October 8, 2015

Benjamin is 3!

Happy 3rd birthday Benjamin Aaron! You bring so much joy to our lives and you are a ball of sweet love. You have grown and developed so much this past year, and we know God has great plans for this next year.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  ~ Jeremiah 29:11

You are a big helper and you try to help with just about everything. From routine things like cleaning up after meals, picking up toys, brining groceries inside, helping with laundry, even flushing the toilet! You love to try new things and when you see somebody doing something, the first words out of your mouth are, "I can do it." And you usually can.
Some of your favorite things to do these days are ride your scooter, tricycle, and plasma car; play with trains, trucks, cars, basically anything that goes; swing at the playground, playing and running around outside. You prefer to be shirtless unless you have to wear one :). You are still not into movies, unless it is nursery rhymes or songs. You love to sing and we equally enjoy hearing you walk throughout the house singing all kinds of songs. You especially like books that have trains, trucks, cars, or construction vehicles, and like us to read Goodnight Construction Site, and to pick a Bible story before bed.
Tonight you were singing the happy birthday song in Arabic while you were playing with your toys.

You are reserved and cautious when you enter a new situation, but you warm up very quickly and are quite the social butterfly. Most people can't escape without you giving them a hug, kiss, high five, and waves goodbye. You are a kind and empathetic soul. When someone is sad or sick, you want to cheer them up and bring them toys so they feel better.  If someone needs help you are the first go to up to them and say, 'I can help you.' 
You have no fear and have scared us from time to time. If you want, you will jump off of anything and into anything, to include off 6' tall playground equipment with no guard rails and pools when you are not wearing floaties. Its a good thing you spent so much time in the pool in Illinois and began learning how to swim this summer in Florida! You love to be thrown high in the sky and can never get quite high enough.
You started a new preschool in Jordan, and you are having fun with your friends in the Popcorn class. Your teachers adore you and we love when you wave bye, bye to use through the window of your classroom. You are learning English, Arabic, and French each day. We enjoy hearing you say words in Arabic and hope you can learn a lot over the next 3 years. 
As of a few weeks ago, you are potty trained! You thankfully were ready and very easy to convince to use the potty. Who could resist hugs, stickers, marshmallows, and M&Ms. We are proud of this step in you becoming a big boy.
You are an adventurous eater and will try just about anything. It's amazing the amount of food you can put down in one sitting, I can only imagine what our grocery bills will be like when you and Caleb are teenagers! You love your brother so much, and we adore seeing your bond continue to grow. At times some may call it healthy brotherly love, but you two are all about just having fun. From morning playtime, bus rides home from school, afternoon and evening playing together, sharing a bed, and asking for Caleb when you wake up each morning. We love to see your friendship grow each day.

This year we started the birthday questions:
1. What is your name? Benjamin Aaron Purcell
2. How old are you? Three
3. Who is your best friend? Caleb
4. What is your favorite thing to do? Go to the playground
5. What is your favorite color? Red
6. What is your favorite food? Broccoli
7. What do you like to do with your family? Play with trains and tracks
8. What is your favorite toy? My monster truck
9. What do you want to be when you grow up? A truck driver
10. What makes you happy? Trucks, race tracks, and my trains
11. What makes you sad? When people are crying
12. What is your favorite TV show? The Wheels on the Bus
13. What is your favorite book? Night night construction site
14. What do you love to learn about? Trucks
15. What was the best part of your birthday? The birthday song
16. Where do you like to go? To play
17. Who is your teacher? Ms. Leen and Ms. Rula
18. What is your favorite treat? Chocolate ice cream
19. What do you think about before you fall asleep? Puppy dogs
20. If you could meet someone famous, who would it be? Shawn
21. What was your favorite birthday present? My train tracks and monster truck.

Happy, happy 3rd birthday Benjamin! Wishing you a very special day today. We love you to the moon and back!

October 7, 2015

It's here x 2

We have stuff! Our crate and car arrived on Monday and it really has been like Christmas in October for the boys...and sort of for us too :). We knew we were getting our crate, but did not know the car would also be the same day too. Nice afternoon surprise.
The movers were great and got everything unloaded and mostly out of the boxes in less than 2 hours. We tried really hard to minimize our stuff in Kuwait, and left with 1,000 lbs less than what we arrived with. It still does seem like a lot of stuff, but we have been happy with treasures we are finding :).
I have to give all the credit to Nathan and to Fe, our helper while we are waiting for Tes to arrive, for unpacking most of the house. I was feeling ok that morning, and shortly after the movers left, I was hit hard with a nasty stomach something, and was in bed all day Monday and most of Tuesday. Praise God I am feeling much better today and was able to eat noodles and gatorade! So over the next few days I plan to help :)
I wish I could have gotten up to take pictures of the boys initial reactions on Monday and Tuesday when they got home and discovered their toys. All I heard from bed was, 'awesome, I found my spaceship!' 'Awesome, I found my plasma car!' 'Awesome, I found my trucks!' The boys are having fun racing their plasma cars around the house. When I got up yesterday evening, this was going on...

Caleb was happy to see his lion and said it makes it comfortable for him to watch the kindle before bed.
Today was the first rain of the fall. The rain brought in lots of fog and some cooler weather which feels really nice...and like fall! 
Stay tuned, we should get things set up soon. Just a couple more rooms to work through.

October 3, 2015

Happy 6th Anniversary

Today we celebrate our 6 year wedding anniversary! I am thankful everyday for the man that God chose to be my husband, father of our boys, and my best friend. We enjoyed remembering our special day at Shenandoah National Park. We tried to watch the video of our ceremony, but remembered it was with our household effects that will be arriving this week.
And now six years later, we never would have thought we would be in the Middle East, and we wouldn't change a thing about where we are. We know God has a perfect plan for us, and pray that we  continue to be faithful and live lives to glorify Him.
Nathan and I celebrated yesterday with an outing to Jesus's Baptism site and the old town of Madaba. Our church holds baptisms at the Jordan River twice a year, and Nathan and I wanted to go to witness  this wonderful event. 
The landscape along the way is very diverse and beautiful. There was mountainous, green, and desert scenery on the way down to the lush Jordan Valley. And then we hit sea level.
Approaching the Baptism site
It was quite amazing to walk on the same grounds as where Jesus was believed to be baptized by John the Baptist. In the mid 1990's archeological excavations revealed an ancient church marking the baptism site, which matched the baptism site that was marked on a Madaba map dating back to 540-570 AD. Since then, over 20 churches and ruins were discovered dating back to the Roman and Byzantine periods. Located in the area is also Tell Mar Elias, where Elijah ascended into Heaven.

The baptisms took place at a private spot down the river in front of the Russian Orthodox church. We had a great worship service, singing songs, hearing the testimonies of the people being baptized, and being able to witness their proclamation of faith in Jesus.
About half of the people being baptized were from Nepal and did not speak English, so one of the ladies from our congregation translated. They ladies sang I decided to follow Jesus in their native language.
It was a really amazing experience to witness, and truly brought light to the gift of grace and eternal life I have because of what Jesus did for me.

Next stop was the old city of Madaba, which is about 20 miles south of Amman. To get there, we drove through lots of Bedouin villages and mostly desert as we ascended the mountains again.

These are views from close by Mt. Nebo. We literally drove right past Mt. Nebo and in retrospect I wish we would have stopped, but we really wanted to have as much time in Madaba to explore.
In Madaba, we visited St. George's Church, the Greek Orthodox church containing remnants of an old Byzantine church. Most famously is a mosaic map from 560 A.D. that shows the major biblical sites written in Greek, of the Middle East from Egypt to Palestine. A lot of the mosaic are missing, but what is there is fascinating.
Inside the church.
There were lots of moderns looking mosaics on the wall. This one kind of looked like Jesus was putting up the peace sign :).
And here is the famous mosaic map on the floor, at least a large portion of it.
This is Jerusalem, written in red.
Jericho, surrounding the palm trees.
And Jesus's baptism site, where the fish is swimming  upstream.
It was a great way to spend our anniversary. When we got home, we hit the park with the boys and then rode scooters until after dark. Six years has been sweet, and I am looking forward to many, many more! I love you Nathan.

September 30, 2015

Happy 35th birthday Nathan!

Happy 35th birthday Nathan! We love you so much and couldn't be more thankful for you just being you. 
We had a fun day celebrating and eating, starting with birthday eggs and muffins. Then Nathan and I had a lunch date at a delicious Lebanese restaurant downtown.
Afterwards, we tried to visit this pottery shop Nathan has been wanting to see. After driving down lots of really narrow and windy streets, we found the place....but they were closed!
But we got to see some amazing views of the city.
As we ventured down one of the walking streets, we found a great family-owned ceramics store that started operating in Jerusalem in 1922 and opened in Amman in the late 90's. They hand draw, paint, and finish the tiles right there in the store, it was very impressive. We have been wanting to get a tiled table for outside, and found one we really liked.
In the evening, we sang Nathan the happy birthday song, enjoyed some chocolate cake, and opened a few gifts. 
 Boys helping dad blow out the candles.
Ben ate his cake and the candle too!
 Happy birthday Nathan! Wishing you a special day and many, many more years to come! We love you :).