Friday, December 30, 2005

News Flash

Rachel passed her test! Yay! (the first of two Texas teacher tests) Not by a lot, but a pass is a pass.

In other news, I got some Ethiopia photos out of my camera. I'll have to be posting a few of them as the days go by.
  Posted by Picasa

David is Home, Rachel is Working

Yay, David got home safely last night after a journey of more than 24 hours. But his luggage didn't. So he will have to try to sort that out today. Later today I hope to download all the photos he took while there with my camera, so soon I'll post a few of those.

Rachel's new job, which starts at 5am on Monday, is supposed to include driving a large SUV. She never was a confident driver in high school, then went off to college for five years and didn't drive hardly at all, so now she needs to relearn how to drive. We've begun practicing and there will be more of that today, in David's car and in our van too. I'll post more about her job after she's survived a couple days of it, but your prayers for her adjustment would be appreciated.

I am still working on getting my shiny new computer set up. I was happy to get a cheap yet legal copy of Microsoft Office in the mail the other day (there are some distinct advantages to being a "poor missionary") so now I have installed that.

Then Rachel introduced me to and helped me install a program to manage music on my computer, iTunes. I think iTunes was originally a Mac program, intended to work with those little iPod things. I'm now "ripping" the Christmas CDs--downloading them into this program--before I pack them away. The program makes a database of all your CDs and lets you sort them in multiple ways. It also lets you pick out a certain subset of songs you like and make them into a "playlist" for different types of music. You can make a playlist of songs for when you're happy, one for when you're sad, and--a perennial favorite--a set for when your heart is broken.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Shattered Dreams

I had hoped to get a new crockpot for Christmas, and my dream came true. But look what happened the first time I used it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Please Pray for Rachel and David

I'm spending today getting reorganized--putting stuff away, getting groceries, doing laundry, etc. I didn't go to the office, but I don't think I'll be missed since large numbers of my colleagues are away between Christmas and New Years. (Many are busy with pious pillaging of prosperous patrons--formerly known as "deputation.")

Later today Rachel will be interviewing for a temporary nanny job. The husband and wife are both lawyers, but the wife quit working several years ago to raise three boys, now aged 1,3,5. The wife recently fell and seriously broke her leg, such that she cannot put any weight on it for 2.5 months--not easy to do when you have three preschoolers! So they are looking for live-in help, and they got Rachel's name via the church and office network of sympathetic women. This sounds like an ideal job for Rachel in many ways--she'll be great at the childcare aspect--but it will also require some driving for the family, and that will be more of a challenge. It will also require getting up EARLY--something she isn't so good at either :-)

Anyway, the interview will either be late this afternoon or tonight, depending on when the woman gets out of the hospital, and Gary and I will go with Rachel to meet this family. Pray that God will clearly guide as to the outcome, and, if she gets the job, that she will be able to quickly transition into it.

In other news, Gary and I started looking over the itinerary David left with us, printed directly from, and found something worrying. It said he was leaving Addis on Wednesday at 6am but we knew he really wasn't supposed to be leaving until Thursday am. So I called him in Ethiopia and tried to explain the problem. They said they had reconfirmed the flight, so they didn't know what the matter was. Then an hour later I got an email saying that when he logged onto his account and looked at the flight reservation, it looked just fine. But when you pushed the "Printable Version" button, the date changed--apparently a programming error. Let this be noted by any nerd, geek, or programmer who is reading this blog--do a good job or you may cause unnecessary maternal worrying!

The wayward golf clubs arrived in Addis safely, so that made Andrew happy. Pray for a safe trip home for David.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

We're Back from our Christmas Trip

I'm pooped after a long day of driving, but just want to thank the Lord for a safe trip to south Texas and back for a short Christmas vacation with my mom. A special treat today was to stop in San Antonio and meet friends for lunch. This couple were the youth pastors in my childhood church, so we've known each other for a long time. They are missionaries to an Indian tribe in Venezuela, and have just been kicked out of the part of the country where they've worked many years. Sad tale there, but I don't like to talk about international politics, so I won't mention the country's president. :-(

There was a phone call on the answering machine for Rachel when we got home. I can't go into all the details now, but she has a job interview tomorrow evening, so please pray about that, if you see this blog in time.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Oaf Has Landed

I just got a phone call from the secure part of the airport in Addis Ababa. Andrew talked the guard into letting him go in and rescue his little brother. David had arrived, but after 30 minutes had not come out of the secure area and all the other passengers had left (the plane arrived at 4am). Turns out he was waiting for the golf bag to show up, which it did not. After further research, it apparently decided to stay in London for a few days. They hope it arrives on the next British Airways flight. The other suitcase with Christmas gifts and my special present to Laura--my 30 year old cast iron skillet--got there safely.

So we thank God he got there safely.

In other news about Andrew, he discovered fraudulent activity on his bank account, so I got to call and sort all that out (I'm a cosigner on the account). And I'm still trying to get their marriage license translated, authorized, certified, verified, authenticated, stamped, sealed, signed, and delivered. Red tape is a favorite item in many countries. If we can manage to do this, Laura might be able to get a job in Ethiopia and stay there legally.

In other news, we are getting ready to make our annual trek to south Texas for Christmas in the Rio Grande Valley. I also think I should post a photo of the wreath I made earlier this Christmas season out of cedar/juniper trees I cut from the woods behind my house. I couldn't quite bring myself to buying one for $25 made out of real pine.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Oaf is Off

We are about ready to leave for the airport with David. We went to to check to see if the flight was on time and they said it wasn't operating. Hmmm.... So a bit of further investigation shows that they changed the flight number and time, but didn't bother to tell him. (Or maybe he failed to notice when they did tell him.) Anyway, I've lent him my digital camera for this trip, so I won't be able to post photos as easily for the next 10 days, unless I borrow Rachel's camera. I hope he brings it safely back with some nice photos of his trip.

Pray for his safety and a good time of communication with all the people he will be seeing. He is due back here Dec. 29. Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 19, 2005

Early Christmas

I know it is a week early, but we had our family Christmas yesterday afternoon. That is because baby David is flying to Ethiopia tomorrow to spend Christmas with Andrew and Laura. I have lots to do tonight to finish getting the luggage ready for David to take tomorrow, so I can't spend a long time blogging tonight. But I did want to show off a couple of my presents. Above, are my massaging slippers. Press the button and they vibrate. Cool. Even cooler, I GOT A NEW COMPUTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It is going to take me a couple weeks to get it organized and my data copied over from my old computer. So far I just have a few programs running, including Firefox.

Thank you to Rachel for organizing this gift, and for all those who contributed toward it. I love it!

Friday, December 16, 2005

It's Friday

Well, another work week is coming to an end. We had a house guest Monday afternoon through Friday early morning, but she's an old friend who basically takes care of herself, so she was no trouble.

Rachel has started looking for a real job, but it doesn't seem like she's gotten very far. She applied for a teacher's aide job at one of the public schools, and filled in a general application on a teacher website. She's now starting to look at local private schools and preschools.

Gary had a work visitor here for two days, who is also a friend, and he will head out for home (Toronto) soon. Besides taking us out to eat at Ton's Mongolian BBQ last night, he brought us a couple nice gifts--now I just need to make waffles.

I just phoned David, he's on his way to Dallas from Houston, after taking exams this morning. He is only here a couple days before leaving for Ethiopia on Tuesday. It will be odd with two out of three kids away for Christmas; I guess this is just another sign of getting old.

We continue to have heating issues. A few blogs ago I told about getting a new gas tank. Apparently the pressure in the new one is different than the old one, and the new, expensive furnace is having trouble coping. A technician was here two hours yesterday afternoon, and now they're here again at the moment. It is cold here, but not life-threatening cold.

Our Sunday school class is having a Christmas party tonight. On Sunday morning the church choir, of which Gary and Rachel are members, will put on a special program. After that we have plans to go to Panera Bread for lunch, then have our "family Christmas" before David leaves. Seems way too early to be opening gifts, but it doesn't look like there will be too many to open anyway. As Gary says, "Those kids are getting too big for Christmas."

He sounds like a scrooge sometimes, but he will happily acknowledge that our anniversary is also Dec 25--30 years' worth.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

You Read it Here First

Today the New York Times finally caught up with me. (Here's a link to the same article in a paper you don't have to register to read.)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Fondue Party

Last night we had a fun little dinner party featuring a blast from the past--anybody remember fondue? This was the oil type (as opposed to cheese or chocolate) where each person cooks their own pieces of marinated beef, then dips them in various sauces before eating. We also fondued red potatoes (partially precooked) and they were good too. Martha brought a salad and we also had the rest of the rolls I bought at the church bake sale.

The Christmas Jello for dessert was Rachel's idea, which isn't to say that she actually made it. But really, she couldn't, because she was busy taking her Texas teacher test yesterday. This dinner, and watching the Narnia movie afterwards, was to celebrate Rachel finishing this test. It will be a couple weeks before she finds out her results.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Baby, It's Cold Outside--Updated

I know I've spent time on this blog complaining about how hot it is here in Dallas. But today, my complaint is the opposite. Yesterday afternoon we started getting precipitation known as "winter mix" or "ice pellets." I had to take Gary to the airport, but made it there and back safely. By 5pm it was a bit worse, but Rachel went to her friend's house anyway. By 9pm she decided it was too bad to risk driving home, so she spent the night. When she arrived back this morning, she wished she had stayed longer.

As the evening went on, I started getting mad at the furnace. I kept turning the thermostat up, but it didn't seem to be getting much warmer. We had earlier had problems with the thermostat, so I assumed that was the problem. I cuddled up with extra blankets (where's Gary when I need him?) and went to sleep.

This morning, the house temperature was 59 though the thermostat was set at 69. As I snuggled by the space heater, it occurred to me that the propane tank might be empty. I got up, took a hot shower (draining all the hot water) and then put on layers of clothes while my skin was still warm. I went outside, and found this:

So I called the propane company--along with hundreds of other folks in the metroplex who are having heating issues--and they said "sometime" today they will come. Actually, they were already planning to change out the big tank for a smaller one, and were waiting for the level of propane to go down before switching it out. Well, it should be plenty light now, since it is empty.

So I'm trying to figure out ways to keep warm today. Along with a very large cup of hot tea, I started out by making a bowl of Ma Hoyt's Power Oatmeal, recipe cut and pasted below (minus her nice formatting):

MA's Power Oatmeal

* pour water in pan to boil, add salt, maple flavoring and cinnamon
* peel, and chop one half an apple, add to water
* Only use long cooking oats-they pack more punch
* Put in more oats than they say, so you don't end up with a wimpy thin mixture
* When desired doneness is achieved (I always undercook it, 'cause I like some "meat" to my oatmeal) transfer cooked product to bowl
* add brown sugar, walnuts, slivered almonds or pecans. I use walnuts since they are cheaper...
* add milk with fat content of your choice. I use 2%, because life's too short for skim or 1%.


Here it is only 3pm and they've already come and replaced the tank, refilled it, and relit the pilot lights. Yay!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Christmas Party

Tonight we had a Christmas dinner and party with our weekly Bible study group from church. My original plan was for a white plastic table cloth, but I learned the hard way that it does not work to put such an item into the dryer to remove the wrinkles. So I went to plan B and had two tables of contrasting colors.

We started with Bible reading and communion, then enjoyed a lovely meal together. After that we did the white elephant gift game. It seems like each year the rules to that game get more and more complicated - this year we had to lead the group in a Christmas carol before we were allowed to open a gift.

In other news, Rachel got laid off her job yesterday. It wasn't too much of a shock since we expected the job to end around the end of the year anyway, but it does mean she needs to start looking for a "real" job now. Pray with us about that, if the Lord brings her to mind. Also, her big Texas teacher test is this coming Saturday.

Gary is off to Michigan tomorrow for a couple days of consulting at Eastern Michigan University. I hope he doesn't freeze to death.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Our church nursery was getting desperate for help, so Rachel and I volunteered to join the roster for the first Sunday of each month. This may be the closest I get to grandkids for some time :-(

The three kids we took care of today were happy kids, if all with runny noses and one with a load in his diaper. The two boys were the cuddly type, while the little girl seemed pretty independent.

These are the things I learned today:
  • The plethera of Fisher-Price toys come in second to shoes, blankets, and other babies when it comes to keeping one-year-olds profitably occupied.
  • That being said, toys work better after being licked, sucked, and chewed.
  • Goldfish solve many of life's problems for babies and their caregivers.
  • Don't wear dangle earrings when working in the nursery.
  • And, "Mom, this is called seriation."

My baby may pass that teacher test yet.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Impact Library

We are very happy to have another librarian in the family--our new daughter-in-law, Laura. Since going to Ethiopia only a few short months ago, she and an Ethiopian woman have organized an NGO (non-governmental organization) to start a children's library. The official opening of Impact Library was about a week ago, in spite of the fact that the shelves aren't quite full yet.

UNESCO provided funding for audio visual equipment, and were on hand to take photos at the grand opening. Here is a link to their write up of the event. She told me the children in the photo are from a local orphanage and were very excited about all the books.

But that isn't all--Laura has already talked Random House into donating 220 children's books for this library. Only problem with that, is the books are now sitting in my house, waiting for a donation of shipping to transport them to Addis Ababa.

They continue to look for funding to support this library, so if you know anybody needing a good cause to donate to...

Trimming the Tree

I have figured out quite a good system for getting the Christmas tree set up--get somebody else to do it for me.

They picked out a very nice Noble Fir which Rachel thought was much more deserving than the cheaper Douglas Fir. With a little help from the cat, Rachel chose which of her greatgrandma's crocheted ornaments would find favor this year.

Every tree needs an angel on top. The angel on our tree is named "Daivd," forever making fun of the childcare worker who could not spell.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Blind Paper

Did you ever wonder what braile scrap paper looks like?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Today poor Gary discovered the technical term for the weird swelling he keeps getting--angioedema. It is like hives, but under the skin instead of on top of it. It shows up on his feet where it is painful, and hands, and lips, and throat. It is caused by allergies, but we don't know what he is allergic to. Current possible culprits: aspirin, salicylates, pork, preservatives in certain things.

Maybe by the time David gets his long white coat, we'll have it figured out.

Monday, November 28, 2005


Rachel got home from her trip to Kansas safely last night. She came home spouting an entire new set of gun vocabulary and these photos to prove she knew what she was talking about. Her best line: Mom, I shot a revolver; it was so cool--it revolves!

In other news, the missing bubble gum has been found: seven partial pieces were found inside the basket of Christmas music, each one etched with mice teeth marks.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Theology Books

While enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with our friends, I discovered they have found a good use for all those theology books--to hold up the bowl of creamed onions.

Sandra emailed early this morning to say the plane did not crash and she had gotten back to Donnbronn safely. David left for Houston midafternoon, and we are still awaiting Rachel's return.

In the meantime, I've pulled out the Christmas music which I enjoy so much. My favorite is this album by GLAD. Those guys can really sing.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Goodbye, Sandra

Somewhere near the end of her visit, we realized why Sandra really came to America--chocolate ice cream!

She treated us to a nice meal at Chili's before we took her to the airport today. She flew out of the new Terminal D at DFW airport which has only been open for business a short time. It is all new and modern, with lots of strange artwork inside. She flies back to Frankfurt and expects her dad to be there to pick her up and drive back to her "willage" (Sandra, you don't can say that!) in time for the annual Christmas market.

Friday, November 25, 2005


Wow, I've been lazy today. Eat junk food, lay around, watch football (which I don't even like to do) and read.

I did manage to clean two bathrooms in 10 hours.

I need to start thinking about Christmas gifts.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


We are thankful David made it home safely from Houston last night. A bunch of his friends were here to greet him, including cute little Claire.

We took our pot of Texas Sesquicentenial Chili to Arlington and ate that along with a pot of minestrone and some fresh bread from La Madeleine Bakery. One of the cousins was a fluent German speaker, so Sandra chatted with him. We took our usual shot of the kids, but we're noticing they are getting fewer and older--what's up with that??

Then today I made green bean casserole (where's Rachel when I need her?) and off we went to eat with our friends the Sages. Unfortunately, Gary did not join us as he woke up with a fever. I did bring him a plate to eat during the Cowboys' game. Thanks, Jessica, for the invitation.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Every Thanksgiving our neighbor Jesse tries to bake more Thanksgiving pies than he baked the year before. This year he's got a bit of help from his siblings and Sandra who wants to learn how to make pies and take the recipe back to Germany. I'm thankful I get to eat some of these apple and pumpkin delights without having to do anything more than furnish a couple emptly pie pans.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Me, a Doctor?

I followed a link on someone's blog and took this online test. Funny, I always did want to be a doctor. But it wasn't in the cards for me, as they say. I always thought one of my boys would become a doctor, but it turned out to not be the one I suspected. The son who studied biology turned to economics as a graduate student, and the son who studied physics decided to become a doctor. As for me, my brains drained out when I had kids; what more can I say??
You Should Get a MD (Doctor of Medicine)

You're both compassionate and brilliant - a rare combination.
You were born to be a doctor.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Is There Just One Right Person to Marry?, part II

My two unmarried children are both in dating relationships and have been spending some time thinking about "is she/he the right person to marry?" and "is there only one right person to marry?" I've already thought about this topic in a previous blog entry, but the topic has come to my mind again as I pray for my children and their relationships.

Currently, I'm thinking about this topic in terms of value. If, for instance, you are the only one for me, then I am going to value you greatly, be careful how I treat you, and make sure I don't lose you since you're irreplaceable. If, on the other hand, you are only 1 out of 100 whom I could marry, then your value is considerably less, maybe only 1/100. I can treat you with less care, because, if I lose you, it is only a minor and momentary loss--after all, there are 99 more waiting on my doorstep.

Friday, November 18, 2005


I have recently been educating myself about rice. We eat rice regularly, but I did not grow up eating rice. In fact, I used to think I hated rice, but that was because I had only every eaten it in this nasty dish as a child. Yuck! I grew up in a meat-and-potatoes culture where rice was nearly unheard of. I was well an adult before I really tasted rice as it was meant to be eaten--without sugar!

Many times my rice turned out sticky and gummy. Then I tried a bag of basmati rice, and it turned out to be a lot easier to cook. It smells different than other rice, and even I can cook it almost to perfection every time. I recently tried another variety, jasmine, but it turned out too sticky again. That made me curious so I did some research and found this nice link to an explanation and photos of a number of different kinds of rice. Turns out the stickiness is more because of the type of rice than because of my cooking abilities.

I guess this blog entry is a bit late; last year was the International Year of Rice.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Daughter #2 Returns

We had quite a surprise today. Our first exchange student daughter, Sandra, showed up in Dallas for a nine day visit. She had made the arrangements with a friend of ours so she could surprise us. We are very excited to have her here. She came at a good time because she will be able to see David when he is home for Thanksgiving next week.

Sandra lived with us during the 99-00 school year when Rachel was a senior, David was a junior, and she was a sophomore. The second exchange student daughter we had live with us, Doro, was here during the 03-04 school year.

Sandra remembers her favorite store, Clothestyme, but I'm not sure they are still in business. Sandra will be with us until November 26, so that will give us some time to try to find it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Personal Watermelon

I thought watermelons were supposed to be bigger than cantelopes.

Monday, November 14, 2005


I got a call from a faithful blog reader (I have at least one) today, saying, "Yeah, I know that song--Jesu Azali Awa--that you wrote about in your blog. I listened to it on the way to work today." And I thought no one had even heard of it. Sure enough, a popular Christian singing group called Selah has it out on one of their CD's. Here are all the words. Turns out I also had the language wrong. The language the song is written in is called Lingala, spoken in Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly called the Belgian Congo.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

A Grand Adventure

Today was the conclusion of our church's two weeks of missions emphasis. We are fortunate to have a pastor who is both missionary kid and former missionary before he became a pastor. We often enjoy his stories of life in Romania. He mentioned how many people are afraid to answer God's call of "Whom shall I send?" because they are afraid of what they are getting themsleves into. "At one point, I was afraid to ride the train from Germany to Amsterdam. And indeed, the first time we did that, we got on the wrong train. But, we survived. Life is an adventure." He pointed out that we often do things without really knowing what we are getting into--like getting married and having kids, for starters.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Annual Day of Prayer

There were three or four hundred of us, I guess. Mostly dressed in the boutique's best, not much to look at. Lots of white hair, but a few babies too. Mostly married folks, but a few singles too. The pews were piled higher and deeper with advanced degrees. The best part was we sound great as a choir in the round. At one point, the song leader said, "We're going to sing a song in Mboke. It will be new to most of you." So we sang
Jesu azali awa,
Jesu azali awa,
Jesu azali awa na biso.
Aleluia ah aleluia na Jesu.

I didn't return to the meeting after lunch. Instead, Rachel and I went for a hike on the MK Trace. It really isn't that beautiful of a place, but in Dallas, we can't be too fussy.

And at the highest spot, there is a nice view of Joe Pool lake.

Rachel had no plans tonight, so we decided it was time for another cooking lesson. She made quiche, spilling only a little in the bottom of the oven. I'm not sure, but I think she might be calling me an oaf.

And she's been wanting to try making cheese biscuits since having them at Red Lobster.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Farewell, Stella

Today we had lunch at my favorite place, (Ton's) with Stella and her mom to say farewell to Stella who is taking a job at Methodist Children's Home in Waco, TX. We want to wish Stella the best as she starts a job as Youth Care Counselor. Our prayers will be with her in what will no doubt be a challenging job.