Our Arrival in the Southern Hemisphere

Selling our outbuildings, including our lovely red shed

We have now been in South America for nearly two months! And you have been wondering if I forgot about the blog! Tearing apart a homestead, selling everything, and moving our family to another continent has been a momentous undertaking, not easily done without the help of God, family and friends.

We did indeed sell our homestead and most things on it, including most of the edible plants and trees. It was hard work, but we met interesting people and new friends in the process. We were so busy it was hard to find time to work through the sadness of dismantling all the work of the previous three and a half years, and leave. But seeing God’s hand at work, bringing about the sale of our property for an unlikely amount, gave us energy and anticipation for the future, knowing He was orchestrating it.

Our tiny house went back to Silver Oak's cousin, whom we had purchased it from. Removing it was a major undertaking.

Bye bye to the trailer which was our cozy home for three and a half years.

From the roof this overlooks the barren site where once stood our windmill, fruit trees and raised beds, bamboo trellis, and portable chicken coop.

This dismal sight is all that remained for the new owners when we left for the last time.

The new owners plan to build another lemur habitat on the property, similar to the ones they already have nearby. We visited these interesting creatures before leaving (the ones in the back, not the front...ha!).

After moving to town to live in my parents’ efficiency apartment temporarily, and closing on July 30, our focus turned to obtaining and preparing a 20’ shipping container. Our greenhouse did not sell for what we were hoping to get, so we decided to ship that along with our solar power system, windmill, and some other belongings which I mentioned in my last post. Preparing the container and the paperwork for it turned out to be a much larger job than anticipated. Every single item or package had to be accounted for. We worked late into the night, and all night at times to get it done.

Filling our container in my parents' front yard. We used around 30 tomato boxes and 100 banana boxes from local markets. They were free and very sturdy, perfect for holding lots of hand tools, books, and personal belongings. Of course many larger things went into the container that were not in boxes.

Silver Oak built shelves along both sides of the container to custom fit the boxes and some other items.

He had a good helper! Banana boxes went on this shelf, and our solar panels fit under it.

The entire greenhouse, including the cover, fit into this area with shelves for tomato boxes above it.

In the midst of preparing our container, my extended family celebrated my parents' 50th wedding anniversary!

After our container was sent to port in Jacksonville, we headed north for last visits with friends and family, and to attend Anabaptist Orchestra Camp in Indiana one last time before leaving. We arrived home with four days left to wrap everything up and finish packing for the big move to South America.

At a weekend gathering in Ohio with Silver Oak's family.

Every suitcase and package had to be packed according to weight, not exceeding 50 lbs, or there would be steep fines in addition to the extra baggage we knew we would already have to pay for. That made it difficult to pack in an organized manner.

We flew from Miami on Friday night, September 11, overloaded with way too much luggage and carry-ons. How on earth do you move a family with only two suitcases each? Impossible, at least for us. Others had joined us in praying that the customs officials would be merciful and not confiscate any of our belongings, as they have been known to do. The Lord mercifully answered our prayer and when we arrived early the next morning, the customs agents seemed to get a kick out of us, even calling us the “Ingalls Family” when we explained what we were coming to do. They didn’t confiscate or even fuss about any of our stuff, and we were out on the street loading everything into taxis before we knew it. What a blessing!

Getting organized at the Miami airport before checking in our 24 bags of luggage.

After flying through the night and arriving early the next morning, we wait with our carry-on bags to go through immigration and then customs after collecting our luggage.

The first month we stayed at a mission guest house in the city, working on our immigration paperwork. It had a beautiful enclosed yard and plenty of room for the children to safely play. We were comfortable and in a location where it was easy to get things we needed. We hadn’t planned to stay there as long, but as we were told to expect, things kept coming up that needed to be changed or done differently.

One of our rooms at the guest house

The playground area.

Buying produce at the nearby market

While waiting on immigration paperwork to be completed, we took several small trips to nearby towns, visiting Christian children’s homes, small organic farms, historic landmarks, sites of ancient civilizations, breathtakingly beautiful wonders of God’s creation, and new friends and contacts. While in the city we shopped for things to set up our new homestead that are harder to get in the country, and sent most of our luggage and new purchases ahead of us by bus or cargo truck. We spent much needed family time together, regrouping and working through some things following the intensely busy months preceding our move.

A lovely spot we stopped at while traveling to another town.

Another beautiful scene

Breathtaking waterfalls

Touring organic gardens at a Seventh Day Adventist Children's home

Milking time at another children's home run by German Mennonites

More organic gardens and permaculture by an older Dutch couple

Ruins of an ancient Incan village and temple

One day we went to a market that sells lots of plants, and purchased a garden…over 40 small herbs and edible plants that will give us a good start on our new homestead. We’ve also been collecting seeds and starts of other edible perennials and plants that we had worked with in Florida from ECHO, which we can’t wait to put in the ground.  When we first arrived here at the guest house, the children were so excited to find moringa and chaya, and we’ve enjoyed learning to know Jason’s family here at the mission guest house. Jason is a previous intern at ECHO, whom Silver Oak and I learned to know at last year’s annual ECHO conference. We keep being amazed how God has orchestrated contacts who have proven to be important links to our progress here. Even our forgetfulness or mistakes have brought about divine appointments which have been for good.

A moringa tree growing at the guesthouse.

The herbs and plants we bought to start our perennial garden

Some of the good solid hand tools we found for working the ground...they just need handles

One challenge so far has been the language barrier. I am grateful that as a child I dreamed of learning Spanish, motivating me to study it three years in high school, and then use it on a summer mission trip and several years working with Mexican migrants in Florida. It has been over twenty years since I have used it much and it is very rusty, but the longer we are here, the more comes back. The rest of the family is practicing and learning it as fast as they can, making new friends and learning a different culture.

Our kiddos enjoyed making new friends at another children's home run by American Mennonites

In spite of the language barrier, we’ve had opportunities to make simple explanations about our trust in Jesus with a few taxi drivers and others, as well as sing songs together in a beautiful old cathedral in a Jesuit Mission town, for hostal (hotel) owners, by breathtaking waterfalls, and at other places. People here are very friendly and often ask why we are here and if all of the children are ours, which gives us good opportunity to interact and connect with people. We’ve connected with a few English speaking German Mennonites from colonies and some that have come out of the old colonies, as well as JWs and Mormons. The three oldest girls played a few instrumental hymns for the children at the last children’s home, and for a few others, which seemed to bless them. Music is a powerful language that crosses cultural and language barriers.

The old Jesuit cathedral in which we sang together "Christ be our Light"

The girls practice their instruments at the guest house

Our immigration paperwork is now completed and we are waiting to receive our two-year visas.  I will try to update you on our progress as we work toward preparing for a new homestead. There have been some tough times when we felt discouraged, but we are always reminded how the Lord has orchestrated everything so far, and we know He will continue to provide and direct. Our job is to be faithful with what He has for us to do right now, and that brings great peace. We appreciate your prayers for safety, wisdom, and God’s anointing wherever we go. We miss family and friends, and we pray for you as well.

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A Week at ECHO

Note: My appreciation to Silver Oak for editing and critiquing this post.

Working to make a special meal with our host, Sergio, at the guesthouse.

Linked w/The Art of Homemaking, Homemaking, Wildcrafting Wednesday, HomeAcre Hop, Old Fashioned Friday, From the Farm Blog Hop, Little House in the Suburbs, Farmgirl Friday, and Simple Saturdays.