Unstuck, the perfect meal

unstuckAPPETIZER

Appetizers are the entrance of a meal. They are light in flavor, but stimulate your hunger. In Spanish we have a saying that literally translated is “Food enters through the eyes” meaning that the appearance of a meal helps the appetite. The English equivalent would be “The sizzle sells the steak”.

There are three big turtles in the house where I live which have occasionally found upside down; it is a hopeless and despairing situation, a terrible no-win position and if remained overturned, it could be fatal for the turtle.

The words in the cover “moving beyond defeat” and the image of the turtle stuck on its back invites your attention and makes you want to continue with the next dish.

THE SALAD

Depending on the culture, salads can come before or after a meal and sometimes even go alongside the meal. So in this menu the author, Amy Hernandez, is the salad. How many times in life one has the opportunity to read a book in the author’s home? I precisely did that with this book. I don’t know Amy, she is my friend Joel’s wife. They have served in Mexico as missionaries and are now in Dubuque, IA involved with Emmaus Bible College and the local church. What I admire about Amy is the honesty with which she shares her own struggles. You can find her, contact her, ask her questions and more in her blog: Here.

MAIN COURSE

This is the heaviest, heartiest and most important and substantial dish on a menu. This is the content of the book. The idea of presenting Amy’s book as a four course meal came from seeing and tasting in each chapter different ingredients for food which main purpose is to be nutritional and satisfying, but nutritious food is not always tasty and full-flavored and they don’t have to be, but a good cook will know how to mix and balance the ingredients so that the final product may be healthful and of great gusto.

Amy has prepared a very solid meal. She will talk about weaknesses, suffering, justice, the flesh, the mind, the heart and the many hidden, unnoticed, sometimes overlooked, some other times unrecognized sin in our lives. She will encourage you “to eat up” the whole plate in the section where she puts the powerful work of the Holy Spirit in truth, love, prayer and with gifts in our lives.

DESSERT

It concludes the meal. It consists of sweets and for that reason, the favorite part of the meal.  Proverbs 16:24 says “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Some bitter compounds are good for you. Life itself gives us plenty of those; defeat is one of them. It is nice to find someone who has tasted the bitter flavors and brings sweet words of encouragement. Amy’s book’s summary says it best: DEFEAT ISN’T WHERE IT ENDS; DEFEAT IS WHERE REAL LIVING BEGINS.

This is a meal I want to repeat, a recipe I will be using over and over for the need for healthy food will not end as long as I keep walking in the Christian life and growing and strengthening myself in the Lord.

Amy and Joel Hernandez with me in their home.

Amy and Joel Hernandez with me in their home.

 

 

Published in: on November 17, 2016 at 4:53 am  Leave a Comment  
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Celebrating Anniversaries

This year I got to celebrate two anniversaries of two very special and respected academic institutions:

75-ebcEmmaus Bible College started in 1941 in Toronto, Canada under the leadership of three men: R.E. Harlow, John Smart and C. Earnest Tatham. In 1947 growing enrollment lead to the establishment of a campus in Chicago and 1953 the school acquired the YMCA building. In 1984 moved to a 17-acre campus in Dubuque, Iowa and received accreditation to grant bachelor degrees. Today is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

 

60-eccEscuela Cristiana Camireña was founded in 1956 in Camiri, Bolivia by educators and missionaries Eugene and Loraine Train. Some of the same old adobe-brick classrooms are still there, but by God’s providence there is also a new building with air-conditioned classrooms.

It has been a wonderful experience for me to be in the celebrations of the many years of service and to hear old and new stories of many people through the decades whose lives’ purpose, direction and meaning have been given, marked and taught by the teaching, influence and counsel of Godly men and women.

The topic of GOD’S FAITHFULNESS has been repeatedly brought up in the two celebrations. Dr Daniel Smith pointed out three ingredients of faithfulness:

1.- Character: There has to be integrity, honesty and rectitude.

2.- Commitment: Able to keep his word, a promise, a guarantee.

3.- Capability: The ability, the power to carry out.

In conclusion, God’s faithfulness is something:

He DOES and He IS.

Published in: on November 10, 2016 at 5:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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Delicious

Published in: on October 11, 2016 at 6:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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School Tradition (1)

bloomingEvery September 21st there is a festivity for Student’s Day and it is also the day Bolivia officially welcomes Spring time. It is a fun school day of games, music, balloons, food, candy and cake; like a big birthday party for every student. This is our School tradition; other schools have dances and/or Princess contests. We also make a special dinner for our Senior class since this is their last year as “our students”. In this dinner they are our special guests. This dinner is unique of the Christian School; it is one of our traditions.

Traditions give us a sense of connection, belonging, affinity and stability in an ever-changing world. It might be and seem simple, trivial, casual or insignificant, but the flavor of a dish, the smell of a person or place, the sound of a voice and laughter or silence and quietness for that matter; all play an essential part in the making of a memory.

Someone has said “tradition is the illusion of permanance” so let’s start new ones or continue old ones, but let us give the new generations something to remember.

Maestros y Bachilleres

More Student’s Day pictures in Facebook here.

 

Published in: on September 22, 2016 at 5:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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20 Years

20 yearsAs I was thinking and preparing to write about today, the day that marks my arrival to Camiri/Bolivia; I looked up words related to “milestone” which refers to a turning point, age, events, happenings, incidents, landmarks etc. Among one of them was the word “survival” and I smiled. Twenty years ago I didn’t know how I was going to be able to make it through one day… one month…one year. At this moment, I am writing this blog in the quietness of my hosts’ house, Mr. and Mrs. Train, now gone to be with the Lord. In this table, where I now have a laptop, the Trains had a nice big and heavy electric typewriter from where I wrote my first update with my first impressions, experiences and goals for my visit to Bolivia. I still remember that first day here; everything looked different, felt awkward and smelled peculiar. The days and the years ahead from that day are the days and years from the past 20 years and today everything looks normal, feels familiar and smells natural.

IMG_20160830_053510I would like to summarize these 20 years quoting from C. S. Lewis who always seems to know how to express with the right words what’s in the human mind and heart:

“Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment ‘as to the Lord.”

“The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.”

“Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”

Published in: on August 30, 2016 at 5:54 am  Comments (1)  
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My German Shepherd IV

When people say “you’re getting older“; I reply “And who isn’t?”. We all take this “de rigueur” path from the time we are born. It is unavoidable and undeniable.DSC_0003 A few weeks ago I uploaded a video in Facebook of my old good dog Aldo struggling to walk. I received all kinds of responses to the video. Most people were sympathetic and felt sorry; a few looked at it with humor, the dog’s uncoordinated movements and stumbling walk made him look as if he were drunk. The reaction that most got my attention though was from those who asked me how could I dare to: 1.- Keep him alive in pain and 2.- show in public media his suffering. In Facebook we are given the choice to upload our “best” pictures to show the world. We can create our own make-believe lives: all smiles and laughter, good times and parties, good-looking and fashionable. In real life failure, sickness, suffering and death are part of the package.

dog-life-spanAldo is 14 human-years old; he is a senior dog and I write about his aging process thinking about me. A dog’s lifespan is faster and shorter, but I have grown older with Aldo and I am learning from him to enjoy all things: company, sunshine, other animals and above all, food. I am learning as he keeps doing simple things he used to do effortlessly and without sweat that life is worth living not matter how difficult things may turn out. And finally, to sleep, eat and poop are priceless treasures for your well-being. The day comes for all of us when we realize that little things are actually big things.

“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

Published in: on August 18, 2016 at 5:53 am  Comments (1)  
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My German Shepherd III

DSC_0015A week ago I thought Aldo, my mix breed German Shepherd, would not make it to his 14th birthday, but he did today. He is suffering a common ailment to his breed where he has trouble standing up, pain when trying to get up and his hip is very  weak. He has bad days, worse days, good days and better days. I have been helping him to get up and he makes my day when I find him in a different spot where I originally left him. I clap and “hooray” him, “Aldo! You did it!! Keep doing it good boy!! Keep doing it!!” and I hug him.

I know Aldo is living his final days. He is being totally spoiled by me. I love my other two dogs, but Aldo is getting a lot of privileges and benefits of the old age.

DSC_0037.JPG

I don’t want to humanize him. Although, yes, he could be described as “my good loyal friend and companion” I simply think that Aldo is at his best when being what he is, a dog. I would not want him to be a human. I love him exactly for what he is and with all what it brings to own a dog.

One good thing about old Aldo is that he has not lost his appetite. So after a good meal, he loves to lie down in the sunshine and a walk from the back of the house to the front and backwards, it all it takes to make his day.

WOOF WOOF! It’s time for a Paw-ty

Published in: on July 9, 2016 at 2:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Smile

There are many studies about “smile facts” and the number of benefits it brings to physical, mental and emotional health.  A smile is more than just a flexion of muscles; it is an expression from within the deepest part of our being denoting pleasure, happiness, delight, enjoyment, gratification or sociability. A smile is sadly almost a lost gesture in big cities since it is the body language of welcoming people into our space and our lives. We live in times of mistrust of strangers.

I recently experience pain due to dental work. I don’t remember ever being in such torment before.  For some reason analgesic had almost none effect or so I felt. When I left the dentist’s office I had to make a phone call and meet with some people.  All I wish was to be in a dark room, in bed and alone, but I couldn’t. I am sure the people around would be understanding of my bad mood and put up with my miserable attitude, but as in many cases, they are not to blame for my pain.

I chose to continue life ignoring my discomfort and even watched a movie with my hosts. I am in a liquid diet. Things didn’t turn out as I was expecting and the episode of the dental work hasn’t finished. I fear going back to the dentist’s. Such is life, but those circumstances have no control over what I choose and how I decide to act. For this time I have decided that my pain is small compare to what others are suffering. I want my smile to be a reflection of my soul not of my body. I choose to smile not because my smile is perfect, but because it is powerful.

smileIt is well with my soul

Published in: on June 16, 2016 at 5:35 pm  Comments (2)  
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Useful Tool (7)

In many cases, I imagine many of you reading this blog from your cell phone. I remember resisting the idea of getting one for myself reasoning that I grew up when telephones stayed at home. If people wanted to get a hold of me, they would call back. Then in 2007 I gave in and acquired my first cell phone, a Nokia 1100 that remained my favorite and irreplaceable one for many years; until my colleagues and family, specially my nephew who is a technophile (ideapokeian), said I really needed to upgrade and start using Whatssap and other similar apps and I did.

I try to stay undefiled by FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and apply practical and common-sense rules to cell phone usage. The second-hand cell phone I was samsung-galaxy-s-iii-muertousing had been given to me as a gift and it had malfunctioned for a long time, I knew the day would come for this gadget to die and that day was this morning today. I am traveling tomorrow and suddenly felt the urgency to quickly get a new one for how would I get in touch with the people I am supposed to meet and many other questions came to mind.

How come I was feeling this uneasiness about going without a cell phone if I had made so many trips in my life without one! The Answer is simply: The cell phone, one of the many useful tools of our times and a neccesary evil if you will.

cell phone and life

Published in: on June 9, 2016 at 9:24 pm  Comments (1)  
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Useful Tool (6)

photographerMy dad, who loves photography, tells me how when I was two years old, he had to hide to take a picture of me. Well, I still don’t like to have my picture taken, but like my father, I take pictures of everybody, everything, in any moment and place. I enjoy photography; that is, I am an amateur, I just like to snapshot. I don’t have any formal training or intentions to make it my livelihood. The best tip for me comes from a quote I read from Ansel Adams (1902-1984) “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.” Hence I always try to find a good spot or move around; I have noticed that a camera, specially a professional-looking big one, opens the doors to sometimes off-limits places.

In this trendy digital generation a camera, even in cell phones, is a low-cost commodity and always handy. A personal gallery to display photos of all kinds (portraits, landscape, sports, wildlife, etc.) is simple and an everyday thing in Facebook, Instagram, pinterest, etc.

So, I don’t have much to say about the subject. I just want to share that a camera is one of the many useful tools one can possess and dominate to capture fleeting moments and making them long-lasting memories.

Published in: on June 2, 2016 at 6:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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