Saturday, February 26, 2011

MCM Newsletter spoiler

Here is a small article that will be in our upcoming (not exactly sure when) Mano Con Mano Newsletter:

Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty. According to UNICEF, educating children helps reduce poverty and promote gender equality. It also helps lower child mortality rates, promote concern for the environment, and much more. That is why this year, Mano Con Mano is putting a specific emphasis on education. We are doing this in two main areas. The first is with a ‘homework club’ that meets at Nim Jay three days per week after our feeding program. Teachers who attend our partner church, Los Olivios, are coming to Yalu to help kids from kindergarten to sixth grade do their homework, teach new concepts, do projects and crafts, and play games. This is allowing kids to not only advance their learning but also have fun in a safe and clean environment. Secondly, we are focusing on education by providing scholarships. This year Mano Con Mano gave out 20 scholarships to students in Junior High and Career school, which is our equivalent of high school but the student have to pick a specific career (ie secretary, engineering, teacher, etc). In Yalu, school only goes to sixth grade so these scholarship students have to travel thirty minutes each way on the public bus to neighboring larger pueblos. Due to a lack of desk or adequate light in their one-room homes, these students are also meeting at Nim Jay in the afternoons to do homework.  By meeting there they can also have access to the internet, our resident doctor, and each other when they have questions. The future is definitely looking bright. Thank you for your support and prayers that make health, nutrition, and education possible for the children of Yalu!

You can check out pictures of our scholarship students and homework club at our MCM Facebook page! You can also 'like' the page to get updates on different projects, happenings, and pictures from Yalu
Isn't technology FUN!?

Monday, February 21, 2011


Well folks life has gotten away from us once again. Things haven't changed too much but we did move...AGAIN! Thats every two months for the past six months for anyone whose keeping track. We are currently house-sitting in San Lucas, a city 15 minutes outside of Antigua and will be here for, you guessed it, the next two months.  Besides missing the restaurants and all our friends in Antigua, we are really enjoying our new home. And whats not to enjoy - house to ourselves for the first time since we moved to Guate, a fully stocked kitchen, and a memory foam bed with a HEATER in it! I know, its awesome. Its truly a struggle to get out of bed every day.

But someones got to cook around here...and speaking of cooking I've been doing quite a bit both here at the house and out in the village. One of my first projects there was revamping the menus to be a little more interesting. Besides the traditional rice and beans combo we added Pollo Guisado and Pulique which are Guatemalan favorites and I also experimented with Lentil Soup and Rice and Brocoli casserole which thankfully went over surprising well with the kiddos.

On the home front Gregg and I had both been craving flour tortillas like crazy. Of course that sounds ridiculous being that we are in a Central American country but it is shockingly hard to find good flour tortillas here - everyone just eats corn, corn and more corn. So I decided to take things into my own capable hands and I found an awesome tortillas recipe that is super duper easy. You don't even need a rolling empty (or not but that would be wasteful) wine bottle will work just fine :)

Chewy Flour Tortillas
These tortillas have real body and taste; they are perfect for gorditas, fajitas or just eating straight off the griddle.
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm milk (2% is fine)
   Stir together the flour and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and vegetable oil to the lukewarm milk and whisk briefly to incorporate. Gradually add the milk to the flour, and work the mixture into a dough. It will be sticky.
   Turn the dough out onto a surface dusted with flour and knead vigorously for about 2 minutes (fold and press, fold and press). The kneading will take care of the stickiness. Return the dough to the bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it rest for 15 minutes. (This dough will not rise, but it needs a rest.)
   Divide your dough into 8 balls of equal size, cover them, and let them rest again for about 20 minutes. Avoid letting them touch, if you don't want them to stick together.
   Dust your work surface with flour. Working one at a time, remove each piece of dough and pat it into a 5-inch circle. With a rolling pin, roll out the tortilla, working from the center out, until you have a 7- or 8-inch tortilla a little less than 1/4 inch thick. Transfer the tortilla to a hot, dry skillet or griddle. It will begin to blister. Let it cook for 30 seconds, turn it, and let the other side cook for 30 seconds. Remove the tortilla, place it in a napkin-lined basket and cover with aluminum foil. Repeat for the remaining tortillas.

Here are some tips as to technique:
  • Do not use bread flour. You want flour with a low gluten content.
  • You don't want to over-flour your work surface, but you don't want your rolled-out tortilla sticking to it either. I found that the dough adhered less to an unvarnished wood surface (like an old cutting board) than any other surface I tried.
  • A flat dough scraper, known in baking parlance as a "bench knife", is very efficient in removing the rolled-out tortilla from the work surface.
  • When rolling out tortillas, dust your rolling pin with flour, and don't be afraid to apply pressure. Flour tortilla dough is pretty sturdy; but not to the point of rerolling. You don't want tough tortillas.
  • My personal preference is for plain tortillas but, if desired, you can spice up this recipe by adding
    • A tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs (like oregano or rosemary)
    • A teaspoon or so of dried herbs
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • A tablespoon of minced jalapeños
    • A little garlic powder (or substitute garlic salt for the salt) YUMMY!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I'm Accepted!

and HERE!

Now I'm just waiting to hear from these slow pokes...

Seattle Friends: Start praying NOW!
(if you want us to move home that is...I suppose I shouldn't assume)

oh and Gregg wanted me to remind you that we've all been accepted here...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Last photos from our trip...promise! Kris bought an underwater camera for our epic snorkel trip in Caye Caulker. Please notice our ridiculous proximity to nurse sharks, manta rays, barracudas, and HUGE schools of fish...

So great! Now we have to decide where to next? Honduras? the Panama Canel? Quetzaltenango? Mexico City? Decisions decisions...Where would you go?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Beauty amid the chaos

Depicted in this photo, an image from an anonymous source on the ground in Egypt, is a team of Egyptian Christians forming a massive human shield to protect their Muslim countrymen as they prayed during the violent protests yesterday. Beauty amid the chaos.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Gettin real

    Our time in Guate has been, like life anywhere, filled with both beautiful and challenging events. But Gregg and I have noticed multiple times since we've come that we feel hopeless or even oppressed by something. This morning I again realized that I have been feeling somewhat depressed for the past few weeks because of this urgent need to DO. To start more projects, learn more Spanish, form more relationships, get closer to God, etc, etc, etc. I've been trying so hard to 'make the most of the time we have here' that I am rushing things and not truly enjoying the process. Another emotion that has become a more and more present is fear. Fear that I'm not going to do enough. Fear that I'll try to start a project in Yalu or help in some way and end up doing more harm than good because I don't fully understand the culture. Fear that I'll never fully master the language and always feel like an idiot.
    But Gracias a Dios He is teaching both Gregg and I more and more everyday what it means to have joy in every situation. We have been praying that God would truly open our eyes to what we need to learn about the culture, how we can humble ourselves more, and above all to slow down and enjoy the time He has given us here by relying on Christ's perfect timing to work through us without fear or hesitation.
    Anyways...on quite a few blogs that I read I've been seeing more and more lists of 'things I love', or 'things that make me happy,' etc. After all that complaining and depressing stuff, I'm going to try making myself more aware on a regular basis of the many things we have to be thankful for here in beautiful Guatemala:
- so many wonderful people with which we have community. Missionaries, roommates, visitors, and locals alike - we have met some truly awesome and inspiring people here.
- work that is rewarding and challenging and lets us get out of our comfort zone which is truly where God can do the most work.
- delicious fruits and veggies for basically pennies. Oh the avocados, pineapples, tomatoes, even the cucumbers - we are so spoiled
- stove top popcorn provided by family and friends from the states. Not exactly the same without my beloved whirlypop but delicious none-the-less
- getting the opportunity to house-sit for a missionary who is going back to the states. we will have a big, beautiful house with a big, beautiful kitchen all to ourselves for two months!
- time to read and bake and pray and play. Because of the above mentioned blessing of a large, fully stocked kitchen, I am going to challenge myself to try new recipes and expand my cooking repertoire. Gregg is really bummed ;)
- and last but not least getting to know my husband in new - sometimes good, sometimes not - ways. Our relationship is also be blessed and challenged in ways it never was in the States. I am trying to cherish this time when we can spend basically everyday together and learn to love one another in a more Christ-like manner