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


Welcoming Micah Joe!

Exciting announcement! We are so thrilled to have another little nephew added to our ever-expanding tribe! Micah was born at 3:30 p.m. on March 12th. He weighed 7 pounds, 2 ounces and was 20 inches long. Labour went well and there were no complications! Micah has the same initials and middle name and his daddy and grandpa, and will be the fourth generation to have Joe in his name! Stay tuned for more pictures of the precious little guy!!
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down form the Father of lights with whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning"
James 1:17


Random Life Update

We are grateful for the Lord's provision in allowing us to be His vessels used for him! In the months of January and February, we were able to perform about 40 concerts. God's strength was there for us along the way, even during the challenging and stressful moments! Here is a little update of the first two months of our tour.
Getting to fellowship with these sweet friends for an evening was a blessing!
Being in the same hub as the Bower family during a prison revival granted us the opportunity to re-connect with them! We always enjoy the times spent with this sweet family!
A Crackle Barrel breakfast date before an evening of prison ministry.
Morning prayer time before heading into the prisons.
Sibling time during a walk.
The Bower and Bontrager guys after a morning work-out. 
Handsome little guy posing for a selfie.
It's so fun when a church has two grand pianos! Taylor and I(Liz) took advantage of this great opportunity!
More walks!
On a night off, some of us children enjoyed playing one of our favorite games: Ticket To Ride.
A birthday date at Mod Pizza.
This is what you would find if you looked in the parking lot of Holiday Inn on this particular morning!

More physical exercise! This time it was in the form of frisbee.
At the Bontrager house, hair cuts are a necessity and must happen even while traveling!!!
We were able to spend time at some sweet friend's house in Georgia. We took the time to fellowship, catch up on projects and go fishing.
Mr. Tanner working his wonders. He deep fat fried some delicious fish, hush puppies and fries for us.
Pre-concert smiles!
Jamming with friends.
Wallace enjoyed one of his first piano lessons with Liz! :):) 
Grandpa and grandson time
Denver took Taylor out for a pizza date to celebrate his 17th birthday.
Taylor faithfully practicing banjo.
Concert time again!

"O come, let us sing unto the Lord, let us kneel before the Lord our maker!"