A bit about November

We spent all of November trying to recover from the trip to Machu Picchu. Our flight home had been canceled (or changed) by the airline, so they put us on a red-eye home, and our kids were so, so tired. I felt terrible because the older ones, especially, felt behind in school and just worn out going into the last few weeks of their semester. And, of course, life doesn’t slow down in November and December. As I write this, it’s January and summer vacation here, so we finally have a breather, thank goodness. But November, it felt pretty crazy.IMG_4652Mary started Girl Scouts this year, and I’m her assistant leader. It’s been a fun change for me, after years of helping with the boys. A little more touchy-feely than cub scouts. Less knot tying and more about being a good friend, at least at this age. This is her friend Melissa, whose Mom is my friend Tracy. Tracy is the fearless leader.IMG_4664 IMG_4659The Girl Scouts made fresh squeezed lemonade to sell at our school’s Kermess and the money went to the House of Hope (more on that in a minute). Thomas is an honorary Daisy Scout. Mary (above) is working on advertising for the lemonade.DSC_0008 DSC_0006 DSC_0005Kermess is lots of fun and showcases the international experience of our school. Food and dancing from many countries plus fun stuff like games and bounce houses. It’s a favorite event. The boys love it, and Mary and I had lots of fun, after our lemonade-selling shift was finished. I wish I had a picture of a bunch of Korean kids lip-synching to Gangnam Style — they were a hit.gringathanksgivingDSC_0014Thanksgiving feels all wrong here — we don’t even get a day off from school, and it’s spring instead of fall — but we still managed to celebrate it on two different days this year. The top group of friends are from church, and the bottom mostly from school. I can’t believe I didn’t take any food pictures either place — they were both lovely feasts, and if you think you feel tired and stuffed after a big Thanksgiving dinner, try eating like that when the weather is hot! We feel very thankful to have such kind friends here. IMG_4687Santa hadn’t arrived yet, but Thomas was very excited one day when we found this giant tree at our little mall. Not sure I like the dog theme. An interesting thing is that all of the malls have a big life-sized nativity as well as a santa display. (There was a virgin Mary statue at the zoo today too. Love living in a Catholic country.)IMG_4739Here’s something fun. There’s a woman at church who has a business doing home beauty visits. A mani-pedi for under $30 without leaving my house? Sign me up. Thomas had never seen such royal treatment before and was absolutely positive he needed his toes AND fingers done as well. Then he asked me if he could have her job! I don’t think it was a girly thing — he just wanted to paint bright colors on people with a tiny brush. Sounds like fun, no? IMG_4768Finally, we went with the Girl Scouts to visit two different charities — remember the money we made selling lemonade? Some families from school have gotten involved with a charity called House of Hope, which takes girls from the very poorest area of Santiago and gives them a place to live as well as some funds so they can get a college (or trade school) education. Some are orphans who have aged out of the system at 18 and have quite literally, nowhere to go.

Around the corner from the house, there is another group (they are unrelated, but the House of Hope people are trying to help this other neighboring charity) who feed the neighborhood children every single day. These are children from a variety of family backgrounds, but very meager circumstances. We showed up with gifts for both groups, plus cookies to decorate with the neighborhood kids. I didn’t take a lot of pictures because it seemed intrusive, but I loved these teenage boys, who were in no way too cool for cookie decorating. I’m going to guess they don’t get a lot of opportunities to use frosting like this.

I wish I had a picture of Mary with the sweet little kids. It was very humbling, and I have so much respect for these people who are trying to help. If you have a little money to donate, let me know and I’ll point you in the right direction. There is no question in my mind that they are doing God’s work. And that was a very thankful ending to November and beginning to December.

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