Saturday, June 22, 2013

Surprising Moments

This morning as I was working through my to do list for the next week I had one of those "boy has reality changed!" moments.  Here just a glimpse at those moments from the last 24 hours.

Friday I was buying chicken wings to fry for a picnic tomorrow.  As the butcher was cutting them apart
for me I thought "hmm, these have less feathers than some others I have bought.  I need to remember that for the future."  Feathers!  Less feathers!  Not so long ago I wouldn't have even thought of cooking chicken parts that still had feathers on them!  (Hey, earlier in the week I had bought a whole fish - yep whole - and in "perfect" spanish explained to the fish man I did not want the head or back bone)

I found myself sorting laundry in my kitchen and thinking - I'm gonna do it all today since the sun is shining and it will dry during the same day.  Then I caught myself thanking God for the sun and warmth - not because I am very happy to see winter end, but because it means laundry dries in one day instead of three.  Uh - what happened?  Those thoughts were not part of my past.  But even funnier, I thought since I am going to do it all in one day I'll just leave the piles in the kitchen floor, but since we have company I'll make sure there are no intimate garments on top of the piles.  Laundry on the kitchen floor?  Didn't I used to have a laundry room?

Next week we have commitments with the church we attend (when our home church doesn't meet).
Hannah and I need to be there many hours earlier than Scott and Alex.  We need to carry popcorn machines, mashed potatoes for 30, caramel apples for 50, and more.  But we only have one car so I spent an hour mapping out train routes and who had less to carry each day.  I remember the days with two cars and we couldn't figure out how to get everyone where they needed.  I definitely was not grateful enough!

I was out front this morning when one of our neighbors came out.  I wanted to invite them to an English Club we are sponsoring at the end of July and I realized, "hey - I can confidently approach them to invite them."  Of course, quickly after that it hit me that to one side of our house are Italians (who speak Italian, Spanish, and pretty good English), to the other side are Columbians (who speak Spanish and whose daughter is learning English) and in front of us are Spaniards.  Whole world right here!

Wow!  If all this was in 24 hours, imagine what happens in my mind in a whole week!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

And Some Days It's Fun

My last post talked about the fact that some days life on the field is just plain hard and difficult to explain.  But then there are other days, more days than I can count, when I find myself laughing and smiling and totally content in the task that is laid out before me.  Today has been one of those days.

While we are working in a town without a church we continue to attend a church about 40 minutes away.  This morning I taught a class on how to fix a dessert to six ladies.  And if you know me, you have no doubt that it included chocolate!  We made Easy Chocolate Molten Cakes.  Yes, we sampled chocolate cake at 11:00 in the morning!  And every bite was delicious.

And yep - we licked the bowls and beaters and spoons too!

Here is the recipe...


    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for muffin tins
    • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for muffin tins
    • 3 large eggs
    • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
    • confectioners' sugar, for dusting
    • whipped cream or ice cream, for serving


  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F Butter 8 cups of your muffin tin (if you find that the batter doesn't fill all 8, you can just wipe them out later). Make sure there are no globs of butter in the cup though, because it'll make your cake mushy. Spoon some granulated sugar into each cup, swirling to make sure the cup is completely lined.
  2. Next, cream the butter and granulated sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating them into the butter after each addition. Beat in flour and salt on low speed until combined. Then add in the molten chocolate, and beat until combined. At this point my batter was really runny, but Martha's on her video was more like cookie/cake batter. They both turn out fine.
  3. Divide the batter among the muffin tins using a 1/4 cup measure, or until 3/4 full. These will rise some, so make sure you leave extra room.
  4. Put the tin into the heated oven, and bake until the middle of the cakes no longer jiggle, about 8-12 minutes. Make sure you don't overcook it or you'll end up with chocolate cupcakes! Remove the tin from the oven, and let it sit for 10minutes before turning the cakes out.
  5. Place them wide side down onto a plate, dust with confectioner's sugar, and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

It's Hard

I have always been someone who worries about what others think.  God has done a lot of "surgery" on my heart in regards to this problem, but there is still quite a bit of work to go.  Living on faith promises has accentuated this heart issue.  I struggle to share the hard parts of living in a foreign culture because I fear it makes me sound ungrateful or uncalled or something negative.  I fear the supportive responses that aren't supportive after all.   I often forget who I am serving - God - and lose focus of what He thinks of me and instead focus on what everyone else in the world might think.

I am blessed to live in Spain and God is doing some incredible things all around us, but at times, life is
hard.  Last week a friend shared a new blog with me (did you read yesterday about how much I like blogging?) and the post put into words all that I was feeling.  So, I am going to just borrow her post.  For me it isn't cheddar cheese (but boy could I go for a Chic-Fil-A sandwich), but instead those things that were so much of a routine that they were me - VBS, July 4 cookouts, graduation party invitations, baseball games, ...

(Borrowed directly from Blog by Emily Kines - The Long View)

When she’s not the good missionary

The other day I was on facebook and saw a missionary friend’s status. It had a picture of her two little children being dropped off for their first day of preschool. The caption said “First day of Preschool. It was rough.” The part that struck me was a comment on the status that said something like, “Why was it rough? They will learn Spanish faster than you!” I haven’t been able to get this off my mind. This comment really bothered me and I’ve been trying to figure out exactly why.
I’m sure this person really meant to encourage or didn’t mean anything at all, but sometimes I think people just don’t get it.
I wanted to comment back to her and say, “It was rough because she has uprooted her children from everyone and everything that they have ever known. It was rough because they had to wave goodbye to their grandparents in the airport and now when anyone says the word “Bye” they burst into tears and she has to ask the person to please wave and say goodbye to them one more time. Or ten. And they still continue to sob. Even if it’s the pizza delivery man. It was rough because they had to say goodbye to their best friends that they will probably, literally, never see again. It was rough because she had to leave all of her friends, support systems, relatives, memories.
It was rough because, more than likely, she wouldn’t have chosen this life. It was chosen for her and everyday she has to submit herself to it.
It was rough because now she is taking her kids to a school where the children and teachers don’t speak English, where she’s afraid that her children might not be able to communicate their needs. And she has to leave them there even if everything inside of her screams to just take them home because she has to go to language school herself. Its rough because she realizes her kids will say painful goodbyes for the rest of their lives. It was rough because she knows they will struggle to fit into the culture in which they live and the culture in which they were born. It was rough because she realizes that they will see their grandparents faces on a computer screen more than they will feel their kisses on their cheeks. It was rough because she, herself, takes away her parents’ only grandchildren. It. Is. Rough.
It’s not a super cool adventure and she doesn’t really care that her children will learn Spanish more quickly than she will.”
Lets just say this post is not from the good missionary. But she’s honest.
Sometimes I don’t want people to tell me that I’m going on a great adventure or that I’m so lucky or brave. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel that way.  Sometimes I feel like I was dragged into this kicking and screaming, with big alligator tears, feeling like everything I have ever known or loved is being stripped away from me and my children. 
Sometimes the thought of cheddar cheese can bring me to tears.
If you’ve ever had any love for me in your heart or cared for me at all, please don’t complain on facebook about the grocery cart at your walmart or post pictures of your girl scout cookies or mention chic-fil-a. Please. Ever.
If I’m just going to put it all out there. I grieve. Missionaries are grieving. When we say it’s rough, that’s because it is.  Missionaries grieve the loss of the life they had. Friendships. Family. Safety. Familiarity. English. Yes, even chic-fil-a and cheddar cheese.
I grieve, but mostly I grieve the loss of my idols. I’m not asking for a different life. I am convinced that right now, this is the life that I was called to. Usually it’s a really good life, especially when I think of other, harder fields. I have friends that are in such dangerous places that they can’t say that they’re missionaries. They risk their lives everyday for the sake of the Gospel. They rarely or never see their family. Then I realized how spoiled we are in Colombia.
Then I feel a little spoiled, but right after that I get on pinterest or I see something on facebook and I grieve the losses all over.
Can you grieve the loss of food coloring? Why, yes, yes you can.
So, when you see her on facebook putting it all out there, just tell her you’re praying for her. Tell her you’re praying for her children. Be sure not to mention chic-fil-a…
…And when she’s not the good missionary you think she should be, give her grace…because today, maybe she got on pinterest.
Today it might just be a rough day.

Monday, June 3, 2013


I have missed blogging!  Life has been so crazy over the past couple of months as we crammed for the DELE that blogging fell by the side.  I have always wanted to write a book, but maybe blogging will have to suffice.  But who knows?

I also love to read blogs.  There are so many different kinds of blogs - family stories, medical stories, inspirational, cooking, journeys, theological, and more.  I have made a dear friend through blogging, although we may never meet face to face (  I feel like I know Connie's family and have prayed and cried with her as her son has gone through some medical issues ( and I don't think she even knows I read her blog.  We met the Sturleys at training and have stayed connected to a land that holds a piece of my heart, Ukraine, through their blog (  I have been able to help my kids put into words what it is like to be a missionary kid with the help of Ash and her blog (  I have related to the name of of Lauree's blog - The Relucant Missionary -  more than once and find it helpful to know God meets us just where we are (

Most of these blogs don't even know I follow them, much less that they have made a dent in my life.  My hope is that there is someone out there reading mine that just might think the same thing.  Or who knows?  Maybe the blog is just to get me through this crazy, never dull life God has chosen to let me lead.

Come back tomorrow as I share from another blog.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A "Quick" Trip to the Doctor

We are so blessed to live in a country with great medical care!  We have modern facilities, easy access to medicines, and every kind of specialist possible.

Yet, every time I find myself faced with the possibility of needing a doctor's appointment I shiver in my boots.  There is of course the whole language issue, but even worse than that is figuring out the system and the things that are just "assumed" that you understand.

Hannah has had some digestive issues for several years and we finally decided it was time to figure out what is going on and try to get her help.  Oh my!  Here is a quick glimpse at what we have done so far:

Clinica La Luz - Madrid
Location of Hannah's Doctor

  • Made an appointment directly with the gastro specialist.  The receptionist/nurse (yep, same person) made sure I understood that the clinic and the doctor were both private (remember Spain has socialized medicine) and we would need to be prepared to pay cash for our appointment.
  • Drove to clinic.  It is in Madrid and all the parking around the clinic is one hour parking.  Imagine a specialist clinic in the states that only had one hour parking!  Here, it is usually plenty if you are there for just a regular appointment.
  • Checked in with receptionist - meaning told her Hannah's name.  Showed a chair to wait in.  Ten minutes later we were taken into the doctor's office (I mean office - not examining room) where we waited a few minutes.
  • Doctor came in and pulled out a piece of typing paper.  He asked basic questions - age, address, phone, etc - writing it all down by hand.  Then he went through a whole list of symptom questions, again writing down by hand all his notes.
  • He then explained he wanted blood work, urinalysis, abdomen ultrasound, and endoscope.  Called in the receptionist/nurse and repeated directions, as well as handing her the piece of typing paper.
  • Followed nurse/receptionist to front desk.  Made an appointment for the ultrasound and endoscope for next week.  She explained what Hannah needed to do in advance of the appointments and again repeated the fact that this is a private clinic and we needed to come prepared to pay cash.  Around €600 total.  (in USD that is $800).
  • So far, so good - or at least we think we have understood it all!
  • Then she says for the blood work and urinalysis we will first need to go to the pharmacy to purchase urine sample cup.  Huh?  Did I understand right?  So I repeated it and sure enough.  When I asked her to write down in spanish for me what I was supposed to ask for, she told me to wait a minute and she would see if she could just find us one.  Thankfully she did!
  • Nurse/receptionist stuck piece of typing paper in a sheet protector and stuck the sheet protector in an overflowing notebook in the cabinet.  I am still wondering if someone comes behind and does something with those notes and if so, what?
  • Now with sample cup and lab orders we are sent home to find our "local" lab to do the blood work.  Local lab?  I didn't even know we had one.  The nurse/receptionist was very kind and said we could come back to the clinic in Madrid if we wanted - but with it being a 45 minute drive she was sure we would prefer our local lab.  Ok.  Why not?  I think I know of one in Illescas and if not, I had the phone number of my language tutor.  :)
  • Yep, what I thought was the lab was really a lab.  Stopped by and was told they did lab work form 9 to 10 each morning, come back next morning.
  • Showed up at 9 the next morning with urine sample and lab orders.  Reminded that since I didn't have Spanish public health care I would have to pay cash for tests.  Nurse pulls out a price list and a scrap piece of paper and figures by hand that I owe €260.  I give her the money and she takes Hannah's arm from across the desk and preps it to draw the blood.  (Thank goodness we have excellent health insurance that will reimburse us for all these expenses!)
  • Marks my paperwork paid and tells us to come back this week to pick up the results.  Yep - I carry them directly to the doctor myself.
  • This week she will have the ultrasound done first and the ulstrasound tech will hand me the results and prints to take to the doctor.  Immediately afterwards she will have the endoscope.  Right in the doctor's office.  And when it is over, they'll give her about 10 minutes to wake up, get dressed, and we'll meet with the doctor to discuss all the results.
Of course, all this was in Spanish - so who knows what I missed or didn't understand.  Never bored in Spain!  But regardless of the craziness I am blessed! I could live somewhere where we had no medical options.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Camping in Spain

This morning I find myself sitting in a campsite in Tarifa, Spain and remembering a variety of other camping trips I have made in my life.

I camped as a girl scout - digging a hole in the ground for the bathroom, learning to set up a teepee style tent, and running for the real shelter when foul weather came.

My dad borrowed a camper created from an old bread truck and we experimented with the idea of family camping.  Later we bought a pop up camper and traveled over quite a big of the east coast of the US.  The camper included air condition.  Many of our camping trips were with my Uncle Bill and Aunt Carol and their two daughters Sherry and Stephanie.  We would swap campers and have perpetual sleep overs.  My Aunt Carol always brought an electric frying pan (this was such her trade mark that I was not surprised for her to give me one as a wedding present).  My dad would "scramble" a pound of bacon most mornings and we would have fried pilsbury canned biscuits.

When I got married we bought a used tent and, sight unseen, headed to the SC coast for a camping trip.  Turns out the tent leaked and we spent the night sleeping in the car.  I discovered I was not a hot weather, humid air camping kind of gal and our camping quickly came to an end.

Scott took up back-pack camping a little later in life and I tried it once.  You know the idea of carrying everything you need in to the campsite on your back, using nature for the bathroom, and picking some spot in the wild to set up camp.  I enjoyed the company, but sorry - the kind of food you can eat when you have to carry it in on your back just doesn't measure up to what I call "real camp food."

Then we moved to Spain.  We are blessed to live in a beautiful country with lots to see - however, with the move came a cut in salary and an increase in costs.  Wanna see the country?  Find an alternative to hotels and eating 5 meals out (yep, in Spain we have 5 meals a day).  Several of our co-workers camp and I decided to give it another try.  Last summer we camped for two weeks (nothing like jumping in head first) and this weekend is the 2nd time this year we have pulled out the tent.  I still think I would prefer a 5 star (or even 2 or 3) hotel or at least a pop up camper, but I am finding I do like camping.

It's a little different here in Spain.

  • You pay for everything - the site, the size of your tent, the number of people with you, electricity, pets, car, ....  easily between €35 and €50 per night - but compared to a hotel, still a great deal!
  • You do not have water at your site.  You walk to the bath houses or sometimes the water spickets that are spread out for water.
  • The campgrounds provide an area for washing your dishes.  Usually a line of sinks and counters and you can have some great conversations while doing your dishes.
  • Especially in the summer, campers in Spain are serious - they bring microwaves, televisions, paella pans, and more.  
  • There are no fires (in most places in Spain open fires are illegal) and very few grills.
  • Quiet hours are start later and end later - but when they say quiet hours, it gets silent.
Each camping trip I get a little more proficient about what to pack, how to organize, what to plan on cooking, and etc.  I figure in about 10 years I should be a good "spanish camper."

Here are a few pictures of our "home away from home" this weekend.