Will You Borrow Me?

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You gotta laugh at the misunderstanding of the word “borrow” over here. And it’s such a commonly used word! They say “borrow” for both borrow and loan. “Will you borrow me the ball?”

But what’s even funnier about this picture is that this business near us even repeated their statement in Tsonga! (Unless I misunderstand their meaning of “lomba,” which is possible.) They say, “We don’t loan tools here!” :)

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How to Make a Teddy Bear Cake

teddy bear cake

Make a 10×15 cake. A 9×13 is fine if you don’t have a 10×15 pan–it will just be a little smaller. Also make buttercream icing, mostly chocolate, but reserve about 1/3 for other colors for the teddy bear’s clothes.

You can see the lines from my cooling rack. They actually helped me to cut it evenly on each side. I cut the hands about halfway down.

You can see the lines from my cooling rack. They actually helped me to cut it evenly on each side. I cut the hands about halfway down.

Cut out the teddy bear shape. The book I was following mentioned a template; but I couldn’t find it, so I just eyeballed it. You can lightly trace the shape with a toothpick first to make sure it’s correctly proportioned.IMG_1815

Ice the bear’s face, arms, and legs with brown icing.

Ice brown head, arms, feet, and bit of chest.

Ice brown head, arms, feet, and bit of chest.

Ice the top of the dress with pink icing and the skirt with purple icing.

Ice top part of dress. I also iced a thin layer of purple for under the star pattern skirt.

Ice top part of dress. I also iced a thin layer of purple for under the star pattern skirt.

Cut out a flat, circular shape from one of the cake’s cutoffs. Stick it onto the face to form the teddy bear’s nose, and ice it with brown icing.

Use candy to decorate. You can use M&Ms for the paws, ears, and eyes. Licorice strips can be eyebrows (or black icing). Or just forget the eyebrows, if you can’t find licorice.

Decorate the dress with icing or other pastel-colored candy.

I tried to make it look like button accessories on the jumper.

I tried to make it look like button accessories on the jumper.

Decorate around the edges of the teddy bear and around the nose with brown M&Ms or chocolate chips. Crush wafer cookies and sprinkle them onto the brown parts of the teddy to look like fur, and sprinkle caramel or chocolate vermicelli onto the nose.

Sprinkle coconut around the teddy and sprinkle extra sweets onto the coconut.

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Comments or Modifications:

For brown icing, I just add cocoa to buttercream icing to make it chocolate, instead of buying brown food coloring.

You can put the year of their birthday in icing or sweets on the front of her dress if you like.

I usually don’t do the coconut decorations on the cake board.

I outlined the bear in black icing, and the dress in green. I thought it made it stand out more.

I know a bear should have brown eyes, but my package of our version of M&Ms over here didn’t have many brown pieces; so I used blue, as our little girl has blue-green eyes. Then I used the mauve pieces for the rest of the paws.

The picture I looked at used only candy to decorate the entire dress, but that was too much sugar for us. That’s why I used icing for much of the dress and cut the sweets down.

And don’t forget my tip from How to Make a Boat Cake on how to ice the cut edges of the cake! It really helps to freeze the cake after cutting the teddy bear shape. Then heat the frosting just a bit (not too much, or it will melt! Then you won’t be able to do the star tip, as it will be too soft.) It will go on much easier without pulling the soft cake into bits. I didn’t have time to freeze the cake thoroughly; but just making sure it was entirely cool helped.

And that's how she feels about it! :)

And that’s how she feels about it! :)

You can make a boy version by cutting off the skirt portion to make the legs straight. Mine turned out more like a basketball jersey, though I was trying for an “overalls” look. I used solely candy and chocolate chips to decorate him.

Boy version with number on it.

Boy version with number on it.

6 April 11 037

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Stomach Flu on Good Friday

We’re used to attending a Good Friday service, but this year, I’m staying home with the kids. Carson got a stomach bug last Friday evening just after I wrote my weekly report; almost one week later, Colin, Callie, and Caleb (in that order) came down with it.

I don’t handle stomach innards not staying where they’re supposed to very well. So I was already a bit stressed to be the “bucket runner” without Seth while he went to the service. You can imagine then, my fright, when my neighbor-thief peeped in at the window directly behind where I’m typing, attempting to break in yet again while we’re at church. He wasn’t expecting me to be home. Unfortunately I didn’t frighten him nearly as much as he did me. I’m sure I lost a few years off my life, obtained a few gray hairs, all that stuff. I’m wondering if we’ll have to hire security for while we’re at church! Unreal!

Please pray for us to have wisdom and safety in this situation. It is distracting, time-eating, and stressful; and we are not getting the support we would like from the police.

Meanwhile, we got a good week of homeschooling in. Colin had lessons only on Monday through Wednesday, as he got sick Thursday morning, and I’d planned to take today off. His handwriting showed some improvement; and his curriculum added “seatwork” and reading assignments this week, so he’s a big boy now. I am not sure if I will require him to complete all of the handwriting components of his seatwork, but I do like the idea of training him to be able to diligently complete some bits of work on his own without needing me there to oversee him.

For Caleb this week, I was reminded of how elements of character can affect scores in school. He has the knowledge to correctly answer double-digit subtraction problems, but some simple mistakes in checking or details caused him to fail a math test. I need to remember to teach attention to detail, carefulness, and diligence just as much as recall of math facts.

Reviewing with his lapbook.

Reviewing with his lapbook.

Caleb learned adjectives in grammar, another “job” of the silent /e/ in spelling, and more on pinnipeds in science. After adding to his science lapbook, he wanted to read all the sections he had entered so far. I felt gratified that the lapbook was helping to review without him knowing it!  Because of illness and the holiday, we didn’t complete IMG_1677science, art, or music appreciation this week. He did draw our “potato bush” for nature study. I learned that their fruits and flowers are toxic, which is a good thing to know!

In history we learned about the Frankish empire–the beginning of France, as well as the spread of Islam into medieval Spain. Caleb was all set to do an activity yesterday, but his sour stomach intervened.

For literature, Caleb got a full week of reading in. He read The Pied Piper of Hamelin (one of a few stories I got from a library in a nearby town–a success in itself just to obtain a card!–but the ending was completely changed from the classic Pied Piper folktale), and two stories that take place in France from Favorite Medieval Tales by Mary Pope Osborne, “The Song of Roland,” and “The Werewolf.” The latter, creepy as it sounds, was my favorite.

And it was wonderful to have Seth home this week to help me again with Bible and Tsonga. The kids are growing in their ability with Tsonga and have even been working on rolling their R’s, which seems to come as naturally to them as it does to their mother. :( We celebrated Seth’s birthday over the weekend, and Callie’s is coming up this weekend!

Caleb made several "cards" for his dad, as he thought we wouldn't be able to get to town to buy his present.

Caleb made several “cards” for his dad, as he thought we wouldn’t be able to get to town to buy his present.

This card Caleb made shows the symbol of our church, Luther's rose (which represents the Five Solas.)

This card Caleb made shows the symbol of our church, Luther’s rose (which represents the Five Solas.)

A book Seth is going to enjoy!

A book Seth is going to enjoy!

Opening presents together.

Opening presents together.

Colin, enjoying the present he and Caleb ended up giving Daddy--a Calvin and Hobbes book I picked up cheap in the States.

Colin, enjoying the present he and Caleb ended up giving Daddy–a Calvin and Hobbes book I picked up cheap in the States.

I went to town to see the dentist and run errands on Wednesday. On my way home, I had the privilege of joining a long line of cars backed up because of an apparently horrific accident. I was 15 minutes from home and thought waiting until the roads were cleared might be best. Just in case, though, I tried to think of an alternate route home. After several cars turned around and went past, explaining that it would take time to clear the roads, I took my alternate route. I noticed several pedestrians who decided walking the lengthy journey would be faster than waiting in their respective taxis. The time to get home was tripled and compounded by rain, the dark, a road FULL of potholes (the rain just won’t stop!), and several cows. When I got home, my legs were shaky from having ridden the clutch and brake so much. And I was very thankful for safety.

I wish you all a peaceful weekend contemplating our Savior’s death and resurrection.

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Where Thieves Break In and Steal

Lessons from a Thief

Lessons from a Thief

Since being robbed three weeks ago, I have been pondering the effects of a break-in on my spiritual and emotional state. Here are some missionary musings of mine:

The Danger of Danger

Besides the obvious physical danger that danger poses, it can also tempt your spirit to worry and fear, and secondly to discouragement, the latter being perhaps more dangerous than the first. After some of the adrenaline from the first rush of fear has subsided, discouragement creeps in to trap you in the Slough of Despond.

Maybe I should mention cynicism here as well, because when a missionary is discouraged, it is easy to be cynical about the people–all the people–around him. Whatever growth may exist in the handful of believers is easy to overlook, and the culture’s faults all magnified. David said in his haste, “All men are liars.” And a missionary in his discouragement may make similar negative universal statements.

These people always… never…
“This is impossible. A church will never happen here.”
No one is trustworthy.”

Of course we know these statements aren’t completely true or fair; and in our meeker moments we remember to close our mouths when angry, because a man who can control his spirit is better than he who conquers cities.

So that’s the lesson I learned from danger–that we must remember to submit to God who allowed it, and not to “charge God foolishly.” That we must not forget all of the blessings of growth and the work God is doing in some people’s hearts, just because of personal attacks.

Evangelizing Thieves

Which brings me to my next point. Some have mentioned that maybe God will use this to bring the thief (our neighbor) to the Lord. That sounds great, doesn’t it? I also long to see miraculous conversions–a well-known drunk turning sober, and the like. I know God can do that!

Unfortunately in this specific case, the above encouragement on seeing this boy enter the Kingdom was our consolation several years ago when he stole from us. We did attempt to evangelize him, and he came to church for a while, and we even baptized him! (Which if you know Seth, is saying something.)

He eventually quit church, however, and is no longer a church member. So while trying not to be complete wet blankets and unbelieving in God’s ability to save, we’re not getting our hopes up too high, lest we battle even more discouragement over this boy.

So the lesson learned here–well, one lesson that we’ve learned is to be even slower to baptize children and teens until we are sure that they have committed to following Christ.

Why Africa Is Poor

I have so much to say on this subject that I will try to do the opposite and keep it short. We lost money in the valuables the thief took and to install “burglar bars” afterwards. We lost a lot of time as well.

But we are not the only ones being robbed. Several church members and neighbors have been robbed, not once, but a number of times in their lifetimes. While it may not touch us as seriously because of our savings account, think what it means to a poor person who saved for a long time to buy a personal computer and cannot replace it easily.

One reason Africa is poor is high crime rates. Obviously there is so much more interconnected than that point alone, and certainly more reasons why there is poverty, but it is devastating to people already struggling with finances to have someone take the little they have–and then not have the money to either replace it or to buy the security to prevent the next occurrence.

Treasure on Earth

We love things too much. I was reminded of that when I read The Sermon on the Mount shortly after the break-in.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Missionaries may sometimes excuse their materialism by remembering what they left behind, and thinking that it’s okay to hold tight to the things they brought over with them–their consolation. But it’s not. Our heart cannot be in things! Does the extent of our frustration when we have to go without a luxury or convenience communicate how much we treasured that thing?

It’s almost as if I can hear Jesus saying, “Don’t you get it? Those things are temporary. It’s obvious that that’s why you shouldn’t love them! They can be stolen. They can get old and break. They will pass, so why would you set your heart on them?”

We are pilgrims looking for a city. Let’s travel light and not burden ourselves, or rather, our hearts, with extra lovely treasures. Tools? Those are nice. But each in its place…with its correct priority.

In heaven, our treasures will never fade or be stolen. That is a beautiful thought to someone who’s been robbed. That means that those treasures must be leagues better than the treasures here below! My “wanter” must be broken, for me to value things so highly here below that are useless toys from the Dollar Tree in comparison to the treasures that can be stored up in heaven.

The Generosity of God’s People

What makes me want to fall on my knees in humility and gratitude, though, is when American Christians sympathize and give to replace our things. This has been done already. Did we love our things too much? If so, no word of judgment from them.

In the middle of our discouragement over the depravity of some people, Christians reminded us of God’s grace and gave us just a glimpse again of the love and beauty that will one day be constantly present in God’s eternal Kingdom. Thank you. It eliminates much fear and discouragement to know that we have friends like you.

Gratitude

Having gone through these different stages of learning from our robbery, there are so many things to be thankful for.

Our children were safe.
We were safe.
They did not take more.
We have the money to secure our house better.
We were born as Americans.

What we love most cannot be touched, and what we love next most wasn’t touched.

But best of all…well, I’ll simply quote Matthew Henry after he was robbed:

“Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before; second, because, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”

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Moth-Mixing with the Maori

IMG_1769After taking last week off of homeschooling, we picked right back up with our studies on Monday. We started late a few days since I was handling everything myself for a few days. Seth left for Zimbabwe Monday morning and was planned to return Wednesday by dinnertime. He and our teammate preached for a pastor’s conference. He returned early Wednesday morning however, after he and our teammate decided to drive through the night to get home.

Because of our “thief in the night” just a few weeks ago, I was jumpy at night without our patriarch home. I pulled some late-nighters and slept with doors barricaded and lights on, so I was relieved when Seth came home early. I was also reminded to be thankful for my husband’s helpfulness after just a few days of handling all of the housework, homeschooling, raising of children, and visitors to our home (ministry) without him! I wonder how military wives do it!

Colin found a bunch of grasshoppers in the field, and Caleb began keeping a few (outside!) for “pets.” “See?” I said. “You don’t need a dog for a pet!” (They’ve been wanting a dog, and we’re almost thinking about it after the break-in.)

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“Yeah,” he responded, “If T– comes, we can just have the grasshoppers jump on him!” haha!

We got through…well, here’s what we got through: Colin finished being introduced to all of his letters in phonics and was introduced to the “30″ and “40″ families, telling time (on the hour), and the nickel in math.

In math, Caleb studied telling time (minutes), and subtraction with regrouping. In language arts, he studied contractions, different spellings for the long “a” sound and functions of the silent “e,” copywork focusing on commas used in a series, and he read A Grain of Rice and The Pumpkin Runner. Both books had some vocabulary that was too difficult for a second grader, but the stories were excellent. I highly recommend The Pumpkin Runner. A Grain of Rice is a Chinese version of the mathematical folktale I mentioned from India that we read a few weeks ago, One Grain of Rice. Caleb enjoyed the latter book’s pictures more (and the vocabulary wasn’t as difficult); but I enjoyed the Chinese story more (it was more romantic). :)

I didn't have a picture to go off of, so just used my imagination. I make no claim to authenticity here!

I didn’t have a picture to go off of, so just used my imagination. I make no claim to authenticity here!

These books accompanied our history as we finished our studies of the Far East in China, Korea and Japan, and moved Down Under to Australia and New Zealand. We read of the Aborigines and the Maori and their cultures. I made “moth mix” (from Australia–basically just popcorn, peanuts, and honey) and painted the kids’ faces like the Maori (New Zealand) for lunch one day. Later they enjoyed watching the Disnesy movie Down Under.

The little stinker washed off some of his goatee before the picture.

The little stinker washed off some of his goatee before the picture.

Moth mix and open mouth. :)

Moth mix and open mouth. :)

IMG_1760We finished reading aloud a Newbery winner The Tale of Despereaux as a family, and it truly was a winner in our family! It was such a wonderful story. Humor in all the right places, adventure, an unlikely hero, determination, love, regret, forgiveness, compassion, and some almost-Christian themes, like light vs. darkness, a love for beauty and music, and the themes I already mentioned. There is a very sad section in there on the girl Miggery Sow. I noticed that the author Kate DiCamillo recently won yet another Newbery Medal in 2014 for her newest book Flora & Ulysses. Wish I had a library to go check it out to see if it’s as good!

In science we were wading in the shallow waters with pinnipeds–seals and sea lions this week. I believe I might even know the difference between them now if you asked me.

We drew for art, met our last picture in Come Look with Me (and I’m definitely going to try something different for art appreciation now–I think SCM here), listened to a Spanish dance in music (while painting our faces like New Zealand warriors…), and I read Romeo and Juliet after our poetry tea on Wednesday. Caleb drew a frangipani tree for his nature study. Our frangipani is not very big, but the big ones are beautiful!

Callie with our frangipani, when both were babies.

Callie with our frangipani, when both were babies.

Callie said a funny earlier this week. For Colin’s birthday, he got a storybook on the apostle Paul. We read it three nights in a row for family devotions, and one night I was thinking to myself, “Hmm, I bet this is a a bit difficult to decipher for little kids; there are so many places he travels and people he evangelizes.” Right when I thought that, I paused to turn the page, and Callie piped up, “He go to ‘nuther town?” :)

I made her a cat, instead of a Maori warrior.

I made her a cat, instead of a Maori warrior.

I have not read very much this week, unfortunately, and I’m getting behind on my 2014 reading goals. Seth came home with a new-to-me dryer, so I’m excited about the ability to take care of laundry at any time of day! Seth’s birthday is coming up, and we’re not having cake! :)

Enjoying a present he shared with Colin. These were recommended by My Father's World.

Enjoying a present he shared with Colin. These were recommended by My Father’s World.

Seth with one of LBI's former graduates whom he visited in Zim this week.

Seth with one of LBI’s former graduates whom he visited in Zim this week.

 

Seth came back with lots of stories I want to get around to telling someday about Zimbabwe and our friends ministering there. For just a small snapshot, they came home early because of difficulties with crossing the border, corrupt policemen, and obtaining petrol. And both of the national pastors there who graduated from our Bible institute are ministering under the most difficult conditions. They need your prayers. As do we!

 

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Birthday Boys!

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Excited about dinner--mac & cheese, fish, and pineapple pop.

Excited about dinner–mac & cheese, fish, and pineapple pop.

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Aunt Rhonda, he is so happy to have a tie!

Aunt Rhonda, he is so happy to have a tie and blue shirt “like Daddy”!

from Aunt Tammy

from Aunt Tammy

from Aunt Nette

from Aunt Nette

They loved this present from Grandma.

They loved this present from Grandma.

Caleb saved up his money to buy this present for Colin and Carson. :)

Caleb saved up his money to buy this present for Colin and Carson. :)

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How to Make a Boat Cake

boat cake

Bake a cake in two round 9-inch tins. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from tins, and allow to cool completely.

Make a buttercream icing, colored 3/4 one color, and 1/4 another. I’ll explain my odd coloring choices later… The pictures I was going off of had a red cake with blue and white trimmings, and that was beautiful.

IMG_1597 Cut both cakes in half. Then cut slightly the round edges off of two of those cut cake halves to make it like a curved V.

Actually, I think instead of cutting off the sides, it should come off the top more.

Actually, I think instead of cutting off the sides, it should come off the top more.

IMG_1600Spread the surface of the two uncurved halves with icing to stick the pieces together. Then stick all four pieces together by standing them on their round side. Keep the pieces that you curved on the ends. It should look like a boat; the flat (cut) sides are facing upwards as your “deck.”

Push two wooden kebab sticks through all four pieces to hold them together.

IMG_1603Cover the entire structure of the boat with your predominant color of icing (the 3/4 mixture, say, blue).

Cover the top of the cake with wafer biscuits for your deck. Decorate the boat by piping icing around the edges (the 1/4 mixture, say, red). A star tip is nice. Use candy to make patterns on the hull of the boat.

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Stick toothpicks into gummy people and stick them into the top of the cake to look like sailors. We have “jelly babies” here that I used. Make masts for the ship using wooden kebab sticks and use cardstock to make the sails. Stick this into the middle of the boat’s deck.

My birthday boys: there are 5 candles for Colin and 2 for Carson.

My birthday boys: there are 5 candles for Colin and 2 for Carson.

Stick candles into wafer cigar cookies. (I just put them right into the cake.) Use the number of the child’s birthday age. Stick the candles into the sides of the cake to look like canons. Sprinkle blue-colored coconut around the boat so it looks like it’s sailing in the ocean.

Comments or Modifications:

As I said, the pictures I was going off of had a red cake with blue and white trimmings, and that was beautiful. I didn’t have gel coloring, so I didn’t want to use normal red food coloring and have a bright pink cake for my boys’ cake. So I used an “electric” orange gel I had. I still wanted to do the piping in blue. But I forgot to save part of the uncolored icing for the piping decor. So I added blue food coloring to orange, and…it made green. So there you go! I thought it turned out kinda nasty-lookin’, but Colin said, “Mom, you’re the best cake maker!”

I also got impatient and didn’t wait for the cakes to fully cool. That wasn’t a good idea! The back of my cake kept wanting to slide off, so it kind of looked like the back end of the boat was sinking. It is also difficult to frost nicely edges that have been cut, especially if the cake is still warm. The cake pulls off and leaves bits all through your frosting.

One tip for these buttercream-icing-cut-and-rearrange-cakes: once you have arranged the shape of your cake, freeze it for an hour or two. Then make your buttercream icing and warm it up just a bit in the microwave. (Not too much, or it will melt!) It will frost very easily on those cut edges.

Finally, I wouldn’t worry too much about reshaping the edges, or at least not even as much as I cut off. Actually I think I should have perhaps cut more through the base of the cake so that the front edge rounds more, not so much the direct sides, if that makes sense. So I’m not sure I understood that part correctly. If you don’t want to mess with shaping it, just stand the four halves up; it’ll look fine. I didn’t feel that my cutting looked that great, and it messed with the balance of the cakes. I had to try to balance it better by putting it on a plate with a lip, and putting a knife underneath the saggy side.

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