9.20.2017

Meet Mitchell!

Meet Mitchell Joe, the second born in the Bontrager Family! Mitchell's latest and greatest thing going is that he has a WIFE, which he tells us is the greatest thing ever. =) He is doing quite well in his new role as married man and we sure love seeing him enjoying this new stage of life.

Mitchell is the peacemaker, the listener, and the level-headed older one of the family. Whenever we need someone to listen to a problem, give advice, or give clarity + peace to an argument, Mitch is the man. We're still not quite sure how we are going to manage without him! He quit touring with the family band in the spring, so we had the summer on tour to learn to adjust a little to him not being there. His even-keel personality and desire to keep the peace and have everyone happy, was a much-needed balancing effect in our big rowdy bunch. He is the perfect brother for the eldest son position, and he has given so much good counsel and advice to his siblings over the years. He is very social and outgoing and wherever there is a party, he loves being right in the middle, talking to people and joining right in 100%. He is one of our most athletic family members and when he was little, his dream jobs were to be either a sports announcer or a football player in the NFL. He always has loved kids, and dreamed of having a big family, and so when mom would ask him, "how will that plan work out if you end up in the NFL?" Mitchell would always respond that he planned to take his wife and ten kids with him to his games. His dreams have adapted a bit over the years, for sure! It wouldn't surprise me a bit though if he ended up starting his own little sports league someday with his own kids and nieces/nephews.

Mitchell + his wife Bryn are the brand-new managers at the Dutch Country Inn. When the position became available earlier this year, they decided to take it after they were married. They live in a sweet little apartment adjacent to the hotel. They are just several days in with this position and are already doing a fabulous job. Mitchell also still owns (along with Carson + our father) a custom manure hauling business, and he + Bryn will be traveling with that this fall. They also enjoy being involved with music and the kids ministry at our church. Mitchell loves every opportunity to mentor and encourage other young people to live for Jesus. God has blessed him with a lovely wife and we can't wait to see what God is going to do with the two of them as they are beginning their lives together!

9.08.2017

After the Weddings...

It was, truly, the most beautiful weekend I have ever experienced in my entire life. Such an abundance of answer prayers, happy tears, and special moments. I can't even tell you what an amazing time it was for our family.

There are many pictures + reflections to be shared, in the upcoming days! But for now we are returning/sorting the last remnants of the happy days, cleaning house, canning garden produce, and packing/preparing sessions for our family camp which starts this Sunday.

The boys and their wives (WIVES!!) are scattered throughout Colorado, Wisconsin, + Nova Scotia, respectively, and, we assume, are having the time of their lives. =) We miss them but couldn't possibly be happier!

GOD IS SO GOOD!!

9.02.2017

Wedding Livestream Again Today!

And here we go again! What fun to get to do this whole wedding business thing AGAIN! =)

So Mitchell + Bryn's wedding is today, and it will be live streamed as well! The wedding begins at 2:00pm and the livestream will start at 1:50pm. (approx) Click this link to watch! (same format as yesterday's streaming)

Can't wait to have y'all join us again! Remember to follow us on instagram @bontragerfamilysingers for our instagram stories throughout the day!

9.01.2017

LIVESTREAMING TODAY!!

Today is THE DAY!! 
We've got just under two hours left until this big double wedding is gonna happen!

Here's the lowdown on the livestream! We are streaming on YouTube and the link will "go live" at 4pm today. The wedding starts at 4:18pm. To watch, all you need to do is click this link here. It will take you straight to our YouTube channel. At 4:18pm, you will need to refresh your link, and the live streaming video will pop up. 
Note: Please bear with us as we've never done this before; we are praying it works! =)

Also, remember we have our instagram stories running today as well! Head on over there and catch a few sneak peak previews! @bontragerfamilysingers

We'd love your comments and participation on the streaming as you watch! There is SURE to be laughter, tears, smiles, and probably a blooper or two. Or fifty. =) Enjoy! 

May JESUS CHRIST receive all the honor and glory!

8.31.2017

Tonight's Rehearsal + Wedding Details + Livestream Link!

Today was a full day. Set up was in full swing for BOTH weddings, so we had people at church working on Mitchell + Bryn's wedding AND crews at home setting up for the double! Lots and lots of action. If you follow us on instagram then you got a little snapshot of the day from our instagram stories. (if you want to get "insider info" and morning-of details tomorrow + Saturday, head on over and follow us @bontragerfamilysingers to watch our stories)
Such a fun rehearsal tonight! Totally different from the double rehearsal---indoors vs outdoors alone makes a huge difference! But there were still lots of details to figure out and work through, as happens with any rehearsal. The bridal party is also a big one (made up of siblings + friends) and we had a grand time together! I think we are all agreed that the cutest part is Rebecca (junior bridesmaid) walking down the aisle pulling wagon that is carrying Logan (Bryn's nephew). SO ADORABLE! Sadly I hardly got any pictures and this post needs to be short and sweet in order to get to bed soon and catch a few hours before the big day tomorrow! But these are a few pictures!
We made the rehearsal dinner---an italian feast of lasagna, garlic bread, green beans, salad, and cheesecakes.
 Delicious!
The church sign says this and it is definitely getting real now!!

In other news. We are so honored that hundreds of friends and family from out-of-state AND out-of-country are taking time out of their lives to travel hundreds of miles to join our family this weekend as we celebrate the beginnings of three new families! Many of you will be here for both wedding days, and many of you are planning to stay the weekend. We wanted to give you a little "visitors guide" to our area, in the chance that you want something to do Saturday morning, in between the weddings, or if you wish to stay over Sunday. Our church is Marion Avenue Baptist Church and is located at 215 S Marion Avenue, Washington, IA. (This is the same church that will host Mitchell and Bryn's wedding on Saturday) Sunday morning fellowship classes are at 10am and the main service starts at 11am. All are welcome + invited to join us! Evening service is at 6pm

This is Iowa, but in spite of being known for hogs + cornfields, there is lots to do! Kalona, our town, is a little tourist community in between Iowa City/Coralville, and Washington. There is lots of fun shopping + Amish stores/bakery located in Kalona, as well as a number of different restaurants. This wkend is a big weekend for our area because Saturday is the opening day of football season, and the home game is that day in Iowa City. (Hence the full hotels everywhere!!) For those of you staying in Iowa City/Coralville, we would recommend not driving around in that area much Saturday morning before 11am. (when the game starts) Town will be crazy before then!

The livestream link for the weddings will be available tomorrow @ 2pm. Please return here to the blog tomorrow afternoon at that time (or a few minutes later) for the link! For your point of reference, you will also be able to find it by following/visiting our youtube channel.

Reminder that the wedding is at 4:18PM tomorrow, September 1st, and the livestream will be beginning at 4pm!! We hope many of you can follow along!

8.30.2017

Rehearsal for the Double

Last evening was set as the rehearsal for the Bontrager Bowers Double. 
It was quite the evening. I had the thought that maybe we should've live streamed THAT, for amusement of people all over. What a riot it was! Siblings everywhere! Opinions in abundance! =) An amazing wedding coordinator and our dear pastor who worked together so well to keep things flowing, or at least attempting to flow. 
Instructions.
And here we go! 
It is a little more complicated to attempt a rehearsal without the tent and chairs. But those don't arrive until tomorrow, and the lawn needed to be mowed today, so. We did our best!

This whole double wedding business is so unique in every way. It was discovered even more as the rehearsal got underway. 
"Who gives these women to be married to these men?"
No, no , no...that sounds bad! Start over. 
"Who gives this woman to be married to this man and this woman to be married to THIS man?"
Too wordy. Start over.
So finally each couple gets their own little "getting + giving" of the bride with the father of the brides.
Yes, success. =)
Ten brothers and five sisters make up the bridal party. It is perfect. Two guys per girl. 
And just to mix it up and have fun? They put little boys with big girls and little girls with big boys. 
Opposite of what you would think. =) You'll have to watch the livestream to see. =)
Sweetest sight----the brother grooms walking our dear grandmother down the "aisle".
Smiles everywhere. And lots of laughter!
Need to get new steps yet-we don't want anyone wiping out! 
And then, Mexican Fiesta + cheesecakes afterwards!
Carson + Carolina
Joshua + Cassidy

Perfect ending to a beautiful night!

Note: Regarding the livestream-we will be posting that tomorrow night after Mitchell + Bryn's rehearsal. Please check back then to get the links! Also, for daily updates and even sneak peaks the morning of the weddings...follow @bontragerfamilysingers on instagram

8.29.2017

Wedding Countdown || Three Days

Oh these last beautiful days! So hard to believe that our countdown is nearly at an end. 
Bridal showers have been in abundance. So thankful for all the love showered out upon our new sisters-to-be, and so blessed by how good these new sisters are to our men! 

Above, with Bryn (Mitchell's fiancé) at a shower our church ladies threw for her. 
Double sister shower for Lina + Cass, hosted by the ladies @ church!
It's not everyday one gets three new sisters in 24hrs. Definitely something worth smiling about. =) 
Quality time down at the creek one early morning. Or so they tell us.  We believe them. =)
This is the sign of a true man, and that is one that not only gets flowers for his beautiful fiancé, but also gets them for his sisters. Above is a bouquet that Mitchell got for Allison after a crazy day @ the hotel. 

Also, Carson brought Rebecca home from shopping the other day, and she came flying in the house with the sweetest little vase of two roses. "Guys! Look!! My first flowers from a guy!!" =) 
Carson was out to pick up roses for his fiancé and got a few for his littlest sister too. Melted her heart!
Of course the other BIG thing these days is the packing and moving happening for six people! Above, Josh + Cass, two weeks ago, moving + arranging their new home-to-be.
Sweet corn! Note that someone had obviously come straight from the painting crew...! Hopefully he can get that scrubbed off before the wedding. =)
When you have three couples getting married in one weekend, and each of those couples run very busy schedules, you simplify and do your marriage counseling in bulk. 
Everyone involved was very blessed by this fabulous arrangement + they loved the marriage series they went through. (above was an apparent serious moment, but peals upon peals of laughter could be heard very often from that room as all the couples greatly enjoyed the great sense of humor that came from the speaker)
Mitchell and Bryn got up early (see tired smiles =)) and prepared breakfast for our whole singles class @ church, as a type of "farewell" with it being their last Sunday in that class. Bless their hearts.
The front of Carson + Lina's new home! It has been a beehive of activity there but it looks like it is going to be ready for them to start moving things in tomorrow. Just in time. =) Praise the Lord!

A very special triple bridal shower, hosted by one of my aunts for the three brides-to-be, and attended by the local relative ladies on the Bontrager side.
::::::::::::::::
What a month it has been! And to think we just got home from tour three weeks ago yesterday! So much has happened for our family, and specifically for our three guys and their girls.
Packing, moving, and painting. Buying of new vehicles and getting of marriage licenses and discussing of 1001 little wedding details. Dinner dates, ice cream dates, and coffee dates.    Pretty much any kind of dates. =) Wedding and honeymoon and marriage planning. (if you are interested in seeing a few more recent life pictures of Carson + Josh and their lovely ladies, visit this link here)

Now the week is here, and we have rehearsals happening and the REAL THING coming right up. We would appreciate y'alls prayers, for safety + grace for the couples as they are "in the homeward stretch", and also for safety for the hundreds of friends + family traveling in for the weekend.

Stay tuned! We have some special posts for the next few days, including reviews on the rehearsals,  information on area attractions for those from out-of-town, and the much-anticipated link for the livestream!

8.26.2017

Wedding Countdown || Six Days

With Allison living at the hotel, the only way to have a last few family meals together was for us to take the dinner to her. Worked out fabulously. =)
We returned to our roots and followed the Amish wedding protocol of painting everything in sight.
Okay, not quite. But close! 
Thankful for the brother-in-laws to be and their assistance to our painting crew!
Josh + Rebecca, trying out the new piano that Mitchell got for Bryn.
There may be weddings coming up, but the gardens just keep producing like there is no tomorrow! Thankful for this little crew and their assistance in the salsa canning production!

Our church had it's annual Missions Conference again. Due to everything going on, we weren't all able to be as involved as last year, but we enjoyed the bit of time we were able to be there + be blessed by the conference.
Hardworking brothers, laying the floor in Carson + Carolina's home-to-be!
A little brotherly R+R target practice, after a long days' work.
Dad + Mom took the four youngest down to Kansas City to see the Solar Eclipse. They loved it!
Last mother/son date before the weddings!
Brotherhood bachelor party/campout/last hurrah as six single men, at our campsite across the road and behind the field. 
They had amazing meals (which they cooked themselves) played games, and blew things up. 
The food + games we saw them pack. The "blowing up" we heard continuously from across the field. Ah, boys and their guns. =)

8.23.2017

Meet Allison!

Meet Allison Nicole, the third-born in our family. She is twenty-three years old and if her twenties continue to be as adventurous as they've been thus far, she has a lot of action coming up! Allison is our cheerful, energetic, life-giving encourager of the family, and we love the energy she adds!

Allison is very passionate about discipling + encouraging her generation of young women. This led her to found a young women's ministry several years ago. Since then, she has hosted five retreats, three locally and two in Mexico. God has blessed her vision and she has continued to mentor many of the young women who she met through that venture. She lived in Mexico for six weeks last fall and left a part of her heart with the people there. She was offered a position teaching at one of the schools there, but after praying about it, felt that it wasn't the right timing for now, so she has been working in Iowa this fall instead. She is currently employed as manager of the Dutch Country Inn, and loves her job and all the challenges that come along with it. She hires new employees, conducts business reports, plans staff meetings, does marketing/advertising, and pretty much just makes the place look good! Currently the hotel is in between live-in managers, so she is living there and keeping the day to day operations rolling like clockwork as well. Her favorite part of her job is going above and beyond to serve the guests and those employed at the hotel. She has grown so much in her leadership skills, and thrives in that position!

In addition to working for the Dutch Country Inn, Allison also teaches violin lessons to the three youngest and continues to tour half of the year with the family music. On the side she sells candles/jewelry at a local coffee shop and on her instagram page, Psalm 61 Shoppe. She invests much time into friendships and also pouring into the lives of her parents + siblings. Her most recent personal venture is her blog, which she started back in May. She has been loving the opportunity to combine topics near + dear to her heart, with her love of mentoring others.

Some of Allison's favorite moments are spent running/working out, cooking up scrumptious meals for her family + friends, sending encouraging notes/packages to others, and enjoying long conversations over big cups of coffee. She loves where God has her in life and is enjoying her current season to the fullest!

8.22.2017

Mother/Daughter Time @ The Encounter Cafe

There's a new restaurant in town! One of the local churches in our area recently started up a new cafe in downtown Iowa City, which is our nearest big town, twenty-five minutes away. It is called 
It is a beautiful place! This past Saturday was a special opening/discount for relatives only. Since our uncle + aunt were a very instrumental part of this endeavor, that meant we qualified to go! 
Southwestern omelet. And a vanilla latte. Amazing!
(they also serve additional coffee drinks, smoothies, soft pretzels, and paninis)
Mom and Allison both got "The Skillet". 
It was served in the coolest little cast iron skillet pans and was incredible as well!
 
Mom, Allison, and I (Chelsy) had such fun going together! We came home and raved about it to the rest of the family (who had other commitments and weren't able to go) and now they all are excited to go sometime soon as well.
For those of you who live nearby and want to check it out, the grand opening is tomorrow! 
The Encounter Cafe is located at 376 S Clinton Street, Iowa City, Iowa, and is open
Tuesday-Saturday, for breakfast + lunch. (hours are 7am-3pm) 

Also, for all of y'all coming in from out-of-state for the weddings next weekend, this would be a great stop for you if you are looking for something fun to do on the Saturday morning between the weddings. =) 

8.21.2017

Wedding Countdown || Eleven Days

There were exactly twenty-five days from the day we arrived home, to the day the first (two) weddings take place. Shall we just say we hit the ground running? =) 

There's no place like home---we are so blessed to all be together as we work and prepare! I don't even really know how to properly post everything; there is so much to write and say, and so little time. But here's a little snapshot of the first week at home. 

Also, I'm going to label this little "updates" series (review of these twenty-five days between arriving home, and the weddings) "Wedding Countdown" and then with each update, I'll post the number of days that are left until our two day celebration begins. 
Mitchell is training Taylor over to be herd manager and run the records/registrations for our cattle. (Please pardon the chaotic looking office!)
I made lasagnas and french garlic bread and froze them for Mitchell + Bryn's wedding rehearsal dinner. We will add fresh salad, green beans, and cheesecakes for a delicious Italian feast! 
The "Bontrager Bowers Double" (as we affectionately call the double wedding) rehearsal dinner is also underway (meat being cooked + frozen, etc) and we are planning a big Mexican buffet for theirs. 
Liz entertaining some of her favorite little Iowans. =)
Rebs + her little companion, picking cucumbers from our very prolific plants.
 Josh with a brother + a brother-in-law-to-be, mulching the trees on our farm.
 Liz arranging fresh bouquets from Allison's flower beds.
Josh power washing the house. 
Some baking days are more memorable than others. WHY do certain individuals not put lids on salt containers?? You tell me! Probably because I needed to learn patience. =) 
Lots of muffins, safe in the freezer and ready for wedding week breakfasts!