts as we walked. Wherever we went, they came like magnets.
 
Even though we couldn’t communicate very well, we had fun. Several of the women shared Bible stories with the kids and I gave my testimony to a group of wide-eyed children. I had a captive audience as they heard how I had been rebellious to my parents and hateful toward God. But now they could obvious see that I am happy because I have given up sin, and I gave the gospel as clearly as I could. I also noticed while I talked through the translator that a man was standing nearby and listening carefully. May God bless him!
 
During one soccer tournament a group of young men were dancing to the Virgin Mary. It was heartbreaking to see. Not only is it hard to see worship to a false god when our God is so worthy of all the praise, but I saw young men who depended on this dancing for their salvation. They were very coordinated and disciplined. They danced hard and intensely. And they danced for quite some time.
Interestingly enough, we visited a rehab center later that week where they danced before The Lord. They played music and jumped and clapped for joy. Immediately I compared it to the dancing in the park. In the park they had each moved in time, the steps perfectly memorized, but at this rehab center the dancing was more spontaneous than anything. And what stood out to me most was the joy of the men at the rehab center. Tremendous joy and thanksgiving, not working to get God’s favor, but rejoicing to have it. And most importantly, this dancing was in honor of the One True God.
I know we don’t dance as a regular part of our worship service in America — but maybe we should!
Back to the soccer games, at each soccer tournament the men took time to gather the young men around and challenge them with the gospel. There was no strategy to make an emotional experience. There was no aim to record great numbers. It was the straightforward simple gospel, and then we challenged the men to commit their lives to Christ.
The last soccer tournament we held, Wednesday night, the bleachers were filled with young men spoking pot. No attempt to hide it, no nervousness or shyness, just out there in the open together. During the break, Russ humbly and seriously addressed them about it, and though some were high and laughing, others listened seriously. Please pray for those young men, that these words will have a lasting impression on them. At the tournaments we gave out tracks and booklets and Bibles, and the children eagerly received them and promised to read them.
So for all of the soccer players, spectators, children, parents, and teeter-totter partners, please pray for their salvation. Pray that God may change the hearts of the people to Him and that the work that we have done will not be in vain. Please pray that the words we have said will not fade into the darkness but be a light to destroy it.
Ellie

 All photos taken by Billy and Sarah Jackson

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Silver Birch Ranch

It took forever and two days to get to Silver Birch Ranch. I slept for hours, read “The Great Divorce”, tried to beat the Perplexus, and we counted 3,000 Semi trucks on the highway. Then we arrived!

The first thing I did at SBR was take a deep breath. The second was the grab the camera. The third was to set it down. As determined as I had been to record this trip, I realized immediately that I never could. I did take pictures and Gennie did too, but they only show you what a very small portion looked like, not what it really was. It can’t really show the smiles you got at every turn, and that familiar feeling of knowing everyone, and all the billions of jokes I laughed at.

There were 6 particular highlights of the trip for me. At the end of them are a few random pictures of it all.

  1. Canoeing every morning. Out to the island by 6:30 and around a fire. Magical times! Fog off the lake, the trees starting to glow, the water reflecting the sunrise. Priceless.
  2. Volleyball every evening. Speed volleyball! With everyone late into the night. Around that time—EVERYTHING is funny! (And there were no pictures, I was too busy!)
  3. Family Specials Night. We had poetry, “The Three Little Pigs” in Old English, and even a 2 year old singer! Also, I played and sang the song, “In the Night” by Andrew Peterson and I didn’t completely embarrass myself, but I was still quite nervous.
  4. Finishing a ping pong game that a started 2 years ago. Hilarious, and now I can tell my children I played a ping pong game that lasted two years.
  5. Larry Guthrie’s stories. He is the best story teller I’ve ever heard. He really drives home Biblical points in ways you never forget. I was overwhelmed by the sovereignty of God in his life.
  6. And my favorite part was, without hesitation, the people I was reunited with and the people I met. I got to talk to a missionary pilot who will be going to Indonesia and his wife, to the awesome parents of an adorable little boy with down syndrome, to good friends I feared I would not see at all, and I got to know well people I had never seen before!

that’s my crazy brother on the zipline! Just to make mention here, I went upsidedown on the zipline too, but the picture was not too flattering. I’m telling you people, upsidedown is the best way to do it!

All Homeschoolers! Come next year! You will not regret it!

 

Tootles!

Electric Bubbles

CHEF conference–just a truck load of pictures

This past weekend, May 8th through May 11th, I was at the Christian Home Educators Fellowship conference, and I cannot say enough good things about it.

I was guided in reevaluating my life and how productive I am being in my family. (Answer: not very productive–yet!) The talks, lectures, sermons, messages, workshops, it was all amazing! And not only that, I got to reunite with long unseen friends and meet several new ones, many of whom I have heard much about but never met before.

My dear friend Meghan took a lot of pictures of the short times I got to spend with my friends throughout the four days.

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These are the two friends I was most excited about seeing, Leah and Meghan. Leah I had not seen in almost two years and it was the first time Leah, Meghan, and myself were all together.

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And you will probably see a lot of pictures of Leah. 😀IMG_9920

Jessica, Milly, Bekah, Leah, and myself. Don’t ask me why I look so much taller….

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And that’s us goofing off. Leah is so funny!

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See! I told you!IMG_9915

“Do you like my naturally curly hair?”

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Claire, Meghan, and Catherine
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I’ve seen Mathew in way more pictures than in real life, but his pictures always crack me up.

IMG_9961Same with this guy, he cracks me up too. I’m gonna pretend like I don’t know his name. 😉

On the second day of the conference we all wore black and white and we played around the big ol’ fountain.

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And we stuck flowers in each other’s hairIMG_0022IMG_9995

Gennie and Ruff just watched us

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It seemed like a good idea to run around the fountain
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And to run after Milly

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Baby girl also ran around the fountain! She was my pleasant and ever-welcome shadow and she was infatuated with the escalators. We are homeschooled, after all….XD

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On the last day I felt a tremendous urge to get wet, more than dipping my feet in the water like I had a few times. I decided poor little Thea on a wheelchair must be thinking the same thing and I flicked a bit of water on her. And hour later our little showers were still going back and forth. In an attempt to end it all I sent a small tsunami (no, not really) at Thea. (Leah and Michael got wet too, but I did tell them to lean forward.) Thea’s ankle was broken, so she couldn’t follow me, (mwahaha) but when I was running around the fountain again and great gusty hurricane got me for her. The wind blew, the water flew and totally soaked my left side. My legs were numb because it was so cold and I had to sit through the next session all wet–but it curbed my desire to play in the fountain and I’d hug the mad fountain if I could. IMG_0026

Beautiful Leah….IMG_0012

Simply beautiful!

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Just like her sister.IMG_0015

And this is how I look when I’ve been sitting down too long and finally get to run around.

Crazy as I was, I think you could safely say Billy was a bit more so. I must admit I was pressing him to do it, but he rode his unicycle around the lip of the fountain and didn’t fall in. We did get the hotel security on us, but not before the video was taken with evidence that he did it!

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Again, don’t ask why I look so much taller than everyone….but you can guess.

For those worried about Alexa! She’s right there in the middle and perfectly safe….and she didn’t go to Canada….*blinks and shakes head* So confusing….IMG_0173
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“I love you!”
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I’ve heard bunches about this family! I finally got to meet them and their bro….

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Michael who has his own blog, young-christian-artist.blogspot.com

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Speaking of blogs, Leah’s is at optimisticworldview.blogspot.com.

I think Meghan liked taking portraits around the fountain.
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Claire

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Catherine
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Matching redheads! Meghan and Lizzy

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And Wy-*ahem* Leah’s brother.

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She’s probably saying, “Seriously?” To quote Jeremy, “It’s so much fun to tease Leah.”

IMG_0305“Yay! Let’s go tease Leah!”

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Makes me wonder if they are laughing at Leah in this picture.
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Drink the melted whipped cream, or not drink the melted whipped cream? I gave it to Jimmy; little boys will drink anything that’s too sweet.
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When the time came to say goodbye I simply had to tell myself that I finally got to see her and would hopefully see her before another two years. Otherwise, I probably would have cried. And if you haven’t guessed by now, yes, I’m that much taller than Leah. (And it looks like I’m hugging a ball full of hair. She is under there and pretending to cry.)
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“Tootles!”

Electric Bubbles

Pictures from the week

We’re home! I didn’t take much pictures until Thursday, and I missed both Wednesday morning and Wednesday night. Wednesday morning Gennie and I went to a ladies Bible study with Grandma. She didn’t tell us until we were on our way that we were meeting in an antique shop, owned by one of the ladies. I wish so badly I had brought the camera! And then Wednesday night there was a surprise party for Grandma and Grandpa, because yesterday was their 49th anniversary. ^_^

Thursday the family came and Billy was there to take the camera. These are actually just a few pictures, believe it or not. There was a lot more.

Grandpa’s fields

Grandma’s living room

Where I spent early mornings

Tiger and Gennie, ready for a walk

The bunkhouse in the morning

Our shadows

A curious calf….cute!

Tiger, wanting attention

Tiger getting attention

 The the family arrived. Ruthie, sadly, had to go to school, so she wasn’t able to come.

The living room from on high

Gennie and Mother

Then we drove to a lake and swam. It was a lot of fun and I took pictures.

Grandpa

Gracie in the sand

Jonny chasing Gennie

Jimmy’s finished work

Gracie in the sand still

Jonny still chasing Gennie

The sky above the lake

You’re never too old….

My Grandma is beautiful!

I took a (dark) picture of myself by pressing the shutter with a stick. haha. I was a bit bored.

I took another picture of myself, or my shadow

And another

And then my feet….

I experimented with different ways to take my own picture. Can you find what’s wrong with this picture?

My leg after a rope attacked it

The cowboy!

And then Billy took the camera

Me

Gennie

Billy and Gennie were experimenting with the macro lense

Then! They took the macro lense off the camera and experimented

Gennie took the camera then

Creepy!

I was handed the macro lense

Billy and Eddie took the camera off by themselves

A mushroom

A mushroom

Smoosh

Smoosh

by Eddie Jackson

Lovely!

We had fun posing on a log. At first it was Billy and Eddie and, haha, people kept being sent back there to call them back, and they simply disappeared

 

Gennie came and took the camera

Jonny was sent back to call them….

Jonny doesn’t have the relaxed look down. It’s either smiling or scowling

I came right about here, when Gennie was taking these pictures.

I love it!

They were following my hand motions. haha

I love this photo!

Applause for doing this on a log, I only had to on land

Jonny cracks me up sometimes, not nearly as much as he cracks himself up, but he does sometimes

Gennie and I were put on the log

Sorry for my randomness

Jonny, kicking back

So pretty

Balancing on a stick, there’s nothing to it!

See, piece of cake

Hold on! Not when the wind is blowing!

We da coolest sista’s

Huh?

The next day it was raining on and off. We decided to walk down to the river so Eddie and Billy could practice using slow shutter speeds. Billy, Eddie, Gennie, Jimmy, and I.

The lovely river

It started raining while we were down there. It was a bunch of fun! And Jimmy made me laugh so hard

Gennie and Jimmy!

Billy and I. I’m short!

I should hope that’s enough pictures. The trip was very fun and lovely.

signing off!