Saturday, December 31, 2011

Many Happy Returns

It was Tuesday night and I was finally getting my thoughts in order and figured out that, yes, we would have a birthday party for Jade! The only thing holding me back was what kind of party? Do I give a party that is more American or more traditional like we did growing up or do I go out on a limb and give a party like what I have seen here in Paraguay? We had been to four birthday party's for all different ages and I had a pretty good idea of what I needed to do. However at the risk of totally messing this birthday party up by just going off of what I had seen, we called a friend who came over and walked me through step by step what I should do. Everything from how to invite people, where to get cake and food, what time a party should start and things to do at a party. She came early to help me get set up, showing me how to make the balloons and hang the ribbon on them. Then helped me set the table correctly, I couldn't have done it with her help! So, here is Jades 2nd Birthday party Paraguayan style!
The fished product, drink table (cool-aid and soda), cake, candy's,  sopa paraguaya, homemade empanadas (Jon made them) and little ham and cheese sandwiches. 
A very excited birthday girl! 
The party started when everyone got there, first we ate all the food and the kids played for little bit more. 
Then it was time for the pinata, I had filled it with candy, toy rings and little animals. After much talking about which language we would count to three in, we landed on Guarani, then Jon broke the balloon. Here pinatas are not hit with sticks while children are blindfolded (besides how is that a good kids game, blindfold the kid,  give them a big stick, spin them around and let them go...) 
The kids ate some candy and played a little more. Then it was time to sing Happy Birthday! We all gathered around and sang in English first then in Spanish.  
Jade wasn't too keen on blowing out the candles, so the other kids helped. 
Then it was cake time!!! Everyone said it was the best cake they had ever had! Cakes are usually made by a family member or a friend. You can buy them in stores but unless you made them for a living you don't make birthday cakes (people often make orange cake but thats not for a birthday). I was kinda sad when I learned this, I always make my kids cakes and I love to do it. However I am so glad I didn't have to make it cause in the heat it would have melted everywhere!! I asked what they do to not make it melt but its a secret. Anyway, I was at a loss as to where to get the cake but my friend told me her Aunt makes cakes and that it would be their gift to us if they could bring the cake and the little sandwiches. I said yes!
Here is Jades Princess cake with all the candy all around. You sing Happy Birthday, then pass out the candy to the kids and then you cut the cake. After eating cake the kids just played until it was time for them to go. As they were leaving I gave the mom the goodie bags with bubbles and lots of candy!! I think the kids had fun, I know Jamen and Jade did. I really enjoyed myself, it wasn't stressful and I learned so much! I couldn't have done it without the help from our sweet loving friends! Thank you Cheli and Graciela!

Monday, December 26, 2011

First Christmas

Life, since my last post, continues with lots of learning and discovering. My language continues to improve but I still struggle to complete sentences and thoughts with limited vocabulary. The kids are understanding so much more and will respond when spoken to in Spanish. Jade is speaking than Jamen which has actually spurred him on in speaking (yay for peer pressure!). So, with me putting in 40 hours a week in study time and Jon taking over all other duties life as we know it has turned upside down, or so it feels at times. But its working for us and I'm so glad, I long to be able to speak without sounding like I'm two (even the two year old speak better than I do). That being said when the yearly field conference came around I was ready for a break. For 4.5 days I didn't have to struggle to speak, the kids got our undivided attention and we didn't have to cook or clean! It was such a much needed "vacation". Below is the view of the sunset one night. It was a very refreshing time for us and a great way to get to know our fellow missionaries here in Paraguay. 
After conference we jumped right back into life. The next day was a wedding for a friend. She had actually been helping me with language for about 5 weeks and we were so thrilled to be invited to her wedding! We all got dressed up (some how we managed to not a picture of the four of us) and had a great time enjoying something new. 
That Sunday we found out that Jamen and Jade were to be angels in the Christmas play. They were very cute all dressed up and I was excited to see them in the play. Jade did very well, she called herself an angel princess. 
Jade is being held and Jamen is sitting on the steps
We had a busy and hot week leading up to Christmas. It was in the upper 100s for several days and only getting down to the 80s at night. There was no getting away from the heat. Finally in an act of desperation Jon  took a look at our "broken" AC. He discovered in ten min that the wires were not connected to the on/off switch. He quickly fixed that problem and the AC works great! We only run it at night as we are unsure of what our electric bill will look like and there is no way it will cool our whole house. Still I am so thankful for a cool nights rest. 
Here we are Christmas morning, which came in nice and cool, we couldn't have asked for better day! The night before we were up all night with friends celebrating Christmas with them. The tradition here is to cook all  day and evening, eat at 10:30pm, let the kids play with fireworks all night and then at midnight we all toast and then wish each other a Merry Christmas, along with tons of fireworks going off. There were lots of other cultural details involved but that's it in a nut shell. It was so great to experience and see everything first hand! So, we didn't get the kids to bed until 1:30am and we didn't get sleep until after 2am. This actually made for a very nice lazy Christmas morning. We slept until 11am!
The kids got to open one gift before breakfast. Jamen laid all his stocking stuff out and Jade just held her gift, not really opening it. They were so cute!
Jade loved breakfast, cheesy ham and eggs, homemade hot cocoa and cinnamon rolls! I don't think Jamen was very awake in the picture.
I found little M&Ms which was a hit.
Jamen loved his legos and Cars 2.
Jade couldn't have been more excited about her sunglasses.
She didn't hardly take them off the rest of the day. She also got flip flops and Mr. Potato Head.
Jamen also got three new cars which in-case any of you doubt his love for cars or how much he plays with them, I thought this picture below shows how much he plays with them after two years! This is a normal thing, the cars slowly making their way from one room to the next.
We had a great Christmas and are so thankful for how the Lord provided for us during this holiday. I was thinking how the Lord didn't have to give us extra money to buy the kids the few things we knew they would like but he did and I'm so thankful. We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed the time with those you love!

I should note that the heat does crazy things to food. I made fudge but it didn't out, it was more like hot fudge for ice-cream. Then I made peanut brittle, but that didn't get brittle, not sure why. Then to top it off I made play-dough for the kids and even got Jamen involved to make some for his sister. Only to discover that after the dough cools, it looks nice but the second you touch it gets everywhere! It melts in the heat and it was hard to explain to Jamen why we had to throw it out. The last thing that happened was I made meat balls and left them on the counter to cool off, when I came back they were covered with little tiny sugar ants! Don't worry, we ate them, covered them with sauce and cheese and warmed them back up, yum! You'd never know if I hadn't told you:-) Lets just say next year I will do things differently and not make play-dough. I was a little sad that my holiday planning was not turning out, especially since it was so hot in the kitchen but in the end I was fine and we had a great day!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

First Thanksgiving

Today was our first major holiday away from family. It was harder on me than I thought but as the day went on it got better cause we started our own fun family traditions! I am so thankful for how the Lord keeps me going and providing me with the little things I miss and enjoy! I kept thinking today though that if I didn't have a Thanksgiving feast would my day be wrecked. To be honest I think today my day  would have been wrecked. Each little step like holidays and other things brings me closer to the Lord and reminds me to be thankful for what we have today and remember the Lord is unchanging!
 This year it was time to get creative with family traditions and to start our own. We had an oven roasted chicken because although you can find turkey I wasn't willing to spend $50 on a 4lb turkey. Besides a chicken tastes almost like a turkey:-) I made creamed peas, mashed potatoes and gravy. Our pumpkin pie was made from squash, similar in taste to butternut. It turned out great! I made a small apple crisp and a peanut butter pie for Jon. Jamen helped me washed potatoes. 
While making food or while it was cooking, we read about the Thanksgiving story. 
Then we took out the few Christmas books and decorated for Christmas. Everyone here is already decorating for Christmas and I was glad to make our own traditions. We didn't have anyone over today, kinda selfish but I really needed this whole day just us and sort through my missing the holidays.  Here am I at 17 weeks, 6 days, in front of our Christmas tree!

We all ate lots and took naps.  

When we woke up we watched Charlie Browns Christmas and a made a paper chain to help Jamen with when Christmas is coming! Today was a great day!!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

6 Months

First of all I cannot believe come the beginning of November we will have been here for 6 months! The time is flying by and just the other day I was once again reminded of why we are here. I have contact with a lady who is of another religion but my Spanish is not good enough to talk about the weather let alone spiritual matters. And her English isn't very good either so I'm stuck and wanting so badly to be able to speak more. It was just a good reminder of how important is it to have a good understanding of the people and the language. So, we continue on! This week, I (Jen) had my first evaluation. This will see how far I've come and let me know how far I still have to go. But is good because it will be able to direct me more and to my understanding it will also play a part in letting us know how quickly I will be able learn a tribal language. I'm also encouraged by this evaluation because at least I know I've improved, considering I came knowing my colors but even that was said with an incorrect accent. 
This past month was filled with many things...
buying pizza hut pizza for example. This is by no means a regular thing but it is something Jon had never done before. He had to call the pizza place, order and give directions to our house. This was good language usage for Jon and just cultural information, like the pizza was delivered on the back of a motorcycle!
As the weather has turned hotter, we've been enjoying yummy snacks and simple foods like, popcorn, potato salad, bean salad, chicken salad, egg get the idea. I caught Jamen and Brewster eating popcorn together, yes the dog was eating out of the bowl and being hand fed by Jamen. 
Recently the latest addition to our family has been three female quail. They are about a month old and should start laying here soon. Our yard isn't big enough for chickens but it is for quail. We don't let out of this cage but they like it just fine when we move the cage from place to place. Jade has taken a liking to them and likes to say hi and pet the "birds". 
This is a picture of the back of our house (yes, that's an ac unit but its broken), I wanted to explain our "back yard". Our house is build up against the land ladies house, which is seen below. She is hardly ever there and has told us we can go in the back. We have only just started to explore back there but I've been thrilled with what I've found.
Leading to the back yard... 
This is back yard and much to my delight I have discovered, a mango tree, a guava tree, a citrus tree (orange, lemon or grapefruit, I don't know yet) and an avocado tree! And they all have tons of fruit on them!
Here are the growing mango!
This tree is also growing in the back and its called a Amba'y. It has medicinal usages but I don't know how to use it yet. The guava leaves are also used for their healing properties and the plant below is called Koku-cocu is used in the drinking of terere to make you hungry and relax you. I've also been told it helps to "cool the fire inside you". Its good for fevers. As you can see there are many usages for the plants here but since I don't know everything that well I've held off.. Also, don't be fooled by the "fire inside of you", its not heartburn. We are still learning about the culture here and this is one area of herbs and aliments that is huge and will take some time to understand.   
I am happy to say we are feeling more at home here. Lots of things are still new and different and sometimes I still stare too long but things are becoming "normal". We love the people here and are so thankful for the friends we have made who help us, encourage us and tolerate my bad Spanish. 
Spanish study continues to humble me as I get laughed at for speaking incorrectly, communicated something totally wrong or agree to something I have no idea what was just said yes to (I've only done this once). I'm excited to keep pressing on, yes we still have hard and bad days but so does everyone no matter where you are but our God doesn't change, no matter where you are! 

Sunday, October 09, 2011

A Pregnant Mothers Heart

I have been longing to write these last few weeks but I have found myself out of time most days and weeks. So finally I said I'm taking a break. I haven't put in any language time these last two days. We've been doing things with people but I haven't been studying, just enjoying myself, which has been very refreshing. Now that I've confessed my lack of study and feel better, let me tell you what we've been up to.

A few weeks back I celebrated my 26th birthday and we were able to celebrated it with some friends and my morning sickness that day was less so I was able to enjoy myself. They came over for good meat (better than steak), mandioca (yucca), sopa paraguaya (a very typical corn meal, onion and cheese bread), also salad (of sorts). Everyone enjoyed flan for dessert, since I don't know how to make a gluten free cake from scratch and at the time sweets were making me feel ill. We sat around and ate and talked. I did lots of listening, as is normal still but it was nice to be with friends and I should add they brought and cooked all the food for me, except the flan. What a blessing, no cooking, good food and friends...this was a birthday to remember!
Here are some pictures of us...
This was my favorite picture, Jamen loves to be silly with Chico.
My sweet kids continue to grow and learn at great speeds it seems. Jamen drew a cement truck the other day. This was also the day he had a horrible rash, in-case you were wondering about his face. They still don't "speak" Spanish but neither do I, but they are learning more and more. They will randomly say things in Spanish or we will study together and they are picking it up.
Jade likes to give "thumbs-up" which she has learned very well from watching all people here who do it. She such a cutie these days, loves to play with her dolls, is potty trained and loves to quote the guys who come on the bus and talk rapidly selling things (I need to get a video, its hilarious)!
Here I am at 5 weeks and again at 11 weeks. Morning sickness is so much less these days and its a wonderful feeling! I am still tired and naps are pretty much a must most days unless I can go to bed at 8:00. Jamen and Jade are still excited about the baby and look forward to reading about the baby each week. Jade still wants to look in my belly button to see the baby and Jamen doesn't think its a boy or a girl. Having two "old" kids this pregnancy is so much fun.  
Up until recently I was pretty freaked out about this pregnancy, I always said "no babies overseas" but the Lord is using this in my life to grow me. Already it has brought us closer to our friends and made me realize I'm not as strong as I think I am. Its been very humbling as I have to let my friends and husband serve me in ways I normally wouldn't allow. Jon took over and still does most all the house stuff, so that I can study or get the extra rest I need. If life wasn't already a little harder before it seems a lot harder now that I'm pregnant. Which like I said is causing me to grow closer to the Lord and realize I need to be faithful with what I have and where I'm at. If that means the dirty dishes sit on the counter for three days and we only wash what need so that we can study and be good parents than so be it. If it means I don't sweep the floor for a week but have time to read to my kids then I have to let that go. I never use to do this, everything had to get done that day or I didn't sleep at night or was all stressed out the next day. I am so thankful for this time of learning, has it been easy no, but its good and is what the Lord would have for me right now. 
Please continue to pray for us, as we study and have evaluations coming up in the next 3 weeks. Pray for continued faithfulness in parenting and as we juggle life and family. Pray also this baby and my self as I struggle with lower back problems and its already hurting (need to be faithful to stretch my back and take it easy when I know its hurting.)

Friday, September 16, 2011

How Many Quast Kids?

How many Quast kids are in this picture?





Yep, you guested it, we are expecting baby number three April 28th! And don't worry we were as shocked as you! But we are thanking the Lord for this new little life! Please be praying as morning sickness is in full swing for me and its worst then ever. Pray for continual strength for both Jon and I as we deal the morning sickness and continuing on in language learning. Praise the Lord there is good medical care here and we know of a good doctor who speaks English and is very close to our house (the hospital is also very close to us, walking distance when not in

Monday, August 29, 2011


The weeks are flying by here so here is the latest happenings... 
We were able to go out and visit a church dedication out in the country. Here are some pictures of what we saw on our trip.
On the way back we stopped to eat and after eating we were told there was a small zoo outback, here is what we saw...and I should mention, these pictures are not zoomed. I could have reached in and touched all of these animals.
A toucan
A monkey
and what looks like a cross between a raccoon and an anteater, its called a South American Coati.
Even though we've been busy I decided one day to drop all I was doing and have a picnic with the kids and  they loved it!
I was actually convicted I needed to spend a little more quality time with my kids, it hurts to hear our three year old say to his little sister, "not now Jade, I've got work to do". 
These last few weeks have been rather stressful at times. Both kids have had colds, no big deal until Jade started gagging and throwing up. She did this just about every other day (sometimes it was everyday) for the last three weeks. I've found it to be emotionally draining. She is better now and I've learned to clean up throw-up with great speed:-)
We were excited this last week to receive some packages from friends, it really brighten our week! Jamen couldn't get enough of the box...
neither could Brewster!