Saturday, March 31, 2012

Milk house

I cried when the excavator knocked the milk house down.

It was our fort when Aaron and Joel and I were kids. Then Betsy and Brian used it to fix bicycles and Libby set up a bakery in it.

A few years ago, Brian converted it back to a milk house with a goat milking stand, a stainless steel sink and a refrigerator.

Now it's just a pile of charred blocks. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Kidding season has begun. First Lena, then Nina and Merry kidded. The kid count reached seven by Tuesday, with six girls and one boy. The mild weather has been a blessing, since the maternity ward is set up with cattle fences and straw bales in the quonset instead of the stalls in the barn.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012


Ten of Libby's hens survived the barn fire. She has them housed in an movable outside pen and, despite the trauma of the last couple of weeks, they've continued to produce eggs.  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Instead of ashes

to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
Isaiah 61.3 NIV

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Intercultural night

One of the perks of teaching in the English Language Program is a free ticket to the Intercultural Night. A week ago Friday students from SVSU sang, danced and acted their way through an evening of entertainment from around the globe. 
Saudi Arabia


Friday, March 23, 2012


For once the weather agreed with the calendar. It seems spring has arrived early in Michigan. Whether or not it stays remains to be seen. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Homeschool visit

On Monday three homeschool families visited my grammar class. It was an opportunity for the homeschool students to learn about Saudi and Chinese culture and for my students to practice authentic conversation. 

My students were excited to host the families. One student brought a box of baklava and another student prepared a huge pan of kabsa (traditional Arabic  meat and rice dish) to share with our visitors. 

It was also an opportunity to introduce my students to the concept of homeschooling, which is unheard of in many countries. We may need to invite the homeschool students for another visit, though. I smiled when I read the question and answer homework of one of my students. It went something like this:
Q: Why they house school?
A: Because they like play.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

36 hours

After work on Friday, Joel drove from Pennsylvania to Michigan. Saturday, he worked with his Dad and brothers hauling scrap metal from the barn ruins. On Sunday he joined us at church and for dinner, and then set out on the long drive back to Pennsylvania.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Not abandoned

But we have this treasure in jars of clay  to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4.7-9 NIV

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Butterfly paradise

Another teacher and I took our writing classes to the Butterflies in Bloom exhibit.

"It is like Jeddah," one of my students said, referring to the humidity in his hometown in Saudi Arabia.

Another student described it as the opposite of hell.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Susquehanna Valley Mall

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


The insurance agent asked if we had any photos of the barn. 
We do.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ms. B

(more Pennsylvania Spring Break pictures)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Barn fire

12:14 AM
Our barn burned early Sunday morning.

Everyone was in bed at the House 'n Barn when a passerby pulled in the driveway blowing the horn and yelling, "Your barn's on fire!"

Betsy was the first one up. She grabbed the phone and called 911 as she raced to the goat barn. The passerby helped her pull the seven pregnant goats and the billy goat from the goat barn.

The rest of the goats, the horse, cow and sheep were housed in other parts of the farm. All of the chickens and turkeys, except five hens that showed up in our flowerbed this morning (one which managed to lay an egg in the driveway), were lost. Five of the cats, including one with singed fur, are hanging around and we expect a few more might crawl back home in the next few hours.

Julie and I got a call at midnight and we arrived a few minutes after the firetrucks. Three townships responded and they fought and controlled the blaze for six hours. The barn and surrounding outbuildings--milk house, goat barn, tool shed--were reduced to smoldering piles.

Lauren Mae's car was parked beside the fuel barrels. The inside is completely blackened. The ground is charred around the fuel barrels, but the gasoline and diesel fuel tanks did not catch on fire. When Mom called Julie, she described sparks flying toward the barrels. The wind was blowing that direction. She and Julie prayed that they wouldn't catch on fire. The first thing the firemen did (after driving the water truck into the strawberry bed where it got stuck) was spray the barrels with water. The barrels, and the fuel inside them, remained unharmed.

The most immediate concern is situating the goats who are due to kid in a few days, if not hours. After that, we will have to clean up. My brothers suffered considerable loss since their shop was in the east bay of the barn. Aaron lost thousands and thousands of dollars of tools. Welders, air compressors, drill press, air conditioning units, diagnostic equipment... Logan's four-wheeler and the rebuild engine for his tractor Allis were also completely destroyed. We don't even have a hand shovel to use to begin cleaning the mess. 

Our clothes smell like smoke. Our bodies are exhausted from a night of trauma. 

We are thankful, but also sorrowful. 

An excavator spreading smoldering ruins and hay

Lauren Mae's car beside the fuel barrels

Brian clearing a path to drive a pickup truck to haul water for his animals
A few of Aaron's hand tools recovered from the ashes