Hopeful Thoughts

Argentina Day 9, September 13, 2009

Today was our last Sunday to work with the kids at the two churches. We taught the kids about how Moses lead God’s people out of Egypt. Emily D. took on the job of telling the story this time, and she did great!

We went to the City Bell church for their morning service. We had about 6 kids to work with.

The City Bell kids working on their craft.  They used cotton ball to make the pillar of cloud and tissue paper to make the pillar of fire.

The City Bell kids working on their craft. They used cotton ball to make the pillar of cloud and tissue paper to make the pillar of fire.

This was a sort of sad time, because it would be our last time to work with the people at the CIty Bell church. We have come to love them, and it will be difficult to say farewell.

The girls say Good-Bye to TIna.  She is the lady we were able to assist with some home repairs.

The girls say Good-Bye to TIna. She is the lady we were able to assist with some home repairs.

After the service, we found out that the Nigerians from our hotel had come. They had actually been moved to La Plata, but figured out how to get rides back to City Bell to be able to worship with us. Most of them have been signed to Argentine Soccer teams, but Lawson and Emmanuel would be returning to Nigeria that evening.

Team women posing with the Nigerians after church.

Team women posing with the Nigerians after church.

Don, Ken, and Greg take a photo with the Nigerian Soccer players.

Don, Ken, and Greg take a photo with the Nigerian Soccer players.

After we all had our photo opportunity with these guys (which we thought was a good idea because they might be famous soccer players one day!!!) they blessed us with some of their native praise music. I need help from my husband to post video, but I plan to do that when I am back in the US. Keep checking back! In the meantime, here are a few pictures of the performance.

SingingNigerians DancingNigerians AlainaWithNigerian

After lunch, we went back to Kurt and Lore’s house for a real Argentine Asado. This is basically a big cook out. Kurt fired up the grill and we dined on sausage, and big pieces of beef. It was a lot of fun.

ArgentineGrill MEAT MeatAndMate

The Asado was also a time of fellowship with the Short Term team and those who are Full TIme missionaries in Argentina.

OldMen Rambows CoolBaby

All that food sure can make you sleepy, though. It was a beautiful day to be out!

Barbie and Alaina take their siesta.

Barbie and Alaina take their siesta.

After the Asado, Emily D, Evelyn, and I rode to La Plata with the Rambows. We got to do a little shopping at the “Hippie Fair” that sets up in the plaza every Saturday and Sunday.

Then, we headed to La Unión church in La Plata to help out with the Sunday School one last time.

We headed back to the hotel for our last night when the evening was over. The ladies decided to debrief over mate before turning in for the night. We have all purchased our very own mates to take home with us, and this was our first chance to use them.

Emily Evelyn

Argentina Day 7, September 11, 2009

We planned to go to “Bliss” for breakfast this morning. They serve coffee and pastries, and Kurt had brought us some of them a few days ago. However, when he arrived, he told us that his wife had suggested “Sutra” instead, as they might have more variety. So, we changed plans.

We actually didn’t remember that it was the same place we’d had dinner at the night before until we pulled up! The lovely little spot for a fancy dinner becomes a hot spot for coffee and Wi-Fi in the morning hours. We dined on toast, “media lunas” (half moon shaped rolls), fruit salad, fresh squeezed orange juice, and coffee. There was an assortment of jams as well as “dulce de leche” (caramel sauce) to go with the bread. Yummy!!!

SutraSpread SutraBack teamAtSutra

Cool tree in the lot next to Sutra that I just had to take a picture of.

Cool tree in the lot next to Sutra that I just had to take a picture of.

The larger part of the day was spent cleaning the church, finishing repairs, and generally getting the place ready for the visitors that would come that evening to hear our talk about Sunday School programs.

Demonstrating the Argentine method of mopping the floors.

Demonstrating the Argentine method of mopping the floors.

Due to a scheduling conflict when the dates for our trip changed, we had to move out of the hotel today and into Kurt and Lore’s house for one night. They had a nice little coffee service set up for us when we got there.

Coffee Bar

Coffee Bar

We also got to learn how to prepare Mate (ma-tay). Mate is a traditional tea that is made with loose leaves and served in a traditional style cup. It is sipped through a straw that has a filter on the end of it to prevent the leaves from being sucked up the straw.

HopeMates EmilyMates

Mate components.  Photo credit to Evelyn M.

Mate components. Photo credit to Evelyn M.

We had a late lunch of pizza and relaxed in their home for a few hours before going back to the church to give our talk.

About 20 people came to hear what we had to say. I think it went pretty well, but there are pieces of the puzzle that will still need to be addressed for the outside churches that came in. For example, where are they going to get simple Bible stories for their lessons? Curriculum is expensive, and it takes weeks of training, as BTCL showed me, to learn how to craft your own. We came prepared to leave story materials with the church in City Bell, so they will be in good shape.

After the workshop, Kurt and Lore served us dinner. We had the Argentine version of Shepherd’s pie. Pretty much it’s what we have in the states, except it has boiled eggs in it!

We really enjoyed spending time with the Grothes. They have a beautiful house and showed us amazing hospitality. They are doing a great work for Jesus here in this country.

Argentina Day 6, September 10, 2009

This morning was a little rough. There was a prayer meeting this morning at Kurt’s house that Evelyn and Emily went to. Ken and I were supposed to meet with Kurt and Greg at a later time while the two other ladies went back to rest. There was a miscommunication about the meeting time and I wound up missing it. Hope its OK!

In fact, the whole schedule today was a little rough. We were supposed to go to the Orphanage at noon, come back to the hotel to rest, and then go out around 5:00 to pass out flyers on the streets of City Bell to promote Kurt’s English class.

A beautiful sunny day at Hogar Betel.

A beautiful sunny day at Hogar Betel.

Here’s what wound up happening. We left the Orphanage early and planned to go back at 5:00 because many of the kids were at school during our originally planned time. Evelyn was able to share with some of the kids about Jesus, but our time was cut short.

So, we went back to the hotel and worked on planning for Friday’s presentation on Sunday School programs. When we went back, we were only able to spend one and a half hours before we needed to head downtown to pass out flyers.

BalloonMan LoveCrossBalloon LotsOfBalloons


For dinner, we went to what probably equates to a very high end restaurant called Sutra.

The meal was around 350 pesos for 6 people, including dessert.

The girls split a Chicken with Asparagus entree and a salad called the “Bonnie and Clyde”. I’ve also included a picture of the “Romeo and Juliet” salad that Don ordered because it was so pretty.

Chicken BonnieAndClyde Romep

The exchange rate is $1 to 3.8 pesos, so it was really less than $100 for all 6 of us to eat at this really nice place. It hits home when you realize that dessert was a fancy chocolate fondue.

FondueSign Fondue Sutra

After dinner, we returned to the hotel. Emily and I ran into our new friend Emmanuel from Nigeria who is also staying here in the hotel with his soccer team. He requested the number for the Taxi service, and for our team so that he can explore the city and get in touch with us more easily about church.

Now we are very tired and need sleep!!!

Argentina Day 4, September 8, 2009

This morning we were going to try again to go to Tina’s, but it was still raining. We decided to go ahead and at least see what needed to be done. Tina is a sweet older lady who goes to the church in City Bell, but she lives alone and her home is in need of a great deal of repair. The yard needs to be cleaned up (grass cut, weeds pulled, and trash picked up), her sink is dripping, her back door has the glass broken out of it, the roof is leaking, and probably much more. Hopefully time will allow us or some of us to help her out while we are here.


Tina sent us all home with “belly button” oranges and a banana for Emily. She told us about the meaning of name the orange in Spanish. “belly button” is certainly more comical than the English “naval”!!!


Back at the church, Kurt decided it would be fun to take group shot with our oranges.

Back at the church, Kurt decided it would be fun to take group shot with our oranges.

We left Tina’s and went back to the church to finish up some repairs and do some deep cleaning. Don got to work scraping off the remaining bits of carpet still clinging to the steps. Ken focused on repairing the windows that wouldn’t seal, and the ladies began sweeping, mopping, and scrubbing the floors and bathrooms.

All clean!

All clean!

After the cleaning, Ken and the ladies went to Wal-Mart to look for supplies for the children’s classroom. They had purchased a bed that may potentially be used for short term missionaries to sleep on while they stay, but in between will be a place for the kids to use as a couch. We shopped for a sheet set and pillows to make it comfy and inviting. Ken was looking for a table, but still hasn’t found what he’s looking for.


Wal-Mart in Argentina looks the same as in the U.S., but it is not. They carry many things that the US version does not, and there are many things that they are lacking. Mattresses are plentiful, but blankets are not. The have a HUGE selection of mate’, but not much coffee. The cashiers sit down while checking out purchases. We didn’t get to look at the whole place, because it’s still really big!

We had lunch at the church and ordered empanadas. They are delivered in boxes like those that contain pizza in the US. They are yummy! The food has been one of the great things about Argentina!

We went back to the Hogar Betel that evening to work more with the kids. We tried to teach a lesson on Heaven from the CEF materials to about 11 kids, but they were totally wired. They have no manners and were running all over the place We tried to play a game with balloons and we needed to blow them up first. As soon as the kids saw the balloons, they swarmed the table. We needed 12 balloons for the game. We started with 12, but by the time Emily and I were able to get them “all” blown up, 3 of them had been stolen. The kids do not understand the word “No”. The Hogar is a Christian place, but they do not have the staff or the volunteers to give these kids the structure they need. I have taught difficult kids, but I have to say this was the HARDEST teaching situation I have even been in.

We served the kids a snack of Tang and cookies and we noticed that the kids were taking seconds on the snack and stuffing cookies in their pockets. Evelyn observed that they would then trade with each other for other things (including the jump ropes that we had left with them the day before). They barter with anything they can get there hands on. These kids know the Bible, but they don’t know Jesus. They need people that can work with them more than 3 days in the month of September of 2009.

We finished the day with dinner at the “Club Banco Provincia,” the hotel that we are staying at. I had Gnonnchi with a beef and tomato sauce and sprinkles of cheese. Pretty tasty!!

A Dessert Classic

Real homemade banana pudding … you know, the kind with warm custard cooked on the stovetop … is a dying art. Sometimes I like to forego quick and easy in favor of the real thing. In this case, it’s totally worth it!

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How do you prefer your banana pudding? Warm or chilled?

Stumbling into Dinner

Now that I am not working full time, cooking in an economical way has become a focus. This week I decided to take advantage of a sale on whole chickens and cut them up myself in order to save a bit of money.

After breaking two chickens down to thighs, breasts, tender strips, legs, and wings, I intended to toss what was left. My dear husband happened to stroll into the kitchen just as I was about to toss the first carcass. He encouraged me to go ahead and make stock. We are about to move, and I don’t really want to add a lot more to my freezer, but I had carrots and onions on hand, so I decided to humor him.

I filled a pot with water, tossed in the bones, added a couple of quartered onions, dumped in a handful of baby carrots straight from the bag, and seasoned the pot with salt and pepper. I turned the burner up to high and brought it all up to a boil, then set it to simmer for several hours. During those hours, I did an insane amount of cleaning, but paid little attention to my pot.

As I worked, the pot just kept smelling better and better. The longer it simmered, the more I wanted Chicken Noodle soup. I remembered the egg noodles in my pantry and decided to move forward. With a bit of help from Mr. Brown on my favorite food channel, I knew what seasonings to add and I was on my way to a cheap and tasty dinner.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Recent Kitchen Creations

Last week I made homemade pizza. I mixed flour, water, olive oil, salt, sugar, and yeast to make the crust. It took about an hour to rise. The sauce was canned. We topped one with pepperoni and sausage, while the other was an assortment of veggies, including zucchini and fresh basil.


Thursday night I made two Quiche. Both were filled with cheddar, swiss, bacon, and chopped ham. I tried yellow sunburst squash, zucchini, and kale this time. They were quite tasty!



Argentina: To Go Now or Later?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will remember the recent non-epidemic affectionately referred to as the “Swine Flu”. A couple of people died and then everyone started freaking out and closing businesses and schools. My district opted to shut down for a week, only to come back a couple of days later with a “just kidding” call when the CDC announced that it wasn’t as big a deal as they once thought. The kids were told that the remaining days would be excused absences, so, at the high school level, that meant they didn’t have to show up. I spent two days showing movies to the three students that showed up to each of my Geometry classes.


So, once this all blew over, I was relieved and went on with my life … at least until last week when I got this notice regarding the mission trip I am scheduled to go on August 1:

“Both cities where our team works (La Plata and City Bell) are in the Province of Buenos Aires mentioned [in the OSAC report]. Local schools (it is winter there and the middle of the school year) have been dismissed until August 1 and Banks and businesses are closed today and tomorrow. Currently there are 2500 cases of flu there and 60 deaths and they are expecting the numbers to grow (it was 1500 last week). We really need to make a decision pretty soon on tickets and I am asking that we all pray for guidance as this could all blow over there as it did here or could get worse. “

In light of this information, people here where I live are now worried again about something that we all thought was over and done, to the point of possibly canceling the trip altogether. It never occurred to me to think the Swine flu would be an issue ever again!

After days of discussion, a final decision has not yet been made. From what I’ve heard, it sounds as though most people are pretty convinced that the Swine flu scare will blow over in Argentina just as it did here. However, the elders at the sending church are wanting to err on the side of caution. As a result, our trip will most likely be postponed for anywhere from one week to an entire month.

So, now I’m waiting.

Something so Simple

Now that I am no longer working full time, I need to be spending more time in the kitchen and less time out to eat. Planning ahead is a must to make this happen. I have not been doing a very good job of this, and we ended up eating out a lot over the weekend.

One of my tools to encourage me to cook more often is the membership in a local organic co-op. I figured that I would cook what I get rather than let it go to waste. This, too, has proven not to be so effective due to my lack of planning. I ended up throwing out some sweet peppers, an orange, an avocado and a few of the raspberries because we didn’t eat them fast enough. I still have two zucchini that MAY still be edible, but my second pick up was yesterday, so now I have even more goodies to fit into my menu!

Produce from July 7

Produce from July 7

It’s hard to see from the picture, but there is a HUGE amount of spinach in this week’s stock. Some of it went into a wonderful salad with the red leaf lettuce, cucumber,carrot, and fresh tomato (from the local farmer’s market). The strawberries are super delicious and remind me of the berry patch we used to go to when I was a kid. I ate one of the plums as a snack, but I think it could have used another day to sweeten up. A peach provided a lovely complement to my bowl of Lucky Charms this morning!

The green beans were cooked in garlic and butter to pair with the Baked Ziti I cooked for dinner last night. I was pretty excited about this dish. I loosely followed a recipe I found on the Food Network website, but I was forced to modify it a bit because I didn’t have enough mozzarella cheese and I used ground beef instead of the turkey it called for. I mixed in a slice of provolone, some grated cheddar, and quite a bit of parmesan. Here’s the result, and it was quite tasty!


Tonight I am using some of the spinach in a quiche with bacon and ham. YUM!

It's Food Day Already???

Perhaps unknown to you, dear readers, I have plans for my blogs. I sat down just the other day and decided exactly what I want to blog about on each day of the week. This is mostly meant as a motivation to actually blog more often. If I know what I’m doing before I sit down, then I am more likely to do it.

Thursdays are my theme day. For now, it’s the Coffee Cups.

Fridays are for books. What I’m reading, what I want to read … you know!

Saturday and Sunday are unassigned. Those are days to talk about whatever.

Mondaysare for the things I’m learning about God.

Tuesdays are about crafty things I am doing or planning to do.

And, according to my plan, today, Wednesday, is supposed to be the day I talk about food.

Last week I picked up my first Organic Produce Co-Op goodies, and I really hoped that I would have some pictures to make mouths water and a savory story to go along with them. However, no such pictures were taken of the dishes those fruits and veggies turned into.

In fact, the only interesting thing that I made was egg plant parmesan. I am excited to say that it was a success. I was dreadfully afraid that it would turn out mushy, yet it was tender with a perfect crunchy coating. The egg plant was sliced, lightly salted, and left to drain on paper towels for about 30 minutes. I dredged each piece in flour, egg, and bread crumbs before frying until golden in a bit of olive oil. I didn’t have enough bread crumbs to dredge all the pieces, so I pulled out my mini food processor and ground up some generic wheat crackers. I still can’t believe it tasted good, since I didn’t really follow any recipe!! My most favorite days in the kitchen are those when I throw something together.

Should life ever hand me another egg plant, I will not be afraid. However, I will not be buying another on my own. I stilll prefer chicken in my parmesan!!!