Thursday, November 12, 2009

South Africa Report

Four years ago, Jon and I were sitting in church in Georgia; at that time we had only been here for a few months. A woman named Tracie got up and talked about a trip she had just taken to South Africa to teach VBS. The pictures that she was showing and what she was saying really grabbed my heart. I remember turning to Jon and saying, “That's the kind of trip I would like to go on!” Well, it took me three more years to finally go! Tracie had talked to me every year about going, but I always found a reason not to (which even I thought was strange, since I wanted to go so bad). I realized that I had a bit of fear about going that far from home by myself and being away from Ty and Devon for that long.

As you might remember, last summer the four of us lived and worked Turkey for a month, and God dealt with a lot of my fear issues there. I also heard Him tell me that I was to go to South Africa this year. So, when it was time, and the trip was presented to me again, you would have thought I would have jumped on it! But instead I let the fear control me again and I said no. About a month later, the position for a teacher still hadn't been filled, and of course I knew God still wanted me to go. Jon and I talked about it, and Jon really wanted me to go as well! So, basically we made the decision and I booked my tickets that night! There were four of us that went from our church here in Georgia. We traveled to Cape Town, South Africa, and met up with the other twelve teachers. Wow, what an awesome trip! The kids were so amazing! By the end of the week we had over 500 kids attend the camp! Most of the kids were Muslim, and the parents would drop them off for free childcare (I understand we do this as well in America – VBS hopping – but the difference is that I would never drop my kids off at a mosque to have a free morning to myself). Jennie and I co-taught a class of first-grade students (really, we had anywhere from 5-year olds to 9-year olds), and by the end of the week we had 80 students!

The highlight for me was on the very last day: I was walking with one of the little boys from our class, and we were talking about what he enjoyed during the week. He told me that he really enjoyed the Bible stories, and when I asked him why, he said, “Because nobody has ever told me about Jesus before.” Wow! I was thanking God for the privilege it was for me to be there and share about His Son with these precious children! I came home to a family that did wonderful without me, but missed me terribly as well, which is a good thing! I am hoping to go back again next year, but we will see what the year brings for us.

Falling head first into Fall

Well, Fall is in full swing here in Georgia now. The colors have been breathtaking, we have had some chilly days, and a few freezing nights already! The flannel sheets feel really good! I love fall, I love everything about it, but I am never quite ready for summer to end either. I love that fall is the perfect time to start using the crock pot again, and pull out all those yummy recipes that seem to "heavy" for summer cooking (like chicken and dumplings!). I love pulling out the sweaters and boots again, and cuddling up with blankets in the evening by the fireplace with a nice hot cup of tea. The boys are back outside playing as much as possible, because it if finally not too hot! I can tell this week, they are also ready for the much needed week off of school that they are given at Thanksgiving! Just this morning Devon let out a big sigh, when I asked him what was wrong he said, "I just have better things to do then sit in school all day!" I completely understand! I feel that way about work at times... but we have to do what we have to do!

Today is the first sunny day we have had in the last couple days. Tropical Storm Ida came through and dumped about 5 inches of rain on us. The sun feels so good! I unrolled my car windows today and just enjoyed the gift of warmth! Thanks God! 2 days of non stop rain was a bit much for me to take.

I am preparing for our friend Ellyn to get here this weekend. She arrives Sunday night and is only able to stay until Tuesday morning... but I will take what I can get! Then a week later my parents arrive to spend a little over a week with us, and my younger brother David is also flying in to spend Thanksgiving with us! I also have invited 2 other families to join us on Thanksgiving. Cooking for 20 might normally have me a bit worried, but Mom will be here, so I know it will not only be fun to cook together, but pretty stress free as well! I have cooked 2 Thanksgiving meals on my own, so I am really looking forward to cooking with her again! The 2 families I have invited over are also from OM, and they are British. Keeps my stress level down, because they don't have long standing Thanksgiving traditions that I will end up disappointing! Anyway, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays... great food, great friends and family and no presents to buy! We play games like scrabble or sequence after dinner and just hang out and enjoy each other!

2 weeks after Thanksgiving, we are leaving for Oregon. We haven't been there in 2 years, and I am very much looking forward to spending time with Jon's sister and her family again and being with Jon's parents. I know it might seem unusual for someone to be looking forward to spending time with in laws, but I think mine are great. They have really become a second set of parents for me. 2 years is too long to be away from family, but for now this is where God has us. I have realized that God is so, so good for providing people here that also feel like family. Anyway, I will not write too much about Oregon now...maybe it will give me a reason to blog more coming up!

Here is a favorite recipe

Chicken and Dumplings
1 cup Bisquick
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp pepper
Chicken pieces (I usually use legs and thighs)
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cups milk
poultry seasoning

Mix bisquick, salt, paprika and a little poultry seasoning in a zip lock bag. Put chicken pieces in a few at a time and shake to coat. In a large skillet brown chicken in oil and melted butter. Remove chicken and pour excess fat from skillet. Stir in soup, and milk; add chicken pieces. Cover; heat until boiling. Cook over low heat about 1 hour or until chicken in tender.

Twenty minutes before chicken is done, prepare dumpling dough (recipe below). Drop dough by spoonful onto hot soup mixture. Cook uncovered over low heat for 10 minutes; cover and cook another 10 minutes. To serve, place dumplings on platter around chicken; pour gravy over top.

I sometimes double the soup and milk to make more gravy (I never said it was a healthy meal!)

2 1/4 cup Bisquick
2/3 cup milk
sprinkle about 1/4 teaspoon of poultry seasoning
sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of parsley flakes

Stir together until a soft dough forms.

soooo good!!!!