Sunday, October 30, 2011

(Siempre Tu) Forever Yours

This weekend I served as an assistant cook for a youth retreat here in Spain.  There were nearly 70 youth and youth workers.  I understood very little of what was being said or done but had a good time anyhow.  We served a lot of food (remember a Spanish schedule includes 5 meals per day) and laughed a lot.

I sat in one of the worship sessions.  I am still amazed how the Holy Spirit can speak and move even when I don't understand the language at all.  This was one of the songs they sang.  Don't worry, I'll give you the English translation at the end.  I tried to find it being sung on You Tube put didn't have any luck.  It was a beautiful and unique description of Christ.

Tu que eres dueno del tiempo,
Tu que agrandas mi ilusion,
Tu que seguiras haciendo
Todo lo que no puedo hacer yo,
Tu que enciendes mi esperanza,
Que eres mi necesidad,
Que das vida a tus palabras,
Vida que ya nunca morira
Quiero sumergirme
Eneste amor sin tregua

Tu que cuidas cada paso
Regalandome tu amor
Que olvidas mis fracasos
Que me has dado tu perdon
Que vives en mi mente
Que me haces diferente
Que me alivias siempre tu
Que nunca me abandonas
Que me aceptas como soy
Que conoces mis horas
Que me has puesto donde estoy
Que te llamasa mis padre,
Que me amas como nadie
Que me asombraas siempre tu

Tu que has sido mi refugio
Al llegar la tempestad
Que no hoy nada mas seguro
Que la luz de tu fidelidad
Quiero summergirme
En este amor sin tregua

(a very rough translation)

You who are Masters of Time,
You who enlarge my illusion,
You will continue to do
All I can not do myself,

Your turn on my hope,
What are my needs,
To give life to your words,
Life that will never die
I want to dive
In this love relentlessly

Your every step you take care
Giving your love
You forget my failures
You have given me your forgiveness
You live in my mind
You are different
You always soothe me
You never abandon me
You accept me as I am
You know my hours
You that know where I am
You that I call father,
You love me like nobody
You always amazes me

You who have been my refuge
By the storm
That I cannot be anymore secure today
May the light of your truth
I want to dive
In this love relentlessly

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Challenge

I don't usually just post a video or movie from somewhere else, but this sermon is well worth the hour it takes to listen to it.  I challenge you to first pray that your heart and ears will be open to hear whatever God wants you to hear from this and then be prepared to be challenged.  It is well worth the hour to stop and listen.

From Every Land to Every Land: The Internationalization of Missions – Its Potential and the Price

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Apple Pie

And one more cooking post...

I wanted to make an Upside Down Caramel Apple Pie.  I've made it a dozen times and never had any problems, but something about crossing the ocean changed that whole story.

From the beginning:

  • I don't have a pie plate so I borrowed two pie pans (thinking the two would equal the volume of my large Pampered Chef pie plate)
  • I bought two boxes of pie crust - after using my dictionary to translate both Spanish and french to be  sure I had pie crust and not phyllo dough or pizza crust (got at two different stores after deciding I would make two instead of one - one was a french brand and the directions were in french instead of Spanish)
  • I went to the outdoor market and bought apples.
  • I pulled out the recipe ready to attack it - 
  • Problem #1 - the recipe calls for white Karo syrup - there is no syrup in Spain, much less a specific type.  
  • Google to the rescue - searched for how to make homemade Karo syrup and did so
  • Made the caramel sauce that calls for brown sugar - brown sugar is not the same over here - it is dry and granular like white sugar in the states - doesn't cook the same because of the lack of moisture
  • Open the pie crusts - and discover one box has two in it and the other has one - I need four - this recipe has a top and bottom crust.
  • No problem - my pans are small and I can cut off some crust and make a fourth crust
  • Make flavoring for inside of pie - calls again for brown sugar and cinnamon and nutmeg - no nutmeg in Spain either, so just used all cinnamon
  • Go to put the 2 pies in the oven that took 30 minutes to preheat and discover only one pan fits.
  • Cook first pie and right after putting the 2nd pie in to cook the oven turns off - if it stays hot for longer than it thinks is acceptable it turns off (I am sure I am doing something wrong with it, but the knobs and directions are not in English) - I didn't notice it had turned off so had to take pie out of oven and reheat the oven and then finish cooking the 2nd pie
  • Dump pies out on plate and enjoy as well as deliver one to friends
Never a boring moment in the Hunter's kitchen!

This is a Pampered Chef recipe.
Glaze and pastry
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbl butter, melted
1Tbl corn syrup
1/3 cups pecan halves, coarsely chopped
1 package refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts)

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3Tbl all purpose flour
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Dash of ground nutmeg
4 large Granny Smith apples
1 Tbl lemon juice

Preheat oven to 425°F. For glaze, combine brown sugar, butter and corn syrup in Stoneware 9" Pie Plate; spread evenly onto bottom. Chop pecans using Food Chopper; sprinkle over sugar mixture. Top with 1 pastry crust; set aside. 

For filling, combine brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in 1-Qt Batter Bowl; mix well. Peel, core and slice apples using Apple/Peeler/Corer/Slicer; cut slices crosswise in half. Place apple slices in Classic 2-Qt Batter Bowl; sprinkle with lemon juice. 

Layer half of the apples in pastry-lined Pie Plate; sprinkle with half the brown sugar mixture. Repeat layers. Place remaining crust over filling. Fold edge of top crust under edge of bottom crust; flute edge. Cut several slits in top crust. 

Bake 50-60 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes. Loosen edge of pie from Pie Plate; carefully invert pie onto heat resistant serving plate. Scrape any remaining caramel topping from pie plate onto pie. 

Cool at least 1 hour before serving.

Vocabulary Does NOT equal Understanding

I just had to laugh.  I was so excited I knew the words for a whole, cut up chicken and was thrilled to find exactly what I wanted.  In America a whole, cut up chicken is 8 pieces - 2 each of legs, thighs, breasts, and wings.  Perfect for frying or other recipes that call for whole pieces.

However, knowing the words here does not equal understanding what you are getting.  A whole, cut up chicken here is closer to 25 or more pieces!  They literally mean cut-up!  Oh well, glad I was making chicken soup this time.

Eating in Spain

We are learning a lot about Spain and the culture and the people.  One of the many things we are learning is that we like the Spanish food schedule - except when it comes to doing so many dishes!

The food schedule here is 5 meals a day.

  1. Breakfast - this is around 8:00 or so - consists of cafe con leche (coffee with milk) or a hot chocolate milk drink and cookies or toast.  Simple meal.
  2. 2nd Breakfast - this is around 11 or 11:30.  Even the schools and many employers recognize this meal.  This is again a coffee or a cola and a tapa size meal.  It could consist of 1/2 of a sandwich, chocolate and churros, or a smaller serving of a main dish (I had a dish with potatoes, ham, and an egg the other day - about 6 -8 bite size).  If you are going to eat out somewhere, this is the meal to do it at.  Many of the restaurants offer free tapa when you order a drink.  If you are out shopping or traveling or doing errands you always stop for this meal.
  3. Lunch - served around 2:30.  This is the biggest meal of the day.  Most days I try to have it prepared and ready when Scott and Alex get home from school.  This meal would be equivalent to the American evening meal.  Today's menu is pork fillets, a salad, mashed potatoes, and baked apples.
  4. Merienda - between 5:30 and 6:30.  You might serve meat and cheese and crackers with chips and fruit, or a quiche, or something light - purpose is to hold you over to dinner.
  5. Dinner - served between 8 and 10 at night.  This is again a full meal.  For example last night I cooked pan fried fish, roasted vegetables, fruit, and bread.  
We love the first three meals.  We find that unless we have company we either do Merienda or Dinner, but not both - unless someone wants a snack or a piece of fruit.  My first thought was that I would be as big as a house after living here for a month, but I actually think I may be losing weight.  The meals are healthier and the portions are smaller because you know another meal is in 3 hours are so.  And then of course there is all the walking!  Most meat, fruit, and vegetables are fresh.  Canned food and frozen food is not easily obtained.

Eating a full meal out is expensive so we do that only for a treat.  A combination meal at McDonalds is about the equivalent of $9.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What about church?

It is early Sunday morning and many have wondered where do we go to church here in Spain and what is it like.  For now, the where is a complicated answer.  We are church students (and we often say preschool students).  We will not have our own church to attend or help with for quite a while.  Our first job is learn about church here.  We will be visiting all the churches that our teammates work with first.  That accounts for about 6 different churches. 

Also, we are going to be doing quite a bit of traveling and sight seeing over the first year so that we can learn about the places and events that helped make Spain what it is today.  Just like each of us, Spaniards are very proud of their history and their famous landmarks and we want to understand it as well.  When we are away from our home on a Sunday we will visit other evangelical churches.

Church services are longer than the average service in America.  They are also more interactive.  Many of the songs they sing are the same ones we sing, however in Spanish.  And something crazy happens in my brain at that point - I know the words to a song until the person next to me is singing in Spanish and then I can't remember a single lyric. 

Several mission trips ago I decided I could use church in a foreign language for one of two purposes - to learn the language or worship.  I have chosen worship.  Although I don't understand most of what is said or sung, I can sit back and let my brain relax and worship.  The Holy Spirit transcends all languages and will speak even if you do not understand the pastor. 

Then, usually sometime on Sunday or Monday, I try to find an online service to watch on the Internet.  If you are a member of a church that broadcasts your entire service, let me know.  Most only do the sermon and you miss out on something there.  I know it is more expensive for churches to include the music on their podcast (royalties and etc), but those of serving on foreign fields say thank you for spending the money.

We miss our home church, but we are learning the discipline of not depending on someone else to take us to the throne of God or to spoon feed us discipleship.  

Today we are going to church in Azuqueca (pronounced A-thu-ka-ka).  We will walk about 20 minutes to the train station then take a 10 minute train ride then walk a couple of blocks.  A whole new lifestyle!

Friday, October 21, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things

Life in Spain is different than anything I have ever experienced.  Every sound, sight, and smell reminds me "I am not in NC anymore."

Here are a few of my favorite things:

  1. The sound of our town waking up.  Most windows in Spain have persianas on them.  These are metal blinds that keep the heat out in the summer and the cold out in the winter.  They can make a room pitch black no matter the time of the day.  But, they are noisy.  You know when your neighbors go up or down.  In the mornings when you walk through the streets you can hear them going up everywhere.  
  2. Chocolate Neapolitans.  We had them for our first time yesterday - maybe a mistake to have tasted them.  Oh they are wonderful! Kind of like a croissant, but not as flaky (or messy) and filled with either a cream filling or chocolate.
  3. Bread shops - nothing like the smell of fresh baked bread filling the streets.
  4. Coffee Time - not unusual to just stop along the way with a friend for coffee and a tapa (a small snack).  Relationships are important here and coffee time helps solidify them.
  5. New Friends - each new friend here is a jewel.  I don't understand most of what they are saying, but their faces and bodies tell me I am being accepted.
  6. Teammates - to sit with a teammate and pray together is an unexplainable gift.
  7. Zach - I hear from him more now that we are on this side of the ocean than when were closer together geographically.  I love his quick one sentence emails throughout the day.
  8. Watching language grow in the kids and Scott - they are doing so good!
  9. Spontaneity - I have never been a spontaneous person, but this is a spontaneous lifestyle.  Just stop by for a visit, just decide to do an errand, just decide to take a trip, ....  I am learning to love it.
  10. Sunshine - It has not rained since Hannah arrived here on August 25 (although we have a slight chance of light rain on Monday).  The skies are not cloudy and the sun shines bright.  Sometimes just getting out and walking in the sunshine makes everything ok.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Hannah and I went to London yesterday (Hannah had to leave Spain so that she had a passport stamp entering Spain after the issue of her visa) and as we were preparing to return to Spain she asked me if I was ready to go home.  That question made me stop and gulp.  Home, where was home?

In June we sold our house in Kernersville and for six weeks we lived amidst boxes and in a continual yard sale.  In July we moved into a temporary home, a blessing bigger than words could ever express, yet it was a borrowed home.  At the end of September we moved to Spain and landed in our own apartment, yet no furniture was followed by lots of Ikea boxes and furniture in every stage from still int eh box, partially assembled, and usable.

There is just something about the place you lay your head.  I know the old saying "home is where the heart is."  Maybe that is why that question was so hard to answer.  I know that I am where I am supposed to be, but there is still a piece of my heart that isn't sure where it is.

So my answer to Hannah's question - I was ready to be back with family, but home is still a little hard to define.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

No Groceries in the House

Another lesson I learned this weekend is that the stores in our area do not open back up after siesta on Saturday and not at all on Sunday, and oh by the way, they don't open on fiesta days either - which yesterday happened to be.  Not such a big deal when I lived in North Carolina - there was always something in the freezer (even if it wasn't our first choice) and of course I believed in an overflowing pantry.  Here - well, let's just say the cupboards were bare!

Sunday was fine, but Monday was time to get creative.  Breakfast was easy (coffee and cookies is acceptable here), 2nd breakfast just begged for churros and chocolate (the restaurants are open on fiesta days - but the budget said only one stop at a restaurant).

After that I was off to explore the neighborhood to determine what was open.  First I found an open bread store so 2 loaves of the "de la casa" (bread of the house - basically french loaves) were added to the bag.  Next I found an a small fruit stand that was open.  Apples, oranges, plantains and grapes were added.  Finally I explored the chino (a small variety store - reminds me of Dollar General - has a little of everything in it and appears to almost always be open) and added a package of bacon and sandwich bread (Alex has a field trip today and had to have bread to pack his lunch with today) to the bag.  Then I was back home.

Lunch is the biggest meal of the day and consisted of french toast with bacon.  Of course no syrup in the house so it was topped with jelly or honey.

Merienda (the snack meal between lunch and dinner, served around 6:00) was apple crisp.  We had a team meeting here last night so it was a little fancier than normal.

And dinner, well let's just say it was individualized.  Hannah had a cheese quesadilla (made with cured goat cheese), Alex had a bag of cereal (a close replica of Cinnamon Toast Crunch), I had cheese with crackers and an orange, and Scott had bread and cheese and a couple carrots.

Guess what is first on the agenda today?  Yep, grocery shopping!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Lessons from Spain, so far

Today marks 1 week since we arrived.  According to everyone around us, we have accomplished more than expected - having internet in our apartment being a prime example.  The week has been filled with to do lists, paperwork, shopping, language learning, visiting, and lots of lesson learning.  I thought today I might share a few of those lessons with you.

  1. Kitchen floors in Spain have to be mopped almost daily, if not more often.  I don't get it - but somehow the floor is covered in black, sticky streaks every morning.  How can this same family of four make such a mess here that we didn't make before.  Now I understand the whole "take your shoes off at the door and wear house shoes (shoes that never leave the apartment)" concept.
  2. Just because the bus runs every 15 minutes for part of the day, doesn't mean it runs every 15 minutes all day.  Point in case - Thursday night we took the bus to a nearby town to meet some friends for an early dinner (met at 8:00 PM - that is a whole additional lesson).  I checked the bus schedule and between 6 and 8 it runs every 15 minutes.  Assumed that was the case all evening.  However at 10:05, we learned the bus only comes once every 50 minutes - and had just come at 10:00.
  3. Just because an item on the menu says "con Jamon (with Spanish ham)," doesn't mean you should order it.  We went to dinner on our own last night and Scott ordered off the "daily menu."  Unsure what the first word was, knowing he liked the Spanish ham, he ordered alcachuga con jamon.  In America it would be called artichokes with ham.  Not being a fan of artichokes, Scott was served an entire plate of artichokes with a little jamon sprinkled around.
  4. Fried eggs go with everything.  Thursday night I had a hamburger with a fried egg on it and last night I had a thin piece of grilled beef with a fried egg next to it.
  5. Ikea furniture is not as easy to assemble as they advertise!  When furnishing an entire place with Ikea furniture, be prepared to take a lot of aspirin or pay Ikea to do it. 
  6. Your head will begin to feel like it is exploding when learning a new language.  Alex in school, Scott at language school, or me just walking the streets have all had the "I think my head will explode any moment" feeling.
  7. Don't expect siestas the first couple weeks in a new country.  I know that the entire country is taking siesta around us, but so far it has rarely found it's way into our apartment.  Hopefully in the coming weeks!
  8. Your priority list and the priorities of those around you do not always match up.  If I was in charge of the world, the world would stop and we would have every room in our apartment put together.  Scott is much more relaxed and would do a room a day, or perhaps a piece of furniture a day.  Alex would find the toys and assemble those first (although he and Hannah are both begging for beds already).  As for those in the stores and shops - talk and visit first, then see if they can help you with your list.  Then of course there are delivery men and technicians..... morning appointment became 12 - 3 and I'll be there between 10 and 2 became 2:45.
  9. 5 meals a day is a good thing.  So far I have managed to get 4 meals in during one day, but not 5.  When we find siesta the last meal will be introduced.  When you eat this often you are never miserably full.  Perhaps weight loss will come out of this move.
  10. You can walk further than you think when you don't have an alternative.  No car and the bus is not always convenient (see #2) and gets expensive for shorter trips means you do a lot of walking.  Alex's school is about a 35 minute walk.  A couple mornings this week I have taken him to school and then turned around immediately and walked back home.   My feet are sore, but the walks get a little easier each time.  (If you are coming for a visit, start walking every day now!)
  11. The Chinese man at the general store (kind of like a Dollar General or Big Lots) may be one of my best Spanish teachers.  Alex and I went in to buy him a pair of headphones for school.  I asked for them in English and pointed to my ears.  He handed them to me, said "cochas, repeat."  I said the word and then he allowed me to purchase them.  Wonder if I can find something for a dollar a day to keep learning Spanish.
  12. Friendships can develop without language.  I have met a lady named "Loli."  She is friends with another SENDer.  She has welcomed me into her friendship circle and we have laughed quite a bit together - wonder if we are laughing at the same things?
  13. Fuzzy blankets and black couches are not a good match.  A vacuum cleaner just found its way to the top of the shopping list.
  14. Home is where your family is.  The apartment is a mess, our furniture is mostly in boxes, I don't understand anyone who rings the doorbell, shopping is slow and tedious, but this is home.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Hard to believe we have been here almost a week.  Part of me thinks I have just arrived, the rest of me feels like we have been here much longer.  We have accomplished a ton and there is much more to do.  Have a whole new perspective on what it takes to start from scratch!

In one day we bought an entire apartment's worth of furniture.  Exhausting but good.  It was all delivered yesterday.  Will take longer to assemble than to pick out!

Alex has started school and we are blessed beyond measure with the situation there.  I'll write a whole additional blog post about thhat in the coming days.

Scott is learning Spanish, although he says his head may explode any day now.

Hannah is enjoying being back in the family, although she says she misses having a big sister.

I am learning to navigate life and hoping to squeeze a siesta into the schedule very soon.

We are good.

There is a chance we will have internet at our apartment tomorrow, but we will wait and see.  Technician is coming, but that does not guarantee when he leaves it is all fixed.  Once that happens I will go back to regular posting.

When I find the box with the camera cord in it, I'll post pictures of our new life as well.

Thanks for your prayers and support.

Monday, October 3, 2011

School Registration

Alex and his new teacher Blanca as well as all the
 people who went with us to register.

Our biggest prayer request for today (Monday) was for the registration process for Alex and school.  We were prepared to accept our 3rd choice and for it to take at least a week to navigate the system.  This morning we walked into the education office prepared to start, requesting a bilingual school that was part Spanish, part English.

The administrator told us of a school option we did not know existed - a transitional class, basically, a Newcomers School.  There are two schools in town that offer this class and one of them is only about a block from the language school Scott is attending. We left the office with paperwork to complete and met with some new Spanish friends for a coke and tapa.  The education office closed at 1 and it was only noon so we decided to return the paperwork and get the process going.

The whole crew went with us - Scott, Alex, Deb, Giles, our 3 new Spanish friends, and me.  We all walked in and the original gentleman was available.  He accepted our paperwork and began to process it.  There was one spot left in the school that was our first choice!  He processed our application and within 20 minutes Alex was registered for school - at our first choice - a transitional class for students who speak no Spanish.

We then walked to the new school to turn in paperwork as the class bell was ringing.  His new teacher, Blanca, was about to beginn her planning period and was able to come down and greet us.  She was very friendly and assured us that Alex would do great.  He begins school tomorrow. 

We prayed from the beginning of this process that God would direct our paths in ways that only God could take credit.  Today was  a definite answer to that request!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

We are here!

We have arrived with all our luggage.  No problems at any point.  Our apartment is nice and of course very empty.  We have gone to the store and picked up prepaid cell phones to get us through for a couple of weeks and are preparing for lunch.  It was good to see Hannah.  We are all a little tired and will be glad when it is late enough to go to sleep.

Thank you to everyone who has prayed us safely here.

It will be a few days before I am back online to update, but keep checking - lots of pictures and updates to come.