Wednesday, April 30, 2008

How I Learned to Cook

I have been cooking since I was in 5th grade. It all started one day when my mom (who was working in our family owned greenhouses and flower shop) told my sister Carla and I that she wanted us to make a meatloaf for dinner. We were to follow the recipe on the back of the Quaker Oats box. I don't know what we did wrong (maybe two cooks working together wasn't such a good idea) but it was a disaster. The only one who would eat it was Blackie, our German shepherd.

Fortunately, we didn't give up, and my mom continued to let us experiment in the kitchen. I would call her on the phone (even though the flower shop was on the same property) and ask her how to make something, and in between customers she would tell me what to do. That is how I learned to cook.

When I was in 7th grade, it became "my job" to make dinner and clean the house. I loved this position--it meant I didn't have to report to the greenhouse anymore like my other siblings at 4pm (after we got off the school bus) and I could stay at home and watch my favorite programs while I cleaned and made dinner--Andy Griffith, Beverly Hillbillies, Gilligan's Island, The Brady Bunch, Dick Van Dyke, I Love Lucy, My Three Sons, and Family Affair. (You can tell what generation I grew up in). Working in the greenhouse was hot, sweaty, and dirty work--I didn't like it then, but I do now. I had worked in the business too, but the housework seemed to suit me better.

I was also in charge of shopping, so my mom would hand me a $20 bill from the cash register,(wouldn't go too far today) and have one of our employees take me to the local IGA grocery. I would pick out the meat, side dishes, and occasionally a dessert to make. My dad was a meat and potatoes man, which meant no casseroles (maybe as a side dish, but a working man wants his meat).

I appreciate the fact that my mom wasn't afraid to let me learn this way. She gave me total freedom in the kitchen. We had a large family, there were eight of us altogether, so I learned to cook for a crowd. I learned my mom's method of cooking--a pinch of this, a dash of that--until it tasted good. When I needed a recipe I would consult the Betty Crocker cookbook--the only one we had, and it is still the one I use the most today. When I married I took it with me (sorry mom).

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Whatever Happened to America?

The following is a poem written by Judge Roy Moore from Alabama . Judge Moore was sued by the ACLU for displaying the Ten Commandments in his courtroom foyer. He has been stripped of his judgeship and now they are trying to strip his right to practice law in Alabama! The judge's poem sums it up quite well.

America the beautiful, or so you used to be.
Land of the Pilgrims' pride; I'm glad they'll never see.
Babies piled in dumpsters, Abortion on demand,
Oh, sweet land of liberty; your house is on the sand.

Our children wander aimlessly poisoned by cocaine
choosing to indulge their lusts, when God has said abstain
From sea to shining sea, our Nation turns away
From the teaching of God's love and a need to always pray.

We've kept God in our temples, how callous we have grown.
When earth is but His footstool, and Heaven is His throne.
We've voted in a government that's rotting at the core,
Appointing Godless Judges; who throw reason out the door,
Too soft to place a killer in a well deserved tomb,
But brave enough to kill a baby before he leaves the womb.
You think that God's not angry, that our land's a moral slum?
How much longer will He wait before His judgment comes?
How are we to face our God, from Whom we cannot hide?

What then is left for us to do, but stem this evil tide?
If we who are His children, will humbly turn and pray;
Seek His holy face and mend our evil way:
Then God will hear from Heaven; and forgive us of our sins,
He'll heal our sickly land and those who live within.
But, America the Beautiful, If you don't - then you will see,
A sad but Holy God withdraw His hand from Thee.
~~Judge Roy Moore~~

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Doug's April Prayer Letter

April, 2008
Dear Pastors and brothers and sisters in Christ,
Greetings in the wonderful name of our Lord.
"Let them give glory unto the LORD, and declare his praise in the islands" says Isaiah 42:12,
and by God’s grace we were able to do that for a day on the nearby island of La Gomera. This past Saturday, I took a missionary friend Rudy, Francisco, and Juliel, (the Brazilian who studies with me) for a missions trip to the neighboring island of La Gomera. We traveled by ferry to the capital city of San Sebastian, along with hundreds of tracts and gospels of John and Romans to distribute to the people there. We had a great time in the Lord, passing out around 1,500 tracts and portions of scripture in San Sebastian, a city of around 9,000 inhabitants. I also did some open air preaching and we were able to witness to a number of people. I was rejoicing to see Juliel (who is on fire for the Lord) as he was witnessing to everyone he could. I would not be surprised if God called him to be a pastor or missionary. We then traveled up the steep mountains of 1,500 meters in the midst of the clouds into a couple of remote villages where we went to the houses, leaving scripture and witnessing to all we could. Pray especially for a man named Manuel and his two young daughters, as well as a lady named Rosaria and her teen son who really listened intently to the gospel. We didn’t see anyone saved, but we believe we did God’s work in sowing the seed. Everyone enjoyed it so much we are already planning our next trip to the island of El Hierro, where there is probably little gospel witness.
We have also been ministering at the nursing home about every other week, with a chance to sing and to preach the word of God to these folks. Carolee, along with another missionary’s wife Sara organized a Children’s Bible club which meets every week at their apartment. So far several visitors have come, including Evelyn, our neighbor whom we have been witnessing to for awhile. Pray for her salvation along with the other children. Pray also for Juan and Tanya, her parents, that they would be saved as well. Juan recently suffered a brain aneurysm and seems to be doing fine, but during this ordeal I was able to visit him in the hospital and give him a book of John.
I am still trying to get into the prisons here, but so far have not been able to. I did meet a Gideon the other day, and he said it took them three years to be able to get in, but he said he may be able to help me in this matter, so pray for this also. Rebekah and Leanna are doing well in school, and seem to be adapting to living here quite well. We are looking forward to seeing Hannah and Jenny soon, as they will be spending their summer break with us, helping in the ministry here. In closing, thank you all for all your prayers, financial support and friendship!!!
The Schwaderer family

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Looking Back

Today Doug and I are celebrating our 26th anniversary of marriage. One year ago today we were leaving Rochester, NY with four of our children, headed for the Canary Islands. After three years of deputation, selling our home and packing it all up, we were finally on our way.

Looking back on the past 26 years of our life, it has been quite an adventure. I married at the age of 19, started deputation for Mexico a week later (my husband accidentally scheduled a meeting on our honeymoon, so when he called the pastor back to change it, the pastor chuckled and graciously agreed to postpone it).

We have gone through a lot together--good and bad, joys and sorrows. Whoever wrote the marriage vows summed it up really well, for better, for worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health....because life is full of trials and temptations. We need the grace of God each day in our lives to keep our commitment (til death do we part) to each other.

Our life has been full and blessed--six loving children (a daughter and son-in law too) and three grand kids so far (and one on the way). God has provided all our needs above and beyond our expectations. Most of all he has blessed me with a wonderful, kind, and God-fearing husband, who has led our family with the Bible, and encouraged us along the way. Thank you, Lord!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Jumping Through Hoops

We are in the process of renewing our residence visas that will allow us to remain in the Canary Islands. Now to understand this process would take more time than I care to write--it all began in the States over a year ago when our family had to go to New York City to get the ball rolling at the Spanish Embassy. They sent all the necessary paperwork to Madrid for their approval and we were granted temporary residency which allowed us to come to the islands, and after we got here last year we submitted more paperwork. Only a fellow missionary would understand all the hoops you must jump through to meet the requirements: police records, fingerprints, apostille seals (special seal--not just a notary) on all official documents, sponsorship, etc.

After all we had been through to get our initial residencies approved, we thought getting our residency papers renewed would be relatively easy. My husband started well in advance of the deadlines, made sure he had everything in order, etc. He had his appointment two weeks ago and was approved with no problems. He had everything they asked for, and now he just has to go again and get "re-fingerprinted."

Yesterday was the appointment for me and the kids. Doug brought all the papers they requested on the email, and then some, just in case. You never know what they are going to ask for, and quite frankly, it all depends on who waits on you. We got to our "appointment" only to find that we had to take a number. It was very similar to going to the department of motor vehicles in the states--our number was 752!

As we were waiting, I observed each worker, looking at their faces--which ones smiled, which ones looked like they were eating sour pickles--hoping we would get a "friendly" one. Our number was called, and we proceeded to the desk. Most people were processed in less than 10 minutes--so what we thought would be a quick process of merely handing over our required papers turned out to be a 3 hour ordeal. It seems like from the very start she was "looking" for problems. She asked for things that weren't even on the list. Doug was pulling everything he had out of his briefcase. At one point she disappeared for about 45 minutes--she went upstairs to have a "meeting" with the man who had approved Doug's papers earlier. When she came back she had an angry countenance. I wondered what had transpired in their "meeting."

So now my husband has to go back in a few weeks to take her the things she said we needed, and hopefully we can proceed to the next step-- another appointment to go back again to be "re-fingerprinted." Why they can't do this all at the same time is beyond me--but that would be too logical.

Sometimes it can be frustrating when you feel you are getting the run-around--going from office to office, in what seems to be an inefficient bureaucratic waste of time. I am reminded of a veteran missionary, who wisely called these trials "divine appointments." If we look at things from this perspective, we are reminded that God is in control. He may be directing our steps in paths we do not understand--maybe to be a witness to someone along the way that we wouldn't have met otherwise. Or maybe He is just testing our patience : ) .

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Testimony from Matthews Family, Missionaries to Brazil

In a previous post I mentioned the missionary family whose 6 year old daughter Anna died recently from burns she received to 90% of her body. Someone sent me this letter she wrote, telling of their ordeal and the people who have been saved as a result. It touched me, and thought it might remind us to pray for this family.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,Greetings!From: Carol Matthews

Subject: Thank You! After getting news about Anna's heart giving out we headed for the hospital. We had a couple from the church come and stay with the children while we were gone. we all had our cry for missing Anna and not really being able to say goodbye.We arrived at the hospital about 10:30 and they came to take us up to see her body. More tears of seeing our little girl without life. I have been to funerals before and they are never easy but here in Brazil they don't dress up the body to look any better. We said thank you to the Drs that tried to help revive her and told them the importance of Salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. We then went down to the office where they get info to send the body for examination by the police to see if it was correct what the Dr's had said. Then we were free to go home .
We stopped on the way home to arrange the funeral. We had a man from another Baptist church offer to let us have his grave site since we did not have anything. We are going to look into paying for one next month and give him that one. That will be the only fee we will have for the funeral because the city offered to pay for the rest.Her body was released at 10:40 am on the 16th and we put it in the church with a closed casket. We had folks come from far and neighbors from next door. I know we had over 100 present for the service at 3:00pm.The gospel was preached clear and one lady that we know of publicly raised her hand for Salvation. The service was over at 4pm and we locked up the church and went to the cemetery to say goodbye till Jesus comes. Rick preached again a short message on the resurrection and then we watch them put her in the ground. I miss our little girl so much that it feels like my heart could not break any more. Then on the other hand I am comforted so greatly by our Heavenly Father.
Please pray for us to rest in the Lord and walk with Him each min. of the day! I was telling Rick how we had prayed for mercy and we can see that He really did have mercy on us and Anna. As I think of the mercy He had for Anna it brings us joy to know she is not suffering anymore and will not have to go through and more pain! Then how the Lord has been merciful to us in ways I can not number right now but just a few I will share. We have not been left childless! We have a little girl that looks quite like her sister Anna and Priscilla is getting twice the love and hugs that she received before! Then our family has become united in a way that I have never seen before! Through all this we are having people come up to us and ask us about the Lord!!!!!
We are happy for Anna but our hearts are sore from the empty bed and chair at the table and the sweet little joyful heart that cheered us so every day.I want to thank all of you for praying for the Lord s will to be done .We talked with the Dr. that has been following my treatment and Anna s and he told us that he knows of children that have survived being burned and they really are not too nice to look at. I am glad the Lord in His mercy saw fit to let her be free of pain and suffering, physically and emotionally.
Thank you again for calling , writing, emailing and above all praying!After church Wed. night there was a man that got saved also and so as we walk through this valley we see the Lord is leading in everything and with the Grace that is overflowing in our lives we hope you are comforted also.Family reunions will be much sweeter and Church services will be sweeter since we know that the only thing in this life that really matters is the souls of men, women and children.I love you all and can't wait to see you all and hear how the Lord will use the little girl called Anna to see souls come to the saving knowledge of our Lord and you again. Carol Ann
Thank you and keep us in your Prayers!

Service with a Smile

Do you ever wonder what happened to good, old fashioned customer service? I grew up working in my family owned greenhouses and flower shop, and since the age of six I stood behind the counter and waited on customers. One of the first things my dad emphasized to me was to always thank the customer when we would hand their change back to them, saying "thank you, and come back soon." We were taught to value our customers, and we would even hand a free carnation to them sometimes to show our appreciation.

Perhaps that is why I am tempted to get impatient when I shop these days, and we enter a store and have to look for a long time to even find a store clerk to answer a question, only to have them get irritated for interrupting them from what they were doing. Then they point to what we are looking for (I must be really stupid, because I never seem to be able to find it where they said it should be (tip for all you sales representatives: don't just point the customer to what they are looking for, walk them to it if possible). Checking out at the grocery store sometimes can bring out the worst in people too--I realize these people are probably overworked and underpaid or maybe just having a bad day, but it would be nice to hear a thank you when they are done checking you out, or at least smile. Then a fellow missionary wife told me that it isn't customary for them to smile, which helped me understand better. Besides that, most of them are not saved--what do they have to smile about anyway?

Even as an unsaved person though, it never mattered to me what job I had, whether cleaning tables at a cafeteria, working in a fast food restaurant, or cleaning bathrooms--I tried to do the best job I could because I took pride in a job well done. My dad always taught me to go the extra mile. We were also taught that the customer is always right. Now I realize, these days there are some consumers who abuse generous return policies. In the US for example, you can pretty much return anything within a reasonable amount of time if you have a receipt or even if not, at least get an exchange. Here in the Canary Islands though, in order to return something, you feel like you are going "on trial" in order to prove that the merchandise is faulty. We have had some bad luck recently with some electrical appliances not working. I tremble before having to return something here. The customer is never right here--they will actually blame you and accuse you of breaking it yourself. Sometimes I wonder if the hassle is worth it.

Oh well, I could go on and on.....another pet peeve.....when you call a company for service and spend 10 minutes trying to work through their automated touch tone network. Then they never give you the option you are looking for, like, to speak to a customer service representative, press 0!!! That is all I want. Just let me talk to a "real" person. To make things worse, now you don't have to press any keys--you get to talk to a voice activated computer robot. Now this really complicates things. The other day I spent 15 minutes "talking" to a computer and all she could say was, "I am sorry, I didn't understand your response. Please try again." Ugggghhhh!!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

What a Day that Will Be

This morning as I laid in bed, I was awakened by a little bird singing sweetly. It reminded me of the day when our family stood around the graveside for our little son, Jonathan, who died at 20 weeks in the womb, and as we were singing a hymn, a little bird started singing in the tree next to us. It was as if an angel had been sent by the Lord to remind us that Jonathan was in heaven, and it was such a special moment for me.

This week has been a sad week in some ways for me, as I received news from the states that made my heart sink. We have been praying for a little six year old girl, Anna Matthews, whose parents are missionaries in Brazil. She was badly burned over 90% of her body. For 13 days we have been praying for her, receiving email updates with hopes that she would pull through this ordeal. But the Lord chose to take her to heaven, and my heart goes out to this missionary family. They have maintained such a strong testimony, saying that many people have heard the gospel as a result, and I am sure that some will be saved. I think of my five year old daughter, and how I would feel if this would happen to us. It reminds me again just how much we need to pray for our missionaries and each other.

The second notice was about a dear pastor friend of ours, Pastor Mike Adams, of Charity Baptist Church in Kent, Ohio, who lost his beloved wife of 23 years--Renea. She had experienced some severe health problems over the past few years due to complications from diabetes. She was only 42 years old, and has two beautiful children, Shane and Christina. I remember visiting their church on deputation, and how much I enjoyed talking with Christina. They are such a loving family, and my heart aches for them as I think of how much they will miss their wife and mother.
I am comforted by the hymn "What a Day That Will Be." The words ...there is coming a day, when no heartache shall come, no more clouds in the sky, no more tears to dim the eye...all is peace forevermore, on that happy golden shore...what a day, glorious day that will be. There'll be no sorrow there, no more burdens to bear, no more sickness, no pain, and no more parting over there. And forever I will be with the One who died for me, what a day, glorious day, that will be! Oh yes, what a day that will be. Heaven is so much sweeter when you have loved ones sent on before, waiting to greet us there.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cockroaches and Lizards

People back in the states seem to be fascinated by missionary adventures and little children often ask questions like "do you have poisonous snakes over there?" or "what is the weirdest thing you have to eat?" type questions.

Maybe if I said yes, we have huge, giant, man--eating snakes that sneak up on us during the night, and my husband has to sleep with a shot gun next to us in bed just in case one decides to attack--perhaps you would feel a little more sorry for us and we would feel like super hero missionaries. Sorry to disappoint--the worst thing we have had to confront was a baby lizard trying to make its way into our dining room. I have often thought what my reaction would be should a larger lizard make its way into the house--I am surprised it hasn't happened yet, as most of the day our doors are open to let in the cool breezes. I have batted a few off the terrace walls with a broom.
Rebekah dislikes bugs and spiders, and her least favorite thing are these creepy, hairy centipedes which are really quick and hard to catch. Just the smallest moving creature will evoke pleas for emergency help that will make your heart skip a beat--as we rush to her aid only to find some tiny spider or ant--just step on it! No need to call 911.
The other day we were invited to a friend's house for dinner. They live in a high rise apartment in downtown Santa Cruz. First of all, I must say, that she is the best housekeeper I have ever seen--her apartment is immaculate. But living in the city with so many neighbors in close quarters, eliminating pests is a constant battle. As we were sitting down to eat, Doug and her husband were pulling the leaves out of the dinner table when a multitude (and I mean an army) of cockroaches started coming out of the wood, cracks and crevices of the table. Apparently, someone had given them this table recently, and they were not aware of the house guests living inside it. Rebekah and I were sitting at the table, getting ready to eat, and we politely and quietly made our way back a few steps (I was really proud of Rebekah and Leanna for the level of composure they displayed) as Doug and our friend tried swatting them all with dish towels (they didn't have any bug spray). There were hundreds of the critters, mommies, daddies and babies. Needless to say we weren't quite as hungry after that.
Fortunately, that is the worst it gets--guess we won't have any really far out, exciting adventure tales to tell on furlough. We don't have to battle snakes, rats, scorpions, black widow spiders, or even malaria carrying mosquitoes. I sympathize with my missionary friends that do.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Hurricane Winds

Last Wednesday the Canary Islands were having hot, hurricane strength winds (but not a hurricane). Our town didn't get hit too badly, but the neighboring city, Puerto de la Cruz, got hit pretty hard, with damage to trees, balconies, roofs, and falling glass. I was at the dentist that morning, when a strong wind ripped through our apartment, slamming a door shut that divides the bedrooms from the rest of the apartment. This door has a broken lock on it, and it has been this way since the day we moved in--you couldn't shut it because a little part of the lock stuck out (I don't know what it is called) making the door impossible to shut--so we always just kept it open.
Wouldn't you know, the wind was so strong, that it forced the door shut, and it was locked! Doug was on one side of the apartment, and the girls on the other, and of course, we didn't have a key (we never did, we asked the landlord for one, but he didn't have one either). To make a long story short, we ended up having to call a locksmith in order to get it open. Doug tried to fix it himself, but lacked the essential tool to open the lock.
The locksmith was only at our house for 15 minutes, and when he gave Doug the bill, he said that we must pay cash, so Doug had to run to the ATM machine. I just about had a heart attack when Doug told me the charge--170 Euros (in US dollars, about $250!!). For that price we could have purchased a whole new door! The locksmith didn't fix anything, didn't put the lock back together, or anything! I thought for sure he must have made a mistake, or took advantage of because we are foreigners, etc. but no, they tell us--that is what they get here.
Needless to say, our landlord wasn't very happy about it either but agreed to subtract it from the rent. Just think how much money you could make in a day being a locksmith, capitalizing on other people's misfortune.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Schooling on the Field

Missionaries face difficult choices when deciding how to educate their school age children. Depending on the field, there are few options--either send your children to secular school or home school. Most countries do not have Christian schools, unless you start one yourself.

We know missionaries who chose to send their children to secular, public schools because it will help their children learn the language quickly, they will make friends and learn the culture, and will have an easier time later on getting into colleges, etc. should they decide to remain on the field during that time of their life. It is true, that in most countries you must follow their system of education if you plan on attending their universities and trade schools. On the negative side, your children will be fed a steady diet of humanism, evolution, and be taught from a world view that is anti-God. You will also have to be constantly looking out for the undesirable socialization and negative attitudes that your child may develop as a result from spending so much time around children who have not been taught the same moral values that you have tried to instill in them at home.

Missionaries often choose to home school their children while on the field. Many times it is the only option. We are homeschooling our two daughters, and use the Bob Jones University DVD home school curriculum. Their teachers present all the information to the student, and bring a wealth of additional material to the home school classroom. I basically oversee the work and am there to answer questions, grade papers, and keep records. The DVDs have been a tremendous help to me, keeping us on track in the midst of traveling across the country on deputation, moving disruptions, etc. We also supplement the DVDs with music lessons, art projects, homemaking skills, physical recreation, and most importantly, Bible reading and family devotions. Our girls are learning the Spanish language as well, not as quickly as they would in a public school, but that is one of the trade offs you have to make--and we are looking into summer language programs for children.

Europe is where the United States was back in the 1970's on its cultural acceptance of home schooling. It is not very common to home educate here, and not very well understood. I myself wasn't very open minded about home schooling until I taught at a Christian school myself, and observed what was going on in the classroom on a day to day basis. Of course some schools are better than others and there are some really well run Christian schools. Home schooling is not for everyone, and we thank the Lord for good Christian schools.
I often find myself in a defense mode--continually defending why we choose to school our children at home here on the field. Even among the few Christians here it is not very well received. Because it is something they have never seen before, they can't imagine anything different than sending their children to public schools. Hopefully we can help people broaden their minds to see the many benefits in raising and educating children in the home environment.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Spanish Siesta

One of the more difficult things we Americans have to adjust to when living in Spain is the custom of "siesta." Just about all the stores in town close down between 1:30 and 5 pm, and will reopen at 5 and close again sometime around 8 or 9 pm. Larger commercial centers will stay open throughout the siesta, but all the small town shops will close and go home for lunch. Banks, the post office, and all government offices will close down sometime before 2 pm and remain closed until the next business day.
It seems that by the time I get all my house work done in the morning, eat our lunch (American time--around noon), that I am ready to do my errands right at the time when things are fixing to close. Invariably we will get the notion to go do something, only to realize that it will be closed for siesta, and 5pm can seem like a long time to have to wait for the stores to reopen. I feel ready to go, only to have to figure out what to do with our afternoon hours until we can do our errands. By that time, we are ready to be thinking about our supper, and it isn't a convenient time for us to shop. Spaniards as a result are late night people--dinner isn't until 9pm--and we are starting to wind down for the night!
On Saturday the town shops will close usually by 1 pm. and on Sundays EVERYTHING is closed--even the big commercial centers, including malls. There are no 24 hr. Walmarts here! The only thing open on Sundays are some restaurants in the tourist areas. I think the closing on Sunday is a good thing--although unfortunately they don't do it for "religious" reasons--but at least they take a break from the commercialism and seem to have the mindset that they can go without buying and selling on one day of the week. Many Canarios use Sunday as a day to spend with extended family, all going to Grandma's house for a barbeque or special comida.