On a mission to encourage

OK. We’ve been in the States now almost a month and we’ve traveled about, seeing friends and family, we’ve eaten Mexican food, we’ve flushed our toilet paper, we’ve gone to church in English, we’ve hugged people we love. We drove through ten states over the last two weeks. I will ask Will to post some travel pictures and news.

As we go, I’ve been praying that we can be an encouragement to people we see. I’ve been wondering what we could say or do that would bless our supporters. I’ve been asking God to reveal something we’ve learned or gleaned that would help others love Him more. I have also listened as we have related things that are difficult, things that make us laugh, cultural things we don’t understand, things that have hurt our hearts. Will and I have discussed trying to be mostly positive when we are sharing about Peru. There are many amazing, beautiful things about Peru and our life there. But sometimes when we start talking about it some of the frustrations rise to the surface because they are somehow easier to describe. Maybe we are subconsciously trying to win sympathy, but I believe that one’s joys are more ephemeral while one’s complaints are easy to pin down.

The other day it occurred to me that the honest way we are opening our hearts and the desire we have to encourage our listeners could possibly go together. Here’s how: we are plodding on, by the grace of God. It is not very glamorous and we aren’t holding our breath for any missionary keynote speaker invitations, but maybe seeing sinful, broken, normal people persevering can be an encouragement. Hearing someone say, “It isn’t easy and simple, but we’re going back, counting on God to do something through us,” could help someone who is living their everydays here. May the strong name of Jesus be exalted in our weakness.

Having fun with cousins!

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Visiting friends. Someone forgot our legs.

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Blown away! Colorado is awesome!

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Las bonitas! Friendship is a blessing of greatest measure!

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Kansas Caires.

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Prayer Request

Would you please pray with me as I ask God to take away my migraine headaches? As many of you know, headaches like this often come in clusters. This has been my experience and, thank the Lord, I usually go through a cluster and then emerge into the light on the other side, mostly free of migraines for a year or more. I am asking God to end this period of headaches right away. Thanks so much for caring about our family. We feel loved across the miles.

Pico de Gallo a la Tica

Pico de Gallo ingredients and a cool view of our washer!

Pico de Gallo ingredients and a cool view of our washer.  OK, so I’m not quite Pioneer Woman yet!

I’ve been experimenting with homemade pico de gallo.  It’s really lovely on scrambled eggs, arroz con pollo, rice, mixed in with avocado, on top of empanadas, and especially with chips.  I think of Chuy’s when I’m working on the perfect combo.  I have not achieved Chuy’s, but I like what we’ve got.  What follows is a really loosey-goosey recipe you can adjust for your family:

1 big fat tomato (a little bit less ripe yields a nice acidic salsa)

1 T tiny minced onion

1 or 2 T minced cilantro

1/3 lime, for the juice

1 t salt (or less)

1 1/2 T green salsa (for my CR friends, you can get this at AutoMercado)

Combine all ingredients and serve.  Here are a few notes: I like to chop up my tomato a lot so that there is some liquid at the bottom of the pico de gallo.  Sarah likes the liquid, not the solids.  I have read recently that if you soak your onion in ice water for 15 minutes, it takes some of the bite out of them.  I have only done it twice now, but it does seem to work.  If you let this salsa sit for more than a day, it will turn strong onion flavored, so eat it all up or try soaking your onions!  The green salsa is the secret ingredient.  When we were Stateside, I used to love Target Archer Farms salsa verde.  Clearly, if you like it spicy, add more green stuff. Put some of this in a mashed avocado for wonderful guacamole.  Or, add some not-very-ripe mangos (ripe soft ones are too sweet and won’t hold up) for a tropical twist.  Delish!

The little things

IMG_2239This is a mixing bowl that my Aunt Lynn gave us for our wedding.   I love it.  It has a pouring spout, a rubber bottom, and a rubber grip on the side.   It is just the right size for all sorts of things. I never make pancakes in anything else because, of course, you can pour them perfectly with this.

I was thanking God the other day for helping me pack for Costa Rica.  There are some home items that I brought from the States that I am so thankful to have.  Several of you prayed with me as we sorted through our things last summer.  Thank you.  Many of the things we brought have been a blessing and have helped maintain some sort of continuity to make us feel like we are home here.

The things that we have had for a long time, that I use often, that remind me of someone I love, that have been a part of my daily vision in other places, and that are beautiful encourage me.  This bowl fits all these descriptions.  Thank you, Aunt Lynn and thank You, God, once again for knowing what we need.

Tico panqueques (pancakes)

I have gone to a Costa Rican cooking class several times and what do I have to show for it?  Mostly good new desserts.  Ah, well, life is sweet that way!  Our family loves these:

Arepas Dulces (Sweet Arepas, which are thick pancakes)

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

6 T melted butter

2 T vanilla (yes, that’s a lot!)

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

4 or so bananas

fresh pineapple or mango, whipped cream, or syrup as garnish

Put the first four dry ingredients in a big bowl.  Add wet ingredients and mix but don’t stir too much.  Plop about 1/8 cup onto a buttered skillet or flat griddle on medium heat. When the batter spreads out a bit, place a few slices of banana over the surface.  As the edges dry out a bit and it looks like a beautiful shade of brown underneath, carefully flip them over.  The banana slices will be wonderfully carmelized when finished.  This recipe makes about 10 big pancakes.  They are so yummy with more fresh fruit on top, or whipped cream, or syrup, powdered sugar… experiment and tell us what you like!  Maybe I’ll post a picture by the end of the weekend!