Saturday, June 15, 2013

Ballew Mission Supporters' Reception!

We want to say thank you and share some photos, videos, and stories of our time in Bolivia with all of our awesome supporters, prayer warriors, and friends! Please join us next Saturday night, June 22, from 7:00pm-10:00pm (come and go) at Panera Bread - I45 and Bay Area Blvd. location. We will have coffee and dessert and share how you can continue praying for Bolivia and be a part of what God is doing there! This is our small way of showing everyone our appreciation for loving us and supporting us and making this amazing experience possible! Please let us know via email, text, or facebook pm if you plan to attend. We also have a small gift from Bolivia for each of our financial supporters.

Shay: 832-803-6080
Lowell: 832-803-4041

On a hiking trail in an old, ancient Incan ruins site called "Incachaca"

Monday, June 3, 2013

Home Again, Home Again...

Goodness gracious me! I can't believe I haven't written an update since April 7! What a whirlwind the past (almost) 2 months have you can imagine! I suppose I'll just begin by saying, "We made it "home"! I seriously wondered there for a while if it would really all happen and come to pass. Things became quite stressful and challenging trying to get out of our house in Bolivia, but thanks to my amazing husband, it happened. We spent our last 3 weeks in Coch staying in a missionary guest house that some other missionaries had just opened up. We got to "break it in" and test the comfort level :o)! Let me tell you, if any of you ever get the opportunity to go to Cochabamba, Bolivia on mission, it's THE place to stay! It truly is a wonderful ministry and so very needed in the city. They are putting all the funds raised right back into other ministries and to help Bolivians in need. Find them on facebook at "The Harvest Guesthouse".
Lowell with Rick, one of his best friends here in Bolivia

We had an incredible despedida (going away party) hosted by some of our best friends, TJ and Tammy Mitchell. We felt very blessed by the presence of so many dear friends we made in Bolivia. It was overwhelming! We enjoyed sweet fellowship, amazing FOOD, and a prayer time led by TJ. We brought along our journal that friends had signed for us at our going away party here in League City back in March 2011 so that now, on the flip side, our missionary and Bolivian friends could sign it. I actually just grabbed it out of a suitcase the other day and read all of the words of gold that folks wrote for the first time! What a treasure for ages to come!
Shay with some of her friends - both other missionary wives and Bolivian beauties!

Our travel back was fairly uneventful, which is exactly what you want when you are traveling internationally with a family of 6! This certainly doesn't mean it wasn't hard or challenging, but no major bumps or serious issues along the way. We flew directly into Orlando to stay for a week at a vacation home some fellow missionaries in Bolivia just bought - to use as their home base when they are home on furlough, and as an investment when they are in Bolivia. We were able to "do Disney" and made it to the beach one day, which was absolutely splendid after being in a landlocked country for over 2 years! Ahhh...the coastline! It was pretty crazy going from 3rd world, developing, poverty stricken country, to Orlando! Vacation capitol of the world, where everything is super new and shiny and RICH!!! Whew. But, we had a great time and just felt so blessed beyond belief to even be there and get to do that!
The boys with a few of their best buds (all MK's...a special breed!)

As you can imagine, we had some pretty sweet reunions with family and friends once we returned to Texas. We spent time with my parents, my brother and his family, and my oldest sister in Brenham, Lowell's parents, sister, and nieces in Frost, my other sister and her family in Denton, and were able to see some old friends along the way. It was great to see how everyone had changed (kids) and how they reacted to one another after more than 2 years. Funny. Teenagers are just funny :o) After more than 2 weeks of traveling around and going from place to place and living out of suitcases, the kids started begging to get "home" to League City. So, we cut our travel time short and arrived to LC on May 22. Some of you may remember me asking for prayer for a place to stay until July. We had an old friend from our days at CCCC offer for us to stay with her in her large house, so...we are settled, but not really! We still have suitcases everywhere, still digging around looking for stuff, still anxious to be really home and settled. We will be here in her home until the end of June, although one week we will get to attend a family camp at Mo Ranch with other families from our new church.
A few of our faithful Bolivian students from youth group

God was so good to bring Jake Beaty along to take over the youth ministry! You guys are in good hands!

Speaking of our new church. Lowell officially began his new position as Worship Pastor yesterday and led his first service this morning!! It was LifePoint's 5 year anniversary big celebration service - so, it was doubly special! I'm not sure if there is any way at this point to feel more blessed, but we have already had our hearts just blessed beyond measure by our new church family! WOW. I could just keep saying wow all day long over the incredible things God has done and how he has used folks from LifePoint to take care of us in huge ways. This church has a big passion for missions and ministry and taking care of others' needs, let me tell you! This has been so evident even before we arrived. We received a donation of a CAR from a family, and many folks have offered up furniture and help.
Good friends from the married couples' group Lowell and I were a part of

I just don't even know how to put into words the thanks and gratitude we feel for all of you who have gone alongside of us on this journey that God called us into. YOU made it possible, through the Lord's prompting and provision. We are humbled and indebted to you. We do not feel like this journey is ending, but rather opening a new chapter and starting a new season! Please, if you'd like to walk it with us still, we'd love to have you! I plan on continuing the blog (I rather enjoy writing) and keeping everyone up to date with what miracles God is working in our lives and in the world around us. We  plan to continue being a big part of what's going on in Bolivia and support our friends who remain there, on the front lines. We might occasionally share what is happening in their ministries or share needs they have so that you can pray and give if God leads.
Miriam was our amazing, hard-working maid...but a much better friend. She was the most difficult person for me (Shay) to leave :o( Pray for this sweet soul.   

Olivia loved Miriam, and Miriam loved Olivia :o)

We will soon be hosting a "Post Bolivia Missions Journey" night for all of you locally who would like to come and hear more about our time there. We will share photos, videos, and most of all, what God did and is doing in Bolivia! Look for an evite and/or online invitation soon!
Here we are with Edwin Almanza and his two children, Isabel and Nate. Edwin played a HUGE role in us coming to Bolivia in the first place. God used this man to lead us to Bolivia.

Lowell with some of his favorite musicians from the worship team - je je je

Much love and blessings to you all! God is so GOOD! He is FAITHFUL, LOVING, and TRUSTWORTHY!

In Christ -

Lowell, Shay, Aidan, Liam, Jude, and Olivia

*On a financial note: Our Ripe For Harvest acct. is currently still open and active, but will be closed shortly. If you'd still like to make a one time donation to us and receive the tax deduction, please send it to our RFH acct. asap! All info is here on the blog - address, auto draft, etc...However, if you would still like to make a donation to us to help us get re-settled back here in the states and are not concerned with a tax deduction, please send to Lowell's parents as we are not yet back at our old address: Lowell Ballew; c/o Robert Ballew; P.O. Box 293; Frost, Tx 76641 OR, hand deliver locally to Lowell and I over a cup of coffee or some good Tex-Mex!!!!!