and then we moved into a barn

Wow. It’s been a whirlwind couple days. We found a place out in the country, talked about it for a few hours, decided to move, and then, a few hours later, there we were, living in our new digs. Amazing.

mint from our backyard

To tell the truth, I am so excited I can hardly slow down enough to type the story, the gist of which is:


Okay, so it’s not actually a barn barn. There aren’t animals in it (thought there was that mouse that made an appearance tonight—the girls and I were screaming so loudly my husband thought a stranger walked into the house waving a machete) (and the dogs sometimes sneak in) and it’s not at all haymow-y. It’s more of a big storage shed that has had some bedrooms built into it. It suits us perfectly.

Our new home is located on a large finca (farm). There are about seven other homes on the property—some family and some rented. The finca—Rancho de la Santa Fe—is located a short walk out of Chamelco, a small, friendly, family-centered town. (Carcha was more industrialized.) Bezaleel is a five minute bus ride from Chamelco, so now we are a bit closer to the school. And that’s it for the geography lesson.

There is so much green. So much. We are more isolated than we were in the city, and security is excellent. I can walk around outside with my camera!

the view from the back door

At first we were a little concerned that we will be too isolated. That we won’t have neighbors to visit with. That the kids won’t have neighbor kids to run around with. So far, that is not the case. There are two boys who live up at The Big House, the same ages as my boys. All day long, the kids have been back and forth between houses. Many times during the day I paused what I was doing and realized that I didn’t know exactly where the kids were and it was okay. After not being able to let them even open the door without permission, the freedom is over-the-top glorious.

the rope swing at one of the rented houses

And even if we are more isolated, we will be going to town for errands and church, and to Bezaleel for work. If anything, I think it will be nice to have a place to get away from it all. Having a safe haven is so important.

About the farm: the owner’s daughter is getting her degree in forestry engineering. She is reforesting with lots of pine trees, and she’s working at taking down the wire fences and putting up natural fences. There is a creek and a whole bunch of ponds—one of the renters is using them to raise Tilapia and trout. There are fruit trees and banana plants and flowers everywhere. There is a ping-pong table up at The Big House and a (currently drained) in-ground swimming pool. One of the renters has a horse.

There are three mild-mannered, intelligent dogs. Amarillo, especially, is extremely pliable.

The house is rather cavernous, but we have some ideas for how to make it cozier, and—get this—it has windows with see-through glass and big barn doors (but of course!) that open wide. Luvia came out to work today, even though it was Saturday.

She scrubbed the bathroom from top to bottom, and I scrubbed the metal barn doors, inside and out. We washed windows and scrubbed floors and did (a little) laundry. Some workers have been painting the house, and the gardener has been cleaning up around the place and “mowed” the yard with a machete.

My husband and older son went to Coban today and came back with a TIGO stick—a do-hickey that you put in the USB port so that you can get internet anywhere. So now I am sitting in my bed, drinking tea, and hanging out on the web.

This place feels so, so right.

It’s even crossed my mind that I might not want to go home.


  • KTdid

    I looked at the photo of the inside of your house, and said it out loud–They call that a BARN?!! (Wish my horse man's barn looked like this!) Q.

    p.s. Happy for you!

  • Unknown

    Oh Jennifer! I am finally catching up with what is happening. Last night at small group Jen NorthBauman said you were having a hard time. I have just spent the last hour reading. Thank God for your new home!!! You are a very brave, thoughtful and loving woman. Bless you as you work with the children – yours and theirs! BIG HUG, Sheri

  • Kristina

    I came across your blog while searching for info on baking bread in cast iron. I am one of your new followers. I find your blog very interesting.

  • Ayrie Joyce

    When I read your post about the mold and the water in the walls and the security issues I ought to have been worried for you…. but I wasn't. Somehow I knew that it would all work out, and it has 🙂 Thanks too for sharing information on how we can help you and your mission. Thanks for being honest too – I'm awed and humbled at what you've chosen to do. Praying for you and your family every day.

  • CricketRed

    having some time in the little city house will help them appreciate the country digs ever so much more…. Must have been Gods plan all along!

  • Beth Brubaker

    Now when the kids leave the doors open, you can yell "What's the matter with you? Do you live in a barn?!?" Oh yeah, right….you do! ;P

  • katie

    This is what I'd pictured when you said you were going to Guatemala. I'm happy for you guys too. It does make me wonder though … what kids DO do better in the sort of place you were first in? Any of them? How do families truly stuck in such situations or worse manage? And what strength it must take to wrench a good kid through that into good adult-dom in such a setting.

  • Carol S-B

    Comfy chairs; a clock on the wall; a bookshelf! Love it. I can just visualise your twinkle lights on the partitioning wall… or over there by the living room area… or…
    Great to see the mint from your garden. And look at your laundry! Drying! Outside!
    Sorry, excessive use of exclamation marks.
    Ha ha! Kathy, I was thinking the same thing, about the dog.
    Too funny.

  • ghjfghje

    So happy for you and the family! There's nothing worse than not feeling at home a house—or knowing it's a health hazard. Wonderful!!

  • Rhona from Keyser

    What a wonderful change for your family; the photos make me breathe a sigh of relief for you and especially for your children. BTW, I made The World's Best Pancakes for 3 grandkids and the adults this morning and everyone wanted more! But I must confess to cutting the butter back a bit in order to ease my conscience slightly.

  • Michelle @ Give a Girl a Fig

    First forks. And now a barn?!! It just keeps getting better and better! Love this place…sounds like the perfect home for you and your family. SO glad you found it and made the move. Oh..and can Luvia pop by my place? I've never seen floors so clean!

  • Kathy ~ Artful Accents

    What a huge improvement! And I'm thinking that you have a wonderful new friend/helper in Luvia! Your little guy looks happy as a lark in the pic with the pond behind him. My only question is… how in the world did Amarillo get into that walker?? LOL

    • Jennifer Jo

      The kids put her in. She seemed happy as a clam, too. My older daughter likes to scoop her up and carry her around in her arms.

  • Jen J

    This new house is totally what I had imagined for your family when you said you were going to Guatemala. I'm so glad you found a better fit. It looks wonderful and the kids look so happy! Hooray!!

  • Mama Pea

    Oh, my gosh! HUGE sigh of relief on your new environment! You must feel as if you've awakened from a bad dream. I'm sure this new place for you and your family is much more what you had envisioned when you signed up. With the other children for your kids to play with and the ability to be outdoors (as they are so used to being), I know they are going to do beautifully. So, so happy to hear you have a safe, very pleasant place to be. A good "home" environment means so much! You're on your way now, JJ!

  • Mountaineer

    Such good news! I suppose. As I was reading I found myself instinctively countering with (minor) concerns, matters of safety mostly. (I'm not concerned that you will stay there.) You're surely dealing with these issues, but not hearing about them, just not being there, leaves me hanging.

    On the other hand, the beauty and the expanse and the ponds with tilapia and trout and the nearness to work and. . .This is exciting! (I AM concerned that younger brother may want to move there.)

  • Tara Kreider

    Oh. My. Word. This place LOOKS and SOUNDS so, so right for you all. Every detail- The green around you, the barn doors, the rope swing, the dogs(!), the neighbor kids- what a great fit. I'm so relieved and excited for you. The kids look happy and you sound happy. Looking forward to more posts to hear about your new life!

  • Suburban Correspondent

    This is so much more your style! Amazingly how much less stressful it can be when the children are free to run outside and play, isn't it?

  • Anonymous

    I just stood up on the chair and yelled WAAAAHOOOOOOOOO! I felt so bad for you all dealing with mold and no yard. And to me, it looks like the move is really good for the kids, too. Smiles, space, friends, ROPE SWING!! LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!!!!!!! YAY!!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Shannon

    When I saw the first inside picture of your house, I felt a great peace and relief. It just felt "right." Now that home is getting more settled, I believe other things will fall into place as well.

  • Aili

    I just hit publish and now I can't reread my comment to see if it made any sense. Baby teething, and only on my first cup of coffee. What I was trying to say was that living in a house like your first one, even in a culture you understood, would have been rough.

    Excuse me, I need to go get my caffeine IV.

  • Aili

    Oh, this is so great! What you said in your other post about culture shock is, I am sure, mostly true, but living in even familiar circumstances in a wet house with no light had to be exacerbating it.

  • Becky

    Hooray!!!! I'm so happy that you all found a safe haven and are really able to enjoy your adventure for the first time. It looks ideal! How wonderful to allow your children to have freedom! So happy for you!

  • Ciara

    This is amazing! I've been following eagerly and waiting for things to turn around. So happy for you to have found a beautiful safe home. How awesome that the kids get to roam freerange again. Congratulations!

Leave a Comment