It has been five years since our family experienced a North American fall. And what a fall it has been! My daily planner attests to this and sometimes a picture does speak a thousand words or in this case, describe a thousand activities (at least it felt that way!) in just the past month of October.
(There was one important and time-consuming event that did not make my little planner but took up a lot of space in our lives and on the large fridge calendar at home. That was the fall play at the older kids' school. Isabel had signed up to help and ended up learning a little bit about building sets and a lot more about running spotlights. She - and we! - learned the most about the tremendous time commitment required for a big high school production, which is a lesson we won't soon forget.)
In October we donated a good amount of time and money to the dentist and the orthopedic specialist. Silas enjoyed his first visit to a children's museum while his older siblings were in school. We celebrated two birthdays (those of cousin Nathaniel Fisher and Silas) and sat through several shivery Saturday morning soccer games. Eva, Isabel and I sang our first number with the Grace Baptist choir and Ian's faithful attendance to children's praise team practice led to his first time singing in front of the whole church as well. At church we enjoyed a potluck one Friday evening and the boys delivered their carved pumpkins to the AWANA judging competition another Wednesday night. Fall leaves were a new favorite activity for Ian and Silas!
Pedro, meanwhile, did a lot of traveling. From October 14 to 22/23, he drove to Philadelphia, PA; flew to Orlando, FL; flew to Flint, MI; flew back to Philadelphia, PA; and drove home. In the middle of all that he squeezed in a quick visit with his parents; a leadership training summit for missionaries; and speaking responsibilities at a missions weekend with our sending church. After only a few days home he drove off to Maryland to speak at a men's retreat which was a challenge and blessing!
I should mention that Ian and Alec experienced two fun firsts at school: a school-wide family reading experience of the fiction book Frindle, and an afternoon of activities at their annual Race for Education. Despite the cooler weather, they continued to relish the independence of walking to and from school with neighbor friends. Every night they brought home the same three homework assignments: math flashcards, spelling words and twenty minutes of reading. Adding to that soccer (mainly for uninjured Alec) and weekly AWANA at church filled their schedule pretty neatly!
At the very front end of October, Pedro and I along with my sister Terri and brother-in-law Dave attended a one-day ministry training entitled "Spiritual Care for the Sexually Broken." This was so helpful for a day and age where sin has broken so much that God created for blessing and purity and enjoyment. We gained insight and tools to prayerfully use in ministry, especially applicable to the needs we encounter at FLORECE.
We also began October with a special day trip to reunite with one daughter's extended birth family. We are so thankful for a long standing relationship rooted in a shared faith in Christ and love for our child. Over delicious food, sunshine at the park, ping pong games and dart wars - and running after Silas, of course! - there was time to talk and catch up and hopefully look forward to another visit before we return to Chile.
Finally the month ended with what felt like frigid temperatures to our Iquique-accustomed blood, and we spent Halloween night on a search for winter wear in several different stores. Having successfully spent much money (albeit on good sales) and bundled in coats and gloves, we celebrated in fine style. Our first-ever visit to a Sonic drive-in earlier in the month revealed to us that on Halloween they would offer 50-cent corn dogs (a culinary rarity in our family if there ever was one!) and so our kids gleefully devoured these along with excessively sugary drinks at an hour they should have been already in bed.
But, memories were made! - and so ended a full fall month of family, friendship and fun.