Tag Archives: ministry


This past weekend, we took a little road trip to Chicago for Campus Catalyst, a training conference for public campus ministry sponsored by the NAD and hosted by North Shore Seventh-day Adventist Church.  It was great to spend time with old friends and to make new ones too.  It is such a blessing to be involved in ministry.

IMG_5320During most of the meetings, I hung out with the kids and Bentley.  It was Bentley’s first time in Chicago.  He loved the squirrels the best.  We walked to a park nearby to help the kids release some energy. IMG_5319IMG_5308IMG_5317On Saturday, we wanted to do something special for the kids so we ordered Chicago pizza from Pequods while they swam in the hotel pool.  No joke people – it was the most disgusting pizza I’ve ever had in my life.  The crust was thick, dry, crumbly, and stale.  There was hardly any cheese.  The tomato sauce was watery and bland.  And the edges of the crust were burned black.  It made Pizza Hut taste like a Michelin 3 starred restaurant.  Worse yet, each pie cost over $20!  We each managed to scrap off the top layer of one piece, but we couldn’t do much more than that.  We called to get our money back.  We’re going to have to give Chicago pizza another go next time…definitely at a different pizza place.  Pequods, you let us down!

IMG_5304We were able to spend time with Jukes & Aileen and the kids while we were there.  It was nice that they were only a few miles away from the conference!  We enjoyed talking and catching up.  On Sunday, we ate at Native Foods, an amazing vegan restaurant.  Here, Chicago redeemed itself after our Pequods incident.  I had the best vegan sandwich I’ve ever eaten.  It was the crispy chicken, bacon and avocado sandwich.  Amazing!  Then we spent our final hours there at the Shedd Aquarium.

IMG_5321IMG_4794Making fishy faces with cousins in front of the fishes!


We had a great weekend and hope we can come back again soon!

Our First Special Music

A few months ago, we were blessed to be able to sing a song together for special music at church.  We hadn’t thought anyone recorded it, but someone did!  Thank you, James, for the video!

We practiced a song that was particularly meaningful for us and we sang it together as a prayer.  As you will see, we don’t have much talent (or ability to sing in tune ), but we just hoped the words would be a blessing to someone out there who needed to hear them!

Here are the lyrics:

Less of Me

Let me be a little kinder, let me be a little blinder,
to the faults of those around, let me praise a little more…

Let me dream when I am weary, just a little bit more cheery,
Think a little more of others, and a little less of me.

Let me be a little braver, when temptation bids me waver,
Let me strive a little harder, to be all that I should be…

Let me be a little meeker, with a brother that is weaker,
Let me think more of my neighbor, and a little less of me.

Let me dream when I am weary, just a little bit more cheery,
Let me serve a little better, those that I am striving for…

Let me be a little meeker, with a brother that is weaker,
Think a little more of others, and a little less of me.

Think a little more of others, and a little less of me.

May the words of this song be the prayer of your heart also!

Finding a Real Identity

I can’t seem to fall back asleep, so I decided to write down some thoughts that have been floating around in my mind.

Somehow, my life has seemed to take an unexpected turn.  Perhaps it stemmed from that magical time in Guam where all I had to do was live for myself.  But somehow, the bubble that I had been living in for the past few years of stay-at-home-mothering has ruptured, leaving me a bit dazzled to say the least. 

I’ve always prided myself in being Israel’s wife and we are so happily married.  Yet, there was something that bothered me when we began to be identified as the “marriage seminar” couple.  True, I believe we are living as close to a fairy tale as you can get in this world:  interracial couple falls in love despite cultural taboos, miraculously parents and family approve, they push through obstacles, God clearly works through it all….  Flattering though it was – young people wanting to hear what we had to say about our thriving marriage, despite our odds – that’s not the only thing I wanted to be known for.  I began wanting to believe that there is more to our life…to my life.

My boys are my life.  From the time when I was pregnant with Imanuel, our firstborn, there was nothing more that I wanted to be than an amazing mother.  This new chapter in my life could very well have been the last chapter and the epilogue at that.  Being a mother has been my proudest accomplishment and the entries that I’ve blogged here on pregnancy and parenting express but the tip of my emotional iceberg.  There is no greater gift that God could have given to mankind than the ability to create and raise a child.  So smitten was I, that my life became consumed. 

But eventually, there came those lonely moments when you realize that as grand as being a wife and mother is, something is lacking.  That is because of this:  your identity cannot be solely wrapped up in your relationship to someone else.  Winning the best girlfriend/wife award can never be your life calling, though during those initial years of dating/marital bliss it may seem like it.  Mother of the century is very much a coveted title, but can we really believe that if our kids, by God’s grace, turned out perfectly, we can find complete contentment in our own souls?  How about if we completely fail and disappoint our family? What good can we be?  This is where I was.

We, too, were made for another world.  In that World, the focus won’t be on marriages and parenting.  I am beginning to see why now.  Our life consists of different chapters that continue to develop who we are and who we become.  Marriage and motherhood are large chapters and will continue to be strong, reoccurring themes.  They will perhaps have the most significant influence on our characters.  They are an enormous responsibility.  But in the end, that is not who we are.  They are still a means to an end.  It is easy to lose sight of this.

Now that Ty is older, I am learning how to get back in touch with who I am as an individual.  Time for myself has become paramount in cultivating this.  In addition to our joint efforts as a family, impacting lives on my own, having my own role in ministry, and having my own life is what I have been missing for the past few years.  Even if it means waking up earlier, having a crazier schedule, or sleeping later at night, it is well worth it.  It is proving to bring such contentment and self-worth for me and is, not surprisingly, benefiting my family. 

It brings a peace knowing that when all is said and done, God still values me and loves me.  This is the Gospel.  Sometimes it’s hard for us women to truly believe it because we tend to live our lives for others.  But I often need a constant reminder that even if no one else in the world existed, this fact wouldn’t be altered in the slightest. 

Wii had a Game Night

On Saturday evening, December 4, 2010, we hosted our first Wii Tournament of Champions.  Our student from Michigan Tech came over in the evening for amazing food and some major calorie-burning fun.

Srinu prepared for us an Indian feast and taught us how to prepare some yummy dishes.  From rices to curry and even a home-made curd, we were well-fed and happy.  Then we were ready to put on our game faces.

We began by creating a Mii for all of our participants:  Alanna, Gabriel, Daniel JF, Srinu, and Robert.  Israel and I already had ours made.  After this, we hit up a beautiful Resort with unlimited free amenities!  We round-robined in 3 activities:  canoeing, archery, and wakeboarding.  We were all pretty head-to-head with the most memorable moments coming from Daniel JF’s epic flop on the final archery round to lose to his greatest rival, yours truly.  Alanna’s canoeing skills also shined as she took down Gabe with ease.  And who could forget the first game in the tournament where Robert demolished Israel on the wakeboard.  It was hard to believe that Robert never played before.

We duked it out.  It got really intense after a couple hours and 2 of our competitors made an early exit, however, they didn’t leave empty-handed.  They were awarded consolation prizes as we saw them out.  Then without any further pause, the Wii sticks continued to flail and fly in all sorts of directions as sweat drops splashed on the on-lookers. 

Then, the bona fide tournament ensued.  The 3 round Sword Fighting competition.  This was for all the marbles.  And by “all the marbles”, I mean the coveted prizes which were brought to us by a generous donor in conjunction with Walmart’s always low prices.  It was for the big-time.  We played round-robin again to determine rank.  I was undefeated against everyone so that got me a Bye and saved me a place in the championship bracket.  The other guys fought through the semi-finals and one guy finally came out up top.  Robert Gordon.  In the intense finals, not only did we burn about 500 calories, it was so close that spectators who were intensely cheering, burned about 300 calories too.  And finally in the third round, I plummeted to my defeat into the cold water. 

Robert was deemed the Wii Champion for the night.  He received a cute snowman mug with a hot cocoa kit.  Daniel JF was awarded runner-up for his nearly pristine performance in archery.  His prize was the classic Snowman Pez Dispenser with 3 multi-flavored packs of Pez.  Gabe came in third place for his record-breaking wakeboarding run, (which Judy definitely did NOT beat).  He was awarded Cool Mint Blistex to keep his lips nice and supple throughout the cold winter months.

The award ceremony was simple, yet elegant.  Beautifully wrapped prizes were presented to the winners…and in fact, we were all winners.  There are no losers when you play in the Ramos house.  Everyone got a prize…just not as good as the top prizes.  As we bid them farewell, they walked out in the dark night, the snowflakes silently and gently covering the ground.  Before we knew it, they were gone.  But they will be back, no doubt.  Talk about an on-going olympic tournament throughout next semester is in the works.  Wii will see them again and Wii will be ready.   

I don’t know of any better combination than Indian food and the Wii.  It just worked so well.

Srinu and his masterpiece.

In the basement…it was game time.

Our unofficial scorekeeper

Gabe & Lanna : the archery results

Ironman & Robert in round-robin play.  Canoeing.

DEACON showing his mad skillz in archery.  Good form!

jude & DEACON in sword fight.  DEACON got a beat-down.  I’m just sayin’.

Robert:  the Wii Champion!

Ironman is awarded a consolation prize.

The top 3 winners & their prizes along with the Game Night sponsor.

Suisse Family Ramos: We’ll Remember…

– Our long journey there and back

We were finally able to really use the “wallets” that Auntie Karen got for us…as passport covers!
Manu, our expert traveler and Ty, a rookie.  He did pretty well, considering.  🙂

– Our mode of transportation in Switzerland

– Playing

– Eating

– Driving to Milano, Italy


– Meeting new uncles, aunties, & friends at ASI

– Our hotel
                                           (shoe shiner/buffer)
                                               the final night

– And just being together.

What an incredible opportunity we were able to share together.  We are so grateful for our friends there for a wonderful experience and fellowship.  It is amazing how God has opened up so many doors even though we are so unworthy.  I believe it shows what a gracious God we serve.  We believe there is a special group of people there who God is going to use to do an amazing work.  We are thankful for the opportunity to work with them and hope we can strive together until the Last Day.

CH, we miss you already!

Suisse Family Ramos at ASI: Jetzt ist die Zeit

Switzerland is composed of three major divisions: French, German, and Italian.  Last year, I had the opportunity to speak for the ASI Swiss Revival Congress in Geneva.  They were kind enough to invite me to Zurich this time for joint programs between ASI Swiss and ASI Germany.  Several programs came together including the ASI Swiss Revival, ASI Germany Convention, and a public documentary film viewing titled, “Creation”.  People from various parts of the region were able to attend.  Some of the countries represented were Austria, France, Portugal, Italy, (of course, Germany), and friends came all the way from Denmark! 

We had an enjoyable time here.  Tomorrow will be my final workshop presentation after the creation film is shown to the community.

Of course, the highlight was the Sabbath meetings.  More than 15k euros were raised for various different ASI Swiss and ASI Germany projects. 

Among the highlights of the weekend part of the our trip were seeing several friends that we met last year.  Our friends Jan and Sebina had their first baby girl a couple months ago!  Manu was able to see Uncle Wayne — engineer originally from South Africa — who took us all over the place last time we were in Switzerland and gave Manu many, many coins (he kept on losing them).  He was also reunited with Esther, his little friend who speaks Portuguese, Swedish, and a tad of French and English.

Here are some highlights:

– Milano Shirt Illustration
Since we were able to take some time off to ourselves, I had great stories for sermon illustrations.  I told them how we drove to Milano, Italy — fashion capital of the world — to buy a shirt that had “Milano” written on it, but could not find one.  I did find, however, a bunch of Mickey Mouse shirts!  All that driving and mission failed!  Someone responded, if you want a Milano shirt, go to New York!  Hahaha. 

– The Worst: Italians or Americans
I’m convinced that Italians are the Amerians of Europe.  It’s rare to find anyone who speaks another language!  While we were in Italy, I was trying to show off to Judy and the kids by acting like I could understand and speak a little italiano.  But I ended up speaking, if you can imagine, spanish with an italian accent.  The people at the meetings confirmed that Italians are known to be bright, but not to learn other languages. 

– European Food
We had pasta with red sauce and pesto sauce for lunch today.  Totally vegan.  Man!  When you get good pasta — like REALLY good pasta that has been cooked PERFECTLY, you can tell the difference.  The chef at the convention (-she was Adventist) made 50 kilos of pasta and it was perfect!  Her secret?  Make it al dente, and as soon as it comes off the water, put olive oil on it so it doesn’t stick — but don’t put the oil in the water with the cooking pasta.  I’m going to try it at home.  It also helps when the ingredients are good.  All of the food here is super-fresh…straight from the farm.

– Traffic
I was trying to show the Germans that Americans can hang with keeping an on-time schedule.  Fail.  The organizers got a rental van for my family and gave us a GPS.  For last night’s meeting, we were rushing, but doing okay with time.  We were supposed to be there at 6.  But we got there at 7:30!  Traffic was horrible.  Luckily, the president of ASI Germany rolled up late as well (with his nice Audi).  This morning, however, we were late again (this time only five minutes).  And we had no excuse this time.  Sigh.  But I think they’re still our friends 🙂

Here are some pics (thanks to Judy!):

Don’t know what all of this says, but that’s how my name looks in German 🙂

ASI motto: Sharing Christ in the Marketplace or Markplatz.

Google translate this if you really want to know 🙂

The boys in Sabbath School…which was in german.  Micah had difficulty focusing and here is trying to find a reason why he needs a band aid too. 

My interview before I spoke this morning. 

Manu and Micah watching, “Janice’s Attic”, on my computer.  Their stuffed animals are just hanging.  Micah has his Bible so, just in case Daddy doesn’t pull through, he can be ready.

Manu and his Swiss miss.

We had a very good day.  But we also missed our church members at home and look forward to being there soon!

Adventures in the Shenandoah Valley

This past week, our family took a road trip to Virginia for SVA’s fall week of prayer.  From our home, it was a total of nearly 17 hours of just driving time.  So, for us, it was more like 20 hours counting fill-ups, eating, nursing, and potty stops.  It was a beautiful drive, though, and thankfully, the boys did great.  It was also nice that our parents live about halfway so we we’re able to take a pit stop there. 

Jen is an amazing teacher at SVA and so that’s how Israel got the invite to speak there.  We were so impressed by the beauty of not only Virginia, but also the campus!  It looked more like a mini-college campus.  The teachers and kids were great too!  For the weekend, Amy came over from UVA to hang out with us and we had lots of good conversation, relaxation, and fun.  It was one of those trips that reminded us of the blessing of true Christian friendship.  We’re going to miss you girls!

The boys really loved it there.  Jen lives just a couple of houses down from the school so we spent lots of time outside walking.  The neighbors let the boys play with their toys so Manu and Micah rode on their tricycle and drove their mini John Deere tractor around.  During this trip, Ty’s creeping has improved in both speed and form.  He enjoyed pulling Jen’s books out from her bookshelf and finding particles on the floor and putting them in his mouth.  And how could I forget…we all got acquainted with how to play the nose flute.  (It is a legit instrument…you should google it!)  Manu and Daddy are getting to be quite good.  A nice man from church gave each of the older boys a nose flute, complete with instructions on how to play.  We learned an important lesson that wasn’t included in the instructions:  No one should attempt to play the nose flute with a runny nose.   
The last couple of days we spent outside in nature.  The girls took us to an overlook that was breathtaking.  And, our trip wouldn’t have been complete without a meal at a Thai restaurant.  The three of us girls were able to spend some good quality time hanging out and having fun while Israel spent some hours in Jen’s room finding his roots.  But we may all be adopting “his” culture too.  It’s just a matter of making that commitment. 

What topped this trip off was that Ty learned to speak his first sentence!  He was getting quite fluent at saying, “mamamamama” but in the car he actually learned how to say “more mama”.  He said it several times when he wanted more food.  It was right at his 9 month birthday which makes his speech development a Ramos record!

We have a lot to remember…

Playing on campus

Discovering the “Gum Tree”…and learning that, tempting though it may be, it is NOT okay to take a piece of gum from it.

Meeting up with Auntie Amy at the school sign

The founder/history of SVA

A female praying mantis that we found on the window of the ad building!

In front of Jen’s house on Sabbath morning getting ready to walk to church

Daddy & his boys.  Manu is practicing the nose flute in this picture.

An evening stop with the girls at a local favorite while Israel was putting the boys down for bed.

Hanging at Jen’s place

Auntie Amy, Micah, Manu, and some animal friends

The leaves starting to change!

On the way to the lookout

A short stop for a wilderness survival lesson from Miss Song:  How to whistle using an acorn cap.

Daddy & Micah at the lookout

Ty wondering where the view is

Overall, God truly blessed our trip.  Students made decisions for the Lord, we had a blast spending time with friends, the weather was perfect, and the landscape just beautiful.  We couldn’t ask for anything more!  (Except for maybe some new brake pads…)

Thank you so much, Jen and Amy, for everything!  God bless you both there in Virginia and continue to be a light in your schools.  You are amazing women!

Family Camp 2010

Last week, we had the privilege of going to Camp Au Sable for family camp.  Thanks to a tip from Stephanie, , Israel was asked to be camp pastor for that week so we were able to enjoy what the camp had to offer…which was much, much more than what we had imagined!  This was a first for our whole family since none of us had ever been “campers” before.  From swimming at the water front to listening for the bugle that called us to meals, the boys had a wonderful time.  The boys went to “Kids Kamp” for ages 0-7, in the mornings, which was a good & educational experience for them.  They had activities like visiting the fire station, going to Hartwick Pines, going inside an ambulance, and lots of playing.  Micah was nervous at first, but after some coaxing from his big brother, they decided to go together.  That gave me a chance to join the basket-making class and for Israel to get some work done.  We’re looking forward to when the boys are old enough to participate in more classes/activities and really take advantage of camp!  Here are some pictures from the week at camp:

Our usual place to eat meals

Manu braved the climbing wall and almost made it to the top

Boys at the water front.  Swimming was definitely one of the highlights for the boys.

Walking home after a volleyball game.  It was crazy because both Israel’s and my team made it to the championship game.  But my team decided to let the pastor’s team win.  We figured it’s common courtesy.

On the trail back to Forest Lodge.  Manu and I had many “races” to and from the lodge.

Their favorite teacher from Kids Kamp, Auntie Christine.  She was the reason they kept going back!

These are the 2 baskets I made in my class.  The one on the left was for Micah and the other one for Manu.

Manu next to our over-traveled vehicle.  PS:  Someone during MI campmeeting stole our UP sticker!  If anyone has any leads on this, please let us know.

Bentley (& Alanna ) held the fort back home and took care of the group of colporteurs that stayed at our place for the week.  He was happy to have his new buddy, Giggles, keep him company.  It was a gift from Manu right before we left.

And lastly, here’s a little video of Manu on the swing there at High Adventure.  I was nervous because he was apprehensive before going, but afterwards, he wanted to go again…higher.

Camp Au Sable is definitely a blessing and we’re even more thankful for their dedication and ministry.

L’Anse Christian Home School Group

About a couple years ago, one of our churches, L’Anse Seventh-day Adventist Church, started a Christian home school group for the community.  My kids aren’t school age yet so they would mainly participate in the craft activities, but it’s been nice to have our kids get together with other kids once a week for “school”.  Israel was the Spanish teacher last year but is now has taken a sabbatical from that.  Daniel was the worship/Bible leader.  I help with music which involves singing and hand bells.  Our group has fluctuated from time to time, but we seem to have a pretty solid group now.  Now, we meet on Wednesdays from 10am-noon.  It’s been a blessing to work with such amazing kids and their dedicated parents.  Plus, the boys really love it!

Here are some pictures from the past couple years:

Craft time

Special Music at Houghton Seventh-day Adventist Church – “The Gift Goes On”


Collecting food to make baskets

Fall Harvest Party

The Daults raised baby rabbits & chicks and brought them to class 

We’re thankful for this group and for the leadership of Karen! 

Ty’s First Long Trip

Last week, we had to be down in Lansing for Israel’s ordination review.  So, our whole family took the long drive downstate.  This time was different, though, because it was our first trip down with all 5 of us.  We decided not to take Leon (our conversion van) since he doesn’t have snow tires and his safety ratings aren’t the greatest.  So, Israel installed our car top carrier on the Freestyle and we loaded it up.  I started packing several days before our trip to make sure we wouldn’t forget anything. 

It’s amazing how my packing mentality has changed throughout the years.  When I was single, it was all about trying to bring as much as possible.  I wanted enough options with my outfits, although I was usually limited to how much trunk space would need to shared.  Once I got married, it was even better.  I had half of the car to pack my stuff.  Israel and I would just throw our stuff everywhere and anywhere in the car. When Imanuel came into the picture, three-quarters of our car was dedicated to baby stuff and we downsized our belongings.  I packed Imanuel’s stuff with the worst-case scenario in mind.  I would bring a minimum one outfit per day (-but typically a few extra outfits “in case we get stranded”) and enough diapers to last an extra few days.  (I hadn’t yet realized that our destinations did have stores that sold diapers and the like.)  I would pack items such as the baby bathtub, a big bag of baby first aid supplies, baby laundry detergent, etc.  The addition of Micah forced us to cut down so I began to eliminate obvious items that I could do without or never ended up using.  This included my number of outfits & shoes, amount of toiletries, the baby bathtub, the stroller if it was winter, and also the excess of diapers.  I would only bring the number of diapers I would need for the trip and maybe a few extra.  I also began to pack just one outfit per day.  I limited their belongings to one bag each.  This would include their diapers too.  Then, they would share a backpack with their books and toys.  We made a big cut-back when we only needed to bring one pack ‘n’ play since Manu graduated to sleeping on the floor.  Our compact double stroller was also a great investment when Micah was old enough to sit in it.  But even still, our family of four could easily fill the entire car top carrier and any extra space in the car.

So this last trip, I officially became a self-proclaimed packing genius.  My favorite word has become “consolidate”.  Here is the general breakdown:

– Total of 4 travel bags:  1 for Manu & Micah, 1 small bag for Ty, 1 for me, 1 for Israel
   My bag included the following:
     – 1 toiletry bag for me & the boys
     – 1 small bag with emergency medicine/supplies for infants, toddlers & adults
– Israel’s backpack:  all electronics, computers, worship books, kids’ books, toys, & DVDs
– My hand bag:  doubled as a baby bag
– Ty’s stroller & travel bassinet
– Blankets for the car
– 3 water bottles & a bag of snacks for the road
…and that’s about it!

I’ve become so obsessive with packing efficiently that when we stop at gas stations to fill up, I get this refreshing feeling as I throw away all the wrappers/trash from the snacks & diapers.  I feel like our car gets lighter and less cluttered as we go.  And on the way back up, I try as much as possible to keep the same number of bags.  We turn one of the travel bags into our family laundry bag and we distribute the rest of our clothes into the other 3.  If we plan on stopping by a hotel, we’ll turn our smallest travel bag into an overnight bag for the whole family.  To answer your question, yes, Israel thinks I’m crazy.

I’ll never forget the night when were moving to the U.P. from downstate.  The moving truck had gone before us with most of our stuff.  In our car, we had 6 month old Imanuel, 1 year old (crazy) Bentley & his dog cage, Aroe & Chance and a litter box, along with a few travel bags.  We stopped by a hotel on the way up.  Israel ran in to see if they allowed pets.  They said yes.  First, Israel brought in Imanuel who was in his car seat and I had Bentley on a leash.  The lady at the front desk smiled at us.  Then, Israel ran back out and came back in with the two cats in his arms.  The lady gave him a crazy look.  Finally, he brought our bags and the litter box.  We all slept in one hotel room that night. 

I’m just imagining how hilarious that would be if we had to fit all five of us, plus Bentley and the cats in our car.  Then, how crazy it would be if we had to stop and get a hotel!  Anyway, I’m going off on a tangent…

We are now safely back and almost unpacked.  It was a super-fun trip and we’re so glad we were able to spend some time with family and friends.  Wish we would have taken more pictures!  But it was so nice having everyone meet Ty.  It was also really awesome that we got to see Ian again…and I was finally able to hold him!  He’s so adorable!  Well, I’ll end this with a video clip that I took on our trip.  Manu and Micah’s car seats are in the way back of the car and Ty is the only one in the second row.  I caught the boys in the back in one of rare moments when they weren’t napping, bickering, or telling on each other.    (It’s sideways and I don’t know how to rotate it!)

Until next time!