Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Harvesting in Lichinga: Part 2

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again!

During my first garden attempt in Lichinga, we had some local lettuce seedlings given to us by a friend. After transplanting them into the ground, they continued to grow well and were soon ready to begin harvesting.  We enjoyed salads for a few weeks from those first lettuce plants. Then, suddenly, they all started to bolt! They began to grow seed stalks and flowers. We had only been able to harvest from them for a few weeks! What was happening to the lettuce? I wondered if there was something that I could do to stop the lettuce from bolting. Had I done something wrong? My lettuce garden was turning out to be an utter failure!  I asked one of the other missionaries at our center, who happened to be way more knowledgeable in the gardening area than I was, what she thought about my lettuce bolting so quickly. She wasn't sure, either. There seemed to be nothing I could do to stop my lettuce from bolting, so we just enjoyed the last of the lettuce harvest and then watched it all go to seed. After it went to seed, we went out and harvested all of the seeds from the plants.

Last year, I brought out those seeds that I had saved and we planted them around June, in the colder season here. The lettuce plants thrived and we enjoyed salads for months! I realized that they had bolted previously because I had planted them when the weather was too warm for the lettuce to have a long harvest season.  Instead of giving up when my first attempt at planting lettuce had failed, I had saved the seeds with the plan to try again another time-and this time it worked!

Lovely lettuce patch grown from the seeds I saved 2 years ago!
Just because we have failed in any area in our life, doesn’t mean that we are a failure.  It doesn’t mean that we have an excuse, or even a reason, to throw in the towel and give up!  Many times I’ve felt like I've failed in certain areas in parenting, homeschooling, even in cooking nice meals for my family (especially in Lichinga where a variety of ingredients is not always available)!  But, I’ve been brought to a place in the Lord where I can see the areas in my life that I consider to be “failed attempts” as a springboard or even a door to start anew and afresh in those areas. 

When I was pregnant with my little Chayah Grace, who recently turned 4, I was really discouraged.  I said to the Lord, “Why are you giving me another child when I’ve done such a bad job with the first two?!”  I didn’t understand why God was entrusting another child into my care.  (I think I allowed myself to think such thoughts at the time because I was feeling kind of unprepared and inadequate to have to start from the ground up with a new baby after almost 6 years had gone by since my last child.  I have since repented of those thoughts!)  At some point during my pregnancy, I decided that I was going to use this as an opportunity to make changes in my parenting in areas I felt needed improvement.  One of the biggest areas I wanted to “fix” or change was in the way I showed love to my children.  Never considering myself to be the affectionate type, I decided that I would like to be able to show my children love in more ways than I felt I had in the past.  Of course, I’ve always loved my children, but I felt that I could be more expressive in showing it.  So, I changed!  Having made the decision to allow God to use what I considered to be a "failure" in my life to open the door for change, has greatly changed my attitude towards myself about parenting, homeschooling and other areas.  

So, here's one thing that I have harvested from this gardening experience:  Don't give up just because you feel as if you haven’t succeeded the first time around!  Remember, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!”

My lettuce seedlings ready for transplanting





Friday, July 5, 2013

The Mind of a 3 Year Old-Who Just Turned 4!

I am digressing from my promised "lessons learned in the garden" blog to post something I've been wanting to post for a little while now.  One of my littlest girls just turned 4 last week!  Many times in the past I've thought about sharing some of the questions and thoughts that she comes up with because I think they are just too funny not to share with someone else.  In honor of her 4th birthday, I decided to share some of her thoughts today...

The day before Chayah turned 4 (last Monday), she asked as I was getting her ready for a nap, "Mommy, will I be bigger tomorrow?"
"Well, you've already been getting bigger for some time now.  Tomorrow you'll just turn 4."
"I want to be as big as you guys!"
"Well, you'll have to be an adult to be that big."

She sat considering that for a moment, then said, "I wanna bounce on my bouncy ball.  Maybe I just wanna be as big as Isaiah.  And what scarf would I wear?!"  Isaiah is her 9 year old brother who also has a bouncy ball that he still bounces on.  She realized that she wouldn't be able to bounce on her bouncy ball or wear her toddler-sized scarf anymore if she were as big as Daddy and Mommy!

Another conversation-this one took place in the bathroom while getting ready for bed one day a couple of weeks ago...

"Mommy, is your middle name Tiffany?"
"No, it's my first name."
"But your first name is Mommy!"
"Well, that's right!  For you and your brother and sisters, it is!" :)

This last conversation happened a few weeks ago, again, right before naptime...

"Mommy, do we need to close our eyes when Jesus comes to take us to heaven?"
"Well, no, I don't think so!  Why?"
"Because if we don't, pieces from the clouds might get in our eyes!"

I love my little Chayah!  She is just too funny sometimes!

After some fun & games with the children at our center to celebrate Chayah's birthday, everyone prayed over her-a birthday blessing!


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Harvesting in Lichinga

I've always loved the idea of having my own garden so that I could harvest my own veggies! Maybe my Grandmother put that idea into my head since she used to grow her own veggies when I was a child. About 2 years ago, I started a vegetable garden. As I started it, I really felt that the Lord was going to speak to me as my garden grew. I felt that He was going to use my garden to pour revelation into my life about Himself, my walk with Him, my family life, etc. I prepared the ground by digging up the soil and composting, then planted my seeds. I was so excited when my lettuce, butternut squash, broccoli, eggplant and melon seedlings began to emerge in the days and weeks later! I diligently tended to that garden as I watched everything grow. I felt that God would surely begin teaching me lessons in fruitfulness, planting seeds in my heart as I had in the ground. As my plants grew, I noticed that my lively squash plants suddenly seemed to start deteriorating. My melon vines weren't doing very well, either. But I continued to water, weed, and nurture my little plants.

During that time in 2011, we decided that my husband would fly to the U.S. to celebrate his dad's 60th birthday. As we prepared for him to go, we realized that I was pregnant with my 4th child. Tyren went off to America and I soon began to feel tired, weak and nauseated. My already struggling garden didn't get all of the attention it needed in that time, though I continued to put care into it. By the time Tyren returned a couple of weeks later, the weeds had overtaken much of the garden, my lettuce had bolted, and most of the plants had died! Where was the fruit of my labor? What lessons of revelation was God going to teach me from a failed garden? I was so disappointed! I stopped trying to see or hear anything that God might have wanted me to learn from my gardening experience because I felt that there was not much to learn from a failed garden with no harvest. I gave up gardening.

Now it’s 2013, 2 years later, and I've planted another garden. It is very fruitful! We have kale, mustard greens, Chinese cabbage, snow pea plants, broccoli, mesclun lettuce, local lettuce, and herbs all growing beautifully. The local lettuce was grown from the seeds I saved 2 years ago when all of my lettuce plants bolted quickly and went to seed. I have since learned that I planted the lettuce in the wrong season before! Now that I know the right time to plant it, we have beautiful and bountiful lettuce to eat in its season. Some time last year I began to revisit the lessons that I felt I was supposed to learn from my gardening attempt 2 years ago and I realized that God had taught me quite a bit during that time. In the next 1 or 2 blog posts I will share some of the lessons God has taught me through my gardening experiences in Lichinga. 

Just back from the garden with my very first broccoli harvest!
This was part of our dinner that night with garden fresh broccoli!
Until next time, be blessed in the Lord!


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Semolina Flour in Lichinga?!

Lichinga is not known for it's availability of special food items...or even for the availability of lots of items that we think of as normal, everyday items.  That's why I was so surprised when Tyren found a bag of semolina flour in one of the shops one day.  He wasn't sure what you could do with it; but he knew it was some type of special flour and that I would probably know what it was, so he bought it!  I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it-make sesame semolina bread!  I had seen a recipe for this bread probably about 10 years ago and had always wanted to try it.  Last month, I found a recipe on King Arthur Flour's website and whipped up a batch!  We all loved it!

(We happened to have purchased some sesame seeds on one of our trips to Malawi.)
There wasn't enough flour left to make another batch of sesame semolina bread, so I made a batch of homemade herb noodles with some of the flour...

(I miss my Atlas pasta maker collecting dust in CT!  I had to hand roll and cut these!  Next time we go back to the U.S. I hope to bring it back here!)
...and homemade pizza with the rest of the flour...YUM!

(This pizza has homemade cheese on it that we purchased from some local missionaries and pepperoni that was mailed to us in a box!)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Photo Update...

Happy Easter!

Since I haven't gotten around to finishing the blog I wanted to post next, I figured I'd do a photo blog in the meantime...

I took this photo right after church one Sunday last month.  (Our church in Assumane village has grass/bamboo walls, a roof made of grass/bamboo/plastic sheets, and a mud floor.)  It was raining more inside the church than outside!  Two people were sitting on a bench holding an umbrella over their heads during the service!
Our passion fruit vines are growing well!

This huge watermelon from our garden turned out to be totally white inside...we found out that watermelon don't ripen during the rainy season here.  Go figure!
Holding a snail found in our yard.

Hopefully, I'll get some broccoli out of this plant!

Our new favorite family pastime...making homemade bean burritos!  Last week, we made them twice!

Just hanging around...in a hammock we just put up in our gazebo!

During the rainy season, we have to go through this huge muddy ditch and many others just to get out onto the main road from our house.  We don't get many visitors because of the bad roads out to our place!
A rainbow just behind our house...reminding us that God's promises never fail! :)
Have a blessed Easter...
celebrating the joy that Christ has given
through His death and resurrection!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mushrooms! Mushrooms! Mushrooms!

Living in the mato (local word meaning 'the bush' or 'the countryside') sure has its benefits.  Take last Saturday, for instance.  Early in the morning, before heading back home, our night guards were out picking mushrooms in the grassy areas in and around our center.  Knowing how much I enjoy mushrooms, Tyren asked them if they could spare some of those they had already picked.  They gave him a bag full of them!  I soon had them scrubbed up, chopped up, and in the pan. 

I enjoyed a nice fried mushroom sandwich for lunch (see photo to the right)!  From the mato to the table!  Later that night, I added mushrooms to some homemade pizza for dinner.  (We still have some cheese left over from our special Christmas and New Year meals!)

Fresh mushrooms sizzling in the pan! 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Making Lasagna in the Mato!

(The local Mozambicans call the area our center is located in "the mato", pronounced like 'matoo', meaning in the bush or weeds.  People don't usually come out here because they consider it out of their way.  I prefer to refer to the area we live in as "Little House on the Prairie".) 

Lasagna has always been a special meal in our family, reserved only for company or special occasions.  Living in Lichinga, it became even more special for us since, during our first years here, we had to practically make everything from scratch if we wanted anything that would come close to being like the lasagna we were used to.  Having had a taste for lasagna for such a long time, I would sometimes make my own noodles, make a creamy white sauce (since ricotta cheese is non-existent here and mozzarella was unaffordable, when it was even available), and then make my own tomato sauce with lots of market fresh veggies.  Putting meat in the lasagna was not even mentioned in those days!   

Now, years later, we've moved up a little in the lasagna making process!  I made lasagna as our New Year's dinner treat last Tuesday.  Here are the steps it took to make it this year:

Freshly harvested onions from our garden.
  1. Make the ricotta!  Using reconstituted powdered milk, I heated it until just before the boiling point then added vinegar.  Once the solids began to separate from the whey, I put the solids in a cloth hung over a strainer to drain until ready to use.
  2. Recruit my 9 yr. old son, Isaiah, to go pick some onions fresh from the garden! 
  3. Prepare all of my veggies and start chopping!  This time the veggies were my garden fresh onions, along with market fresh carrots, eggplant, bell peppers and garlic.                                                                              
  4. Start cooking the sausage!  Hallelujah!  We can now have meat in our lasagna!
  5. Start sauteing the veggies together in a huge pot.
  6. Once veggies are sauteed, throw in a few cans of tomato paste, some water and seasonings, including some garden fresh oregano from my herb garden.  Cook until done, then add cooked sausage.
  7. Heat water for store bought lasagna noodles.  Yes, Lichinga now carries lasagna noodles in the stores!  No more homemade lasagna noodles unless I actually want to make them from scratch! :)
  8. Start grating store bought mozzarella (I actually made home-made mozzarella in November, but found out that store bought is cheaper) and cheddar together.  Yes, we even have real cheese!
  9. Once noodles are flexible, but not cooked through, begin layering sauce, ricotta, mozzarella/cheddar blend, and noodles in large pan until full. 
  10. Bake until noodles are fully cooked.
  11. Eat!  Yum!!  :)

Lasagna fresh from the oven!
Behind, some roses Tyren picked for me from our rose bushes.
Have a blessed 2013!