Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jenny and Michael's Visit

Jenny reminded me that she will be leaving Tenerife in a week--I told her that I don't want to think about that yet. I am enjoying every day that they are here. Yesterday we went to Puerto de la Cruz and had lunch with a missionary family who are good friends of ours, followed by some friendly ping pong competition. Later in the afternoon Doug, Rudy, Jenny and Michael drove to San Isidro where we have our Friday night Bible study, and did some door to door visitation and gospel tract distribution. We are praying about starting a new work down there.

Today I got up early and prepared a picnic lunch for Doug and the kids to take up to Mt. Teide, the highest point on Tenerife, and all of Spain with an altitude of over 12,000 ft. They had a good time, and came home for about 15 minutes then headed off for a Bible study with a young lady who has been visiting our church for a few months, then after that we have a Bible Club for kids. I imagine they will be pretty exhausted when they get home tonight, and I will have a special meal of Chicken Cordon Bleu, homemade macaroni and cheese, cole slaw, and corn pudding awaiting them. We are definitely making some good memories!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Family Time in the Canary Islands

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day here in Tenerife, and we decided to take advantage of the good weather to drive up into the mountains and show Michael and Jenny the pine forest. You have to take some pretty narrow, curvy roads to reach the recreational park, Los Brezos, and I wasn't sure how I would handle the drive--I am not especially fond of heights and sometimes get car sick, but I did just fine. Doug kept looking over the edge to admire the flora, but I kept insisting that he keep his eyes on the road! I think he does it on purpose to get a reaction out of me!!

Once we reached the park, we got out and hiked up the mountain. There were glorious views of the pine forest, ocean, and gorges. Michael was really impressed with the scenery. It is so much fun showing a first time visitor the sights--it can be really breathtaking. We are looking forward to the next 10 days!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Those Were the Days

I was flipping through some photos of the 1950 era, and like they say "you've come a long way baby!" Men wore suits, ties, and a hat when going out, and ladies dressed up. I remember my Grandma getting dressed up just to go to the grocery store.

The other day when we went to pick up Jenny at the airport, the girls and I put on nice outfits to greet her, afterall, we hadn't seen her for a year and a half, so we wanted to make it a special occasion. While we were waiting at the airport, I noticed how sloppy and casual people have become. I get tired of looking at faded, ripped up jeans, tight t-shirts that don't cover what they are supposed to, etc.

People were actually staring at us because we were in dresses. I don't like it when people stare, but that is one thing that I have had to get used to here in Spain. I just try to smile at them but occasionally, I feel tempted to ask them what they are staring at--but then I realize that to them we are somewhat of an oddity. They aren't accustomed to seeing it, and occasionally an elderly person will walk up to us and say how beautiful our girls look. It probably reminds them of the good old days!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Treats in Spain

Jamon Iberico (Spanish cured ham)

Suckling Pig (baby pig)

Jenny has never spent Christmas with us here in Tenerife before, as she has been at college and this is the first time she has been able to spend Christmas break with us. Today we went grocery shopping because she want to do a lot of cooking over the holidays, I suppose to impress her boyfriend who is coming Christmas Eve. Jenny and the girls had a lot of fun browsing through the meat department, checking out the Christmas specialties here. I thought I would post a few of the Spanish Christmas favorites. The girls want to "welcome" Michael to Spain by making him try all of their culinary delicacies.

Some people might be sickened by the images of a baby pig, as the thought of seeing an entire animal on a plate might turn off your appetite. I am assured that these baby pigs are absolutely delicious if you can get past the psychological aspects of what you are eating.
One of the most famous foods here in Spain is Jamon Iberico, or Spanish ham. If you go into the grocery store, you will see (and smell) them hanging. The most expensive hams are a special breed of pigs (black pigs), and are fed a special diet of acorns, and grain. They are salt cured for up to two years. The most expensive ones can cost hundreds or up to a couple thousand dollars.

Rebekah and Leanna always enjoy making a trip to the seafood department to see the octopus, large fish, and lobsters. Seafood is also an important part of the Christmas Eve meal, which is the largest meal here in Spain.
So, what are we having for Christmas dinner? I decided to try the pata de cerdo asado, which is roasted leg of pork. Jenny wants to try and make a Spanish tortilla, which is kind of like a potato, onion, and egg omelette made in a skillet. That is about as adventurous as we get!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Home for the Holidays

Jenny is coming to Tenerife for her Christmas break, and we are all so excited! Rebekah and Leanna keep a countdown on the chalkboard in our kitchen, and we are down to 2 days!! Leanna keeps asking me how long she is staying.

"Jenny will be here until June, right?"

"No, I reply, til January, about three weeks."

It has been a year and a half since we have seen her, and we are thankful for this opportunity to see her again. Rebekah and Leanna have great expectations of things they want to do and see with her, and the challenge will be getting Jenny to put down her books and projects, and get her to RELAX!! She is always so busy at school, and every minute is scheduled, so we hope we can slow her down a bit--she is like the Energizer Bunny. Please keep her in your prayers as she travels.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Days Gone By

I recently went through my stacks of loose photos that I had stashed away in a small wood chest, putting them in photo albums so that some day I will actually take the time to go back and look at them. They were taken back in the earlier days of our marriage, when we still used real "film" and developed them. Now I rarely develop the pictures I take on my digital camera--I just look at them on the computer and share them with family and friends via Facebook.

It reminded me of holidays in the past, and how much our family has grown up--now I have grandchildren the same age as when Nathan, Amy, Hannah, and Jenny were growing up in Guadalajara, Mexico. We were missionaries living on a shoestring budget, and we had to be creative and resourceful to make ends meet.

I remember one particular Christmas feeling homesick for our relatives, and way of life in the states. I wanted so badly to decorate the house with some pine greenery as a reminder of Ohio and my parent's flower shop I grew up working in--but didn't know where I could get it in our part of Mexico. One day we were driving by a Christmas tree stand--they imported pine trees from Canada--and the workmen cut off the bottom limbs to shape the tree, or sometimes they just broke off accidentally. My eyes spotted the collection of pine limbs all over the ground--and I asked my husband if he could find out what they were going to do with them. Sure enough they were just going to throw them away, and they said we could have them--so we bundled up as much as we could load into our van. It was a treasure for me!

What fun we had turning our pine greenery into garlands, swags, and wreaths! God had given me the desire of my heart, and it didn't cost us anything!

People often say that when they look back at their life, sometimes the leanest years were the best, as they saw the hand of God supply every need. My kids didn't wear designer clothes or tennis shoes, but they had plenty. They enjoyed the second hand toys that were either given to them or purchased at garage sales. It taught them how to be content with what they had. They used their imagination and learned to be creative. They used to set up the dining room chairs in a row, and Nathan would preach to his sisters as they "played" church. It was their favorite pastime.

We didn't have a TV, VCR, DVD, or computer to "entertain" them. They found better things to do. We also didn't have to worry about paying off credit card debt after Christmas--because we didn't even have a credit card! Talk about living by faith--when the van broke down, we had to pray for God to supply the money to fix it--and sometimes we rode the bus--but God was faithful and someone sent us a gift of $500--and we never told anyone we needed it--we knew it was the hand of God supplying our needs.

Someone recently said that it seems that the children with the most "stuff" seem to be the least happy or content with what they do have. As parents we have to be careful not to indulge our children with every whim that suits their fancy, even if you can afford it. As they grow older, they will appreciate the values that you instilled in them, in teaching them gratefulness and contentment, and that it truly is more blessed to give than recieve.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Where is Happiness?

Much of my life I have been on a pursuit of happiness. I remember in college various professors speaking about the subject in my classes, from Humanities, Philosophy, Psychology, to English Literature. I would venture to say that most of us seek it, and many define happiness by different things, mainly in circumstances.

As I was reading my Bible today, I came across some verses in the Bible that specifically use the word "happy." It is my belief that God must want his children to understand the true source of happiness, and that it is obtainable. But just like many things in this life, we don't always choose to believe God and take Him at His Word. God's ways are not our ways, and it doesn't always make sense to our human reasoning.

I did a word search in the King James Bible with an online concordance, and here are some verses I found dealing with the word "happy."

PSALM 144 15 HAPPY is that people, that is in such a case: yea, HAPPY is that people, whose God is the LORD. Happiness comes through a personal relationship with God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

PROVERBS 3: 13 HAPPY is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. 18 She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and HAPPY is every one that retaineth her. Wisdom from God's Word gives happiness.

PSALM 146 : 5 HAPPY is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God: We can be happy when we realize that God is our source of help and our hope!

PROVERBS 16:20 He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, HAPPY is he.
Trusting God brings happiness. He will also teach us how to handle our affairs in this life.

PROVERBS 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, HAPPY is he. Obedience to God's word brings happiness.

JOHN 13 17 If ye know these things, HAPPY are ye if ye do them.
The passage is talking about Jesus being Lord and Master, and his example of serving his disciples by washing their feet, and how we should follow His example of serving one another. In essence, happiness comes from serving others.

PROVERBS 14: 21b "but he that hath mercy on the poor, HAPPY is he." Giving and showing mercy to others in need will make you happy.

JOB 5: 17 Behold, HAPPY is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not the chastening of the Almighty: As a parent loves his children and corrects them, God lovingly corrects and chastens us to lead us in the right way.

PROVERBS 28: 14 HAPPY is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.

I PETER 3:14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, HAPPY are ye:
I PETER 4: 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, HAPPY are ye; suffering and bearing reproach for the cause of Christ brings happiness in a way which we can not always fully understand, but it brings glory to God.

PSALM 128: 2 For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: HAPPY shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Working makes us happy, and we can enjoy the fruit of our labor.

PSALM 127: 5 HAPPY is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. If God has blessed you with children, BE HAPPY and enjoy them! God has given us the most precious gift in our children. Sometimes people see children as a burden, but God says they are a blessing.

ROMANS 14: 22b HAPPY is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. Having a clean conscience before God, and in the sight of others will make you happy.

This is not a conclusive study on the subject, and I could go even deeper into the Bible by studying the words gladness, joy, blessed, contentment, etc. Do I always "feel" happy? No, not by any means. Proverbs 16: 3 teaches us to "Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established." First by faith we have to obey what He tells us to, then later the feeling, or thoughts, will follow. When I put my faith in what God tells me, and trust Him with my life, I can rest in His promises that whether I feel it or not, I do indeed have a happy life in God.