Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

It seems like just a few short weeks ago that we celebrated Thanksgiving 2011 and here we are again just having celebrated Thanksgiving 2012! Reading over my post about Thanksgiving 2011 was a blessing because it reminded me that even without an oven or friends to celebrate with, it is possible to be deeply grateful for God's blessings.

This year, however, I do have an oven and I made good use of it! In fact, I have found myself baking several times a week since we moved here...I am quite happy with my new stove!

But I digress...I wasn't sure exactly how Thanksgiving 2012 would go and we'd been so busy in the weeks before that I hadn't been able to think much about it. So it was a pleasant turn of events to be invited over to our friends' and fellow missionaries' house to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal together.  Bill and Debbie are the directors of a Mexican mission agency that partners with Pioneers and some other agencies to help Mexicans connect with missions worldwide.

Their coworker Misa also joined us, which was fun because he is a great favorite with the kids!

So we got together to plan the menu and then got to work...I put together some cornbread dressing, a relish tray, rolls, pumpkin and sweet potato pies and stuffed mushrooms. Gracia made some jello. Debbie baked the turkey, green bean casserole, gravy, and three kinds of bar cookies.

The kids were so excited about Thanksgiving, especially with a real turkey (we don't usually get a turkey when outside the U.S.-it's not that turkeys aren't available in Mexico, they are just kind of expensive!) that they were up early and quite anxious for it to be time to eat...I noticed that Jojo had even gotten dressed in 'church' clothes of his own accord for the special event! It was touching to see how much they were enjoying themselves this year.

I also made a Thanksgiving tree again, although I decided to do a bit of a different model than last year. We scouted out some good twigs to make the 'tree' and used scrapbook paper circles to record our thanks. I hung them on the tree with some fishing line. I grabbed a juice pitcher and wrapped it with some pretty paper and tied some matching ribbons around it. The tree made a nice centerpiece on the table, although we had to remove it once all the food was ready and besides, someone was in danger of getting their eye poked out or something...

There were quite a few 'entries' on the's good to see a physical reminder of everything for which we are thankful. My favorite, however, was this entry by Jojo...well, that one and the mushy one Miguel wrote about being thankful for me...

Jkaile really enjoyed the mashed potatoes and gravy, but was most excited by the dessert table! And what picture wouldn't be complete without the complimentary rabbit ears...

With all that wonderful food, of course we all felt just like Micah did here...ready to crash on the couch for a while to enjoy some American football!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Garfield Cake

Remember that Garfield cake I was planning to make? Well, I was pretty pleased with the way it turned out!

I am not a cake decorator, really, and I don't have much experience...I am also usually frustrated at not being able to match the picture I have in my head of the finished product. But I have to say that this one turned out pretty much how I had expected. I do wish I could have gotten the brown parts a little more even, but oh well.

The cake is a 7-Up pound cake with some lemon juice thrown in for flavor. It's a very heavy cake, but really yummy! The icing is just plain butter frosting, although I added some butter vanilla nut flavoring.  I don't have any piping equipment, so a strong ziploc bag with the corner snipped off did the trick. I put some colored shredded coconut on the top for some added texture. Garfield is sitting on a piece of orange card stock so he wouldn't get frosting on him. The coconut covered it up nicely!

I stamped the paper and then attached the sign to a yellow bendy straw. I stuck the bendy part into the cake so that I could lean it the way I wanted. I did have to stick a toothpick through the bottom seam of the Garfield because he kept leaning forward a bit.

My friend was really happy with her cake and I hope she liked the flavor as well!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What We Have Been Up To

Well, this has been a rather interesting couple of weeks...a week ago Sunday, Miguel was really sick. We knew that he had been exposed to dengue fever on his recent trip to Veracruz, so we feared the worst! He began having all the classic symptoms of dengue, beginning with fever, body aches and a headache located behind his eyes, so we got a bunch of people praying and I began mentally preparing myself to face this disease (some kinds of dengue require hospitalization).

And then on Monday morning he woke up with no fever, no pain and no headache! He was very weak, but nothing like he should have been if the dengue were to have run its course...we don't really know what to think, either he had something entirely different or God chose to heal him! Either way, we're really glad he didn't end up with dengue!

Another reason that was good was that Micah and I were scheduled to help translate for a team of eye-doctors who were in the area on that Monday and Tuesday, so I needed Miguel to take care of the other three kids while we did that...we had fun translating for the team, although we had two pretty long days and we got very tired! I was very proud of Micah, he did a great job at his station.

On Tuesday, Miguel even felt well enough to hang out with us for a few hours...we got the other kids' eyes checked and Miguel had fun playing with the kids outside while they were waiting for their appointments.

Tuesday was also Micah's 12th birthday, which we didn't really celebrate this year...we have always said we wouldn't have a big party for the kids every year and this year it just wasn't fitting into our schedule very well! We did get him a nice Lego set and a huge flan, as well as some other gifts. I love this picture of Micah, I think he was about 2 or 3 days old...he was so cute!

On Wednesday, Miguel felt sick again, this time sick to his stomach and spent most of the day in bed again (rare for him!). I'm beginning to wonder if maybe he isn't developing a lactose intolerance, because he was suspiciously ill after eating that flan the night before! It's possible, since he's been having a lot of stomach issues lately...anyway, he had been invited to share at a Totonacan youth event and was supposed to go on Thursday.  We had been debating whether or not to go as a family or whether Miguel should go at all! In the end, Miguel went alone and I stayed home with the kids.

Miguel had a good time at the youth event, which was sort of like a short camp, so we were glad he did not have to cancel. He shared about evangelism and small groups with the youth and they seemed to enjoy his session. Miguel always connects really well with the youth and simply enjoys hanging out with them, so these are good opportunities for him to use his gifts. He was also able to talk to a couple of the pastors there about areas where there are still no churches among the Totonacan people and that information is valuable for our survey.
Group picture

 Miguel interviewing the two pastors

While Miguel was gone, I was really struggling...I was very tired from not sleeping well and the kids were also cranky and chose to squabble a lot. It was quite discouraging and hard to know what to do to make it better, so I ended up praying a lot! I'm not sure what goes on when Miguel is not here to give me this fear and anxiety at night, but I do know that prayer helps.

Then we ran out of water in our rooftop tank and that was annoying...we had plenty of water in the cistern under the garage floor, but the pump wasn't working and I was having to haul it out in buckets (the plumbers came and fixed it last night, woohoo!). I really hate to complain about the water situation because I am very aware of the fact that many people around the world have to carry water or have very little water in the first place! And it isn't really that I mind hauling water, it's mostly that this house is not set up for carrying water, so it's a real pain to have to work around.

At any rate, all that was unfortunate because by the time Miguel got home on Saturday, I was not in very good shape to give him a warm welcome home! He wanted to rest anyway, though, so he went on up to bed and I worked on a scrapbook album we are making for Miguel's parents...that gave us some time and space to kind of recoup from our respective experiences of the last few days. I also had a lot of laundry to do and of course, the water ran out again in the middle of the busy laundry day and it also left me with a lot of dishes from baking banana bread and pumpkin bread to send with Miguel on his next trip.

Yes, Miguel left again on Sunday! Actually, both he and Micah left to meet up with a team from our home church in Arkansas who are doing a medical brigade in the city of Guadalajara, which is about six hours west of here. The brother of the pastor of our Puebla church is planting a church there, so a team goes from our home church every November to do medical work there in that neighborhood.

Miguel and Micah playing games
with the kids in Guadalajara

And while I am very glad that Miguel and Micah could hang out with them, coming on the heels of Miguel's other trip it's been a bit of a challenge for me. This is a part of our ministry, however, and my contribution often is to stay at home while Miguel travels...and while sometimes I struggle to see that as being a worthwhile contribution, I know that it really is.

After the struggle I had last week, I decided to make it easier for myself and lower my expectations of what I would try to get done or what I felt I 'should' get done this week...I also really prayed about the fear/anxiety issue I was dealing with at night and God has given me a tremendous sense of peace, which has allowed me to sleep much better than I was able to last week! I did have to go out on Monday to pay the phone bill, do some shopping and pay the rent, but it was a good outing with the kids and I even took them out to eat breakfast as a special treat. We've done some school, but not a whole lot and have spent some time just hanging out together having fun.

Miguel and Micah will be home tomorrow and I'm sure they'll need to rest for a couple of days...then I am supposed to make a cake for a friend's birthday on Saturday. She asked me to make her the cake and after I agreed, she stipulated that it have a Garfield on it! I'm not that good at decorating, so I decided to put a Garfield cake topper on it...I couldn't find one however, so a stuffed Garfield will have to do! That might be more fun anyway, since she can have it as a toy afterwards.

On Sunday, our Area Leader is arriving and that will start three days of intense yearly meetings and member care sessions for us. We're looking forward to it, though, and I think it will be beneficial to us and our ministry.

After that, I hope we have a few days to just be still...

Mystery Vegetable

We were at the market the other day when this rather odd vegetable caught my eye...

My sister and brother-in-law tell me it's probably what's known as a 'broccoflower', something I'd never heard of before! The vendors at the stand told us what they call it and we should have written it down because now we can't remember what they said. 

I did some research and it turns out that there are actually two different vegetables referred to as broccoflower...something that actually IS a cross between broccoli and cauliflower and then our mystery vegetable, which is actually Romanesco broccoli. Romanesco broccoli is known for its fractal patterns that look like miniature pine trees. Amazing.

Now that I know what the heck it is, I might be brave enough to buy one if I see it again!