Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chai Mix

Suzanne drinks gallons of chai latte. It is her favorite comfort drink. There is nothing like it when it is cold. Many of you asked for my chai mix recipe, so here it is. This is not original with me, by the way. I got it off the internet and it tastes just like Mystic Chai.
(The photo is not mine...I got it off the internet!)

Chai Tea Mix (Makes 18-20 cups)
  • 2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
  • 2 cups powdered non-dairy creamer
  • 2 cups French vanilla flavored powdered non-dairy creamer
  • 5 cups white sugar
  • 3 cups unsweetened instant tea
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp finely ground white pepper (optional. I never put this in)
Combine ingredients. Stir in spices.
In a blender or food processor, blend 1 cup at a time until mixture is the consistency of fine powder.
To serve: Stir 2 heaping Tablespoons Chai Tea mix into mug of hot water.

The most difficult part of the recipe is finding unsweeted ice tea mix that doesn't have lemon flavor in it. I have found one store in our area that has this kind of mix!

Enjoy. It's the ultimate comfort drink on a cold night!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fall in Pennsylvania

"Come said the wind to
the leaves one day,

Come o'er the meadows
and we will play.
Put on your dresses

scarlet and gold,
For summer is gone

and the days grow cold."
- A Children's Song of the 1880's

Fall, or autumn, is John's favorite season. For me, it may be my least favorite season. I think I don't like it so much because I love summer a lot and it brings the end to summer. Things are dying and it is getting cold, and I don't like being cold. The long evenings are gone, replaced with short days and long nights. The long-sleeved shirts and sweaters have to be brought out and the cool comfortable cottons are put away.

But, there are things to enjoy, too. The colors are brilliant, with the reds, yellows, and oranges mixed in with the green of the grass and the pines, and the blue, blue sky (when the sun shines!). The air is crisp and the smell is unbeatable. Apples and pumpkins are everywhere. The farmers are bringing in their harvests. And John can drink apple cider to his heart's content. I've been experimenting with putting cranberries in different things, too...I've made muffins and cookies so far.

I enjoy being outside, so I don't even mind the leaf-raking job too much. It is a bit discouraging when you do it all and a few days later it needs to be done again! But I try to enjoy the colors and the smells while I'm working. We have a very large yard, so there's plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors! In addition to leaves, we have millions of acorns. No wonder the squirrels around here look so nice and plump. Oh yes, and mosquitoes. How can we have had frost and snow and the mosquitoes are still around?

Living so close to the woods has its advantages. For one thing, it is very quiet and peaceful here. But we also enjoy the wildlife. One day this
summer we had a skunk in our yard....not sure I liked him that close. We also tend to get mice and chipmunks in the house which I don't really appreciate either. But last week this young buck meandered through our yard. He just stood there and let me take his picture! We also see wild turkeys and a bear makes frequent visits to the dumpster (the lid of which is now chained down!). Yesterday we heard the Canadian geese flying south.

So, even though it's not my favorite season, there are things in it to enjoy. I'm so glad that God makes all things beautiful in His time.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Weeks Eight and Nine of an Eight-Week Trip

I dunno. I must have counted wrong at the beginning because we only added one extra day to our trip. But it was definitely longer than eight weeks!

Anyway, from Florida we drove up to North Carolina to mission headquarters where we had our re-entry interview. That was on Friday. Then Saturday we drove to a town near Greenville, SC and visited supporters. Then we went from there to a supporting church in Jackson, SC. We spoke in Sunday School, morning church, and evening church. We had a great time there as we always do. We ate dinner with the pastor and then had the afternoon to ourselves. It was nice to just have time to read and relax. I spent the afternoon outside. Right beside the church is a tree-lined lane leading up to a house. The trees are enormous and majestic, providing a lot of shade. I'd love to take this whole lane to Niger. They'd be the most popular trees in town!

From there we went back to mission headquarters where we attended a Home Assignment Retreat. The first two days we had sessions with things to help us in our Relationship Development Ministry (RDM---traditionally stands for Resource Development, but our new director likes Relationship Development better and so do I. We don't have Resources without Relationships!) Then we took two days for a spiritual retreat. We went to a beautiful house on a lake. We had sessions together and then we split up and went our own ways. Because the house is built on several different levels, it was easy for us to each find our own special nook by a window, out on a deck, somewhere in the yard, or on the dock. I personally preferred the dock (seen in the picture above)...sitting in the sun, basking in the light and warmth of the sun and of the SON.

I thought it would be really difficult to spend two days in spiritual retreat, but it was great. I think spending time alone with God, just listening and giving Him time to speak is something we, or I should say I, am not very good at! I need to do it more often. We have gotten away from taking a Sabbath rest, often using Sundays to catch up on work or to continue on in our frantic pace. Sundays are especially difficult for those involved in ministry and we need to find other times to come apart. I have been really challenged to set aside time to spend alone with God. And taking a nap as part of the retreat is allowed. The purpose is to find rest and if we are exhausted, sleeping may be exactly what God wants us to do.

After the retreat, we drove back down to SC and spoke at Woodland Hills Community Church. They had a missions get-together/supper Saturday night and we shared. On Sunday they had a missions speaker. They also took faith promise pledges and over $27,000 was promised in addition to the regular missions budget. This is not a church of high-income people either....but it is a church full of very misisons-minded people with a lot of faith. The look on the pastor's face when the amount raised was mentioned was priceless. God is so good! Sunday's service was followed by dinner on the grounds.

We stayed with a family that are such an example of how God works in people's lives. It's not my place to write their story here, but suffice it to say that God is an amazing God!

From North Carolina we went on to Virginia. We stopped at Liberty to visit our nephew, Jacob, at Liberty University. From there we went on to visit his brother and sister-in-law, Caleb and Keri in Christiansburg. We spent the night with them, then the next day ate lunch with Peggy. From there we drove on to Lanham, MD. We spent the night there and visited at Washington Bible College.

Finally we got home!!! Nine weeks on the road!!! And it is snowing. This is what we woke up to this morning and more is predicted. It looks kind of funny with the leaves still on the trees. The weather man tells us this is the earliest in October that there has been snow since people started keeping records. We might be in for a very snowy winter!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Weeks Six and Seven of a Two-Month Trip

We spent two weeks in Sebring, FL with my parents. Sebring is where SIM has their retirement center, so the place is full of retired missionaries. They are true heroes of the faith! Most of them, for as long as they are able, are involved in local churches and ministries. My dad, for example, preaches at the prison and my mom organizes prayer letters for the missionaries to pray over in their Thursday night prayer meeting (if you are a SIM missionary it is likely you get prayed for on Thursdays!).

We were able to spend some nice time just relaxing and not going anywhere! We had some good conversations with my parents. Every day was in the high 80's or 90's so we enjoyed the pool. We have several supporters in Sebring so they took us out for meals and we got to spend some great times with them. My parents also had some company in....my dad's cousins from Ohio visited and another day some friends of theirs came over.

It wasn't all fun and games. John prepared a message for the churches we will be speaking in in South Carolina. I have been trying to get as many people on our mailing list as possible switched over to receiving our prayer letter electronically rather than through the mail. I also put together a display to put on tables when we speak at churches. I ordered the posters from Snapfish and just inserted them in the display stand (I don't know what to call it!) that we've used for the last three home assignments....this is the 4th. I just switch the pictures around every time.

September 30 found us on the road again, heading north. We visited two supporters in Dowling Park, FL at the Advent Christian Retirement Center. We stayed in their guest house which is on the banks of the Suwanee River...remember the song "Way down upon the Suwanee River"? Well, that's where we stayed. That's the Suwanee River visible through the trees as seen from our balcony.

We are now in Charlotte. We'll be speaking in Jackson, SC tomorrow and in Columbia next weekend. In between, we will be attending the Home Assignment Retreat here at SIM headquarters. We're already noticing that the farther north we drive, the colder it is getting. We enjoyed our warm days in Texas and Florida!