Families Pictures

For Mother's and Father's day, all of the children went together and surprised mother and father with a professional photo shoot! Here are a few of the pictures for you to enjoy!
The whole tribe!
The girls
The guys
John, Chelsy and Axotn (four months)
Joshua, Cassidy, and Wallace (ten and a half months)
Mitchell, Bryn and Micah (two and a half months)
Carson, Carolina and Jubilee (ten and a half months)
Grandpa and Grandma with all the grand-babies!!
"Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee....."
Psalm 31:19


Announcing An Exciting Opportunity!

 Join us this summer for the 2019 National Bible Bee Competition!

-What the Bible Bee is     
     The National Bible Bee Competition equips families to study and memorize God’s Word. Starting in June, participants, ages 7-18, join together in studying a book or passage of the Bible. There is a study guide, called the Discovery Journal, that aids in studying and applying God’s Word. The Discovery Journal includes key word studies, cross-references, and historical context of the study passage. Each week, you will be given several memory passages that correlate to the study passage. At the end of the summer, there is an online test based on study material from the summer program. Those with the top 120 test scores have the opportunity to advance to the Nationals, which are held in Kentucky in the fall. 

-How to do the Bible Bee     
     Study for the Bible Bee can be done as an individual or together with your family. Younger children may need help from parents, while older children can probably complete the study on their own. Some families memorize and study as a family, while other families choose to do it mostly on an individual level. The key is to find what works best for your family. Either way, I encourage each family to share what they have been learning with other family members. 
     The Discovery Journal can be completed by studying approximately 30 minutes per day. Some areas have a local host group that connects families with other families who are studying for the Bible Bee. (To see if their is a local host group near your go to https://biblebee.org/summer-study/ and click on “2019 host locations”.) While it is helpful to be part of a local host group, if there is not one in your area you can still connect with other Bible Bee famlies by going to https://app.biblebee.org/ and joining the online Bible Bee Community.

-Why I encourage you to do the Bible Bee
   There are five main reasons why I would challenge you to participate in the Bible Bee. 
     First, the Bible Bee is centered around the Word of God. God’s Word is relevant to every day of life and hiding it in our hearts equips us to navigate through life. The Word of God that I have memorized has both encouraged me and guided me in making decisions. What could be better for young people than to build their lives upon the firm foundation of God’s Word!
     Second, the Bible Bee equips individuals to study the Bible for themselves. Through the Bible Bee, I have learned how to take a book or passage of the Bible and study it in depth. Though I no longer participate in the Bible Bee, I have kept studying God’s Word using the skills that I learned from the Bible Bee.
     Third, the Bible Bee strengthens family relationships. As I have studied God’s Word with my siblings, my relationships with them have been strengthened. While studying, we often share with each other what we have been learning.
      Fourth, the Bible Bee is a great network for meeting other godly families. Since our family has done the Bible Bee, we have gained many close friends from all across the country. 
      Last, the Bible Bee teaches young people to be disciplined. The Bible Bee has taught me to discipline myself to study and memorize God’s Word even when I do not feel like it. The discipline that I learned from doing the Bible Bee has benefited me in many other areas of life.

-How you can get involved today!
     You can sign up today by going to http://biblebee.org!


Home Sweet Home

Two weeks ago, early in the morning, our bus pulled into our very loved, Iowa home. Even though we had a very fruitful and blessed tour, we are so thankful to be back on the farm. We have been busy digging into the projects awaiting us here at home, but are trying make more of an effort to savor each moment!! 


Mexico and Belize Part 2

Enjoy part two of our trip to Mexico and Belize!
Amidst all the concerts and appointments, we still made time for swimming with these dear friends!! 
School keeps going, even on the road.
During a long day of driving, Taylor made the most of a gas stop to pull out the guitar and get some practice in!
Smiles with Grandpa. One of these days Wallace will be driving the bus too!
The thoughts that were occupying our  minds," If that unique setup just fell apart, we could watch a lively production of tumbling watermelons!!"
These little guys loved Denver's stories! This time, in an animated tone, he read to them Doctor Suese.  Even Peter was starting to crack a smile!
Here the guys were practicing a Spanish song which they especially prepared for our Mexico trip.
Oh my! This day was just slightly challenging! Because of the small streets, I think it took about three hours just to get within three miles of where we began!
Cleaning time in the bus!!
We were able to sing at several Spanish churches in Mexico. This one was located in Mexico City.
Bella (our interpreter's daughter) loved learning all the ins and outs of running sound. She was a pro by the end of the tour!!!:):)
Chatting with girls after an evening concert.
After shopping at a Mexican supermarket, we couldn't resist celebrating with chocolate!
Peter was more than an interpreter! This time, he helped get us out of a very tough situation by standing on the roof of the bus and pushing away branches!!
Wallace just loves stories with Auntie Rebs  
Taylor does a great job helping Liz with all her Algebra questions!
Such lusciousness!!!

"That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled with all the fulness of God." ~ Ephesians 3:17-19



Texas Vacation

Before heading to Mexico and Belize, our family (including Joshua and Cassidy) met up with Carson, Carolina and Jubilee for a four day get-a-way in the hills of Texas. (Mitchell and Bryn were unable to join us because it was too close to Bryn's due date and John and Chelsy weren't able to travel down because of having a newborn baby) Below is a little glimpse into our rambunctious tribe's vacation!

A daddy and daughter walk
Jubilee adores Grandpa! 
Spot It!
Loving the Grandparent stage!
Many Ticket To Ride games were enjoyed over the space of four days.
Sitting on the couches, enjoying one another's company while delighting in good conversations. Can it get any better?
More fast-paced games!
Chocolate chip frappes for the coffee lovers!
Siblings are truly the best! And so are coffee drinks!!! ( depending on who you ask!:):))
Settlers of Catan: a family favorite
Supper time!
We enjoyed many yummy meals!
More Chess!
Wallace loved his walk with Grandpa!!!
The surrounding countryside was beautiful!

     "The mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds"    Psalm 36:5



Mexico and Belize Part 1

This year, the Lord graciously provided us with the opportunity to travel down to Mexico and Belize in our bus for three weeks. Peter Sawatzky, along with his wife and two girls, traveled with us to serve as our interpreter, interpreting into Spanish or Platt Deutsche, depending on the occasion.We sang about fifteen concerts, traveled 7,500 miles and were able share our music with about 14,000 people. We also had encounters with numerous "law enforcement officers:):)" and  payed dues to about sixty-five toll booths! Enjoy this peak into our adventures!  
Story time with Denver.
Only in Mexico!!! These kids had fun waving to us.
Kezia (Peter's daughter) adored Rebecca, who took every opportunity she could to practice her mothering skills on this little gem. The most important school isn't about books anyway, it's the practical life skills!
Singing at a church in the beach town of Placencia, Belize
A couple of road-side Belizean stands prepared a delicious lunch for us consisting of chicken, rice, tacos and veggies. 
Breakfast privilege!
Because their were fifteen people traveling in such a tight space, the couch aided as a temporary bed for two on this occasion.
Dinner with friends at an authentic Belizean restaurant before an evening concert.
Being so close to the Guatemalan border, a few of us Bontragers couldn't pass up the opportunity to get another stamp on our passport!!
We were also able to visit some Myan ruins in Belize after coming back from Guatemala. 
Taylor encouraging and praying with these young men after an evening concert.
Dishes! There is definitely no lack for this in a large family.
One of the only no-so-fun things about Mexico and Belize is the speed bumps!( We  probably went over about one thousand during those three weeks!!!!) On this particular occasion, the bus came TOO CLOSE to the unwelcomed piece of concrete and we narrowly escaped being hung up! 
Rebecca enjoyed the opportunity to chat with girls after the concert.
We are so grateful for the many souls that were saved and the encouraging conversations that we were a part of. God is truly so good!!! 
Keep checking the blog for part two of our Belize and Mexico adventure!

"The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad." Psalm 126:3