Wednesday, July 18, 2012


With the team here from our home church in Arkansas this week, it's a great opportunity to send back some mail!  Quite a few of the thank-yous that we want to send can be hand-delivered via the office mail at church once the team returns home, so it's a good chance to save on postage as well.

I had originally planned on making the cards, but Miguel decided to have some printed at Office Depot (yes, there is Office Depot in Mexico!).  As it turned out, however, he didn't print quite enough, so I got to make some anyway! 

Correspondence with supporters and folks back home, as many missionaries know, is both a blessing and a curse...while I love picturing our friends and supporters getting a card from us in the mail, it is also quite a chore to hand-write all those notes!  I would have to say that making the cards falls into the 'blessing' part, at least for me...I was sorry I didn't have to make more! 

I experimented with several different designs, but the ones I liked the best were the ones with collage-style pieces of torn paper.  They turned out really cute! 

One the inside, I stamped the English "Thanks so much" on another torn's a good way to use up the scraps.  It's a bit more clear on the actual card. 

Here's another similar design in green.  I think it was my favorite.  There are two ways to tear the paper, one does not show the white core.  I usually do not let the white core show, but it looked good here. 

I used two scraps of paper for the inside of this one, but I did notice that it took away more writing space.  Of course, that's fine if you just want to write a short note! 

All righty then, back to work!

Saturday, July 14, 2012


I've been sick with a bad cold/flu this week and am still not feeling that great...I hate colds.  I thought I was feeling better yesterday, but I must have overdone it because this morning I had a bit of a rough start. 

But then I got with it and baked up four recipes of banana bread in muffins and small pans for Miguel and Micah to take to the sierra tomorrow.  Hopefully some of it will actually survive the trip so they can be used as host gifts!  I know how much Miguel loves his banana bread...Micah loves it, too, since the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree...

Since I had the oven already on and I made a big batch of spaghetti, I decided to make breadsticks as well.   I was expecting Micah to bring home two of his friends for a sleepover...but then Miguel called to say that the van broke down on him and the evening plans are now in question.  A friend was able to take a mechanic to where Miguel was and hopefully it will be an easy fix because this is a really bad time for our van to break down!  So I am really hoping that I will have a vehicle to use while Miguel is gone this week...

Anyway, I was disappointed they weren't making it for lunch because I tried out a new recipe for breadsticks and they are best warm from the oven...but oh well, the boys will still enjoy them whenever they get here.

I got the recipe from, which continues to be a favorite place for good recipes...I'm missing my regular cookbooks since they are packed away right now.  I also enjoy reading the comments and getting advice from others who have tried them. 

There was some debate in the comments about the dough being too soft and whether or not one needed to add more my opinion, you do need to either add more flour or reduce the liquid.  There is no way I could have kneaded or shaped the dough without having aded the extra flour.  But I did try not to add too much so that the dough would still be quite soft, reducing the chance of getting tough breadsticks out of it.  I spread out the dough with my hands, cut it up with a pizza cutter and I did twist them as well.

The recipe also wasn't very clear about the melted butter you roll the sticks in the melted butter and then bake them in that same pan?  I decided to just grease the pan and follow the advice on one comment that merely brushed the tops with melted butter (which worked better anyway since the sticks were so soft they were a little hard to handle).  I added some garlic & spice mix to jazz it up a bit.  I left a few without, though, since not all of us are garlic fans. 

They turned out great and I'll definitely be making these again! 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Irish Dance

I can't remember now how long that Gracia has been taking Irish Dance classes, but it's been a few months now.  She has really enjoyed these classes and we hope to be able to continue them even while living in would mean the long drive back to Puebla once a week, but we think it would be worth it.

The dance studio put on a presentation a couple of weeks ago to wrap up the year and Gracia was invited to participate, even though she only took classes for part of the year.  I was a little concerned about that, however, because the first day we went to the first practice recital at the theater where they would perform, she got very shy and upset, refusing to practice with the rest of the students.

We didn't make a big deal out of it, though, and I just let Miguel handle all of the details for the presentation (Gracia tends to get a bit of 'mommy-itis' at moments such as those), but I needn't have worried because she did really great! Even though she only had a couple of small parts (one of them solo!), this was great experience for her as she faced her fears about performing in front of an audience.

Here she is with her friend Lili getting hair and make-up done...

Final touches being made by the director of the dance studio (the mother of Gracia's teacher)...

Gracia with the poster advertising the presentation...what a gorgeous girl!  Those fun curls are a wig, btw...

Her other outfit of the evening...

And finally, posing with a Proud Mama!

Trying My Hand at Sauerkraut

I've been reading some about fermented foods and how they have incredible amounts of probiotics (Dr. Mercola has an interesting article here on fermented foods). Sauerkraut, for example, is known to have high amounts of probiotics and also Vitamin C that is actually more usable for your body than taking Vitamin C in other forms.

When I'm overseas, things like probiotics and probiotic starter cultures are not as accessible for me, so I decided to start with something that I can find locally and that doesn't require starter cultures.  We have a friend here in Puebla who is German-Mexican and he loaned me his crock and some sea salt, as he likes to make sauerkraut, too (if mine turns out good, I'll give him some!).

Then I looked at quite a few websites for a good, yet simple recipe for sauerkraut and was pleased to find this one. Not sure about the rest of the content on that blog, but there is a link to another interesting article on fermented foods, as well as links to other recipes that I'd like to check out here.

But for now, I'm starting simple with just sauerkraut. Besides, as the Dr. Mercola article points out, there can be a significant "healing crisis" (die-off reaction) if you begin taking too much fermented food too soon. I am curious to see if I can get Miguel and the kids to eat any, first of all, and then if we'll notice any difference in our health issues.  Miguel suffers from something like irritable bowel syndrome and all the kids and I have a yeast/cheese culture intolerance.  After reading about GAPS (Gut And Physiology Syndrome), it makes me wonder if we don't all need to pay more attention to probiotics.

I chopped up a cabbage and a half today and now it's setting in the pantry waiting for the fermenting process to begin...I used the pestle in the picture to pound the cabbage and it worked really well!

So...I guess I'll find out in a couple of weeks whether this recipe worked for me or not!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

It's Not Done Yet

This post from Holley really spoke to me today.

Holley says..."I find we do the same with situations in our lives. God's stirring up something and we come swooping in with a spoon. We get a taste and panic. What is going on here? How is it going to turn out? This doesn't seem right at all!" 

I think that I've been the one taste-testing the batter that is the ministry that God is mixing up for us...on one level, I do have a deep, abiding trust that God has brought us here and that God is leading...but on another level, sometimes it just doesn't 'seem right'.

I am learning that ministry, just like cooking, is a process...that even when I'm in the place that God has designed for me, sometimes it might not 'seem right'. There will be struggles, disappointments and maybe even failures. I guess I thought that things might be easier if we were in our 'dream' ministry and I forget that Jesus said that in this world I would have trouble and there really is no need to panic when trouble comes.

Since we've been in Puebla, we've had some trouble...we've faced doubts and fears, wondering how this will all turn out and sometimes even if we're in the right place...some of our expectations haven't been met, some relationships we'd hoped to cultivate haven't developed and some doors we thought were open have been closed.  Sometimes it's been messy. 

I get impatient, wanting to see the end result now...I've wanted to take things in my own hands and fix them.  I forget that just like baking, ministry can take time to go through the process to make something beautiful and delicious and whole.  You can't really rush through a recipe that calls for chilling the dough or simmering for an hour.  I forget that it's not done yet...that I'm not done yet...that it's not even my job to make sure that everything turns out right. 

So we've moved forward by faith, trusting that God is working and knowing that we'll likely live in a bit of mystery until the end result is revealed somewhere down the line. We just take it one step at a time, trusting that God will reveal each step as we need to take it.

And that's what it's all about anyway, trust...trusting that God is adding the right ingredients at the right time in order to make something out of it that honors and glorifies Him. Even if we don't get to taste it until we see Him face to face...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Catching Up

Seeing as I've neglected this space for a couple of weeks, I've got some catching up to do!

Life's been a bit of a whirl since we started moving out of our our rental house on Tochtli Saturday we packed up a few things and changed over into the house we're taking care of this summer.  Gradually, we were able to go back and finish packing up the rest of our things.  Which didn't take long, because we don't have that much!

The next challenge was to find a house to rent in Apizaco, but we were busy preparing for a fun missions event and didn't have time to go out and look for a house.  Miguel was also spending hours at the immigration office finalizing the paperwork for our religious visas (religious visas are a little more complicated than regular resident visas).  Then some of the kids got sick and we had to stay home and then finally, we had a day when we could take off for Apizaco to see what we could see.

We were able to contact a real estate agent via our friends and he showed us 5 or 6 houses, several of which were good possibilities. The one we liked the best was an older house, but had a fabulous yard! The kids were really excited about the yard...lots of grass and many fruit trees...plenty of space to run around. The carport was even partially covered, which would have been a good place for them to play during hot or rainy days.  One of the main issues with that house, however, was its is way out on the edge of town and not very close to where we would have liked to be situated.

After seeing all the houses that the agent had to show us, we were heading back to our friends' house when we happened to see a little sign from another real estate office advertising a house for rent in that area. We called and as it turned out, the house is just a block away from our friends' house, which is also the LAMM offices (read more about LAMM here)!  The house looked promising, but we couldn't get it to see it until later.  So we hung out at the park...well, Gracia and I stayed in the van playing Phase 10, which was more fun than playing soccer or football...and then we finally got the call to go see the house.

We hadn't been able to see much of the house from the outside because the outside walls are so high, but as we stepped into the patio, I really liked what I saw! The front of the house is pretty and the carport area is really big (which is good, since we have a large vehicle)...a large part of the carport is also covered, which is awesome for those rainy days when the kids just have to get out of the house! Once we stepped inside, we just kept liking what we has four bedrooms, a studio, 2 1/2 bathrooms, large living room and dining room.  One of the bedrooms is small and decorated in pink, perfect for Gracia...another is a bit larger and decorated for young boys, perfect for Jojo and Gugui!

The only thing that was a con about this house is that the patio is completely paved, there is no grass and there are no trees.  Miguel left the final decision up to me to choose the house and after lining out all the pros and cons of both houses, we quickly realized that even though this house doesn't have the patio we would have liked, everything else is exactly what we were looking for!  It is a block from LAMM offices (which is also our friends' house), it is a block or so from a nice park, there is an empty lot on the other side of the street where we can exercise the dog and it's just a few blocks away from the church that we will be attending.  We are rather social people and we decided that we'd rather be closer to the action than more isolated, even if it meant giving up the yard.

The kids weren't exactly sure that they wanted to give up the yard, but once they saw the house they were pretty much sold on it after discovering this awesome 'secret' room behind the toilet in the bathroom downstairs!  I just hope they don't startle a guest one day by popping out at an inopportune moment...

So we were able to return on Friday to sign the contract...and Friday turned out to be a day of celebration, because that was also the day we received our visas!  We spent a boring couple of hours at the immigration office, while the kids entertained themselves playing Pass the Pigs, much to the amusement of the other people there who had never seen such a game.  The kids thought it was most exciting to be able to give their fingerprints...apparently that was the highlight of their time there!  Miguel and I considered actually receiving our visas to be the we're set to legally work as missionaries/ministers here in Mexico!  This also means that we avoid having to take another trip to the border this month to renew our tourist visas.

So that was a good day as we accomplished those two major tasks...getting our visas and signing the contract on a house. The next day, Gracia participated in a dance performance with the rest of her dance studio...we were so very proud of her for that!  On Sunday, some friends helped Miguel move the rest of our things up to our new rental house in Apizaco and we were finally able to return the house to the owners.  It feels good to have that taken care of.

Our next big thing is receiving a team from our home church in Arkansas on the 14th, which is coming right up!  This team will visit the mountains and some of them will participate in giving medical care and some will do some simple construction projects.  There are several young people coming along as well, so Miguel has some fun things planned for them to do with the kids in the mountains.  We were hoping to go as a family, but there was a mix-up and now there is not room, so just Miguel and Micah will be going along.  That was disappointing to me, but I am trusting that God is in control, even in this.

After the team leaves, then we'll be able to make the final move up to our new house in Apizaco.  We're excited!

So, now you are (mostly) caught up with what's been going on with us.  It's always an adventure!