Sunday, March 30, 2008
Saturday, March 29, 2008
In my previous post I talked about what we eat here on the mission field--now, as far as what the Canary Islanders eat--that is a whole other story. They are largely influenced by Spanish, African, and South American cuisine. The main meal of the day, usually in the afternoon, (they close down the shops from 1:30-4:00 to go home for lunch) would consist of several courses, beginning with a thick soup or stew--called potaje, which is made from scratch containing anything from chicken stock, vegetables, watercress, and garbanzo beans. The main entree is some sort of grilled meat or fish in sauce which is typical to the islands. The meat is often chicken, rabbit, goat, pork, or beef. They also eat a lot of fish and seafood (including octopus and squid--my five year old Leanna likes to look at it in the grocery store). Along with the main entree they often serve something called "wrinkled potatoes" which are small, new potatoes boiled in about 8 cups of coarse salt--after they are cooked makes the skins appear shriveled, but the inside of the potato has a nice flavor, and they put a special sauce on them called "mojo" which can be either red or green. Mojo is made from oil, vinegar, garlic, peppers and a variety of herbs and spices. The islands are also famous for its goat cheese, and homegrown wines.
Native to the Canary Islands is a staple called gofio, which is made from roasted grains and made into a bread like food, used to thicken sauces and even found in ice cream! It is also common to purchase fresh bread, either from the local bakery or supermarket--right out of the oven. My girls love to go and get a loaf and eat it hot with butter. It is similar to french bread--crusty on the outside, soft on the inside. Desserts are much more simple here, such as fruit, yogurt, or flan. They also make confections with almonds and honey, perhaps similar to marzipan. Occasionally they will go to the local bakery and purchase a small piece of cake, but they eat much less dessert here than what typical Americans would eat. Dinner in the Canary Islands is very late, usually after 8 or 9 pm (since many work until after 8 since they close during the afternoon hours during the siesta). It might be a fish soup, meat, or bread--but on a much lighter scale than the afternoon meal. All this talk about food is making me hungry....I think I will go make lunch.
Most of my cooking is done from scratch. There are no Campbell soups for casseroles, and if you can buy pre-made sauces they are very expensive. A small jar (about the size of a large baby food jar) of El Paso salsa, for instance, will cost around $3.00 or more. Prepared salad dressings cost $5.00. There are very few cake mixes, brownie mixes--they look nothing like "Betty Crocker" or Duncan Hines--and will cost over $5.00 as well. So I cook everything from scratch, and I am sure it is much healthier anyway. Frozen foods are readily available, and most of my vegetables, such as green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, and corn are cheaper purchased frozen than fresh. A head of iceberg lettuce currently costs about $2.25 per head.
The beef here is imported from Brazil, Uruguay, or Spain. For the most part it is tougher and not as juicy as you would find it in the states. One day I made very thin steaks and it was like eating shoe leather! For this reason, we eat a lot of chicken, hamburger, turkey cutlets (whole turkeys are not available in the store like you would find in the U.S.) and occasionally fish.
For snacks we eat yogurt, cheese and crackers, apples and peanut butter, which is imported from the United States! It is not a brand that you would recognize, but it tastes good. We do have some brands here that you would recognize, such as Heinz, Lays, and Nestle. You can find M&Ms, snickers, nestle chocolate bars, and even sometimes Reece cups! Doug often likes to buy himself a large chocolate bar and hide it in his office (which Rebekah and Leanna have no problem sniffing out). Store bought ice cream is expensive and packaged in liter containers (not very practical for a large family) and there are only a few types to choose from although I have noticed recently there is a growing number of new items somewhat similar to what you would find in the states. Ice cream shops are popular here and you can find numerous flavors.
I have managed to get by quite well with everything I can find here, and make substitutions when necessary. Americans are quite spoiled as food is cheaper in the states. Foods come packaged in smaller containers, which can make it a challenge when feeding a large group or a big family. The typical family in Spain is very small, so everything is packaged in small amounts. If you have three children in Spain, that is a large family.
There are a number of German and British people living in the Canary Islands, and some grocery stores cater to their tastes, importing things like sauerkraut and sausages, and foods they like to eat. There are a multitude of restaurants with every type of cuisine from pizza to Chinese. We rarely eat out, but if we do, it would probably be a quick trip to the Burger King about 10 minutes from our house, as my husband loves American style hamburgers. A double cheeseburger, small fries and drink will cost about $5.00. A whopper costs around $4.50 just for the sandwich! We really prefer to eat at home to save money. We basically eat just like we would if we were in the states.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Here is a collection of some of the weddings and table pieces I've done in the past few years. I have my mother to thank, for she is the one who allowed me the creative license to go into her flower shop and make my own arrangements since I was about six years old. Thanks Mom! You were the best teacher!!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
2. In order to get a Spanish driver's license, I have to go to a six week driving school, in addition to a week of practice in the car at a total cost of somewhere around $800--if I pass the first or second time, if not, it will cost more. Doug spent around $1500 getting his license.
3. Passing the driving test is not as easy as you would think, even though we both have over 30 years of driving experience in the states.
4. Driving in the bigger cities and towns can be confusing--too many unmarked one way streets, stop signs and yield signs are painted on the street and not always posted where you can easily see them until it is too late.
5. Many streets are too narrow, and with cars parked on them you sometimes question if you will fit.
6. Parking is a nightmare. Even if I could drive into town, I wouldn't be able to find a place to park, so it is easier to just have Doug drop me off. Also, I don't like to parallel park.
7. Roads are too steep--and the cars are not automatic--they are stick shift and I don't like the feeling of rolling back when stopped and going into first gear. I also don't like the curvy mountainous roads.
8. I don't like it when people honk at you in another language. I can't understand what I am doing wrong!
9. I really don't have anywhere to go--there are no Walmarts or thrift stores in the Canary Islands.
10. Even if I had somewhere to go, I don't have any money to spend, so it is saving my husband a ton of money.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Saturday, March 15, 2008
From our experience, both as missionaries in Mexico way back in the 1980's and now some twenty years later--and from talking to other missionary families, it seems that the younger the children are when they go to the field the better they will adapt. When we went to Mexico in 1984, our firstborn son was just nine months old, and during the next 6.5 years the Lord blessed us with three more daughters. So their early childhood years were spent growing up in Mexico--and they never knew anything different. Our son attended a bilingual elementary school, made friends and learned to speak Spanish fluently.
Now twenty years later, on a very different mission field, we have a "second" family--Rebekah is ten, and Leanna five--and they are still young enough that the change has been fairly easy for them. We have been here for almost a year, and they seem very happy in every aspect. They are both home schooled, are making friends in the neighborhood and learning Spanish. I am sure there are times when Rebekah misses her friends, but it hasn't been as difficult as it would be had she been a few years older when we made the move. Leanna on occasion has cried for her older sisters who are in the states attending Bible college, but it is very short lived.
I feel so blessed that Rebekah and Leanna have each other. They are best friends. They play so well together. Just this morning they were in their bedroom creating a "Swiss Family Robinson" tree house, fending off pirate attacks, keeping house, and recreating life on a deserted island. Other days they are Laura and Mary Ingalls, living in their "Little House on the Prairie." They don bonnets and long calico skirts, carrying their lunch pails, attending school in the one room schoolhouse, and ride Pa's wagon into Walnut Grove. It is very amusing to listen to their imaginations run wild, and the dialogues they carry on with each other. They serve each other tea made on a make believe stove, as they chatter about Harriet and Nellie Olsen.
Another favorite past time of the girls is keeping house with their family of Polly Pockets. Don't ask me how they ever got interested in these tiny 5 inch dolls, (I think it was one of their friends from church or on deputation) but they will play with them for hours, changing the clothes made from a stretchy kind of latex, and accessories smaller than my fingernail. I have to be careful not to vacuum them up should one get left on the floor. They never seem to grow tired of playing with them.
Dad gets involved in the fun, taking the girls to play tennis, rollerblading, or bike riding in our neighborhood. The roads here are too steep for riding here around our apartment, but we load everything up in the van and go to some areas near the ocean that are more level. We also play baseball on a vacant lot. Doug makes it tons of fun for them, and there never seems to be a dull moment--whether chasing them pretending to be a giant lizard, or acting like a monkey on top of Mt. Teide--he loves to have a good time.
Rebekah loves to read and make things, whether it be baking cookies, sewing, painting, or making cards. She also enjoys her piano lessons. Leanna loves life--and her little fingers like to get into everything. She likes to play with small objects-- playing with all the little pieces of a game or puzzle. She wraps "presents" and loves playing with tape, scissors, and all other kinds of fun things. She is also a hard and willing worker--pulling up a chair in the kitchen to make dinner. I have learned to be a little more patient and try to give her something to help--even if it means a little more flour on the counter, etc.
I hope they are making good memories--like the ones I have of my early childhood, and the good times we had. Growing up on the mission field is something they will always remember.
Friday, March 14, 2008
I don't make it a practice to emphasize the outer adornment of woman, (although outward adornment is a reflection of a person's inward attitudes and personality) and I don't sit around judging people and their appearance--but sometimes you can't help but notice. I used to be a bit more naive, but being married to a red blooded male has helped me understand a little more about the visual nature of men. Here in the Canary Islands there are two sizes of women's clothing--Tight, and Extra Tight, coming in two basic styles, Revealing, and Extra Revealing. Clothing designers have become experts at highlighting just the right curves, making the clothing actually more alluring to a man than perhaps the naked body--it teases and wets the appetite--just enough to give the male mind a taste and provoke desire.
I actually feel sorry for my husband, as he is a godly man who desires with all his heart to keep his eyes guarded. He protects himself from what could be areas of temptation--not watching television, using the Internet in a very guarded manner, and trying not to look at women on the street who are advertising their wares. I heard an evangelist say "Ladies, if you aren't in business, don't advertise."
It is a constant battle for Christian men. While paying for our gas at the service station, my husband had to pass a magazine stand with photos of a totally bare-- woman--you couldn't miss it if you tried. Men are confronted with it everywhere. Even the workplace is not exempt--at our bank some of the tellers, and even the management dress provocatively. What ever happened to professionalism? And then women complain about sexual harassment and that they don't want to be treated as a sex symbol.
Lust, adultery, pornography, fornication, and every type of sexual sin is rampant--not only here but in most parts of the world--and it isn't new, but they have become more bold and brazen about it. They recently took down (thank goodness) a huge billboard on the highway of a naked woman seductively posed-- I read where it was causing too many traffic accidents!
I grow tired of seeing women in low rise pants with their thongs and tattooed bottoms hanging out. When I was in school we used to make fun of people who did that, calling it "plumber's crack." No one would be caught dead exposing that part of your body--now they do it on purpose. It is optional for a woman to wear a top when she goes to the beach --and in some places it is customary not to wear anything at all. The Europeans are quite accustomed to this--they don't even bat an eye, so to speak--but for us Americans, it is a bit of a culture shock.
My husband's favorite festival is the annual Canary Days, when the women dress up in the traditional costumes of long ago. It reminds us that there was a day when women dressed decently--even non-Christian women. As they used to say in the 60's and 70's--"you've come a long way baby!"
Today our landlord called to say that our rent was being raised according to the cost of living index, and that it took effect three months ago, so we would need to reimburse him for the additional increase since January. When my husband told me, I got angry, and confused. "What? You can't decide to raise the rent and inform us three months later--telling us oh, by the way, you owe me several hundred dollars of back rent since the increase took place at the first of the year." I grumble and complain--this would never happen in the states! It is not legal! I saw how quickly I forgot all the promises of God in my frustration. I lost my peace over a few hundred dollars. Now of course, this does have important implications to us, such as whether we should move, etc. but the Lord has a way of revealing our weak areas, and for me it tends to be financial matters. For others, it may be sickness, loss of a loved one, divorce, relationship or work related difficulties. But whatever the reason, we all have trials, problems, and temptations that we are dealing with on a continual basis.
All kinds of things were running through my mind-- and the Lord started bringing verses to my mind, correcting my bad thinking. He was "drawing me" into His place of rest by a kind, small, still voice.
One thing I really look forward to with the start of each new day is making my cup of coffee, and going into the living room and reading my Bible. It is a habit we have in our home, the first thing we do in the morning is read our Bibles. If we impart nothing else to our children, hopefully this will be something that will stick with them the rest of their lives--the necessity of staying the in Word of God to encourage, strengthen, and keep us in the way of righteousness.
Today as I was reading Psalm 71, a particular portion of scripture really spoke to me, verse three where the Psalmist wrote:
"Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort."What a privilege we have, to resort-- continually find refuge in God's dwelling place. We think of going to a "resort" as a place where we can find comfort, relaxation, and put aside our stressful cares of this life. This world is a place of confusion but we can escape into the dwelling place of the most High. How many times throughout the day do we allow ourselves to be anxious over occurences in our lives that we can't understand--but we need to retreat to the place of refuge and safety, and focus our thoughts on God's unfailing promises.
Once again, as I have done in the past--I resort into the refuge of God's Word and am comforted. He has taken care of us every step of our journey, and He will continue to do so in the future.
I sometimes worry what will happen to us when we are older--then I read how God will take care of us in our old age, when our strength faileth. In the same Psalm God reveals His desire for us to pass down our faith to those around us writing,
"Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every oneHe also promises to quicken us again, bringing us up from the depths of the earth, and comforting us on every side. As a result, our hearts should be filled with God's praise, and our lips should greatly rejoice in all that He has done.
that is to come." Psalm 71: 18
A pastor we knew a long time ago used to make fun of people who spent a lot of time reading the Psalms, as he called it "baby food" and the milk of the Word--but for my husband and I, the Psalms have been a continual feast and source of nourishment. We go there continually for consolation and rest. It is probably one of our favorite books of the Bible.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Here in the Canary Islands for example, the cost of a 2-3 bedroom apartment (anywhere from 800 sq. feet to 1200 sq. ft which which would be considered large) costs anywhere from $900--$1500, for a good neighborhood. The cost of food is double than in the states. A gallon of milk is more than $6.00, a pound of hamburger is approximately $5.00. Nothing is cheap--even bananas, which are grown on the island, cost more than in the US--I can't figure that out!
We take so much for granted, and we need to be thankful for the Lord's daily provision. Economies are so fragile--but the Lord promises to provide for those who trust in Him. The Bible tells us that money has wings--it flies away. As Christians, we have eternal riches, that will never lose its value.
First Doug contacted the student, with hopes that he and his Christian friends would be interested in watching the DVDs at their campus Bible study. Perhaps it could inspire the true believers to become more courageous in their witness, and challenge them to question the evolutionary thinking that is so prevalent. He was polite, but explained that most believers at their campus do not accept a literal interpretation of the Biblical account of Creation. It troubles me how the evolution theory has brainwashed the mindset of even "evangelical" Christians here in the Canary Islands. They might acknowledge "Intelligent Design" but reject a literal account of creation, incorporating evolution into the Biblical account. It waters down the teachings of the Bible so that it is "more respectable" and less apt to be ridiculed. It showed us the great need to reach these young students and teach them that the Bible indeed is scientific, and God's Word can be trusted.
It doesn't surprise me that in a country where humanism and secularism are the main philosophical viewpoints that creation is an unpopular teaching, as even the Catholic church has adopted evolution in their dogma. I can see where young believers, after being educated their entire life in secular schools, would be more apt to accept that God created the original substance of life, and then it evolved over billions of years, although it is a compromise aimed at minimizing the Biblical account, appealing to the "so called" scientific minds which could never accept the fact that perhaps the evolution theory is seriously flawed. Perhaps the young believers have never been exposed to good teaching about creation.
What really surprised me though, was the reaction of the preacher, when Doug asked him about presenting the creation seminars in the campus Bible study. Basically, his reaction was apologetic, but he explained, "I believe in creation, but it is too controversial of a subject and I would rather avoid discussing it. We don't want to offend anyone."
Creation is fundamental to the Christian faith. Either the Bible is true, and we are created by God, and henceforth subject to His Word, or the whole thing is a lie and we can just live our life the way we please. Where do we draw the lines of which part of the Bible is true?
As Bible believing Christians, we have become fearful of expressing Biblical truth because it makes us look like intolerant bigots. We are more afraid of what the world will think of us if we speak out, and that we will "offend" people, thus turning them away from the gospel. First of all, let me say that we do not purposely offend people. We believe in being nice, polite, and friendly as we present the gospel to a lost world. There are people who enjoy confrontation and argument, and are just plain nasty. We are not that way; however, there are times when truth is not going to be popular, and it will be offensive to some. But there comes a time when Christians need to speak the truth in love--perhaps we might even be able to convince a few along the way.
Imagine you painted a masterpiece, a true work of art, only to have someone else sign their name to it, and receive all the credit for what was done by your hand. Wouldn't you feel cheated? Perhaps that is how God feels as He looks down upon His creation--as we give the glory to another. We need boldness and courage to give the Lord the honor due His name.