6.26.2014

Summer Tour//Week One

June 14th we headed out again.  We traveled about 3,000 miles and did 8 concerts in the first week of the trip.  The Lord has been so good to us- leading and keeping us every step of the way.
This is a typical sight while traveling the roads of Middlebury, IN.
In the bus, you gotta improvise!  One day I wanted some hard boiled eggs and the counter was full with lunch preparations, so I set up a little "egg boiling station" in my bunk.:)
We gathered outside the concert venue one afternoon to work up a new song. 
Chels got to hold a friend's newborn baby- such a darling!
We loved having one of our dear cousins travel with us for a few days.  We joked that she would be "scarred for life" after traveling and living on the bus with our crazy, wild family.:)
This girl....she's a party!
Carson enjoys the chance to brainstorm with someone that enjoys technology as much as he does.  We're just not all wired that way.:)
Our dear Rebecca, sans a tooth.  
Dad and Mitchell do great at figuring out last minute details before our concerts.  
Hudson loves nothing better than reading or studying in some little nook backstage during a concert.
We always enjoy the unique experience of this concert venue in IL where the people sit in their cars during the concert, honking instead of clapping after songs.:)
Our cousin invited us to stop by the bakery where he works.  We loved getting to spend time with our cousin, tour the facility and enjoy some of Rise 'n' Rolls's famous donuts!
Loved this quote in the main area of the bakery!
concert time
smiles
"Bless the Lord, O my soul.  O Lord my God, Thou art very great!  Thou art clothed with honor and majesty." (Psalms 104:1)
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Thank you so much to all our dear friends who pray for us as we travel!  We have experienced many unique, God given ministry opportunities, and are so thankful for the privilege to encourage and minister to God's people and share the Gospel with those who do not know Him yet.

{posted by Allison}

6.16.2014

Busy as Bees || Farm & Family Update

The title of this post could be "A Collection of Pictures from the Recent Life of the Bontrager Family Farmers". 
But "Busy as Bees" was what came to my mind, because that pretty accurately sums it all up. Its been a crazy life, this spring at home, but we have LOVED it! There's nothing quite like experiencing the farm again after having been cooped up in the bus for three months. Even though most days have been long and exhausting, I'm so thankful that we have such a big gang to work together and turn every project into a work party! (well, most, at least =)) 

Much of our time has been spent in the fields, in the gardens, and just outdoors in general. But in the midst of the work we also managed to squeeze in time for ??? sets of company, a few weekend road trips for various people in our family, several special church events, and a couple of family night cookouts at our campsite.

Enjoy our last "farm installment" for a while....we will be back with another one after we return home from tour the end of July!
Tis the season for celebrations! This past month our refridgerator has been covered with nearly thirty graduation and wedding invitations. Pretty much every week we are getting news of another wedding or relationship in the works. Such fun times call for special projects, like designing cards to give to the happy couples. =)
We had a birthday girl in May! =) It's always fun to come up with different ideas to make each birthday celebration unique. Our "chalkboard door" provides a great place to post special messages for the birthday person. 
This was a very familiar sight in May! Here, Carson is heading back to the field to plant after getting his supper delivery from yours truly. =)
 The planting was finished May 23rd and it was a great feeling to have it all finished.

One of our very favorite things about being home is being able to host friends and family from all over. I lost track of how many times we've had company in the last six weeks, but it has been delightful! 
Old friends, new friends, relatives...and everything in between.  Sadly there aren't pictures of most of our company, but we have lots of great memories! 
sometimes when we have company our farm looks like an RV lot. =)
Mom and Rebecca
Mitchell and Carson have been busy with the spring manure hauling. Here they are getting our hog pits emptied before we leave.
Our faithful dalmation, Ryker...we have decided he really has the ideal life. =) So chill and relaxed.
A rare moment of rest for some of our farm equipment. 
Bringing the hay home from the fields...
Cheesecake bites that Allison made for a wedding recently
It is SO good to have Mitchell home again!
Sometimes when you are little and you want a nice spot to lay to read your book, you choose an empty banjo case. =)
Music practice time! We've been having fun mixing things up a bit and switching out instruments. Mitchell brushed up his piano skills while he was in Arkansas and even accompanied himself for some special music one Sunday morning. Taylor was our banjo player while Mitchell was gone. All four of the middle boys (Carson, Josh, Denver, and Taylor) have spent hours taking online lessons from Banjo Ben. Josh and I started playing piano together and arranged a lively hymn duet, ragtime style. And our three littlest violinists...well, they have a brand-new act that they excited to present in our concerts on this summer tour! Stay tuned...{no pun intended}
The faithful mulching crew!
Little Miss Rebecca, smiling to show off her very first loose tooth...
Daddy, the world's best tooth puller!
There may or may not have been tears shed by several other members of the family at seeing our baby girl looking so grown-up, missing a tooth.
We did a local concert for a friend's birthday celebration.
Sunday dinner dessert
We five oldest enjoyed an event our church put on for all the singles and young married couples. It included some pretty intense speed volleyball.
(mom with four of her siblings at our cousin's wedding)
 A few of us did a "flying trip Bontrager-style" to our cousin's wedding in Ohio. (flying trip means leaving at 4am, arriving at the wedding half an hour before it started, staying about three hours total for the ceremony/reception, and then driving all through the night, getting home Sunday morning in time to sleep for an hour or two before getting ready for church)
A few of the cousins, and cousin-in-loves...had an awesome time together, short though it was!
Our two amazing hunters/cooks extraordinaire. They made some amazing sausage and jerky the other day from a deer Carson got last winter.
There are always things going wrong on a farm. As you can see, the above hay bales have seen their better days!
Elizabeth has been learning a lot in the kitchen lately. Here she is mixing up a batch of cookies.
Freezing rhubarb for next winter.
Our church had a special Mother's Day Celebration on Mother's Day. (read more about what we did here)
One night my parents were out on a date and Allison and I were gone for the evening as well, leaving the boys in charge. I arrived home late after everyone had gone to bed and discovered that the boys had washed dishes. (bless their hearts) 
How did I know it was the boys? Only guys would stack glass pans like this. Everything was stacked just so, but if I would've so much as BLOWN on that stack....well, I didn't. =)
One Saturday we made 250 muffins for the children that ride our church buses to church every Sunday. Above is the kitchen during the baking process. #tornadozone =)
painting projects...
Mom helped the four youngest each design and plant their own little garden plots.
Allison and I enjoyed an amazing retreat with our Stoltzfus girl cousins at a gorgeous B&B in Shipshewana. We had a great trip and made some wonderful memories. (more to come on my blog!)
Twice a day, rain or shine, someone is feeding the cows....
...and milking them, too!
In May, Mom and Rebecca took the train to New York to visit mom's parents and our other relatives there. They had a wonderful time!
Grandpa is an inspiration to us all with his gardening skills!  Above, he helps mom and her sister in identifying medicinal weeds. 
Mom with her father. 
story time with Grandpa
playing Parcheesi with Grandpa and Grandma
The three Rebecca's!
Our faithful little calf-feeder man. =)
In case you haven't noticed...this guy almost ALWAYS has a grin on his face. =)


packing!
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"Praise ye the Lord. Praise, O ye servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord. 
Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. 
From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the Lord's name is to be praised. 
The Lord is high above all nations, and His glory above the heavens." 
Psalm 113:1-4

{posted by chelsy}