Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pretty Light

"Suni nø syøngu! Suni nø syøngu,” the women exclaimed as Clay went back to check on the “light” that he had installed at our neighbors’ house.

Electricity is relatively new in our village…it’s only been about 18 years. Many homes have one light bulb crudely hung in each room. And there are few windows. You can imagine how dark the homes are and how difficult it is for the women to prepare food or for the young people to do their homework.

Clay came across an idea on the internet that is a simple and cost-effective solution to alleviate the darkness. It requires using a recyclable 2-liter soda bottle.

First, Clay scrubbed it.


Then he filled it with water and a few drops of bleach, then sealed it tightly.
Next, he cut a hole in the neighbors’ roof that was just big enough for the soda bottle. After placing the bottle in the hole, Clay sealed the edges to keep the water out.

During the day, the sunlight filters through the water and is dispersed throughout the whole room. When our neighbors’ daughter came home from school that day, she wondered how her dad had installed another light bulb.

Clay went back to the neighbors’ house today to see how the “light” was doing. The room was brightly lit and the ladies were very grateful for their “pretty light.”  Our neighbor Felix enthusiastically proclaimed, “Buen hecho, güero!” (Well done, white guy!)


Please pray that we can share boldly about the Light that shines in the darkness!








“Land of the Snail”

Recently we took a trip to El Caracol, or the Snail. We’re not sure why it’s named that, but the kids had fun trying to guess—because  you can find snails in the river or because the road is windy like a snail shell?  (It took 3 hours to get there, but it’s only about 16 miles away as the crow flies.)

The kids had a blast! They of course made new friends…some human…others of the bird variety!



They chased ducks and chickens. They climbed trees. They ate oranges and mandarins. They picked a coconut, cracked open cocoa. Ellie inspected the beautiful flowers.

You've heard that chocolate is a fruit because
it grows on a tree, right?
Well, this is what it looks like!

The cacao beans, before they've
been cleaned. The white covering
is edible so sometimes the best
method to clean the bean is to suck
on them...thought you might want to know!

Clay worked hard to cut a coconut out of the tree!

The pastor's son chopped off all of the outside shell of the coconut.

My little flower lover!
Her middle name is "Flor,"
which means "flower."


They played ball…sometimes with a real soccer ball….sometimes with a homemade variety that was covered in a plastic bag.


They made tortillas…


While the kids played, Mom and Dad visited the church.

The Bible talks of the church being like a body. When one member hurts, we all hurt. This church in El Caracol is hurting…and I hurt for them. 

The pastor’s daughter has been rebellious.  She has drifted away from God and from the church body. That in itself is a difficult situation in a small village. The people of the village are watching the Christians to see how they handle life’s situations. And the Christians feel the pressure, the judgment. 

Add to this already difficult situation that the daughter is now 5 months pregnant and has been kicked out of her home and was originally advised that she should have an abortion so that no one would know. (The story of David and Bathsheba comes to mind…committing a sin to cover up a previous sin.)

We spent two days teaching about what the Bible says of grace and forgiveness.  We listened. We prayed.  We encouraged reconciliation between the father and daughter. And also between the father and his wife.

When we left El Caracol, we left with heavy hearts. Now, all we can do is pray.
Please pray with us for the church in El Caracol, that they will know God’s love and the grace that He readily extends to those who love Him. Also pray that as Christians, we would be quick to offer grace and forgiveness, and that we will resist the temptation to judge others.




Cooking Class

            In our village, most of people love eating pizza and pies and breads…all things that require an oven to make. People have asked often if I can teach them how to make pizza or cake. The problem is that most homes don’t have an oven. They have stove tops or open fireplaces.

            Recently, my friend Cecilia asked if she could come by when I was making pizza so she could learn. (She knows that we eat pizza most Fridays!)  When she showed up, she was accompanied by her brother and her niece. They all wanted to learn how to make pizza! Luckily, I had been experimenting…

            Once upon a time, in a land far away...also known as Idaho, friends taught us how to make pizza on the grill. So I decided to teach my friends how to make personal pizzas on the comal, or flat grill that’s placed over the fire or on the gas stove. It was the same idea as cooking on the grill. My new cooking class was amazed at how quick and easy it was to make pizza! And they could even do it on their stoves or over the fire in their home.

            After tasting the pizza, they got to talking amongst themselves. What kind of cake do you know how to make? What about pie? As I listed off the things that I could teach them, we decided on apple pie.

Step 1
Slicing the Apples
            The next day, my three students showed up, ready to see what it takes to make an apple pie. We peeled and cut the apples. We measured and mixed the flour and other ingredients. I showed them how to roll out the pie crust and then let each of them have a turn too. Theo was a good sport! He jumped right in too!


    There are moments when I’m amazed that I’m the one teaching cooking. I mean, my sister is the one who studied culinary arts. And my old college roommates can attest, I wasn’t really into cooking back in the day. Or my Iowa neighbor Linda is quick to remind me not to forget the eggs! (Do you know what rhubarb muffins look like if you forget the egg? Yeah, I do.) But, here I am…the expert in pizza and apple pie. (Is there anything more American?)

    So, we sat and waited for the pie to bake…and then to cool. It was a fun hour and a half of building relationships. We talked about what else I could teach them to bake…and then what they could teach me to cook. Often the three of them would discuss plans, ideas, and events in the ZK language…and Clay and I would listen.

Some things we could understand. Other things we couldn’t. It felt like we were just eavesdropping. But the great thing was that they know we are trying to learn their language and they want us to understand. They were okay with letting us listen in on their conversation. I think that may be the beginning of a great friendship!
The pies turned out perfect!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Granny's Visit


       It's always a treat when we have family or friends visit from the States! This year, instead of showing my mom around the city of San Cristobal de las Casas, we got to introduce her to our home in the rainforest, complete with "organic" umbrellas! Yes, the leaf is really that big! And the locals do use them to shed rain or to shade them from the sun.

Granny with our neighbor girl

After a week in the village, we took a vacation to the Mayan ruins of Palenque and Toniná.

Ryan and Ellie, conspiring.

Toniná from a distance

The beautiful clouds at Toniná

Waterfalls anyone?

                                      Misol-Ha...scene from The Predator


   Agua Azul...

You'll have to ask Granny who this guy is!

Agua water? But not in rainy season.