Thursday, May 28, 2015

Hospitality: Shoe Shopping

I am not a shopper. I really have to be in the mood to shop. But I can tell you one thing: when I go shoe shopping, I want the perfect fit. I want the shoes to seem as if they were made just for me. I love the perfect balance of style and comfort. Anything less, and they will not make it out the door of the store.

The problem is that we often treat hospitality in our home with the same mindset... what fits us. With hospitality, it isn't about our shoes. It's about putting ourselves in our guest's shoes. What are their needs? What are their goals/purposes/plans? Since we are not mind readers, this step is going to take a little research.

Our guest's needs can be narrowed down to:

Shelter
Food
A place to clean up and shower

Time to ask questions...

Things you want to know about your guests:

1) How many are coming?

Be sure you have sufficient rooms and bedding for the number of guests coming. If it will be a tight squeeze, let them know ahead of time so they can decide if they would rather invest in a hotel. Imagine a married couple battling jet lag and being crammed in a twin size bed with a toddler... not a pleasant picture. Be realistic, as well as transparent with your guests, about the space and facilities you have to offer BEFORE confirming their stay. If they are fine with the twin bed and toddler scenario, it may mean that financial savings are a priority in their needs. Also, consider investing in things like an air mattress if you plan on being host to guests.

2) Allergies (food, pet, etc?)

3) Goals and purpose of visit?

A surveying missionary is certainly going to have a different itinerary than a supporting pastor coming to visit the missionary. For example: surveying missionaries have limited time and need to accomplish a great deal in that time. This requires greater flexibility in hospitality. Knowing their goals will help you plan.

4) Special eating requirements?

We certainly don't want to serve pastas and desserts every night to a diabetic or someone trying to lose weight.

5) Special sleeping needs?

6) How adventurous are they in their eating?

Face it. Some people just love the food of their home country. As much as I love the food here in our country, others are just not interested. In hospitality, it isn't our goal to change our guests and win them over to the adventures of culinary delight. It is our goal to minister to them.

7) Do they have an itinerary?

Our last guests were here for survey had a wonderful goal. They wanted to eat dinner with different missionaries here as many nights as possible. Knowing that detail, and even helping to arrange some of those meetings, helped me to plan for when I needed to cook for our guests. These guests also needed an enormous amount of flexibility in schedule. They were only here for one week and had to make the best use of every minute. Knowing that helped me to plan meals that were just as flexible so that food wasn't cold when they arrived, we were not waiting on them unnecessarily when their schedule changed, and food never went to waste if they had to cancel dinner plans with us for an unexpected opportunity that opened up.

8) What is their normal eating/sleeping schedule?

With jet lag, this may be pretty interrupted, but it will give you somewhere to aim if you know things like they are not breakfast eaters or that they eat dinner early everyday.

Taking the time to ask a few questions can make the difference between a wonderful trip full of pleasant memories and a miserable experience.

So you have enough bedding and a place for your guest(s) to stay. What do you feed them with out breaking the bank and without living in the kitchen the whole time?

To be continued...


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Homemade Convenience Foods

Recently one of our BMW ladies shared this link to a wonderful blog post which provides recipes for many convenience foods that we can easily make at home. For those of us on the mission field, this means, recipes for those food items we miss from home! I thought it would be a great link to share with our blog readers. So, this is an unusual post but I pray you find a recipe for something you have been wanting to make on the field for a long time! Have fun! Be sure to leave a comment if you make something from this link and share your opinion or any substitions/changes you made to the recipe. We would love to hear from you!

Just in case you missed it: Here is the link again to the site:
 http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/homemadeconveniencefoods.htm




***TVP - Textured Vegetable Protein

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Lessons from an Earthquake: The Voice

The following is from a BMW who works in Nepal, and was there during the earthquakes on April 25th and May 12th.

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Sometimes the greatest lessons are learned through the greatest hardships. The refining fires of trials bring out things that would never have come to the surface otherwise.

Such is the situation I found myself in when my world began to shake. It's almost like the earthquakes loosened the rocky soil of my heart causing landslides of filth to pour forth to the surface, ready to be cleaned out so that I can be more like Christ. I don't want to forget these precious lessons.


"And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice."
1 Kings 19:11-12 

In this passage, Elijah had just endured a major trial. He was exhausted, burned out, and ready to quit. The Lord, in His patience, mercy and compassion, ministered to Elijah by feeding him and giving him time to rest. But now the Lord was going to teach Elijah a few things.

Elijah was convinced he was all alone in this battle. He thought there was no one else. And he thought this was the end. He felt like a failure and it seemed God wasn't working. If God was working, why wasn't there anyone else to fight the battle with Elijah? Why didn't God just wipe Ahab and Jezebel off the planet? Just send down fire like He did on Mount Carmel or swallow them up by opening the ground in an earthquake like He did those who opposed Moses?

He Is Working

As I read this passage, I had to admit I was guilty of the same mentality. No, not that I want fire and judgment and earthquakes. But that I want God to do things big and visible and obvious and...

We all like to see immediate and powerful results. I would love it if the people's hearts here were softened so much from this tragedy that hundreds or even thousands opened their hearts to the Gospel and turned from their idolatry. I would love to report dozens of salvations and how people are just begging for truth as a result of their world being turned upside down because of this tragedy. I want wind and earthquakes and fire!

Delivery of shelter kits

Yes, sometimes God does use wind and earthquakes and fire. But sometimes His work is still and quiet. A whisper. We are tempted to think He isn't working. We are tempted to think nothing is being done because we don't see it.

What Elijah didn't see... 7000 prophets who had not bowed the knee to Baal. He also didn't see the work the Lord still had for him to do. And he didn't see the blessing the Lord was about to send his way with Elisha. God was working. And we must trust that God is working in hearts here in Nepal. Yes, some hearts we are able to see have softened. Some hearts have hardened. Some people are asking why. Others are blaming Christians. We must trust the Lord of the harvest, that He is working in hearts with His still small voice doing things that we may not see.

Are you trusting that God is working even when you cannot see immediate results?
Are you making expectations on how He should do His work?

Escaping the Chaos

As I looked at this passage again, I realized something else. Elijah was in the midst of chaos... wind that tore up a mountain??? An earthquake??? Fire??? Chaos. Can you imagine the noise? I can imagine the earthquake noise. When the earthquake happened here, it was loud and rumbling. The whole earth groaned. Buildings collapsed and rubble crashed down. Metal twisted and doors cracked. People screamed.

And after the earthquake? Still chaos.

But through this passage I am reminded there is an oasis from the chaos in the still small voice. I imagine it was practically a whisper. His voice. He wasn't in the chaos, but He could be heard in spite of the chaos. So each day, Oh how precious it was, to take some time apart to listen to His voice by getting alone with Him in the Word and in prayer! How easy it is to neglect the still small voice in the midst of chaos! And how easy it is to think we will not be able to hear Him among the noise. But if we are listening, He is there... whispering. Helping. Seeking and strengthening. We must not let chaos and noise distract us from the voice.


Getting food to hungry villages

For me, all the emergency ministry that came afterwards was the chaos. It was necessary things, but it was things that would have to be done at a moments notice. It was things outside my comfort zone and my schedule driven nature. It was seeing the devastation and hearing the earthquake alarm and the 120+ aftershocks rattling every nerve. But how I treasured escaping the chaos by getting alone with Him! His still small voice stilled my noisy, fearful, and broken heart.

Are you taking the time to escape your chaos... your earthquake?
Are you spending time with Him in His Word listening for His voice?

Hearing the Voice

The voice of the Lord came to Elijah again. "What doest thou here, Elijah?"

Has God ever asked you that? "What are you doing here? What is your purpose?"

I have asked myself that these past three weeks... Why am I here? Sometimes we need these questions to help us refocus. It is tempting to get wrapped up, especially now, in thinking we are here for ministry. Yes, we do ministry while we are here, but that's not my purpose. My purpose isn't to get food to starving people or build shelters for the homeless or even start churches and teach children's class. My purpose is to glorify God. In every task He sets before me, I am to glorify Him. In every situation that arises, I must glorify Him. That certainly shortens my to-do list. Can you imagine posting THAT to-do list on the fridge each day? One item... glorify God.

Why are you where you are?
Is His voice whispering to you to help you refocus on your purpose?
Ask yourself... "What doest thou here, ____________?"

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Peanut butter cookies

Stopping by today to share my favorite ever peanut butter cookie recipe discovered with the help of Pinterest. These are incredibly good! Enjoy!



Prep: 10 minutes
Cook time: 12 mins.
Makes about 30 cookies.


Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened (remember to add some salt if you are using unsalted butter like I do since that is what we have available)
1 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Sea salt (coarse)

Instructions

1. In a large bowl beat together butter and peanut butter using an electric mixer until well combined.
2. Add sugars and continue to beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and 1/4 tsp. of salt and mix just until well blended.
3. Roll balls of dough in white sugar before placing on an ungreased baking sheet. Press down lightly wtih the prongs of a fork to create a criss-cross pattern.
4. Bake at 350 degrees F (1700 Celsius) for 10-12 minutes. Do not overbake.
5. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt as soon as you remove them from the oven.
6. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for at least 3 minutes before removing them to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Lessons from an Earthquake

The following is from a BMW working in the country of Nepal. Nepal was devastated by a 7.8 earthquake on April 25th. On May 12th, another large 7.4 earthquake struck creating panic and additional destruction to an already hurting people.

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"And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said,
Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee." 1 Kings 19:7

The Lord came to Elijah when Elijah had given up. Elijah was drained. Finished. Burnout had set in. He was at the end of himself in the midst of a fierce spiritual and physical battle.

Now more than ever I can relate to these words: "The journey is too great for thee..."

Yes. Yes, it is.

Woman in a village that had run out of food

The first earthquake hit on April 25th. And two and a half weeks later, just as everyone was beginning to feel confident... safe... on May 12th the second large earthquake came.

The journey is to great for thee...

With every aftershock, nerves are rattled. Sometimes I just wish life could go back to normal.

The journey is too great for thee...

Twisted, collapsing building in the hardest hit area of Kathmandu, the capital

Sometimes rising up early to prepare food for my husband and relief workers for the day... going to bed late because of preparing bedrooms and meals and towels for showers for relief workers and missionaries who needed a place to stay for the night all while trying to keep up with daily mommy and wife duties...

The journey is to great for thee...

Medical relief team at work in a remote village

And traveling on the roads, seeing the devastation... feeling so powerless to fix it all. Emotionally draining. Spiritually trying. Physically exhausting.

The journey is too great for...well, for ME!

Two large earthquakes? Wasn't one enough? Especially with all the aftershocks!

"And the angel of the LORD came again the SECOND time, and touched him, and said,
Arise and eat..."

Transporting a sick 97 year old man from a village who survived the earthquake of 1934 and 2015

Sometimes we joke that this isn't what we signed up for as missionaries, but honestly, it is. We knew coming here that the journey was too great for us even without earthquakes and devastation. I can't leave now. My heart is here. Our calling is here. And the people need us now more than ever. But the journey is too great for me!


How sweet it has been to have the Lord sustain us, to come along side and say, "Arise and eat." He knows our limitations. He knows we are just flesh. But He wants us to experience His strength and grace. It is sufficient. And He never told Elijah He would make the journey easier. He said, "Arise and eat." Eat of His food. Partake of His strength. Go on His sustaining grace.

Are you going through a journey too great for you?

Arise and eat! Come before His throne. Sit at His feet. Get in His Word. Experience His compassion, His strength, His grace! Yes, the journey is too great for thee...

But it is perfectly sized for you to get to know your Father more intimately. The journey is never too great for Him.

Verse on my kitchen wall... Arise and eat!

(Please continue to pray for the people of Nepal. If you would like to give toward the relief efforts, please visit WGCR Christian Radio Station and Change the World Relief Organization.
100% of the funds go directly into helping the people of Nepal.)


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Homemade Brownies

One of the staple dessert recipes that we take for granted is brownies. Especially once you try to find the perfect recipe that is 'chocolatey' enough to help satisfy that craving for the quick, out-of-the-box brownie mixes from back home. I am happy to have found a homemade brownie recipe that is rich, 'chocolatey', gooey with a touch of crispy around the edges, just the way we like them.





Ingredients

12 tbsp. cocoa
4 tbsp. butter
*These ingredients substitute for 4 squares of unsweetened baking chocolate so if you are fortunate to have the baking chocolate you can use it in place of these ingredients.
3/4 cup butter or margarine (if using salted butter, omit the tsp. of salt)
1 tsp. salt
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
OPTIONAL: 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts



Directions


Microwave all butter/margarine until melted. Remove from microwave and stir in cocoa and mix until completely dissolved in butter. Stir in sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add flour and nuts at this time; stir until well blended. Spread into greased foil-lined 13x9-inch baking pan.
Bake at 350F (I usually bake these between 160-170C) for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Cool in pan. When cool, lift out of pan onto cutting board. Cut into squares. Makes approximately 24 servings, 1 square each.

Tip: If you prefer cake-like brownies: Prepare as directed, stirring in 1/2 cup milk with the eggs and vanilla and increasing the flour to 1-1/2 cups.