3.31.2017

Our New YouTube Channel!

As many of you know, we have had a family music youtube channel for a number of years. We hardly ever post videos, but it is there, nonetheless. =)

Recently, we decided to branch out with a new venture, and that is a channel called LIFE AS A BONTRAGER. It has nothing to do with our music, but rather going to be a smattering of random and unprofessional videos that might give you a peak into our lives, specifically the other side that you don't see in live action as much, the "non-music" side of things. We're still not sure what all will end up on this channel, or how often we will update, but we'd love for you to subscribe and stay updated!

To start off, we are sharing with y'all today a little clip that the boys threw together last month. It is a purely humorous video highlighting their five favorite workout foods. Enjoy! =)

3.30.2017

Mexico 2017 || Week 2

We started out week #2 in Mexico with a Saturday morning hike with a group of about twenty five friends. It was the perfect day---sunny, warm, and with gorgeous skies!
This is the mountain we climbed.
The view from the top!
the parents.
These guys always have struggled sticking to anything normal. They prefer "the path less traveled". Better known as NO PATH, just rolling down the side of the mountain.
No big deal. 
Sometimes we almost prefer if they would keep their hair raising stories to themselves. Its a miracle they have made it to ages 20 and 17, in one piece! =)
Most of the crew.
We love this girl!
Here was our complete schedule, and the promo used for online advertising, for our time in Mexico. We had an additional concert that came up at the last minute that wasn't listed here. Thirteen concerts in fourteen days definitely kept us hopping! But it was time so well spent.
Sibling cooperation! In Mexico, we almost always performed on a stage made from a trailer, inside a gym or barn. This way, it was more of a community event, and people would come from a larger variety of churches/backgrounds, since the concert wasn't held in a church.
Fun times with Bella!
Liz with more friends, after an evening concert.
We love the fresh fruit in Mexico. It is like NONE OTHER!
A delicious lunch prepared for us at one of the churches we sang at.
The boys worked SO HARD to teach Bella how to make fishy lips. I wish I could show y'all some of the videos-they looked so ridiculous and she was so concentrated as she tried so hard!
Allison reconnecting with a friend she met last year.
Be expecting to hear about big things coming from these six, soon. Our band may be shrinking, but the remaining talent is pretty great and we think our babies will go far. =)
And yet more incredible food. Disco meat (chicken + pork this time), fresh tortillas, and the famous creamed salad of lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, and avocado dressing.
Concert time!
Bella got to join in on Mom's morning Bible time with the littles! Looks like everyone was enjoying it, including her!
Smiles!
We sang at a Spanish church Sunday morning and afterwards the church prepared a lunch at the park. Above, the men, cooking Disco meat.
Bella was the queen of sleeping positions. She seemed to always be spilling out of the bunk!
Mornings consisted of study time for our four youngest that are still in school...
Bible time, in the trailer....
....study time for Josh, who is wrapping up the last two months of his Communications degree. He is excited for graduation in May!
Media/marketing time for Denver, our new director of that department...
Bible time in the sun...
...and can't forget the FaceTimes! Or smile times. Or whatever you want to call it!
Denver worked so hard to win Bella's heart. =) At first she wasn't very impressed with him, but by the second half of week two she started to warm up. His phone was a helpful attraction. =)
We had two days off during the two weeks we were in Mexico. One was during the first week, the second was this day, during week two, above. We drove part of the day and then spent a few hours in the late afternoon, spread out in the party room of one of our favorite Mexican restaurants, Thiessens La Sierra. If you ever go to Mexico...(smile)...their pizza is the BEST.
Another gorgeous sunset!
Laundry time again! This church had showers, wifi, laundry facilities, and several guest rooms. #perfect
At many of our concerts, Allison loved meeting up with "her girls" who had attended her retreats last fall. At this particular concert, she got to see eight of them!
Morning breakfast + family devotions in the church kitchen.
Liz and Bella, enjoying a sunny, windy afternoon in Mexico!
Mitchell, on duty for oiling + fixing locks and bay doors.
Last year, Geneva taught some of us how to play "Hands + Feet". Since then, it has become a favorite of our younger ones, and they have taught a number of their friends how to play as well. 
One morning, before we hit the road, we had some "spread out" time in the gym we had sung in the night before, so mom + the younger ones got in a few games with Peter + Geneva.  Fun times!
We got to experience one of the Mexico dust storms that we have heard so much about. The picture doesn't do it justice. Dust EVERYWHERE.
Bella loved Allison's glasses!
A typical, chaotic morning in the bus...full, noisy, and messy.

Back in the USA! We had a lengthy four-hour border crossing. Suffice to say that after two years of complications, we will be trying the El Paso border next year. We have dozens and dozens of various border crossings "under our belts" by now, and the long and short of it is still that you just never know how it will go, even if you've dotted every I and crossed every T!
Anyways...thankfully we were much more "above board" this year than last year (read that story at the end of this post, here!) and other than a ridiculous amount of hassle over certain inconsequential food items, we managed to squeak through without anything negative going on our record. =)

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In closing, as we mentioned before, we really cannot properly thank everyone who made this tour possible. We mentioned before the people of Mexico who welcomed our family and loved on us so well. But now we want to take a minute to thank all of the prayer warriors who were covering our family in prayer. Eternity only will tell the results of your prayers for us. There is no way to adequately share all the stories of protection, the stories of divine appointments, each of the testimonies of lives transformed by the Gospel...ALL that God did. 

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; 
Because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; 
He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted;
 To proclaim liberty to the captive, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; 
To comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion; 
To give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning,
 The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; 
That they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, 
THAT HE MIGHT BE GLORIFIED."
Isaiah 61:1-3

3.29.2017

Mexico 2017 || Week 1

Blogging about our two weeks in Mexico is going to be super hard, because it is almost impossible to properly condense everything into a little blog post! Seriously, every year that we go back (this was our third time) we fall more and more in love with the people, the food, the culture, and the experience in general. Is it stretching? Yes. Are the culture + language barriers challenging? Yes. Is the enormity of the mission field overwhelming? Absolutely! But the spiritual fruit is so great and so life-giving. It is the greatest honor to our family to not only travel to Mexico, but to be a part of the Kingdom work that Jesus is doing there. We wouldn't trade our time there for anything.

I am going to split the updates into two posts. (this is week #1 and next will be week #2) Again, please know that these updates merely scratch the surface of everything we experienced. There is no way to adequately give you all the testimonies. Souls that met Jesus for the first time! Hearts that were so
receptive to learning and growing in their walk with the Lord. And then there were those saints who poured out the love of Jesus to our family and challenged us so greatly by their love for their people + our Lord.

From the bottom of our hearts, we wish to thank the many, many people who cooked for us, hosted us, and blessed us in more ways than we could ever say. We are so unworthy and felt so humbled by the love y'all poured out on our family. THANK-YOU.
A HUGE thank-you goes to these heroes! Let me introduce y'all to our amazing translator + his family. (you can read about them + also our Mexico tour last year, here) This was our third year to work with Peter + Geneva. Last year we were thrilled with the addition to their team, little Isabella. This year, one year later, Bella had only grown in personality + pizzaz. The joke was that she was really the "necessary" translator, and her parents were just a bonus addition. =) We all LOVED having a "baby on board" the bus, and we have been going through serious withdrawal since we left Mexico and don't have her anymore! 
It was also decided that once our family gets to the grandbaby stage, it would be ideal to have several babies born around the same time, since we don't do very well sharing one baby among eleven people!
Catching some wifi signal and quiet Bible time behind one of the gyms we sang at.

German lessons at a church one afternoon!
What were the chances that we four would be in Mexico at the same time? Hailing from South Carolina, Iowa, and Mexico...spending the morning talking a mile a minute and soaking up the time together. Such a blessing!
Had to take a picture of this dairy farm! Just like home!
Driving in the middle of a spanish town and we saw one of our family posters up on a fence post! 
Mitchell and Peter (our translator) scouting out the best route to get our bus down this dirt lane.
Pushups? Or making sure we don't high center crossing a certain hump?
Looks like both. =)
Discussing the improbability, near impossibility, and also absolute necessity of getting our bus through that narrow opening, so we could unload and set up in the park inside for our evening concert.
Mitchell, giving directions. "Okay, one inch to the left! Now approx 3/4 of an inch to the right...." =)

We arrived to find this welcome sign at the pastor's home in Torreon! Such a beautiful welcome!
Josh sharing the Word in our evening concert. This was our only concert in which our audience was almost exclusively Spanish. Most of our concerts in Mexico are with the German Mennonites there, so we usually have translating done in German. But this night, our hosts were the pastors of a Spanish church, so they put all of our lyrics to our songs up on a screen, translated into Spanish, and the pastor and his wife translated all of our testimonies as well.
Mom had the privilege of leading this dear deaf lady (middle) to the Lord, after our concert! The woman on the left knew sign language, so between her and mom they were together able to share the Gospel!
Driving through a party, in town, on our way back to the pastor's home after the concert.
Mexican feast!
Denver + Bella, exploring the cool stairway.
Some friends invited us over to their little coffee shop in the middle of town. We had a lovely few minutes there with their family, chatting and checking email while some of the ladies visited the local market.
Workin' away! 
Well what do you know...it's those people in concert again! =)
Some old ruins we saw as we were driving by. This is a very typical sight in Mexico.
Mom went out to a crepe place with the pastor's wife from one of the churches we sang at. 
Practice time in a gym one afternoon while waiting on sound check.
Basketball game late at night, after a concert.
Tortilla soup. Of champions. With jalapeƱos and avocados and fresh Mexican tortilla chips. YES.
We had the opportunity to attend + spend the day with the church that Allison attended while she was living in Mexico last fall. (several of the women from this church also helped her as cooks + speakers at her retreats) Above, Dad taught a session for the youth group on Sunday afternoon.
Elizabeth is our #1 social bug. She made so many new friends in Mexico, and also enjoyed meeting up with former friends from the past two years!
This is the ultimate "Disco" feast!
Our younger three, helping some of our friends prepare Spanish Gospel tracts to pass out.
Playtime with Bella!
Late night Dutch Blitz and fellowship, with the pastor's family, in Durango! We love these people!
 Family introductions!
We incorporated two German songs and one Spanish, into our set for this concert. It was a great experience to learn some music in different languages. Huge thanks goes to our amazing teacher, Peter! And thanks to our crowds for being so gracious and forgiving our many pronunciation mistakes! Pretty sure we provided some great entertainment, if nothing else. At least we tried. =) 
We will be posting these songs on our YouTube channel soon and will let y'all know when they are up!
Parked along the side of the street, to get a trailer tire fixed, for just $1.75. Definitely can't beat these Mexican prices.
Denver has joined our haircutting crew!
This spread comes with basically anything you order at any restaurant in Mexico. Specialty sauces + dips with tortilla chips. And ALWAYS jalapenos.
Mom + Bella, watching the scenery whiz by. 
Rodeo time! Our friends got out their horses and did a little roping + barrel racing for us. It was super fun to watch them, especially the little nine year-old who was a pro at barrel racing.
The girls riding horses!
Allison LOVED being back with her adopted mother and sister! (see this post about her time in Mexico last fall)
Sunset in Mexico.
"...Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."
Mark 16:15