Whirlwind 2014

It’s that time of year again, when the whirlwind is about to arrive and tomorrow turns into 4 months later.

Greg’s travels

First of all, Greg has been gone all this week.

right before taking off to the airport
right before taking off to the airport

He went to the Pepperdine Bible Lectureship in Malibu, CA, and then he skipped over to Pasadena to Fuller Seminary for a campus tour and NT Wright conference on his new book Paul and the Faithfulness of God.  Greg is hoping to start his doctorate in the fall of 2015.  We hope to know toward the latter part of this year where he is accepted.  We sure have been missing him, but we have survived.  He is enjoying his visit and hanging out with Dad.  Two of my most favorite men in the world hanging out in CA together… presh.

Mother’s Day program

Greg will arrive late Sunday evening, and the kids will have one week of school before their fall break.  I am looking forward to their Mother’s Day performance.  All three of them are learning different dances, and I have already paid the money for the costumes.  That will be on Friday.  It cracks me up that I have paid money for a craft and a costume for all THREE kids.  They will only go to school for the time of their program (a short day).  What an honor!  Expensive and losing my time they are in school.  I know that sounds selfish, but it is kind of ironic considering who they are celebrating, right? 😉

Thompson fun and Mission Teams Retreat

We are looking forward to the Thompson family coming to visit from Lima the next week.  They are coming in a couple of days early before our annual Peru retreat with the Lima and Cusco teams.  We are hosting this year in AQP, and it is always so much fun to see everyone, catch-up, and share stories from the field.  Our retreat will be Wednesday through Saturday out at El Lago.  It is the first retreat where we will not have a child to lie down for a nap… yes!

Pat and Caleb–woohoo!

The following week it will be back to school, but we are looking forward to my older brother, Pat, and his son, Caleb, flying in to AQP to spend a week with us.  It is always so much fun to have family come to visit.  Also, David Fann, one of our CUDA board members, is flying in for a quick visit to check out the new medical program.

Interns

The day after Pat and Caleb depart, the real whirlwind arrives… interns.  Greg and I have chatted with each of the five girls coming in this summer.  I am very excited to meet them all in person.  It is looking like it will be a great summer internship with them.  It is sad that it will be our last internship to host in our time here.

Mid-year break

The internship will swallow 2 months, and then it will be the mid-year break to celebrate the Peru National Independence Day and Arequipa Day in August.

The whole “moving back to the USA thing” gets real

Then we will find ourselves in September with only four months left in this chapter of our AQP life.  Crazy.  The whirlwind is almost here.  I want to savor every single moment.

Whirlwind 2014

CT—Bombero Birthday 2014

Well, buddy. Your momma is all about fun birthday parties. This was your last to celebrate in AQP, and we thought we’d go out with a bang. You LOVE the fire station that sits across from our café in the city center. Fireman is “bombero” in Spanish. So, we rented a room at the cafe to serve guests a late lunch and cupcakes, and we took a mini-field trip to the fire station (that almost didn’t happen–but that is how we roll in Peru).

We had so many little boys attend. That was a lot of fun for me to see. Everything has been so girly with your two big sisters up to this point. This was the first year that you actually had preferences for your birthday. Part of your gift from us was a bombero costume. I found a lady on the street where they rent costumes that would make them for me. She made your bombero outfit and a Zorro costume! No more princess dresses for you… or at least you have other options. Ha!

It was a blessing to be surrounded by our Peruvian family, teammates, and a few other gringo friends with little boys your age. We had almost 40 in attendance! Go big or go home. Your momma has way too much fun naming the food we served and decorating. I even found “cascos” (firemen hats) to hand out to all the kids that attended. You all looked so cute in your hats walking over to the fire station.

You had a great time, Cohen. And you were certainly the cutest little fireman I have ever seen!

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Happy Birthday, big boy!

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CT—Bombero Birthday 2014

CT—3 years old

Look who is three years old!

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And look how much you have grown…

Baby newborn Cohen
Baby newborn Cohen
one year old Cohen
one year old Cohen
two year old Cohen
two year old Cohen

It is hard to believe that you have gotten to be such a big boy.  We are planning your 3rd birthday (a bombero party–pictures to come) party, but the 19th is THE DAY.  We will have a mini-celebration with our teammates on your special day.  I made sugar cookies and peanut butter bars to celebrate.

Here are some of the pics I have taken of you recently…

You started school in March with your two big sisters.  You and Maggie leave for school every morning to arrive at 8:30.  Your Spanish is getting better and better.
You started school in March with your two big sisters. You and Maggie leave for school every morning to arrive at 8:30. Your Spanish is getting better and better.
You are crazy about yogurt and apples right now.  Anytime you can get away with a snack in between mealtimes, you go for one of those food items.
You are crazy about yogurt and apples right now. Anytime you can get away with a snack in between mealtimes, you go for one of those food items.
You are still crazy about transportation vehicles.
You are still crazy about transportation vehicles.
We have been so impressed with your puzzle skills.  It is one of your favorite activities to do right now.
We have been so impressed with your puzzle skills. It is one of your favorite activities to do right now.
Your big sisters sure do love you.
Your big sisters sure do love you.
And we wouldn't have it any other way!
And we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Cohen Timothy, we adore you, little one.  You have matured so much in the last few months—starting school was a big part of that.  You are go-with-the-flow most of the time.  You love being outside on the patio riding your bike or out in the sandbox getting dirty.

We really need to set you up with play-doh.  We don’t have any currently, and you have found some of the play-doh toys to play with.  You tell us, “I am playing ‘adobo.'”  Adobo is a famous Arequipan dish.  🙂

You love cee-wee-ul (cereal).  You could eat it for every breakfast and every dinner I believe.  You are usually the first to wake up in the morning.  I will find you playing with your cars in your room or in the playroom, and the first words out of your mouth are, “I want some ceeweeul, please.”

You call most everyone by name correctly.  But one of my favorite names that you mispronounce is Areli’s name.  You call her “Ah-lah-lee.”

If you get to choose a show to watch, you ask for “Thomas the Train,” “Go Gabba Gabba,” or “Monster’s Inko” (Monster’s Inc.!).

You sleep super well at night, and you no longer take afternoon naps.  We find you to be pretty cranky on school days, so it is no surprise that your napless afternoon leads to a 7 pm bedtime.

I have plenty of pictures to blackmail you one day.  Most of them involve princess dresses, tutus, and purses.  You might be receiving some costumes for YOU so that you don’t have to only use your sister’s stuff to play with.  😉

You have shown your stubborn streak and your defiance in the last few months.  You are learning to test the waters.  These occurrences have gotten less and less.  When you are mad, you like to show you are super mad.  But when you are loving, you are super loving.  I guess that makes you a passionate little boy.  I prefer sweet Cohen, though.

Cohen, we love you.  This is your last birthday in Arequipa.  You were born here, and we will never forget the first 3 years of your life spent in this beautiful country.  You may not have many memories because you are so young, but we pray that the memories are kept alive in these photos.  To our little Arequipeño, el príncipe de la casa, ¡Felíz Cumpleaños!

CT—3 years old

Birthmonth 2014

I am a social butterfly, and if I have an excuse to host a party or schedule an outing, I jump on it.  That is usually the case with my birthday, but this year it just didn’t work out that way.  With Granny’s passing and new teammates coming in, life was pretty much a whirlwind during this time.

What happened instead?  I was greatly blessed to see the fruit of beautiful Peruvian friendships in action.  This will be a mish-mash of photos, but that is the most perfect way for me to document my last birthday here in my home of Arequipa.  I remember Greg and me talking about moving to Peru.  At the time we were talking, we were planning to move here with two of his best friends in tow.  It may sound selfish, but I felt that it was so unfair to not be moving here with a best friend as well.  I will never forget Greg mentioning to me in this moment, “maybe you will meet a Peruvian that will become a best friend.”  Almost 6 years later, I have been abundantly blessed by friendships that have cultivated in this time.  I couldn’t see it six years ago, but I know that my heart will ache for these dear friends that I shared this chapter of my life with in Arequipa.

I give thanks to God for beautiful friendships, and I give him all glory for providing a circle of people that have loved and cared for me in our time here like sisters and brothers.

January 15… my actual birthday.

Greg usually teaches his theology class at the cafe in the early afternoon.  He walked in the house a little early with a huge bouquet of flowers, my favorite chocolates, and a new wallet (I had lost my wallet in a taxi earlier in the week).  What a guy!

they were HUGE
they were HUGE
Coral is one of my absolute favorite colors.
Coral is one of my absolute favorite colors.

I went to a Bible study in Sandra’s home that afternoon.  I always meet up with Etelvina and Bethany to walk over to her home.  Etelvina not only surprised me with a wonderful “snack” of Papa a la Huancaina, but Areli showed up (in the pouring down rain) with my most favorite cake in the city, La Tradicional (from Capriccios), chocolate cake with manjar and chocolate icing.  What fun!

rain drenched Areli and my cake
rain drenched Areli and my cake
sweet Etelvina
sweet Etelvina
Sandra was a little sneaky in this pic
Sandra was a little sneaky in this pic

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Sandra and Harold
Sandra and Harold

I need to mention that in the middle of reading a chapter in Mark, my phone rang twice.  I decided to take the call, and what was on the other end?  Emilia’s sweet voice singing “Happy Beerthday to you” all in English.  I loved it.

The next day, Emilia called me and gave me strict orders to not make plans for Friday lunch.  Areli, Paty, and Emilia were scheming behind my back.

Friday came, and the girls took me to eat ceviche (a favorite of Peruvians and a favorite of mine).  I missed Paty (family emergency).  With Ana in tow, I enjoyed a lovely lunch with my two Peruvian besties: we shared an appetizer, ceviche, and crab empanadas.  It was out-of-this-world-good.

they put a candle in my empanadas!  Ha!
they put a candle in my empanadas! Ha!

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Ana lovin' on Emilia (who moved to Canada this January as well)
Ana lovin’ on Emilia (who moved to Canada this January as well)

 

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Manuela loves to make us a lunch for our birthday present.  One week after the 15th, she brought Adobo to the house.  It was perfect planning considering I had delayed my plans to make my birthday dessert for this day.

the delicious Adobo
the delicious Adobo

Chase and Briana were sweet to offer and make me a birthday cake.  I quickly responded with a “no,” and explained to them that baking is a hobby of mine.  I love nothing more than to try a new recipe for my birthday.  This year, it was Bakeorbreak’s Peanut Butter Cheesecake that caught my eye.  I couldn’t resist… (pretzel crust, peanut butter cheesecake, chocolate syrup and toffee crumbled on top).  I will save my review for a later blog post, but I had a ball making the cheesecake, and I was blessed to share it with Manuela, my family, and my new teammates.  (I missed sharing with Kyle and Larissa and their family.  Thanks Sissa for the cheese cake pan!)  Oh… and CUDA employees might have benefitted from the left-overs the next day as well.  🙂

Delicious!
Delicious!

See what I mean by mish-mash?  🙂  Greg always laughs at me when I refer to celebrating my “Birth Month.”  It actually felt like such a celebration this year!  Bring it on Year 33…

Birthmonth 2014

My Judah

Cohen hasn’t had his hair cut since before our trip to the states (August).  It was Greg’s job to have it cut, and if you know his daddy… he doesn’t mind the longer hair.  😉  Here is Cohen from just recently:

taken on Christmas Eve
taken on Christmas Eve

Well, today is New Year’s Eve.  I came home from the grocery store to find this little boy:

taken New Year's Eve
taken New Year’s Eve

He was so proud of his new look.  He said, “Look Momma!  (and pointing to his head of no-hair) MY Judah!”

He loves his cousin Judah.  When we were home, he got to spend a lot of time with his older cousin.  Judah had his haircut as all Bills boys for the summer months… a buzz cut.  We are in our summer months, and Cohen now has his summer buzz cut… his daddy’s decision.

Cohen talks about Judah often.  I thought I would post some pics of the two of them from our last furlough.

Nathan and Jenni, I have a feeling that these two would be an absolute disaster together if they lived close to one another all the time.  For now, Cohen will just have to depend on Skyping his cousin while sporting “My Judah” on his head.  🙂

cousin buds
cousin buds
aquarium love
aquarium love
in awe of the farm
in awe of the farm
Gator boys
Gator boys
My Judah!
My Judah!
My Judah

Nine Years

11 years ago, I was swooned by the sweetest 8 page love letter I had ever read.  I had just completed a semester in Chile with “Jesus Boy,” but little did I know that I had slowly fallen in love with him throughout the four months we had traveled the country and gone on numerous jogs in a Spanish-speaking world.

HULA (Harding University in Latin America) 2002
HULA (Harding University in Latin America) 2002

10 years ago, I spent my very first Christmas away from my family.  It was a pretty big deal to be convinced to spend the holidays away from my farm home.  I was gifted with a Bilingual Bible from Greg.  It’s like he thought I might need it in the future or something.  😉  Here is the note he wrote inside:

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9 years ago, we celebrated with family and friends as we said our “I do’s” in front of all to witness.

one of our engagement photos
one of our engagement photos

Nine years, moving to a country above Chile, and three kids later, here we are.  He is still my faithful friend.

Greg McKinzie, thank you for writing that love letter to me 11 years ago.  Who knew that a jogging schedule would completely change our lives together for the forever?  I sure am glad you had an interest in your health.  😉  Here is to nine more glorious years and counting!

Always and forever,

your Meg

 

Nine Years

Family time 2013

aquarium with Pop and Gram
aquarium with Pop and Gram

 

Great-Grandmother with many of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren
Great-Grandmother with many of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren

 

Maggie (4) with her cousin Ruby (5)
Maggie (4) with her cousin Ruby (5)
discovery with Pop
discovery with Pop
McKinzie cousins + Nate Bills cousins = 7 kids under age 6
McKinzie cousins + Nate Bills cousins = 7 kids under age 6
Ana and Sam are a cousin pair
Ana and Sam are a cousin pair
Great-Uncle Kyle came for a visit
Great-Uncle Kyle came for a visit
Leah and Aunt Nadine
Leah and Aunt Nadine
we got to meet the newest Bills cousin, John Moses
we got to meet the newest Bills cousin, John Moses
It is always fun to hang out with Zeus on the farm
It is always fun to hang out with Zeus on the farm
Uncle Hoss bringing in the birthday cake for Sam and Judah
Uncle Hoss bringing in the birthday cake for Sam and Judah
Great-Granddad and Cohen
Great-Granddad and Cohen
Aunt Katy and John Moses
Aunt Katy and John Moses
Gram with my three beauties at Jeannie's wedding
Gram with my three beauties at Jeannie’s wedding
Mags with Dr. Uncle Collin
Mags with Dr. Uncle Collin
Maggie jumping with Daniel in Dallas
Maggie jumping with Daniel in Dallas
dress-up at Uncle Pat's with cousins
dress-up at Uncle Pat’s with cousins
Aunt Deborah reading to sweet little Andrew
Aunt Deborah reading to sweet little Andrew
time with Memaw
time with Memaw
good lovin'
good lovin’
McKinzie cousins!
McKinzie cousins!
going to hear Pat preach
going to hear Pat preach
with my sweet SIL, Deborah
with my sweet SIL, Deborah
Greg and his momma
Greg and his momma
we all love time with Aunt Marci
we all love time with Aunt Marci
Uncle Greg and his little nieces
Uncle Greg and his little nieces
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sitting with Uncle Blake
enjoying time with Memaw our last day
enjoying time with Memaw our last day
McKinzie Familia 2013
McKinzie Familia 2013
Family time 2013

Owl cupcakes with Memaw

Hoot Hoot!
Hoot Hoot!

I realize that moms can go to pinterest and find anything they want for craft ideas.  We are with my MIL this week, and she found the following idea in a good-ole fashioned magazine.  I appreciate crafts and recipes that are easy to do with kids.  I especially appreciate them when I actually have the ingredients in Peru!  These were too cute, and the kids had an absolute blast with their Memaw and cousins making them…

Ingredients:

  • chocolate cake mix
  • chocolate icing
  • Oreos
  • M&M’s
  • sprinkles (optional)
  1. Make cupcakes out of cake mix.  Allow to cool and ice them generously.
  2. Take Oreos and separate the cookies so that the white is on one side.  Use the whites on cookie from two cookies for the two eyes.
  3. Add M&M’s in the middle of the whites (use a little chocolate icing as “glue”).
  4. Push one M&M into the icing below the eyes for the beak.
  5. Add sprinkles for fun.

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Thanks, Memaw, for a super fun and delicious activity!!!

 

Owl cupcakes with Memaw

One week August 30, 2013

taken during our last furlough
taken during our last furlough

I am beyond excited to see my little sister tomorrow morning. She will fly into Arequipa at 7:30. It has been a year since I have seen any of my family. Katy is arriving, spending less than a week with us, and then she will be flying with the three kids and me back to the states. The only time Katy visited was when I gave birth to Maggie. That was more than FOUR years ago. So much has changed, and I am so excited to show her AQP again with new eyes.

I love going home to the farm.
I love going home to the farm.

I am beyond excited for our state-side visit as well. It has been a year since our last visit. Greg and I are scheduled to leave Peru permanently in 2015 so this is our last furlough for this run. It is definitely bitter-sweet to think that our return to Peru from furlough will also be our last for a long while. While in the states, we will be doing some visiting with TA 2.0 members (the families moving to AQP in 2014) which is really exciting.

Anyway… lots to be excited about.

good-ole airports
good-ole airports

I am not a fan of airports, and if I am honest, I always get a little nervous before flying. I worry which I know I shouldn’t. I worry about things that are out of my hands so worrying really doesn’t help anything. We have flown a lot since we live in a foreign country, but that hasn’t helped. And it always seems like we can never fly home without some sort of drama. Paperwork or delays or kids getting sick before leaving, etc. I thought I would record it this time around (especially since this is our last furlough to take for awhile)…

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1. I noticed that there is only an hour and 40 minutes between my arrival to Lima and our departure to the states. If you account for possible delays out of AQP + waiting for bags to come out (which sometimes takes forever) + standing in line to check-in for the international flight + going through immigrations + hauling 3 kids through an airport, you can see my worry.

I am so thankful that Katy will be helping me with luggage and kids and that Lima is overly gracious to those of us with children (as in, they will see me with 3, guide me to the front of the line, and even escort me through immigrations if we are tight in making our connection). I am also thankful for my children. I really am not nervous at all about traveling with my kids. They are great travelers. Having mis-behaving kids is a stressor that I am so thankful that I DON’T have to deal with.

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2. Peruvian law states that in order for a parent to leave the country with children without the other parent (and this applies to Peruvian citizens only–Maggie and Cohen are citizens), they must have a signed, notarized letter stating permission from the parent staying back. I have traveled with kids by myself two different times, and they always ask for the letter. I have a friend that traveled to Lima from AQP, and they refused for her to pass immigrations to catch her flight without the written consent of her spouse.

Greg and I went to the notary office yesterday. Of course, the notary had already gone home and today is a holiday. We were told that we could come on Monday to get it done. Easy-peasy, until the secretary told Greg something we weren’t expecting… “You need the birth certificate for each child.” That’s right. Their passport isn’t enough to prove they were born. You may think, “What’s the big deal? Just bring the birth certificate you have in your file at home.” We would, except that Peru has this crazy deal where birth certificates are only valid for 6 months. I guess it is one way they make money for the government (“Hey, let’s require people to show their birth certificates for every possible thing, but make it where they have to buy a new copy every half-year. Think of all the money that will bring in!”). Greg doesn’t remember us having to show their birth certificates the last time we got the letters. We are hoping the secretary is wrong.

We get home, and Greg realizes something else. Their birth certificates (proving that WE are their parents) have our residential visa numbers on them for the proof. Our residential visas expired this past year! They make you fingerprint everything here, so now we are hoping that they can identify us by our fingerprints. Never a dull moment.

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So… I am so excited to see Katy. And I am so excited to be traveling to my home country. I am just praying that we get there without any major drama. It is out of my hands, and honestly, I am to the point in this culture where I laugh at the drama that unfolds every.single.time we have to do something like this. I am just praying that Katy arrives safely and that we arrive safely to the states (whether it be on-time or majorly delayed). We shall see. One more week.

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One week August 30, 2013