Life here has been very interesting for us. The hot humidity and accents were what we noticed first as we drove closer, state by state. And the friendly hospitable nature is a joy! One guy walked up to us at our picnic on a grassy area near the gas station and handed Brad a case of Dr. Pepper. One waitress had me thinking we were family by the time we left the restaurant. One of my favorite moments was when we were visiting the nursing home on our service day and as I was burping baby Kateri she gazed lovingly at her saying, “oh sha,” which is a term of endearment in Cajun country.
Then, as you might have guessed from my last blog, we noticed nature. The bugs come out on top of course. Cockroaches, fire ants, frogs, snakes (Elizabeth stepped on a copperhead that miraculously did not bite her, Praise God!), black pincher buggy things, mosquitos, birds, horses, egrets, alligators (Brad saw one belly-side up on the side of the road one time, and we got to eat alligator for dinner in a dish at our Cajun Fun Night), banana spiders, big butterflies, puss caterpillars, armadillos (we delightfully and patiently awaited one crossing the road one night), and we keep discovering new things every day.
Aaron’s favorite thing to do is catch as many frogs as he can. He always wants to keep them, but after finding out the hard way that they die if you do that, he now lets them go. The boys built a city out of the clayish dirt by the chapel for the frogs to enjoy. I’m sure the frogs just loved it. The kids also get to enjoy a rope swing and a playground with an old-fashioned merry-go-round. They are loving playing with all the other missionary kids here.
I love the dreamy forests here with their drippy vines and all the different shaped trees and leaves, the bright butterflies and the sounds of the birds. I also love it when we leave a light on in our living room and a frog jumps on the window to feast on the bugs and we get to watch it hunt. And the symbiotic relationship between the horses and egrets. It’s so adorable to watch two completely opposite creatures hang out together all the time helping each other out. Elizabeth had a blast horse-back riding. Brad is absolutely loving the warm, sun-shiny weather. And we’re both loving the community here.
Of course, life at intake does include a rigorous schedule including classes, service, chores and things, so for those who like details, I’ll explain what a typical day and week has looked like during our training. Typically, we have community breakfast at the Big House and then we all meet in the living room area for a little praise and worship and prayer time. Afterwards we drop the kids off at Kids Ministry. We then attend our classes/talks/training. After a community lunch, we spend our afternoons studying, doing our chores, personal prayer time, and a little bit of school when we can (although our kids will be starting their school year officially in January). Community dinner is at 6 and then most days we’re done for the day.
There are variations, for example we attend daily mass on Tuesdays, and Thursdays are our service days, Friday night is our praise and worship night and Saturday is Desert Day (where we imitate Jesus by going off alone to pray) and the Lord’s Day Meal. Sunday is a day of rest.
We will continue with this schedule until we leave for General Cepeda, Mexico on November 1st for 3 weeks. We will all be caravanning, so I’m interested to see how that works out with 60+ missionaries. This is where we’ll find out where we will be going! Also, the last week there we’ll be helping with a mission trip.
Our Intake Commissioning Mass is on Wednesday, December 5th, and then we are free to leave for Christmas break on December 6th. We return to Big Woods after break on January 8th and finish our programming from the 9th-19th before finally being sent out as foreign missionaries!
We are getting excited as it gets closer, and are definitely anxious to get to Mexico. Please keep us in your prayers!