Let us run the race

Friday, February 24, 2012

Pots of Puchero

Puchero is a typical dish for this time of the year here in Cochabamba. Last week I was invited to enjoy a lovely afternoon in a beautiful house, with a gracious and elegant hostess. There were 80 ladies present, and the meal was this typical stew, Puchero, celebrating the harvest in the valley. It was delicious and the afternoon delightful!


6 pieces of beef with bones (beef shanks work well)
6 pieces of chicken (skin and excess fat removed)
1 onion diced
2 carrots, julienned
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
1 tomato, diced
3 ears of fresh corn cut in half or 6 mini ears of frozen corn
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 head of green cabbage
6 medium-sized, round, red-skinned potatoes, peeled
1 bunch of chard, roughly chopped into large pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. dried parsley
1-2 green onions,  finely sliced on the bias (optional)
1 1/2 cups fresh pumpkin or other hard squash, cut into medium-sized chunks
9 cups water or more if you prefer extra broth
                In a large pot combine water and beef. Bring to a full boil then lower heat to a slow boil, cover and let cook for about 30-45 minutes. Add chicken and continue cooking for another 30 minutes.
                Add the onion, carrots, jalapeño, tomatoes, corn, pumpkin or squash, chard, potatoes, salt, pepper, parsley and oregano. Continue cooking for 15 minutes.
                Add cabbage and garlic. Cook for 15 minutes or until all vegetables added are tender.
                Add green onions. Cook for 5 minutes longer.
                Adjust seasonings if necessary.
        It's typical in Bolivia to add pears and sausage to the stew.

         Psalms 94:19 "In the multitude of my thoughts within me
                               thy comforts delight my soul."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Misty Morning Margaritas

Mark 4:16 “Others, like the seeds sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy.”

   My name in Spanish is Margarita, for Margaret. Margarita is also the word for daisy in Spanish. I hope I can bloom in rocky places like these margaritas in Rumi Rancho.

  This misty morning, the sun peeked out and the rains ceased, at least for a few hours. We were walking around to check for flooding on the property when I found these margaritas flourishing in the rocks. Amidst all the rain and flooding, these beautiful flowers sprouted from a place where nothing should be growing.

   When we were building our house, we were given these stones that had been on a city street. We put gravel between the cracks, and over the years they seemed to be cemented in the ground. For anything to be growing out of these cracks is almost impossible, yet this beauty emerged.

   The seeds were planted, and spread from other plants with the wind and rain, then fell on rocky land. It is usually dry here most of the year, and because we ration water the plants never get as much watering as they have this year. While there is flooding and devastation all around us from the rains, we see God's beautiful flowers blooming in hard places because the seeds were watered. 

   Some of our people here are facing a rocky road in the next months. Their land is under water, some waist deep, and their crops of corn and alfalfa are gone. But God can bring beauty out of hard places. Let's plant and water even in hard places, so others will receive His Word with joy.

If these margaritas can bloom out of the rocks, 
 we too can bloom in hard places with God's help.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Rising Rivers

Proverbs 21:1 “like a river of water, He turns it wherever He wishes.”

 Before this bridge was built a few years ago, we used to drive through this river. At the most, it had a few inches of water flowing through it, as it usually does. River Rocha is now at record high levels because of the unrelenting rains pouring down all over the country.

This is not a lake, it's the village below our village under water.

   The water has reached our village, but we are a bit higher causing the waters to flow into the next village down the road instead of into our village. If the rains continue, it won't be but a few days until our village's fields are under water also.

The water is reaching the foot of the mountains.

The road that enters our village.

The main road we take to the city.

  The rains continue day and night. We know that He is able to stop the rains and turn the waters where He wishes. For right now we are high enough to not be affected, but if the rains continue the lake will be opened and run through an irrigation ditch behind our property; that will surely flood our classrooms and possibly our house. Last year our big classroom was flooded, and we didn't have this much rain. 

   Our prayer is that the rains will stop, and the sun will shine. Many in our area are suffering, losing livestock and alfalfa. We know this will also bring infectious disease in the weeks to come. Our classes are on hold here in Rumi Rancho until the situation changes. It is possible the public schools may soon decide to suspend classes. 

                 We know the SON can make the sun shine tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pepe the Parrot

Isaiah 1:17 “learn to do right.”

   I just finished writing a children's story about Pepe. He was a stubborn parrot who never wanted to do what was right. Then one day God brought a little bird his way to teach him the importance of helping others, by giving of himself; he learned to do right.

   How do we know what God wants done, and what is right? Without His guidance and direction we are just spinning our wheels. There are so many needs all around us. How do we know what He wants us to do? Psalms 25:9 says we learn as He teaches us His ways.

  This week He taught me there is always a way to do what He wants done, and in His way. A lady came to our door who needed help for an operation. She was very poor and could hardly walk. I was reminded of the verse that Jesus had compassion and I wondered how we could help. We prayed and checked with our home office; there was still money in our medical fund for nationals. We gave all that was in the fund. We joyfully helped and knew this was of God. He teaches us His ways and to do right. We can't do everything for everyone, but we can do what is right. We received with one hand and gave with the other.

  "God has given us two hands, one to receive with and one to give with."
 Rev. Billy Graham.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine's Day Views 1981

I Timothy 1:12 “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord 
who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful,
  putting me into the ministry,”

   Early on the morning of February 14, 1981, Valentine's Day, we touched down for the first time in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The view of the Andes Mountains from the plane's windows was breathtaking; they made Pennsylvania mountains look like molehills in comparison. Tucked into the mountainside and throughout the valley, we saw little mud huts; that also was a view that made us realize we were in a foreign land.

   We were met at the airport by a mission representative, then climbed into the back of a truck and headed to the mission home. This was Cochabamba, the second largest city in Bolivia, but to call it a big city was a stretch. We felt the dust from dirt streets on our tired faces, and bounced around when an occasional pig or cow darted in front of the truck. Our kids, then ages four and 12, were taking it all in and loving every minute. I was wondering why we were told Cochabamba was a big city, it looked more like a town in the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I had no idea this trip would seem like a Disney ride compared to our next few weeks.

   Our first bus trip to the mission school eight hours from the "city" confirmed that Bolivia had some of the most dangerous roads in the world. I tried not to look over the cliffs; they had no guardrails and a view of 1000 feet drop-offs. And I can't forget to mention the drunk bus driver who drove as if he were in the Indy 500. 

   In our first month in Bolivia, Chuck was arrested in the market place for not having ID (his passport was in the capital city with our visa applications), a bomb went off down the street from the mission home where we were staying, and the president of the country threatened to cut the fingers off all missionaries in the country. Before having to be evacuated, there was a government overthrow, and a new president was chosen who was more sympathetic to missionaries. We still have all our fingers.

   Our life has continued to have the same thrills for 31 years, and we have no plans of retirement, except a permanent retirement in a far better place with streets of gold, not dirt. So why do we stay here? There can only be one answer; God put us in the ministry.

   For God so loved the world... Someday we'll have a view in heaven of those we came to serve and accepted God's free gift, Jesus. 

   Happy Valentine's Day

We're thankful God enabled us and put us in the ministry, 
so we can share the
 Greatest Love Story of all time. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bread 'n Baskets

Luke 11:3 “Give us day by day our daily bread.”

   This week we were swamped with work, so Chuck hired a man off the street in the city to help us get the property in order for the start of classes in a few weeks. My classroom is up the mountain behind our house, and my girls love to climb the path to it instead of coming through the main gate of the property. Because it is the rainy season the path is overgrown, and of course, there are snakes and other creatures  in the bushes.  It's easier to see what lies ahead when scaling the mountain on a cleared path. Cutting a mountain trail is no small task, but Boris is working hard to clear the way for my students. This man's story is both interesting and sad.

   There is an area in the city where you go to hire people. They stand on the street with signs that describe their craft, carpenter, gardener, etc., and you decide who will fit your need. These people work for their daily bread. Boris is homeless and pays each night just to sleep in a bed. Our Bolivian friends warn against hiring people on this street for fear of bringing someone into your home who may be a criminal. The people in our community are busy with their daily chores, their cows and field work, so waiting until they have time to help us would be time wasted. We had no other choice; and after all, God is in the business of protecting. He is the best security system around.

   After a few days of hard work, Boris was getting ready to work in the irrigation ditch, which was muddy and wet. Chuck asked if he had other shoes with him, he didn't. He probably doesn't even have another pair. Chuck quickly went to find a pair of old tennis shoes for him to wear. Boris looked at the shoes, then looked at Chuck and asked if he could just work in his shoes and take the tennis shoes with him when the work day ended.They were better shoes than he was wearing. This experience moved me to action.

   This Christmas we were blessed with gifts for the children and mountain trips. One gift we received was for bread for the kids. We gave out a lot of bread, and I wondered how we could continue this ministry year round, now I know. I'm going to make special bread baskets (not as fancy as the one in the picture) for people and children who cross our path and need the Bread of Life. Boris is here working for a short time because he needs bread for his stomach, but he also needs the Bread of Life for his soul. It's just the beginning of giving the Bread of Life, through Bread 'n Baskets, to many others who will enter our gate for one reason or another.

    Two dear friends of ours have inspired me to make bread baskets with the Daily Bread in Spanish tucked inside. One friend gave money for bread, the other has given out Daily Breads in our home area for most of his Christian life. God's people inspire us by their lives of service, causing us to keep on keeping on to tell others about the Bread of Life.

   Boris will leave with "new" old shoes and a basket of bread, but also with an old story that is new to him. He will always have daily Bread. Do you have a Boris in your life?  Why not give him a basket of bread with a Daily Bread tucked inside? He will be eternally grateful with the Bread of Life tucked inside his heart forever.

Break Thou the bread of life, dear Lord, to me,
As Thou didst break the loaves beside the sea;

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bagels for Breakfast

John 13:35 “By this shall all men know ye are my disciples, 
if ye have love one to another.”

   A new bakery opened in our city, and they have bagels. The aroma in the bakery is divine; and the little shop is simple and native, with chairs in the open air. It certainly is nothing like the lovely table in this Internet picture with this elegant Russian tea set.

    It's been a long time since we had a bagel. I made them once. After a full day's work of making the dough, waiting for them to rise, boiling them, letting them cool and finally baking them, we enjoyed the fruits of my labor. That's a lot of work just for a bagel; I decided we didn't need bagels for breakfast. This new bakery ensures I will never slave over a boiling pot to make bagels again, not that I ever had a second thought about it.

   When I first saw this new temptation I thought they looked similar to a bagel, but they didn't look like the bagels I remembered from the states. Then I tasted the round mounds of golden baked dough... sure enough they were every bit as scrumptious as the memories I had of them. There are all sorts of varieties, and I am sure we'll go back for more. They are something different for us, but something familiar from home. Imagine, bagels for breakfast in Bolivia.

   When I began looking for a picture of a bagel on the Internet I was quite surprised by their appearance. These Bolivian bagels looked exactly like stateside bagels. I had forgotten what a bagel looked like. Occasionally we forget an English word, or maybe a product like Kraft Cheese or Lay's Potato chips, but the form of a bagel? It seems hard to imagine the shape of a bagel can be forgotten. Maybe it was just a senior moment, but it was a definite lapse of recognition of a bagel. 

   I wonder if the world is forgetting what a Christian looks like. Just how do people know we are Christians? We come in all varieties, God made us each different and for a specific purpose. Some of us are elegant, some super intelligent or beautiful, but most of us are just ordinary. But, ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things through God, just by showing His love.

   Do people recognize us as Christians? Or have they forgotten what we should look like, just as I forgot what a bagel should look like. The Bible says they'll know we are Christians by our love for one another. How are we showing that love so others will see the love of God in us? 

    Is the world forgetting what a Christian looks like because of our lack of love for one another? We may be just "ordinary bagels", but when we show the love of God through our lives the world will see our secret ingredient, Jesus, and want Him too. Let's not keep Him a secret, but demonstrate His love to others.

    Let the world taste and see real love, the love of God. Maybe we could share a bagel with someone who needs a listening ear or a loving friend who cares. In my neck of the woods (mountains), I can share a bagel with someone who doesn't know bagels exist and really is hungry. When we share and care, we look like Christians, and we won't be ordinary to that person who feels God's love through a bagel. 

   Jesus broke bread and taught the people;
     we can slice a bagel and share His teachings.

Friday, February 3, 2012

How To Eat an Elephant

Matthew 6:34 “Be, therefore, not anxious about tomorrow;
 for tomorrow will be anxious for the things of itself.”

   So your undies are in a bundle, and the day hasn't even begun. How will you get it all done? That is my life too. God says to relax, because tomorrow will be the same. How do we relax? Well, it's like eating an elephant, just one bite at a time.

   Make a list, what are the priorities today, not tomorrow? We'll think about tomorrow, tomorrow. But, today we will concentrate on the things of today. What does God have for me today? God knew we would need this verse; He has all the answers for us. He knows us inside and out.

   Someone gave me a recipe for stew many years ago, and I want to share it with you because it may make your day easier if you make a large pot of stew and freeze what is leftover. I hope it lifts the burden and gives you more free time for other things. I am always looking for shortcuts in the kitchen, so I have more time to write.

    This recipe has been in my recipe box for 25 years, but I have never tried it. Let me know how it works out for you. It's a missionary recipe, but can be adapted to your life-style.

Elephant Stew

1 medium size elephant
2 rabbits (optional)

   Cut the elephant into bit-size pieces. Add enough brown gravy to cover. Cook over a kerosene fire about four weeks at 465 degrees. This will serve about 3,800 people. If more guests are expected, the rabbits may be added. But do this only in case of emergency. Most people don't like hare in their stew!

   Don't be anxious about cooking tomorrow, this should take care of cooking for many tomorrows!

   Life is like eating an elephant, just one bite at a time. What's your elephant today?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bedtime with Basil

Ephesians 6:11 “ Put on the whole armor of God, 
that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

    You may think this is a story about Basil the cat, it's not. It's not even a cat story, and the cat in the picture is not Basil, he's Quasimodo. He will be a good story for another day. But, today the story is about basil, the stuff you put in spaghetti sauce and on pizza. And no, it's not a recipe blog either.

   This story is about mosquitoes, that's right, bugs. We have plenty of bugs in Bolivia, and have even slept with them too. A few years ago we brought bugs into our house in a new mattress, and had to fumigate the house to kill them. After they bit us to pieces, we finally found them when we flipped the mattress. Hundreds of them, not bedbugs, but tiny bugs that would have eventually devoured us. That was a bedtime horror story.

    This bedtime story is about mosquitoes. We are now in our rainy season, and they are everywhere. When we go out the door at night, we must quickly open and close the door with the lights out. That is not easy for senior citizens who always try to avoid a dangerous fall. So we bundle up as if we were in Alaska (even though it is 90 degrees), not forgetting to put dryer sheets in our pockets as we heard to do to keep the pests at a distance. Then we sneak out into the night to do whatever it is we have to do. Thank the Lord we have inside bathrooms; there were times we didn't in our early years of missionary work. God is good, we enjoy indoor plumbing in our golden years. By the way, the only golden things we have so far in these years are two Golden Retrievers who are so active they are making our golden years not golden, but exhausting. They are not the ideal pet for the over fifty crowd; I'm not even sure our grandkids could keep up with their pace.

   Back to mosquitoes, hold on, I am about to give you a lesson on "how to beat the bugs", but not literally. We tried that, beating them, and I almost had another broken nose. There were hands flying through the air and newspapers batting in every direction.  The mosquitoes must have thought we were dancing in our pajamas. They must have been amused; I am sure you would have been.

   After trying everything we knew to do, we retired to bed under the covers, trying not to suffocate, but the buzzing continued. When out of the blue, or pitch black, I remembered a remedy, anything was worth a try. Basil, I remembered reading an article that said the fragrance of basil is so powerful mosquitoes won't come near it.

   Off we go to the kitchen, find the large container of basil, and now what? We opened the top and put it right between our heads, quietly waiting in the dark for the attack again. Nothing, no buzzing, and we fell asleep. Every night since our "dancing with the mosquitoes" episode, we have been sleeping peacefully with basil tucked between the headboard and mattress, right between our heads.

   Now wouldn't it be great if we had something like basil to ward off the devil when he buzzes around and won't let us alone? Oh, wait, we do. Basil keeps mosquitoes at a distance, and the Word of God keeps the devil at a distance.  Just like we opened the container of basil and saw it work, we can open the Word of God and see it work.

   God has given us all the tools we need to serve Him, we just need to use what is right before us, His Word. So get out the basil to stand off the mosquitoes, and put on your armor to stand against the devil.