Monday, December 28, 2009

Love this photos!




Aiden's dedication:



Saturday, December 26, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Faces of Africa through the Eyes of Three Sisters and a “Bebe”! (Part 4)

Mid-week shopping at Arusha’s markets appeals to everyone. T-shillings are counted and the Toyota cruiser, driven by Jane Ann, bumps its way into town. Market stalls display African crafts galore. Bargaining is the rule. Gratefully a fellow missionary friend of Jane Anns, fluent in Swahili, accompanies the ladies and the sisters walk away with varieties of treasure. The Cultural Center in Arusha, boasting engaging art, is a final stop before returning home.

“Where are the giraffes? “is the question of the next day. Since these magnificent creatures are no longer in the crater the sisters have not yet seen this African “icon”. Ron shares a solution-anyone for Arusha National Park? Although rain prevails, the day is rich with giraffe after giraffe lazily “grazing” the tall trees and seemingly quite willing to pose for a photo shoot.

Graduation Day! One of the ministries of CMF is to train willing African couples, from the bush (country) areas around Arusha, to witness for Christ in their villages. They spend 12 weeks on the compound taking classes in “Farming God’s Way”, health issues, evangelizing, marriage and parenting, and literacy. When they complete these courses the teachers/missionaries hold an official graduation ceremony complete with diplomas, speeches, skits, tribal songs and dances, and an African feast. Marlene, Nancy, and Rozella (Mom) are thrilled to be in the audience to witness and participate, via serving food, at this event. As stories are shared of the persecution these courageous Christians encounter out in the bush areas of Africa, “battling” witch doctors and other strange beliefs, we feel as though we are in the presence of the first disciples chosen by Christ sent forth into a hostile world. Prayers are sent upward for protection, courage, and opportunities to show Christ’s love through the knowledge the students have gained while living and learning at the CMF compound.

Has this day arrived already? The return flight to the states is not until evening so the family drives to a coffee plantation to bring home fresh beans, lunch is served at a nature preserve , where injured wild animals are nursed back to health, and a final cup of African chai is savored at a hotel near the airport boasting a view of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Unfortunately the grand mountain is cloud covered but nevertheless a magnificent sight. Hugs and tears are shared as good-byes are said amidst reminders of the family gathering in August of 2010. As the jet lifts off and tired eyes close dreams are peppered with wild animals, bright eyes on brown faces, and a sister and brother-in-law who are serving Christ in a poor but beautiful land.

African quotes to remember:
“There is no hurry in Africa.” If only those in America would take this to heart we’d need fewer drugs!!
“If you educate a man you simply educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a nation.” My personal favorite!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Faces of Africa through the Eyes of Three Sisters and a “Bebe”! (Part 3)

Monday morning Marlene and Nancy (the two sisters), along with Mom(the Bebe-Swahili for Grandma), busy themselves unpacking three suitcases full of toys, games, craft supplies brought along to give to the preschool children on the CMF compound. Lack of necessary teaching tools ,so readily available in the states, is an ongoing problem in Africa. It was thrilling to share what others had given the sisters to bring to supply the classroom for use by the teacher in educating the adorable children. Eyes sparkle, and laughter bubbles throughout the classroom as Marlene and Nancy play with the pre-schoolers. Dancing and singing erupt as a talented little girl picks up a drum and the children demonstrate their practiced skills even reciting the entire 23rd Psalm & John 3:16 in Swahili. Smiles abound and warm handshakes are offered as the sisters leave the school and prepare to embark on their next adventure-an African safari!
Bags are packed, guide arrives, Ron is bid farewell, and the three sisters and “a bebe” travel north to the Ngorongoro crater/conservation area via an evening stop-over at a lovely hideaway offering a cool dip in a pool and delicious food served on linen graced tables. The morning dawns early with chirping birds and excitement as everyone climbs aboard the safari jeep. First on the “docket” is an amazing glimpse into the world of the Maasai tribe, with their village nestled on the floor of the crater grazing their cows among the water buffalo. Words can’t adequately capture the experience of bright colors, swaying bodies and rythmic sounds that surround us as the tribe performs their welcome song and dance. Two English speaking tribal members guide us into a “boma”( hut), and share details of life as a Maasai, including the reality of warm blood/milk “beverages” and cows as bed partners. Cameras click, hand-made jewelry is purchased, and finally the sisters and mother climb into the jeep moving into a spectacular day of viewing a menagerie of animals, including the African 5- elephants, water buffalo, rhino, hippo, and lion-thrilling! In addition warthogs, zebra, wildebeest, baboons, hyena, and gazelles, not to mention flamingos, eagles, pelicans, and a huge variety of cranes lift their heads seemingly quite uninterested in the jeep of gawking passengers. Sun sets as we return to the CMF compound chattering about the day’s events.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Faces of Africa through the Eyes of Three Sisters and a “Bebe”! (Part 2)

Jane Ann and Ron have become quite proficient in Swahili and begin to teach us a few phrases to communicate with their African staff and others we might meet. Habari is the general greeting, similar to hello or good morning. Asante, which was found to be most useful , means thank-you. The third phrase the two visiting sisters and mom tried to remember was Marahaba, a respectful response to Shikamo, which is a common greeting to your elder, a title fitting all three!

A Thanksgiving meal is prepared by some of the missionary families the day after Thanksgiving and Jane Ann, Ron, and her family are all invited. The mom and three sisters thoroughly enjoy baking pies together in Jane Ann’s somewhat sparce but quite adequate kitchen and taking them along to add to the feast. While there a gentle rain produces an African rainbow bringing even the football fanatics outside.

Mount Meru, seen from Jane Ann’s kitchen window, is an active stratovolcano. It is 14,980 feet tall and is the fifth highest mountain in Africa. On Saturday morning everyone jumps into the Landcruiser and Ron confidantly steers upwards into this mountain over rocky hazardous roads. On the journey new sights flood the view of the two visiting sisters and mother. There are women balancing water pots on their heads, children (seemingly no more than 5 years old) herding groups of cattle and goats, field workers cutting grass for their cattle with their foreboding machetes, called pangas. As the truck travels upward the forested slopes appear in sharp contrast to the plain area in which CMF is located. During the ascent the trees are constantly being scanned for any signs of Colobus monkeys. Marlene, the middle sister, is the first to notice the “black and white” monkeys in an outcropping of dense trees just off the road. The first photo opt of animals in Africa brings everyone out of the Toyota.
The next stop is the intended destination-the humble home of Spora & Julius Sosi, Africans of the Maasi tribe, dear friends of Jane Ann & Ron. They are extremely hospitable offering steaming mugs of ugi, an African porridge made from milk and ground grains. This is followed by a delicious rice and beef dish ending with chai, black tea brewed in hot milk and sugar. Conversation is easy and comfortable since Julius, a pastor of several churches, speaks excellent English. After the meal we take a little guided tour around their acreage sporting a garden and pasture area for cows. As the truck pulls away we all comment on the delightful experience!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Faces of Africa through the Eyes of Three Sisters and a “Bebe”! (Part 1)

The plane lifts off rising slowly through the late afternoon clouds hovering over a chilly Minneapolis skyline. Two sisters and their mother hold hands and offer up a prayer to their Lord for a safe flight. Sitting in adjacent seats they begin to peruse the flight magazine to determine their choice of inflight movies and discuss how they will “wile away the time” on their 18 hours of flying before they touch down on the continent of Africa. Plans for this vacation to visit their other sister and her husband, who are missionaries with Chrisitian Missionary Fellowship, have been a long time “in the making”. A surreal feeling now courses through their veins as they each check and recheck their “to do” lists and realize they are actually on their way!
After a layover in Amsterdam their plane begins it’s descent into the Kilimanjaro airport around 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday evening, November 25th. Somewhere along the route they have lost a day, but who cares as they groggily gather belongings and head for the baggage claim praying all six bags arrived. Thankfully, the luggage is identified making its way around the designated carrousel and quickly they load it on a cart and head for the exit. Jane Ann, the youngest sister and Ron her husband are anxiously awaiting their appearance. The reunion is sweet and bags are loaded into a four-wheel drive Toyota Landcruiser for a 1 ½ hour drive to the outskirts of Arusha. It is during this trip that the two sisters begin to realize why a sturdy four-wheel drive vehicle is necessary in order to actually live in this country. The roads are, according to American standards, impassable, full of giant ruts and small boulders, (yes I DID say boulders), since the term rocks just doesn’t seem to fit! After a jarring ride the crew arrives at the CMF 8 acres, where Jane Ann and Ron live and work along with two other missionary families and several native African staff. The guest house is called a rondaval and proves to be a spacious, comfortable abode for the 10 day visit. Especially appreciated are the mosquito-netted beds!



Thanksgiving Day is spent touring the missionary compound, enjoying meals together, and a quick sight-seeing trip into Arusha where markets are explored and a shuka purchased. A shuka is the outside, colorful garment worn by the Maasai tribe.

Following are some photos of Jane Anns home and the Christian Missionary Fellowship compound where they live and work.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Moving on once again!

Tomorrow, early morning, I climb back into my little Scion, put in a book tape and head towards the Quad Cities where my loving husband will be waiting. It will be a tearful goodbye to two adorable little grandsons, and their wonderful parents, of course! I'll take with me some cute "memories"!





Friday, November 6, 2009

God's gift!

God could not have given a better birthday gift to those approaching the age of 60 (Yikes!) than grandchildren!



Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Fayetteville Cutie!


Where's my banana?



I love my exersaucer and my Nani(Grandma),too!



She brings me cool toys.



But where is my Grandpa?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cramped but content

Tonight we are spending the evening sitting in our RV as it is parked in a maintenance bay in LazyDays RV Shop. A new windshield was installed this morning and it has to "cure" for 24 hours. Our accommodations are tight, since we can't expand the sides. We have no TV but we do have an internet connection and air conditioning, which is necessary in this 85 degree Florida heat. I was able to fix supper from whatever I could find in the frig., since most of the cupboards are unavailalbe- "buried" behind the enclosed partitions. The center aisle allows us a foot of space and we must crawl over the bed to get to my bathroom and the closet. It is "cosey" and just part of the life for full-timers. Guess we will start another game of cribbage before we turn off the lights for bed. Morning will come as early as the mechanics open the garage doors!

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Group




This is our last week in Mississippi. On Friday we head to Florida. It has been a great experience, as are all the volunteer opportunities God brings our way!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Progress!


Walls are going up!

I am also seeing "progress" in my Perfect Whole Foods Diet regime. Fruit has become a delicious dessert and I even enjoy a sugarless, hard whole wheat cracker. My stomach aches are less frequent and when they do occur they don't last as long as they did just a few months ago. But I still crave ice cream and chocolate chip cookies! Less than a year to go and I will have them again. Ha!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Moving South…From North Carolina to Mississippi


Saying good-bye to Branden, Brooke, and Aiden was hard but time to get busy with a project for Mobile Missionary Assistance Program (MMAP).

We have arrived in Durant, Mississippi, location of the Sunny Mount Missionary Baptist Church. Here we will spend the next three weeks helping to construct a fellowship hall-a much needed addition to their church. Estimated at around 50-75 faithful members, this is a small black congregation who love the Lord Jesus and aren’t afraid to break out in boisterous song on Sunday morning! Oh, the joy of worshiping with this group of believers is difficult to describe. We clap and sway with the music and the loud amens for over two hours. Last week we worshiped with 4,000 while this week we worshped with 40 and His presence was evident in both locations!
It is going to be three weeks of learning and growing together as we offer our services. Already this project has challenged our senses and caused us to dig deep into the well of patience. Upon arriving we had trouble turning into the driveway sliding two wheels into the ditch. In His perfect timing God provided a massive “tree logging tractor” to push us out. The site we were directed into to park our RV was and continues to be NOT level which causes problems in draining the sewage. As we sat discussing that issue we noticed a crack in our massive front windshield! Thankfully we don’t rely on circumstances for our happiness.
Remembering Ps. 50:15, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble (even little ones); I will deliver you and you shall glorify me.”,we put these problems behind us and got into the car to explore the area looking for two of life’s “necessities”: an internet connection and a Wal-Mart! The closest WiFi connection we found was in a tiny library about 25 minutes west in a town of about 1,000 people or less. In the opposite direction, 45 minutes away, we located a Wal-Mart thanks to our “air-head” garmin affectionately named Marilyn Monroe, who finds humor in directing us to turn down obscure dirt roads or seeming to express frustration voicing “recalculating” when we refuse.
As rain softly patters on our roof and we say good-night to our first week-end parked in the church lot we wonder what God has prepared for us here. One thing we do know-it can only be good. “For you , O Lord, are good…” Ps. 86:5


Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Statement to Ponder

Recently I completed reading a novel titled: Edge of Eternity by Randy Alcorn. Basically it was the story of a man "caught" between heaven and hell. Although this sounds a bit strange it was a fascinating read. I wanted to share the following quote with you:
"We live our lives in eternity's lobby, walking toward a door that will forever seal our destiny."
If there is any truth to this statement think about its implications. The door we choose to walk through here on earth will determine how we spend eternity. Eternity is a LONG time. For me, I want to make the right choice, which I've already done. I'm walking toward the door marked heaven, but not because of anything I have done but rather because of what Jesus did for me. I pray, you too, make the right choice!

On a lighter note here are two blue-eyes boys ready for a run with mommy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Made from "scratch"



On my new diet there are a number of food items I have discovered I can not just go to the store and purchase, mainly because of their sugar or refined carbohydrate content. Therefore I am learning to make more and more items from scratch. It has become quite an interesting challenge-one that surprises the taste buds and provides me with a tiny bit of "pride". (I know that's a sin so let's just say I feel good about my accomplishments!)
In the above photo from left to right starting in the back row you see my versions of hummus, mayonaise, applesauce,(including the nutritious peelings), ketsup, sugarless granola, almond butter, yogurt, (just finished eating the last jar), and 100% whole grain bread made from wheat I ground myself. To this list I also can add soy milk, Italian salad dressing, peanut butter, carrot and various other juices, and alfalfa sprouts from my newly purchased seed sprouter. On my "yet to create" list I have yogurt cream cheese, buttermilk, other salad dressings, various seed sprouts, and a long list of grains to grind for use in breads.
If it was not for my stomach problems I would not be jogging along this new road. So,today, I can with heart felt honesty say "Thank you, Lord, for a tempermental stomach!"

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cutest kid on the block!




Tuesday, September 8, 2009

In the Valley

Why is it when we are on the mountain top we think we will never venture into the valley again? Just two days ago I was feeling great on this new diet and today I feel rotten. I think it may be the pork ribs we ate yesterday but who knows. There could be a number of reasons why I feel like a little gremlin has lit a match to my digestive tract and is gleefully fanning the flames. But I must remind myself that healing takes time and that a chronic condition doesn't go away easily but puts up a rather vicious battle. Thankfully I can be comforted by Paul's words in 2 Corinthians as he reminds us that God's strength is made perfect through our weakness. God's grace is sufficient.
There is a wonderful old hymn titled-"God Will Take Care of You"
I especially find stength in the line "beneath his wings of love abide". My mind's eye sees a baby chick under the protective wings of a mother hen. That is a safe, warm place. So today I'm resting under the wings of my father "hen". Tomorrow will only be better.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

1 week down- 51 to go!

I have just completed one week on the "Perfect Whole Foods Diet" with NO sugar and NO refined carbohydrates and I feel good! In fact, I wouldn't say I just feel good, I am excited about the challenges presented to me by the necessity of radically altering my cooking and baking techniques and incorporating previously unheard of ingredients. Armed with fresh knowledge, as I read more and more about healty diet, each meal preparation becomes an adventure. Breakfast might be a yogurt smoothie with grilled tempeh and 100% whole wheat toast. Vegetables have been added to lunch as well as dinner and sometimes even a handful of spinach thrown into the smoothie to start the day. Various vegetable juices fill the mid-day snack role. (We have a new juicer, which makes that task a breeze.) Even the evening meal may have a few novel additions, such as quinoa or a stevia sweetened dessert.

For fun I thought I would share a little of what I am learning with you in the format of a quiz. See if you can become a member of the "Food Guru" Club.

1. Dulse is:
a) a sea vegetable
b) a soy protein

2. Kamut is:
a) a grain
b) a vegetable

3. Triticale flour is:
a) never refined
b) bleached and brominated

4. Diastatic Malt Powder is:
a) added to whole wheat bread to help it rise
b) added to vegetables for flavor

5. Kefir is:
a) the milk from a goat
b) a cultured milk product

6. Kombu is:
a) a member of the onion family
b) a sea vegetable

7. Amaranth can be:
a) cooked as a cereal
b) used as a fruit substitute

8. TVP is:
a) a low-fat meat substitute
b) an ancient grain

9. Durum is:
a) a baking term
b) wheat for making pasta

10.Job's Tears is a title for:
a) a grain
b) a fruit

ANSWERS: 1)a, 2)a, 3)a, 4)a, 5)b, 6)b, 7)a, 8)a, 9)b, 10)a

How'd you do? If you got 100% you're an automatic "Guru" club member. Any less and you are probably quite normal!! After tasting my stevia cheesecake my husband thinks I'm a bit obsessed, but I'm enjoying "the ride", anyway.

On to week two and more new recipes. Can't wait!

Monday, August 31, 2009

The "Ultimate" Challenge!

Can I do it? Can I go a year or longer without sugar or refined carbohydrates? If you would have asked me that question just a month ago I would have told you absolutely not! I grew up with desserts. They are an intrical part of almost every meal. And saying no to warm, crusty french bread? Never!
Well,now my body is speaking to me demanding a change in my diet in order to heal a compromised digestive tract. Two choices stare me in the face: strong medication or PWFD-Perfect Whole Food Diet. I've chosen the later.
This is day one of a whole foods diet; eating whole foods being defined as foods that are whole, that have no parts removed, and avoiding all refined foods, which are foods that have had something taken out. This is a TOTAL avoidance diet requiring reading labels, to avoid ingesting ANY foods that would compromise the diet's purpose. I believe diet is not an appropriate word because many people associate this word with weight loss programs-attempts to lose weight by temporarily changing eating habits. The Whole Food Diet is meant to support your health and hopefully heal a chronic digestive condition and produce a lifestyle change in eating.
I spent the morning cleaning out my kitchen cupboards and refrigerator of all "foods", including condiments, that won't fit into this new eating regime. Did you know Morton's salt contains sugar? All but one of our cold cereals bit the dust as did most of the baking supplies, even the pastas and all our crackers. After hours of cleaning and reorganizing, my cupboards look bare. Branden and Brooke are the recipients of lots of "food stuff".
Brooke is my inspiration for this journey. She was on a similar diet for over a year when we first met. She has had digestive problems for a number of years but is so much improved I take hope in her recovery. She is now more liberal with her diet as I hope in a year I can be too.
I will keep you updated on my progress. Any words of support would be welcome. I am thankful that I have a husband who is always by best cheerleader and willing to eat only what I eat, except maybe a cup of coffee and some chocolate now and then. Yes, that's right-I can have NO chocolate for a year! Could there be anything worse? Ha!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Waiting

What are you waiting for? Is your birthday just around the corner or a much anticipated vacation only a day or two away? Are you waiting to hear about a job interview or a promised raise in salary? Could you be waiting for a doctor's call to tell you the results of a recent medical test or news about a run away pet or worse a missing child? We wait for dinner, for traffic, for our turn in line, for our money to grow, for our first driver's license, for the wedding day, and for the funeral. Being in the "waiting room" can be lonely and sometimes frustrating but "take heart" and remember God's directive which I rediscovered during my quiet time today as I meditated on Psalms 27:14 "Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."
As I deal with digestive issues it is good to know I can be strong and wait for the Lord. He will act on my behalf in his perfect timing!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Aiden


With these long legs maybe an NBA player?


I'm happy!



Grandma and her cute grandson!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Moving on.....



This was our last Sunday in Ohio with Christian, Logan, Rebecca, and Steve. Now we have moved to Fayetteville area in North Carolina to spend time with Branden, Brooke, and little Aiden. We are staying in a RV camping area about 40 minutes from Branden's home. It is out in the country, secluded, a bit run down but with a nice pool. This morning, before church, Hunter and I swam laps for half an hour. The water felt good since North Carolina summer temps hover around 90 with 90% humidity. This campground has a couple of little ponds where Hunter hopes to practice some fly fishing and there are a number of trails through pine woods that will be fun to explore. We will be here around 6 weeks helping our kids and grandson in whatever "tasks" need done at the time. Right now I am in charge of most of the meal planning and I volunteer for dish duty as well as lots of baby holding! Hunter has already fixed a wobbly toilet and made homemade chocolate ice cream in our new ice cream maker. Its the cadillac of ice cream machines and gives Ben and Jerry a run for their money! In fact we have their recipe book and have improved on several of their recipes already. With Hunter's chemistry background he is having a ball "creating" in the kitchen! Steve and Rebecca hated to see us leave but we are not sure if it was because we helped with the grandkids or that they would miss the homemade ice cream! Check it out. It is pricey but SO worth it when you taste the results of only a short half hour of preparation!
The next blog will include photos of Aiden!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Conservatory-fun?

When one thinks of the word plant conservatory, fun would generally not be a proper descriptive adjective except for possibly a botanist. For the general population a plant conservatory is a "fancy greenhouse", EXCEPT if one is visiting the Franklin Park Conservatory. Looking for something to do with a toddler on a rainy day, Rebecca and I thought a quick walk through Columbus's conservatory might briefly entertain. We underestimated this marvelous entertainment jewel. While there for two hours we walked through a butterfly garden, fed huge Japanese koi, played in a boat with plasic sculptures, sat in a whispering cave, felt the spray from a waterfall, and ohhed and awed at beautiful glass sculptures.
Franklin Park Conservatory is a botanical landmark two miles east of downtown Columbus. It is a premier horticultural and educational institution showcasing exotic plant collections, special exhibitions, and a signature collection of work by glass artist Dale Chihuly.
Yes-the "house of plants" was fun!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

3 day potty training?

Rebecca and I have embarked on a "3 day potty training" program for Christian. I'll let her elaborate later about the program but suffice it to say we are in the "throws" of "big boy underwear", pee all over the bathroom, and stalking a toddler anticipating his every bowel movement! Currently I'm writing this blog seated on the floor of his bedroom while he naps. I must be available the moment he awakes for bathroom duty. Somehow I even drew that duty at 11:30 p.m.! We'll update later. For the time being enjoy a few recent photos.


Somebody is tired-who might that be?


I know when I was born!


My ice cream cone-yummy


Love those eyes


Football with grandpa-notice the big boy underwear