Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

  • It’s almost time for our trip to Juarez!

    Date: 2014.10.25 | Category: faith, parenting | Response: 0

    It’s almost time!  Our family will be heading down to Juarez again this year to serve at the Arbol de Vida orphanage with five other families during the week leading up to Thanksgiving.  Our plan is to start the drive Friday, November 21 and stay at the orphanage until Wednesday, Nov 26.  We hope to arrive home in time for Thanksgiving dinner with friends.

    Our entire family looks forward to returning to Arbol de Vida to continue building relationships with the students and staff who live there year round.  We are looking forward to seeing our friends there, and our kids are excited about all sleeping in a dorm room with bunk beds again!   We are expanding our focus this year and we also have several projects planned to help a local church in the area.

    As always, we appreciate your prayers for our trip.  We ask that you would pray for safe travel, smart planning, safety as we cross the border, wisdom as we spend time with the students at the orphanage, an abundance of energy, and mostly, that our hearts will be receptive to what God wants us to do every step of the way.

    This year we are attempting to raise funds a little differently than in the past.  Cherry Hills Christian Middle School has offered to help support us on our trip this year, at this point they are planning a few “break dress code” days and other fundraisers to involve the middle school students in our trip.  We are also putting together a concert at the Rock House at South Fellowship Church to raise additional support.  Finally, we are counting on the support of our friends and family to help us make this trip possible.  We need to raise funds to pay for fuel, two nights in a motel, meals on the road, craft supplies, goodies and toiletries for the kids there, a Thanksgiving dinner, building/repair materials, and enough money to pay the orphanage director to cover the costs of our stay and meals.  Any extra funds always go straight to the director for other needs their students have.

    Thank you for supporting us through your prayers, financial contributions, and donations of material goods.  We appreciate you and couldn’t do it without you!

    We can accept checks made out to us personally, or you can contribute through this website… https://www.crowdrise.com/juarez

    If you’d like more information on Arbol de Vida/Tree of Life orphanage, please check our their facebook page and website-

    https://www.facebook.com/TreeofLifeJuarez?ref=br_tf

    http://treeoflifejuarez.org/

    With thanks,

    Chris, Melody, JT, Katie, and James Benschoter

  • Juarez update

    Date: 2012.11.05 | Category: faith | Response: 0

    We make small plans: God multiplies and magnifies and the truly incredible happens!  He is not limited by our imaginations!  When we started talking about going to Juarez several months ago, we were basically inviting ourselves to tag along with one other family so we could cook a meal.  Now, less than 2 weeks before we leave, we are expecting 5 families to make this journey with us- for a total of 10 adults and 18 children, ranging in age from 6 months (yes, another baby even younger than James is coming!) up to 17!  The momentum that we are gaining (no blog title pun intented!) is nothing short of miraculous.

    On Friday night we gathered with a house full of people for an information meeting about our upcoming trip to Arbol de Vida.  The Schrimps are a couple with whom Chris works at Cherry Hills, they have lived at Arbol de Vida and continue to faithfully serve the orphanage from Colorado.  They will be heading up this little adventure, and they were able to give us more specifics regarding the mission and purpose of Arbol de Vida, our safety risks while in the Juarez area, travel to and from Mexico, and the needs at the orphanage.  We were also able to meet all of the families who will be joining us and to brainstorm about the difference we can make together. We’ve had so many great questions in response to our first letter I thought I’d put as much information as possible into one place for you.

    The goal of Arbol de Vida is to provide a safe, family environment to youth who would otherwise be on the streets where they would surely turn to the gangs and/or to prostitution just to survive.  Because these boys and girls receive an education, learn job skills, and learn about Jesus, there is hope for the future of Juarez.  These youth are life in a town that is desperate for revival.  Arbol de Vida is literally fostering the future of Mexico.  Unlike many orphanages that cut off services when the child turns 18, Arbol de Vida is committed to the long term success of it’s charges.  They provide a safe home for as long as it’s needed, they continue to provide training and support into adulthood, and they serve as a resource when life outside of their walls gets complicated.

    In regard to safety, we will not be using the main border crossing into Juarez, but a small crossing well outside of town.  The compound where we are headed is less than 7 minutes across the US/Mexico border.  We will not be taking our kids into the city of Juarez- and in fact I doubt if any of us will go into town at all.  If we do have needs that arise, it is safer and easier to cross back into El Paso, Texas to get what we need.  The property that the orphanage is on is protected by armed guards who are loyal to the children of the orphanage and to anyone who is coming to serve them. Despite all of the well deserved bad press that Juarez gets, the orphanage is much safer and is apart from the main areas of danger.  The town knows and respects the people who run Arbol de Vida and the gangs and drug cartels have left them alone (and in some cases support them!).  We have been told that they have only ever had one problem- years ago some looters came in and stole and damaged some property and roughed up one of the workers- and that actually served to increase the protective nature of the surrounding community and the guards.  We will be sleeping in the dorms, Chris and JT will be in the boy’s wing in their own bedroom, and I will have Kate and James with me in a private room in the girl’s wing.  We will have access to clean, safe water- for drinking and bathing.  The orphanage has it’s own aquifer well and reverse osmosis filtering system.

    We have made one change to our itinerary- we decided to leave on Friday (Nov 16) to get a head start on the drive.  We would like to meet up with all of the other families and cross into Mexico together on Saturday afternoon well before dark sets in.  We decided that it is unrealistic to attempt the entire 11 hour drive on Saturday since we are expecting stops at least every three hours to feed James and to keep the kids from revolting.  This means we will require an extra night in a hotel and does add to our expenses, but it seems like a more feasible itinerary.

    Regardless of all that, we feel strongly that there is no place safer than where God has called us.  We are trying to be as smart as possible in our planning, but we also have to trust that since God has put it on our hearts to go that He will protect us as He sees fit.  Truly, I am more concerned with the logistics of the drive and time at the orphanage with three small children than our safety due to violence.

    As to what we’ll be doing while we’re at Arbol de Vida, it turns out they have plenty for us to do!  Because of the unrest in Juarez over the past 5 years, most of the U.S. support to the orphanage has dried up.  People have stopped coming to serve, people have stopped sending money, and the youth there feel forgotten and abandoned.  We hope to change that- by spending a few days with them and showing them that they are not forgotten and that they are important to us!  We are planning to provide a big festive meal for them, repair some damage to their buildings, provide sporting equipment, and do some craft projects with them (we’re thinking we will make no-sew bags, duct tape wallets and purses, and hair accessories).  We also will be bringing some specific items that they have requested- bras and underclothes, church clothes, toiletries and hygiene items, new bedding, etc.  I believe that they deserve better than our cast offs, more than a check sent from afar.  They deserve for someone to spend time with them, to look into their eyes and to show them that they are valuable.  That they are beautiful.  That their life is worth something.  That they can make a difference in their community.

    If you have already sent us money to help cover our expenses, THANK YOU!  As of today our family’s budgeted travel expenses are completely paid for ($800!).  As a group, we are hoping that we will raise enough money to purchase ALL of the supplies and goods that we have on our wish list.  Our  group goal is to raise $1500 for the building supplies and I estimate that we need an additional $2000 for the rest of our purchases.  Specifically, we want to pay the orphanage for all of the food and expenses related to our group’s stay, buy food for a turkey dinner, paint, building, and roofing supplies, toiletries, undergarments and hygiene items for the girls, dress clothes for the boys, bedding, supplies to make crafts, and sports equipment.  If you have considered making a contribution toward our trip, there is still time and we would love your support!  We would also love to know if you have decided to partner with Arbol de Vida directly, it would mean so much to us to know that because of our trip you have decided to support their work.

    We definitely appreciate and need your prayers.  Of course, please pray for our safety.  We are facing long hours on the highway, border crossings, and the risks of Juarez.  Pray for good health for each member of our family.  Please pray for unity among those of us serving together.  Pray for the Spirit of the Living God to fall on Juarez- not just while we are there, but that revival would occur and that the community would be renewed.  Please pray for the boys and girls who live at Arbol de Vida.  Pray that they would reject the lies that they aren’t valuable, that life on the streets is the best they can hope for, that it’s time for them to strike out on their own.  Pray that they will be encouraged by our visit and that they will continue to have hope for the future.  Pray that our children would have soft hearts and develop a love for serving others.  Please pray that us parents would have extra patience and wisdom as we are facing extra stresses there.  Please pray as we continue to prepare for our trip, that the essentials will not be forgotten and that the details will fall into place.  I’m sure that you can think of many other blessings to pray over us, and I encourage you to do so.  I would love to know if you are committed to praying over our trip- please let me know!

    I understand that we will have some cell phone coverage and internet access while we are in Mexico.  I am hoping to keep my blog and Facebook updated while we are there so that you can know how to pray and what we are accomplishing along the way.

    If you would like to support us financially, you can mail a check directly to us-
    Melody or Chris Benschoter
    2285 Wynterbrook Dr
    Highlands Ranch, CO 80126

    If you want to learn more about Arbol de Vida or would like to support them directly you can access their facebook page at www.facebook.com/TreeofLifeJuarez or their website at www.treeoflifejuarez.org.

    Thank you for your love and support!  I have loved hearing your reactions and responses this past week!

  • Juarez

    Date: 2012.10.29 | Category: faith, marriage, parenting | Response: 1

    When Chris and I got married we set some short and long term goals for our family.  One of our short term goals was to serve on a mission trip together before we had children.  Sadly, we didn’t meet that goal- in the busyness of life it is something that got pushed off time and again.  As JT and Kate are growing old enough to understand and follow our example as Christ followers, it has become more and more important to us to live out the gospel intentionally with and before our children.  Our desire is to love our neighbors both near and far and to serve widows and orphans the best that we can as a family.

    A few months ago Chris was chatting with a coworker about Arbol de Vida, the orphanage that he works with in Juarez, Mexico and that our church happens to support.  During the conversation it was mentioned that last year the children had oatmeal for dinner on Thanksgiving.  It’s like a lightbulb went on and we saw a need that we could meet.  Why not provide Thanksgiving to these children?  Why not bring our family down and serve it to them ourselves?

    Chris and I have decided to answer God’s call to take our family on an adventure in serving Him over the week of Thanksgiving this year.  On November 17 we will be joining the Schrimp family, the Babb family, and possibly two more families in driving 11 hours south to Juarez, Mexico to serve the children and staff at Arbol de Vida.  We will be returning on Thanksgiving day, hopefully in time to celebrate with family at home.

    We are excited for an opportunity to expose JT, Kate, and James to another culture, to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others, to love some children who can use extra love, to help meet practical needs at the orphanage, to show our children how God gives to us so that we can give to others, and to provide a turkey dinner with all the trimmings to the residents of Arbol de Vida.  (Thank goodness I cooked Thanksgiving by myself for the first time last year!  God knew what was in store for us this year!)

    We are nervous about spending 22 hours+ with our three (very young!) kids in the car (especially since James is still breast feeding every 3 hours!), border crossings and travel in another country, safety on the road and in a town known for violence and drug wars, spending 4 nights in a dormitory (no naps = cranky kids!), exposing our children to the older children of the orphanage (most of the orphans are middle and high school aged), and living and sharing the gospel when we have so much to learn ourselves.

    How can you support us on this adventure?  First and foremost we need your prayers.  We know that all things are possible with God and that prayer is a powerful agent of change.  We will face many challenges during this adventure and will need an extra measure of wisdom and grace and patience as we face the unknown.  Second, we would appreciate your financial support.  We will require gas for the round trip drive, a hotel stay for one night, and groceries, toiletries, and goodies (all of which must be purchased in Mexico) for the children of Arbol de Vida.  We would like to lavish the kids and staff with love and practical goods while we are there.  If you feel called to support us, whether through prayer or gifts of money please let us know before November 10.

    For more information about Arbol de Vida or to partner in supporting them directly, please check their facebook page at www.facebook.com/TreeofLifeJuarez or their website at www.treeoflifejuarez.org.

    Thank you for your love and support-

    Chris, Melody, JT, Kate, and James Benschoter

    benschoter@yahoo.com
    melschoter@gmail.com
    2285 Wynterbrook Dr.
    Highlands Ranch, CO  80126

  • Thanksgiving Traditions

    Date: 2010.11.24 | Category: recipes | Response: 0

    I hope that this Thanksgiving finds all of you well and surrounded by loved ones.  This year is the first time that Chris and I haven’t spent Thanksgiving with family.  That doesn’t mean we won’t be eating well though!  We’re going to a friend’s house tomorrow for deep fried turkey (we’ve never had it that way- but we hear it comes out excellent!) and I’m going to bring my two favorite pies.  Although I don’t have enough pie to serve you a piece, I thought I’d share my recipes with you.  Enjoy!

    Cranberry/Eggnog Pie

    1 shortbread pie crust (or you could make your own favorite crust)
    1 4 serving size package of red jello
    3/4 cup boiling water
    1/2 cup orange juice (1-2 oranges if fresh squeezed)
    1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
    1 tsp grated orange zest

    1 cup eggnog (or milk)
    1 4 serving size package vanilla instant pudding
    1 cup thawed cool whip

    Dissolve gelatin in boiling water and add orange juice.  Place bowl in a larger bowl of ice water.  Let stand, stirring occasionally until gelatin is slightly thickened.  Stir in cranberry sauce and orange zest.  Pour into pie crust and chill until set (at least 30 minutes).

    Mix eggnog and pudding mix until well blended.  Fold in cool whip.  Gently spread over gelatin mixture.  Chill until firm (at least 2 hours) before serving.  Keep refrigerated.

    Streusel Topped Pumpkin Pie

    1 15 oz can pumpkin
    1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
    1 egg
    3/4 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp each ginger, nutmeg, salt
    1 graham cracker pie crust

    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1/4 cup brown sugar
    2 TBS flour
    2 TBS cold butter
    3 oz chopped mixed nuts

    Preheat oven to 425°.  With mixer or wire whisk beat pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, egg, and spices.  Pour into crust and bake 15 minutes.

    Meanwhile combine sugar, flour and cinnamon.  Cut in butter until crumbly.  Stir in nuts.  Remove pie from oven and reduce oven temp to 350°.  Sprinkle streusel mixture over pie.

    Bake 40 minutes or until set.  Cool and serve warm or at room temp.  Refrigerate leftovers.

    yummy!

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