I made a mega-batch of spaghetti sauce this past week. I used some to make lasagna for the young adult group and us, and some for spaghetti. I was able to utilize my canned tomato products to make it.
I was making meals for someone and they got a container, as well. For those meals, the food was frozen, for access later on when it was needed by the person.
I made a triple berry crisp from our frozen berry stash. We also made pork chops, brown rice, a chicken-pineapple sauce for the rice, chicken legs, snickerdoodle cookies, and lots and lots of salads.
I needed to clean out the camper freezer and fridge as we were getting some brake work done on the camper. I use that fridge as my spare one. Those items were put in a cooler until the camper returned a few hours later–mostly extra eggs, cheese, etc. The freezer was emptied and I’ve been using the items, as some had been in there a long time. The rest are in the chest freezer to be used soon and I will start fresh loading it with items for our next camping trip. There was a large bag of frozen shrimp in there and I’ve been eating a little each day. It’s almost gone, but it was sure tasty! Little Malcolm loves it, too, and eats his share.
This is only a small portion of the lettuce that is ready now. We are eating it frequently and I am giving it away to anyone who wants any. I even sent some over to the neighbor in a bucket and started laughing when I saw my bucket clipped to the fence, emptied out afterwards!
We visited a preschool party at the library with Malcolm. He had a blast and we learned about possible preschools for next fall. He received 2 free books, made crafts (crown), got that ring pop sucker he’s eating, and played some games. He’s been asking me if we can go back to that party! We checked out some books while we were there.
He saw Clifford, the big red dog.
While the camper was away getting it’s brakes fixed, Rob and Malcolm pressure-washed the concrete where it sits. It was awful. Rob did most of it, with Mac yelling at him for a turn, then Malcolm finally got his turn at the end. It was a terrible mess of moss and dirt. I swept it while the boys were fetching the trailer. It was a lot of work, but we are so happy to have that done.
Rob took senior pictures for a close family friend’s daughter. They came out amazing! I went as well, along with Michaela, Jake, Malcolm and the girl’s younger sister. We went to a park nearby where they have a wonderful garden with roses and other lovely plants. We took a picnic and some frisbees and had a nice time with all the kids after pictures were taken.
Rob has talked twice at church about his trip to Bangladesh. On Thursday evening, it was a group of adults who came out to hear the team speak and see pictures. I needed to take cookies, so Jake, Mac and I made snickerdoodles. The second occasion was for the children’s church and he talked to them today. They had gathered money and school supplies and Rob told them all about the trip and how the supplies were given out and how much they were appreciated by the kids. 15 suitcases of supplies were taken–craft projects, school supplies, crayons, coloring books, aprons and pot holders for the women staff, prayer journel notebooks and pens for the men staff, etc. It was a blessing all 15 made it, along with the clothing ones, too!
Through this and more, we have tried to take time to stop and smell the roses, and other flowers, too. Almost every day, Malcolm grabs my hand and says, “Gama, come see the fowers.” He then takes me around and shows me every one he likes. It’s precious. I’m also treated to the newly sprouted squash he and I planted, a green tomato that has shown up, and whatever else he can find. Even the 3 flowers that are dying–“they look sad.” I hope he never loses his enthusiasm for gardening.
It has been a wild couple of weeks! Rob has safely returned from Bangladesh and I successfully made life work while he was gone, with lots and lots of help from my family. He saw so many interesting sights on his journey. One thing he noticed was how crowded everything was. It was also noisy, with lots of honking and even police sirens mounted on cars. The contrast of how quiet is is here was noticeable to him and he’s enjoying the peace of it. It is considered polite there to honk at everyone!
After traveling for 30 hours to get there, they were put into a van the next morning for a 9-hour ride out to the country where they worked with 100 boys in the 100 degree heat….it went amazing, despite the fact that the team was not used to the heat and their days and nights were swapped from what they were here. They returned to the big city a few days later to work with girls at a couple of girls’ homes.
They got to tour a garment factory one day. This man was showing them how clothes were made. The interesting thing was the clothes are going to a local store right here in our area!
They had so much wonderful food! Most of it was quite spicy. There were a few dishes that were mildly spicy, but more often than not, Rob found his mouth might be on fire after eating the meal. At the breakfast buffet, there were no signs to tell you how mild or spicy things were so he just had to take a small portion and test it until he found one he enjoyed. He had rice for every meal and a lot of curry.
He got to taste fruits he had never had before. These grew on a tree, but he doesn’t know what they are called. He had an excellent time, and felt good that they got to work with so many kids, as well as a group of men one day. Then they travelled home. He’s very tired and getting his days and nights sorted out, but every day, I’m hearing a little more about his trip. We are both so happy he got to go. So many prayers were answered.
It was very inspiring and eye-opening to see how others live in a part of the world we know so little about and to help so many orphans, even in what felt like a small way. They sang songs, did crafts, told stories, played with them and encouraged the staff at the facilities they worked at. The people were so warm and friendly to them everywhere they went.
In the meanwhile, I was home working frantically on the garden and yard, working and taking care of the house and life. On the days I worked a different family member would come over to play with Malcolm and on the weekends his auntie helped with him. We took him to get his hair cut, to the McDonald’s play place, to the carousel, to the park, and had little brother over to play twice. We had to keep him busy because he was so sad that Papa was gone. The first day after Rob returned, he followed him everywhere. If Rob got in bed, he got in bed with him, if Rob went outside, he went out, and so forth. I found them both asleep at one point, with Malcolm holding onto Rob’s beard–he wasn’t taking any chances!!!
I got almost everything planted in the garden. I weeded for hours, but have so much more to do. The crows ate our green bean sprouts so Mac and I replanted those. I was able to clean up the deck, re-work some pots of flowers saved over from last year and put geraniums back into the ground. Rob digs them each fall, and I put them back out each spring. I had a few little flower starts we planted in the greenhouse that I tucked into the pots that held overwintered geraniums and got the Columbine plants Rob green into pots or the ground. There were about 16 of them, so there should be lovely flowers for years to come here and there.
On Friday, we went on a small hike, just the two of us. It was fun to hear all about the trip, and just spent time with Rob after his absence.
There are so many wildflowers in bloom right now. It was amazing! We just went about a mile in and a mile out, and had a wonderful time just being together.
We had 2 nice days last week. By late afternoon on Friday, I was able to get into the small part of the garden that I planted a few weeks ago. Those have been the only two dry periods this spring and it’s been raining ever since. I knew I needed to work out there as much as I could. I did what I could Friday evening and then started in at 7:15 Saturday. I finally stopped around 5:30, with a couple of breaks in-between. I will admit I was tired and sore, but felt wonderful to finally be able to get outside.
Rob had a lot of other things to do that day, so gave me moral support and a little help in the morning and throughout the day as he breezed in and out, everyone else had other plans as well, so it was just me and Malcolm digging in the dirt all day. It was a dream day for both of us.
Mac loves to dig in the dirt so much that he spent quite a bit of time moving dirt from one flowerpot to the raised bed. He used a little shovel and bucket and dug out so much dirt and surviving flowers from last fall. They aren’t looking so good anymore. They survived winter, but not Mac. He took so much dirt from the pot that I finally got him a bag of steer manure compost and let him spread it on a raised bed, one little shovelful at a time. So then, the pot didn’t have much dirt left and he started in on other pots. Rob got a bag of cheap soil at the store and we poured it into the pot when he wasn’t looking and he started on that again, hopefully saving our overwintered geraniums:). My little pot of lettuce wasn’t so lucky. I’m so glad he likes it outside and I want to cultivate that in him, so all this is worth it to me.
The blackberries (Marion berries) needed attention. I dug out copious amounts of quack grass from underneath. It was a terrible mess, to be truthful. We untangled the new canes and cut out the old ones. We tied up the new canes. Some organic fertilizer was applied later and Rob picked up a van load of steer manure compost, soil and mulch at Home Depot. Some of that will go on those berries, but I figured I could do that when it was raining, so I focused on the things I needed to do while it was not pouring rain.
During the previous dry few days a month or so ago, I worked on the raspberries and got those all tied up. Friday evening, I did start to weed out underneath them again–of course the weeds are having no trouble growing. I will put down the amendments and mulch once I finish.
Between the two days, I was able to hoe, hand weed and thin all of the area I had planted. I’m so happy that the crows did not decimate my peas–there’s a great stand there in the middle–5 rows. The seeds Rob saved for carrots and beets came up so thickly that I went ahead and started some rough thinning. I may need to thin more later, but baby plants can still get eaten by slugs, bugs, or birds, so I left a good amount until I see what happens.
I planted cabbage–both Copenhagen and Pinetree Mix, Romensco broccoli and Hybrid Broccoli Blend from our greenhouse. In this picture, I had only started planting onions, but I did finish that row. It’s half White Sweet Spanish and half Red Bull onions. I have many more to plant, especially my Patterson storage, but I ran out of tilled earth.
I planted some lettuce starts–Romaine, Drunken Frizzy Headed Woman lettuce and a few seeds of a mixture. In one of my raised beds (not shown), I planted another small area of snow peas, lettuce, marigolds, a few more radishes, and a few extra leftover plants of broccoli and cabbage. I did put in a few kale plants, as well.
We did get a few more things done this week. Rob found these jars at a thrift store. He ordered new seals from Amazon for the ones that needed them and replaced the old ones on all but one. I have some bulk foods in them now and they seal up very well when I close them.
The boys made snickerdoodles on the day after Easter. I guess more sugar was needed:)
They had fun.
Later in the week, I made pumpkin cookies with cinnamon frosting. Most of these cookies were frozen and I sent some along to the young adult group I cook for on Tuesdays.
I sent Mustard Barbecued Chicken Drumsticks, Cranberry-Walnut Coleslaw, green salad and cookies to the group today. Guess what our meal was today. Hmmm–chicken, coleslaw, salad and cookies? Yes! You got it on the first try. That and chicken soup.
I also made lasagna, pork roast, chicken-rice soup, Peanut Chicken with Rice Noodles, a large pot of brown rice which was eaten with a sweet and sour chicken Rob made and by Malcolm, who loves it with milk and cinnamon sugar. We finished up the soups from last week, and the chili.
I had so much food left over from Easter that I skipped a week of shopping. I did go last evening and got a few items at Safeway and a few more at Grocery Outlet and we are all set again.
Although I’m longing for nice weather so I can get outside again, I see lots and lots of rain predicted when I look at my weather app. Still, there’s plenty to do inside and I may need to drum up a couple more “inside” projects if the rain keeps on.
Rob continues to prepare for his upcoming trip to Bangladesh. One thing they are doing at church to help out is to collect school supplies to take there in his extra suitcase. The children at church have a campaign going to “fill Mr. Rob’s suitcase” and they have his extra one down there, filling it up. There have been lots of supplies gathered and he’s excited to take them. In fact, he’s getting so excited about the whole trip. It’s good to see him so excited.
I was able to check out the library pass to Gilbert House Children’s Museum this past week. We were able to take both grandsons there on Saturday. They both had a lot of fun. Zai’s dad came, too, and we had a great time with him. We were able to get all 5 of us in for free with that pass! It’s not available very often, but this is the 2nd time I’ve been able to borrow it. What a nice thing for them to have!
I continued to cook at home, from scratch. In January and February I focused on the pantry–using up many, many items that had been there for quite some time.
In March, I’m putting my energy onto the freezers. I would like to make a frozen angel food cake with sherbet filling for Easter. Right now, there’s no room for that in any freezer, so that’s my new goal–make room for that cake because it needs to be made ahead of time.
I pulled frozen chicken and broth out and made chicken tortilla soup. This recipe also used a can of corn I’d had for ages. I found 6 chicken drumsticks from who knows when and Rob coated them with crumbs and baked them. I used more broth in potato soup. I got out a whole chicken I had purchased on sale last summer and baked it. Then I boiled the bones and…..put more broth into the freezer…..ummmm:).
We ate frozen garden broccoli and beans, and thawed some cooked squash. I made apple-blueberry crisp for the college group I cook for each Tuesday from home-canned apples and frozen blueberries. They also got manicotti this week using home-canned pasta sauce and some buttered carrots. Most weeks, I only take 5-6 gluten-free portions so it’s not hard.
I’ve been writing out menu plans so that I can remember to use up a mix of frozen items. I rarely do written plans these days, but it’s helped me use some forgotten items lately. Of course, I’m still using lots of items from our canning shelves and pantry shelves as well. We’ve especially been burning through home-canned green beans lately. They are so good!
I spent quite a bit of time working with Rob in the greenhouse. We up-potted the tomatoes and peppers into 3-inch pots. I put celery into 6-packs. Things are slower this year, due to the cold weather we’ve been having, but we do see some growth already on the little plants we’ve moved into those larger pots.
I put more lettuce, some boc choi and some chard into the raised bed. Even with snow and cold temperatures, my seedlings are alive and I know they will grow rapidly once the weather cheers up.
The most exciting news we have, though, is that Rob is preparing to go on a mission trip to Bangladesh. He will be going with Mercy, Inc., and working with children in 2 children’s homes, that we know of. We are in a state of anticipation as he prepares and has numerous meetings with the team he will travel with. They say that his agenda will likely change and there will be more encounters besides the children’s homes, but they will know more later. He’s got a while until the trip, but we are already so excited around here!
What a wild week! I feel like I’ve gone from one end of the world to the other in the last few days. We came in, all safe and sound, a little before 10 p.m. last night. During the night, it rained! The climate change from lush, green Oregon to dry, dusty Mexico created quite a contrast.
As I’ve already mentioned in the first post, the first day, I ended up staying at the base with a sick boy. He ended up quite sick, and even needed antibiotics, but then recovered quickly once he got them. Thank goodness for Gail, my sister, who knew what he needed (she’s a n.p.) and Ron, my brother-in-law, who is proficient in Spanish. So, that day, I had extra time and some wifi. All I had to do that afternoon was make brownies for snack time, and clean the kitchen, along with giving him ice, cool cloths, etc. Also, we chatted a lot. He ended up being a delightful kid, who had the best attitude possible for one who so longed to be with the other kids. By the next morning, he joined the group and did what he could, sleeping in the van with Rob, who ran the air conditioner, for a lot of Monday and Tuesday whenever he needed to.
The team went out and had their first contact with the people we were there to minister with. They had a church service with them, and ran an abbreviated VBS.
The next morning, we all went out to the worksite bright and early. I felt happy to be no longer sitting around. Instead, I was given the job of digging up the rocks and dirt with some others. Yikes! We were supposed to fill in all the holes ( there were many, and they were deep), in what was going to become a parking lot. We were never able to finish that, but got a long ways. Talk about a contrast of activities! It felt great to do something physical after riding in the car for 3 days.
We also moved cinder blocks. There was a group of men who were building the church walls with them, held together with concrete. The progress was slow and steady and led by a stone mason. Each block was painstakingly placed in its exact place, all lined up in perfect order. During the week, it was exciting to see the building getting taller! They have a ways to go, though, and will keep working hard, as they did before we came to help.
A lot of sandy gravel was screened so it could be used for concrete. There were 2 wheelbarrows and 4 shovels for all of us to share for both projects, and all the concrete was mixed by hand, using water brought from somewhere.
Then, beams were delivered and laid out and needed painting. They had to be prepped with some kind of lacquer, then painted, both on the front and the back. There were a lot of them! I never ended up painting because I was given different jobs on those days, but my sister did for one day!
The church that we were assigned to help has a building in a nearby town that they rent. They have been working hard to build this church so they can have their own facility. It was very gratifying to work side-by-side with them, and help them make a big leap of progress during the week we were there.
Every morning, we divided into 2 groups. Some of us worked on the new church building, side by side with the church members. In the afternoons, we did VBS. In the evenings, we usually went to the beach, except Wednesday, when we did a special youth outreach. During that service, our kids had prepared a skit, which they performed, music, and testimonies. It was concluded with some games, including a contest between one of their youth and one of ours to see who could drink a Coke the fastest, and then which could eat a orange in one bite. You’d never believe how well those simple games went over, but everyone loves them. There was a question and answer time where the youth could all ask questions of each other, using a translator. After that time, the next day, the regular church attenders and our kids were really bonded and started having a great time together on the work site. Some of their youth even came down to play on the beach with our kids that evening.
Rob ended up being the errand boy, as he has on other trips in the past. He delights in that role, and it doesn’t phase him at all that he does not speak one work of Spanish. So, every day, he shopped for things that were needed–such as more water, extra t.p., and so on. It got a little more interesting when he was asked to find S’more ingredients (he found chocolate, pink and white marshmallows, and some kind of cookie that would do), marbles (he did charades at several stores, and finally found them a couple of days later), and more! So, when asked for glue–he knew right where to go–the office supply store. On that day, I was the errand-girl with him, so got to try to explain to the lady in the store that I needed strong glue……anyway, we got the glue, but it was pretty funny–all those charades!
Things are different there. There are many little shops for different things, along with many, many little markets sprinkled throughout the town. There are also grocery stores that are similar to ours here in the U.S. There are taco stands on many corners.
Each morning, part of the group joined up with church members to go out through the neighborhoods. During those walks, people were invited to the church service on Wednesday, prayed with if they wanted prayer, given tracts if they wanted them, etc. The children were invited to the daily VBS, which was held each afternoon. I enjoyed those walks and seeing the people and the sights. Some people even invited us in to their houses to pray for them–it was very special. I did that for 2 mornings. Each group had to have one of our adults, one or two from the local church, and at least one guy. So, I was the “adult from our group” twice. I was paired with non-English speaking people both times, and I do not speak Spanish. But, we found a way to communicate. I did not take pictures during that time. I mean, would you want a group of people you did not know, from Mexico or anywhere else, coming up to, or inside of, your house and snapping photos? Me either. So, I didn’t. But, I sure enjoyed myself. The people we got to know during the week were delighted to have us take pictures with them.
Each day at noon, we went back to the rented church facility, where the ladies of the church had prepared us extremely yummy, authentic Mexican food.
They were instructed how to make food that would not make us sick, and no one got sick from the food, including myself. My brother-in-law would find out if any food had gluten in it, tell us, and Gail and I would happily munch away! Each day, we had some kind of freshly squeezed juice as well! YUM!!
This is Ja’Ana’s best friend, Angel, holding one of the happy participants of the VBS with her craft.
Ron did a lot of translating. Since he grew up in Bolivia, he is very good at it! Alissa and Ja’Ana both did music, as well as all the other projects.
Patsy helped out wherever she could.
Of course, Ja’Ana found a baby to hold. That is not the baby’s mama in the background, that woman is one of 2 who set up tables so they could sell blankets and other souvenirs to our kids. The baby’s mama actually attended VBS with her 4 children, and seemed as interested as they were in all of it!
Alissa is holding up the puppet curtain, and I believe Ja’Ana is back there, holding up one of the puppets.
VBS each day included games, crafts, a snack, Bible verse memory, Bible story (in a movie, in Spanish), a puppet show (pre-recorded in Spanish), and songs. It went very well. Gail had rounded up lots of prizes and all the kids got a prize each day. At the end of the week, they got rewards for memorizing their Bible verses. Some kids memorized all 5 of the Bible verses, and they got even more prizes on the last day for their hard work. they were very happy with them:)
We drove down to the beach several times. It’s only about a mile from the compound. The missionaries had some surfboards, and the kids had a ball playing with them. Angel even got up on one a couple of times, after lots of trying! One of the girls from our group had planned her baptism to be done in the ocean in Mexico. I thought that was a great idea. She will never forget that!
The base is beautiful. As I mentioned, there is space for 4 groups to be there working at the same time. Each has its separate area, including kitchen and bathrooms and sleeping areas, but they come together for the training at the beginning of the week and at the end. Each team is sent to a different church, but all groups have a work project, VBS, and services, etc.–all the things we did in different towns.
Thursday night, there was a meeting for all the groups who were there, for debriefing. Of course, each night, our teens and youth pastor and leaders led our own team time as well, so Thursday was a late night.
On Friday, it was time to say good-bye and head towards home.
We stopped in LaBufadora, a tourist spot on the coast near Ensenada, so the kids could shop. We ate in a restaurant–tacos again–amazingly wonderful! And, $1.50 each. For any kind you wanted.
Again, thanks to Ron for finding us safe food we could enjoy!
That night, we slept in Los Angeles. The next morning (I can hardly believe it was yesterday) we were on the road at 5:30 a.m. We drove straight home. It worked well. Nothing broke, the kids were motivated to make short stops, the van that could travel faster than the rigs pulling little trailers went ahead and ordered pizzas from Costco and the kids got to eat them in the parking lot……and so on. We arrived a little before 10 p.m. last night. Boy were we tired today. Rob and I both slept all afternoon after church and are ready to hit the sack again pretty soon. We are so pleased with how the trip went. Not only are we pleased with what we were able to accomplish, it makes us happy to expose the teens to another culture, another way of life, and to mission work! I feel like we really encouraged the local church there as well. Their pastors were so thankful and said our presence really motivated their youth to come and work together with ours. That warms my heart, because it is going to be so much more significant to them since they put in so much sweat equity, too. It was an amazing trip, and we are so glad we went. I loved to see how the teens grew so much as individuals during the week. They did many things they didn’t know they could do, and thrived while doing it! As always, the people made it worth it to us–both the ones we were with, and the ones that were already living down there.
We have arrived. Safely and in one piece. Praise God. The journey down was filled with both challenges and blessings. On day one, we all got off to a good start. We did not quite make the 6 am start we had hoped for, but were off and running before 7. The vans were loaded, the luggage tied down in the trailer, and the kids all loaded up. The weather was very warm, but we all had air conditioning, so were not suffering at all. Our van was filled with charming young ladies, and we started to get to know the ones that were new to us. It was fun!
When we got to our lunch stop, we had a picnic and then crossed this bridge. It is in Redding, California, and it was around 109 degrees. We walked across it anyway and had a singing and prayer time on the other side. It was very meaningful, but we were all glad to get back into the vans. I had to laugh to hear all the teens exclaiming how excited they were to get BACK into the vans:)
We spent the night in Sacramento, California. The capitol building is beautiful at twilight.
Day 2 was the rough one. We got a great start, but as soon as we hit Los Angeles, there were a series of wrecks and road construction delays that caused us to slow way, way down, even though it was early afternoon. We crept along, starting and stopping, and continued to San Diego. It was backed up the entire way. So, 2 vans (ours included) stopped and started along for around 5-6 hours, down the freeways (we tried 2 different routes and both got delayed the same amount). But, we finally made it. One of the other vehicles had a mechanical problem (brake issues) and had to pull off. The other 2 vehicles went back to rescue them, as they had empty seats. The blessing was that they found a mechanic shop that had workers with time to work on it, stayed overtime, and skipped their dinner to fix it. And, by then, the traffic had cleared out somewhat, so they made good time. The day was long for everyone. We were so thankful that every one was safe, and that this was the night we had a hotel to stay in. After nice showers, and comfortable beds, we were off again, bright and not quite so early to cross the border.
The drive was lovely. We drove along the coast down to Ensenada and saw beaches like this along the way. There were also many lovely coastline views, from the top of cliffs, and along the winding roads. At Ensenada, many of the leaders took the kids down to the beach for a short time. A few of us went to Costco to get the rest of the supplies that we needed. My brother-in-law stayed with the vehicles that were hitched to the trailers with our luggage, because he is fluent in Spanish and could ask anyone who was interested in our things to move right along. When we came back from Costco, he was laying in the shade on top of the luggage trailer, and looked quite comfortable.
Last night and today, we have had orientation meetings, with lots of instruction from the missionary who lives here on the base. There are 4 groups here. One is from Canada, 2 from Oregon, and one from California. Each group has their own separate housing/cooking/ etc., but we were trained together. Once we knew all the “do’s” and “don’ts” we were ready to serve.
Right now, most of our group is out on their first ministry adventure–inviting people to a special church service, a meal with the church, a service, and a mini VBS for kids. Rob has been driving around this afternoon gathering and delivering supplies that we need, such as t.p. and paper towels. We thought they were provided here, but we were supposed to bring them… Gatorade for the poor boy who had a rough night being sick, more ice for coolers…..things like that. He’s been shuttling kids to the work site, and now has delivered all those things back to the base and headed back to the church we are partnering with. Shopping in Mexico without knowing Spanish is not daunting to him. He loves it! I am spending time with the young man. I think he’s feeling a little better, but is not all the way better in my mind, yet. I am baking brownies for snack tonight, and was able to catch a little wifi from the base. I trust he will be better soon, but we didn’t want him off the base today, or left here alone. As if! So, I’ve had a nice time getting to know him a bit, and hopefully he’s as comfortable as he can be. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, and so is he. We both have high hopes that we will both get to join in the action tomorrow!