A Long, Long-overdue Post, part 2

Here are some random highlights of life around here the past month or two:

Here’s the vegetable stand we go to every week for our produce.  This is what it looks like empty, right before they begin unloading the truck on Tuesday mornings.


Here are some South African friends, Steve and Di, with whom we love spending time.  We love visiting with them on their sailboat or having them over and I have to tell you, the most delicious meals come out of this little galley and into our bellies.  Amazing!  Have I ever mentioned how much we love South Africans???  Ethan took most of these photos:

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More fun times with Steve and Di and good friends Chris and Pam, people who make our life here richer!

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And more gourmet foods from Di’s kitchen.  She is going to give Camille and I a cooking class soon, we are so excited. :)

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Photos of a local parade with performers from the local school and several of our neighbor kids:

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Dead armadillo the kids discovered:

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Boat ride into town for our weekly grocery run:

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Bella and Christine happy that they are on the same page in their language books for school:


The girls having fun with Duck tape!

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And playing with paper dolls, a gift from Chris and Pam:


Trying out the new hammocks Bobby put up in the dining area:


Di arranged a fun Catamaran ride with some other South African sailors, Coen and Dylan…it was a fun day and such a treat to experience this on such a gorgeous, sunny day!

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Praises.  So much to be thankful for, so many things to Praise God for.  Here are a few at the top of my list today:

-Simon bought a motor!  With the help of many of you, Simon was able to purchase the used motor for his boat and already has been a big blessing to his family.  Thank you all for your giving!  He is working on writing a personal thank you for me to send out.

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-La Tienda esta abierta.  Thanks to some funds that were gifted to us specifically to finish off the little store, it is now officially open.  We had many requests to carry things like chicken and salchicha so our emphasis has been to try to meet needs of the locals, while not competing with two or three small tiendas operated by some indigenous neighbors.  We do not wish to take away from their form of livelihood and have communicated that, taking polls of what items they carry and what they don’t.  The biggest convenience we have to offer that none of the others have is solar electricity, and therefore a freezer, so meats, ice, and cold drinks are the best sellers.  Other items we have are: clothes, toys, and some housewares.  There are often many customers a day, but very scattered throughout, and many come to buy just one egg, a piece of gum, or to charge a cell phone.  But this gives us another space to meet and interact with neighbors, which has been busy and fun.  Ellie pretty much runs the store and does a wonderful job.  She converses and interacts with everyone very effortlessly and intentionally and is very well liked by our indigenous neighbors.  She’s a blessing to us and others and that is such a gift!

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-Last month two couples from two local villages gave their lives to the Lord and got baptized.  Porfilio and Delia (Amalia’s sister) who live in the village next door to the old YWAM house we rented, and Francisco and Elida from the village here next door.  This is the same Francisco who came for help with the wood splinters in his arm.  This, my friends, is a huge praise report!  Francisco is a father to about 10 right next door (two more adult kids that are close by) and he is now feeling a burden to share the gospel with the rest of his family.  His youngest is around 10, and there are several adult children with families.  Please join Francisco and Elida in praying for their family, that not one would be lost without the Father!

Francisco and Elida

I want to interject here that some of you know that Ellie started a Ngobe Bible Club to raise money and distribute audio Bibles that play the New Testament in both Spanish and Ngobe.  To date they have given away nine of these audio players and Elida was one of the recipients and one of the primary examples of who they want to bless with these audio players.  She recently told me that she loves her Bible player because she can hear the Bible whenever she wants.  She quietly told me that she cannot read or write but with this machine, she can listen to God’s Word all day…and her favorite is listening to it in Ngobe.  What a gift to hear God’s Word in her native heart language!  I really believe having access to hearing His Word in this way played an important role in her decision to follow Christ recently.  Way to go, Bible Club members:  Clara, Aren, Turin, Guinevere, Kabrina, Macy, Thad, Johannes, David, Christine, Jessica, Ellie and Bella (I hope I’m not missing anyone).  Through your giving, you helped get God’s word into ears that otherwise would not have access to it and we pray that the Holy Spirit continues to penetrate hearts through the rest of the audio players given and the ones to come.

-Orlando has asked to meet weekly for Bible Study.  Orlando is one of Francisco’s sons and his partner is Yamilet.  You might recall from a previous post that Bobby and I joined Simon and Amalia in going to the village specifically to see Yamilet and share God’s Word with her.  This was something Simon felt compelled to do and we rejoiced when we heard the next day that she went to a nearby church that night, gave her life to the Lord and got baptized.  Orlando who has done a lot of work here through our construction process, continues to help us build, and maintain the grounds as we have work for him.  He is a gem and dear to our hearts and it’s been fun to see him connect with our friends Seth and Janelle who were here, as well as my sister Camille who is still visiting with us (and Chris and Ashley, as far back as last July).  We enjoy a lot of open conversations with him about the Lord, and recently he asked if we could meet for a weekly Bible study with he and his wife Yamilet, Simon and Amalia.  We encourage Simon to take the lead during our meeting times as we strongly felt God wants to raise up leaders amongst the Ngobe to reach more of their people with the gospel.  This young man is so close to making a decision to follow Christ!  Please, please be praying for him.

Here is Orlando, and some fish he caught and gifted to us recently:

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-The village next door drinks more water.  Ok, this is going to sound a little strange, but I want to share it as it is hugely meaningful to me.  This past week I overheard Yamilet chatting with Camille in the kitchen and couldn’t believe my ears when she said, “We drink a lot more water now because of these people” (referring to our place).  She went on to tell Camille, “She is always telling us to drink more water, drink more water because it is healthy.  My little brother comes over to your place and says, ‘They always give me water to drink.  Water, water, water when I go to their house.  I don’t want to drink water!’  But now we drink more water because we know it is healthy and I tell my brother, it is good to drink a lot of water, that is why they offer you water.”  It’s true, this is something they’ve heard A LOT from me.  I’ve asked several people if they drink plenty of fluids and the response is often, “yes, I drink a lot of water every day.”  “What is a lot?” I ask.  “One cup per day,” said a mama who was nursing an infant.  She went on to say that she drinks more coffee than water.  They come with a headache, asking for pain meds and I give them a glass of water, some Tylenol or Ibuprofen and a short lecture on how a huge percentage of headaches can be prevented by staying hydrated.  People, I often feel like a broken record when it comes to really basic health principles:  “If you’re drinking water from the creek, be sure to boil it first”, “If you’re sick, be sure to wash your hands frequently to stop the spread of germs”, “Dehydration is one of the biggest reasons people get headaches, especially in hot climates” and on and on.  But I honestly didn’t think they were listening to me.  Until this week.  Their culture is reserved and shy, with very little expression (nothing like I expected from a “Latin” country), so it’s difficult at times to know what they are thinking and feeling when there is very little feedback to most things I share.  I truly praise God for small steps, open hearts and relationship with these precious people that gives us a platform to speak and learn from each other.

-Bobby has been getting some steady, intermittent work.  Those words might sound mutually exclusive of each other, but it’s the best way I can describe the jobs he’s been getting.  Being a jack of all trades has proven very necessary and helpful here, not only for our complicated, off-grid needs, but also for others and we are so thankful God has provided some work to help sustain us here.  Thank You, Provider, for work opportunities.

-Border run complete!  We went to the border of Costa Rica to renew our visas, and things went so smoothly!  This particular border crossing is closest to us, but quite frustrating to deal with typically.  But God gave us His favor and we were able to go there and back in a day, and we even made a stop at a nice, big grocery store on the way home.  What a gift and a relief!  Here are some sights from our trip:

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Thanks for sticking it out with me through this long post.  As days become weeks and weeks become months it feels overwhelming to try to sit down to summarize life here on this jungle island.  When I finally do carve out time to sit down and share some highlights, I am blessed by reviewing what God has done and it is good for me to take the time to stop and think and collect those thoughts, however wandering they may be.



Thank you for joining us on this journey.  Thank you for supporting us, encouraging us and blessing us through your words and finances (even when we don’t ask).  We truly long to live our lives, fully surrendered to His will, joining the Father in His business.
Shirlene and family


  1. Slim
    Feb 10, 2014

    Great update and awesome pics. I suspect you’ll be giving a part 3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25 in order to make up for the hiatus you took from posting. :) And yes, some of the bloody pics started making me feel a bit nauseous.

    • Shirlene
      Apr 2, 2014

      So glad we can count on you to keep us informed on how far behind we are in our posts. ;)
      I didn’t know you got queasy over blood and guts. I had my own moments of queasiness when the doctor/dentist went to town on removing teeth from several mouths here last week. But then, that’s another overdo post that I won’t get into now. :)

  2. Paula
    Feb 10, 2014

    Soooo great to read your update but I do have to say I was thankful you posted part 2 right away because I was a little queasy after seeing the pictures from part 1. Especially the fingernail… Poor girl. I needed something to take my mind off of it. We love you, miss you and think of you often. Love from all 6 of us! Xoxoxo

    • Shirlene
      Apr 2, 2014

      Thank you for your faithful encouragement, Paula! It means a lot. I recently read a write up someone posted about how to support missionaries. I immediately thought of you when I read, “Respond to their newsletter.” Now, we don’t have a separate newsletter, but we do try to use our blog as an update for anyone interested. And you know how I hate applying the word “missionary” to us (I was interested in reading it to find out how to support other people we know here and beyond). But I found myself thinking, “Man, that is so true!” Paula, you are so faithful and giving verbal encouragement, letting us know you’ve read our blog, or email, or Facebook post. So thank you for encouraging us!
      We love and miss you all!! XOXO mua!
      Here’s the article, if you’re interested:

  3. Katie
    Mar 10, 2014

    Well, it took me awhile to getting around to reading this but I’m so glad I finally did. It’s so amazing to read about all of the wonderful ways that God is using your sweet family. What a blessing you must be to the community. I had to quickly scroll down past all the bloody pictures since I don’t handle that stuff well, but that is so great that your nursing skills have helped so many. And you guys have a store? How cool is that! Ellie is such a big girl now. All of the kids are just adorable and you and Bobby look so good. Thank you for sharing some of the things that have been happening there. I’m sure it’s really hard to find the time with everything you guys have going on. I will pray for the Lord’s continued favor and provision for your family, and that more natives would have their hearts softened towards our Father. Much love to you guys!

    • Shirlene
      Apr 2, 2014

      Thank you so much, Katie!! That is the perfect prayer and I really appreciate you taking the time to read through some LONG posts. It does get hard to make the time, at times, but I also know people are busy with life and it encourages us to know you take time from your busy schedules to read them, and to pray for us.
      Hope you and your family are well. Sending you love and hugs!

  4. Toni
    Mar 31, 2014

    Love your updates!! Although I will admit I scrolled right past the injury photo series. A sincere THANK YOU for the warning that they were there. :-) In other news, any chance you might share that chicken tortilla soup recipe???

    Love seeing the smiling faces. And seeing you back in BloggerLand. :-)

    • Shirlene
      Apr 2, 2014

      Thanks for the feedback, Toni! I will definitely try to give a warning before posting photos of blood and gore. :)
      Loved your Happy but Awkward post BTW (I’ve heard a lot of great things about the book Quiet and am intrigued by the insights likely found in it), but then, I love your honest, creative perspective you lend in all of your posts!

      I would love to share the recipe with you for the soup I referenced. If I double the batch, I often just double the “chunky” ingredients (well, I don’t actually use 2 whole rotisserie chickens) and find there’s plenty of broth, just as an FYI. I also HIGHLY recommend adding a spoonful of sour cream (assuming you love the creaminess it adds like I do), and it’s heavenly with avocado!
      Here it is. I hope you love it like we do! :)

      1 Tbl olive oil
      1 chopped onion
      1 garlic clove, minced
      1 49-1/2 oz can chicken broth
      1/2 tsp ground cumin
      1 bay leaf
      1/4 tsp dried crushed red pepper (or more, if you like a lot of kick!)
      1 15-oz can diced tomatoes with juices (I substitute 2 fresh diced tomatoes when I have them)
      1 15-oz can black beans, drained
      1 15-oz can corn, drained (or substitute 2 cups frozen corn)
      1 roast chicken, cut into chunks (or a few cooked chicken breasts or whatever…just make sure it’s already cooked)
      1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
      2 Tbl fresh lime juice
      Tortilla strips or chips
      Optional toppings: cheddar cheese, diced avocado, sour cream

      Heat the olive oil in bottom of saucepan. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender. Add broth, cumin, bay leaf, red pepper, and tomatoes; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Add beans, corn, and chicken and heat thoroughly. Stir in cilantro and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.

      Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with tortilla strips, and other optional toppings and serve.

  5. Cris Zadrozny
    Dec 18, 2015

    It is such a prvilege and blessing to be here in this jungle amongst such wild and beautiful nature, but mostly to be spending time with your wonderful family! You are AMAZING people!

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