3 THINGS I LEARNED OFF THE GRID

Traveling through South America in Ecuador is exciting in every way imaginable. By no means is our journey without incident or even regret at times, but my family is thriving here. The warm, nurturing relational nature of the people has been such a lesson for us all

It is a joy to see my four boys grow as they are immersed in this vibrant Ecuadorian culture. 

Last weekend, we traveled to the jungle. Off the grid is an understatement.

While there, I learned three important lessons. 

I. Simple is Beautiful 

The place we stayed sat peacefully tucked under the sweeping thick canopy. The home captivated my heart as it was alive with natural materials yet had unspoken sophistication.  

I’m learning that simplicity speaks.

Whether in the daily occurrences of my traveling family or the design of my home, I know simple is beautiful

II. Hold on Tight

We tubed down a rushing river in the jungle. I held on tight in order to not be tossed into the chilling, ice cold water! What a rush. 

I learned that there are times in life, when all you can do is hold on

You must laugh rushing down a river embracing the ebbs and flows as they come. Most important, as you move down the river, you must take a moment to look around at those with you and know that all seasons are a gift. This is fully living.

III. Everyone Needs a Jungle Porch

Whether or not you are in the actual Amazon jungle like we were doesn't really matter. Whether at your home, your ranch, or your office, find your own jungle porch and recharge & rest. Make it a media free zone and commit to the time spent there daily. 

Everywhere I look, I am inspired and have peace that these experiences will shape the way we all see the world now and in the years to come

 

My hope is that your family can live out these same truths no matter where you are. It's worth it to unplug. It is one of the hardest things to teach my children, but I can see the benefit. Try it and let us know how it changes you- we'd love to hear your story and share it. 

IT'S TIME TO HOPE

“It’s time to hope, to heal, to rebuild… One Family at a Time.” -Bob Pierce, World Vision Founder

My family and I have had the opportunity to travel to South America on various occasions. What a magical place of vibrant culture! While there we have ridden wild horses on the beach, climbed tree-topped mountains, and experienced a robust and rich culture much different from that of North America. 

While we have seen amazing things, there is an inescapable reality we have had to come to terms with- that of countless beautiful children living in the trenches of deep poverty. 

With every child we have encountered, our desire to lift them out of the tragic cycle of poverty grew relentlessly within each of my family member

We are determined to not only see change, but bring change. Change that heals, change that brings hope. With this goal in mind, we have gotten involved with World Vision, one of the largest most dynamic humanitarian organizations across the globe.

Interested in sponsoring a child? Check out World Vision for more information. 

More to come next week: My Life Changed by a Boy Named Maxwell

OFF TO SCHOOL

Little boys waiting for their taxi driver, Ivan, to come get them. The boys leave every morning at 8 and return at noon for lunch.  It cost $1 per person for the trip.

Panamanian style school..

The school is an international school. The owner, Keren, is from Israel, the teachers and students are from: U.S.A, ITALY, ARGENTINA, PERU, ENGLAND, AUSTRALIA, ISRAEL,  INDIA, BELGIUM, PANAMA, SPAIN, HOLLAND, GERMANY, URUGUAY, FRANCE, SCOTLAND, GHANA

They don't always want to go... same attitude different country:)

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We shut the gate to the courtyard so the kids are nice and safe and I go home to do some writing for a few hours.

Adios los ninos dicen!

A JESUS LIZARD

Jesus walked on water. So does this lizard found in the rainforest here. Hence the name.

Bleu caught this one in his net and it didn't want to let go. I had to help him pry its toes and mouth out of the netting.

He's not really sure if he feels good about holding it.

They run standing up and VERY fast. It took impressive hunting to grab him.

Liam choose not to partake in the holding of the huge lizard.

And now he lives in a box in my kitchen. He eats vegetable scraps because we haven't found any snake eggs yet that they love to eat.

AN ISLAND SUNDAY

We went hiking on Bastimentos island on fathers day and found this little church half way up the mountain.

The people speak  Guari Guari which is sometimes refered to as creole english.

A lot of them speak spanish as well. The service was given in spanish by the pastor and then translated into Guari Guari.

They honored the dads as well as gave them a strong charge to lead their families and stay clear of alcohol, drugs and violence.  3 of the main problems this community has.

The children in the church performed an exciting drama.  Acting out how Satan uses drugs, alcohol and all types of sin to keep us down.  

Then Jesus came and a real tug of war happened, I mean my kids were a bit frightened on the front row, but in the end, Jesus won, and the sin was crushed.

Heavenly voices. I love their variations of songs we sing at home as well. We sang and worshiped together with this beautiful little church and felt so blessed to be so far away from our community but yet surrounded by one that so strongly loves the Lord.

BEAUTIFUL FEET

Beautiful feet are the feet that bring the good news Jesus said. And  a woman named Vivianna brought it to me today.  

She is a traveling pedicurist, a mother of 5,  grandmother of 1, and a strong christian Baptista. She has lived in Bocas del Torro all of her life. Today she brought me the good news. A reminder of Jesus' love for me and his gift of himself.  He will never leave me nor forsake me.  Jesus himself IS the Good news and Vivianna was his messenger today.

AND she gave me beautiful feet while we visited!  

There has been NO hot water since arriving on the island over a week ago. But oh sweet mercy she boiled some water in our kitchen for my nasty feet. 

Feet that walked all over town barefoot looking for new flip flops after a shoe blowout.

This is the center of Bocas town. Not very clean to say the least...

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I found some great gold flip flops for $3 here..

And now I feel all clean and right side up again.

Heres to another day in Bocas!!

 

ON THE ROAD AGAIN...

I wasn't going to blog on this trip. I didn't want to go on this trip. Our family has been in a  state of chaos since January. I am tired, overwhelmed, sad and more than little in need of a daily chill pill

.... thankfully my husband puts up with my daily panic attacks, he coaxed me into packing, even scheduling a counseling session so a professional could back him up and tell me that we were INDEED heading to Central America for the summer with the family.

Will is an optimist, but he also knows when our family needs to rest, regenerate and let God do a work in us as we refuel. I am grateful for my husband leading our family and hopeful our boys will learn to lead like him.

No South America this time.  My beloved Ecuador- nothing can compare you.  Those mountains and their beauty. The people we encountered stole my heart and I will continually long to return. But this year we needed to stay closer to home. 

So we are off to the tiny archipelago of Bocas Del Toro, Panama. The island of Isla Colon to be exact.

Where you can't touch the frogs because they are of the poison dart frog variety and the monkeys in the trees will swing down and grab your food as you are walking. And don't touch the sloths as they carry a flesh eating parasite.  

A little boys paradise

“It was the furthest point west that Columbus reached off the coast of Panama, and perhaps because the South American Handbook stated with its habitual frankness, ‘No tourist ever goes there.’ ” 

This is what the Conde Naste journalist Steve Stevenson penned about Bocas that made it a MUST SEE on the Bannister Boys list.  

http://www.cntraveler.com/islands/caribbean/2013/01/bocas-del-toro-panama-islands-caribbean

So after 4 days of travel. Spending the night in the Miami airport during a tropical storm. ALL our luggage gone missing for 2 days.  2 missed planes and a 4:30 AM hopper plane we are finally here, all boys are safe and sound asleep.  

In their new Casa by the sea.