Life has been really busy lately! The homeschooling semester ended last Friday, the 18th, so we were doing our best to finish up our lessons, so we could enjoy a well deserved break. And I don't mean that lightly! The kids and I have been putting in anywhere from 5+ - 8 hours/day, to catch up on time we had missed. We did it though! Then the holiday busyness came, with presents to buy, people to see, and a house to clean. So, today is Wednesday, December 23rd, and we are gearing up for our holiday trip. It'll be the first time in all my life that I have not spent a Christmas with my mother. But she understands. We are also for the first time going to be with David's mom for Christmas. With all of this "change" in typical holiday plans, future holiday thoughts come to mind. Whenever we go to India (or even another state in the US), it will be most likely just us. Of course we will invite any friends that we make in India, and share our Christian American tradition, but there will not be any family close by to visit. But that's okay...all for the cause of Christ. So, as I plan my first of many holidays away from home, I leave you all with the greatest of holiday greetings! May the love of Christ reach you through all of the hustle and bustle of life. Whether you are in America, India, or anywhere else, our family wishes you a Happy Christmas!
Here I sit, munching on some mixed nuts, wishing I was planning my trip to Bangalore, India. Our Indian churches are having their annual conference, and my husband and I had high hopes of going. But, with a tight budget, and our current focus of paying off our debts, I am reluctantly thinking of the prospect of being stuck here. Not that I don't like where we live. It's a beautiful city that I've come to like. It snowed today, and so there is some pristine powder sitting in the yard. It's pretty, but I definitely feel like a fish-out-of-water, because I HATE the cold! But, as with anyone who has lived in Colorado knows, the weather will change. One day it's sunny and 60 degrees, the next day (or even evening) we are hit with a cold and snowy storm. Thus is life in Colorado. But on days like this, I especially wish I could go somewhere warm. So, I feel like I've been hit by a double-whammy! I am wishing I was going to India next week, and the weather is teasing me with freezing temps. I guess my one consolation and hope is that I will be there one day. Either for an initial visit or I will be living among the people that God has placed in my and my husband's heart. And the irony? I will probably miss the snowy, cold days of where I am now. I wonder how hot India really gets? :)
Awe, sweet victory! I am living in the wonderful feeling of accomplishment. All the months of trial and error, sweat on my brow, anguish over defeated moments, I have finally done it. I made the perfect Indian meal last night, and not only for my family, who have gotten used to it, but my Pastor and his family. Better yet, I have received rave reviews! Through the whole meal, I heard constant compliments, by both words and "mmm" sounds. Even at church this morning, he was sharing his delight with other church members. The menu: chicken tandoori (which the hubby cooked on the grill), naan smothered with ghee (clarified butter), aloo gobi (potato & cauliflower curry), and spiced pullou. With both prep and cooking time, I was in the kitchen 2 hours. And the were the best invested hours! Even my family and I were amazed by the taste sensation. The funny part to this whole story? While deciding what to make for them, and deciding on Indian food (which many people are not partial to), my husband had that look like...That's a brave thing to try, hope they like it. Good luck with that.
So, I feel much more confident in my cooking abiblities now, and cannot wait to try some other recipes on some more family and friends!
Last night we celebrated 12 years of being married! Our actual anniversary is on 11/8, but last night just worked out the best for us. Since I have 3 salwars in the closet, and cannot normally wear them anywhere, we decided to go the Indian restaurant, and dress up. Of course, I chose a salwar, while the hubby chose a nice dress shirt and pants. He looks so nice dressed up! Anyway, we had dinner, then ventured over to Tejal (Indian store), and really enjoyed ourselves there. Molly and Jacob are the owners, and two of the nicest people you could ever meet. It was fun just chatting with them, but of course, we did make some minor purchases as well. Then we had to stop by my mother's for something, and she took some photos of us dressed up. So, at last, I can include another pic of me in a salwar, as promised!
So, here I am, feeling better since my bout with the flu, homeschooling my kids. This is our first year, and it's going fairly well. Not to say I haven't had my times of doubt and such, but I think we are doing okay. I actually am using an online charter school, so it's structured by local standards, and the curriculum in use is K12. I love the fact that it's free, since it's a "public school", but lacks the traditional "brick and mortar". And, I'm the teacher, which means I choose what comments are added or edited, especially in regards to personal and religious convictions that our family holds. So, you may think, what does this post have to do with India? Well, let's just say, that once we realized that God had placed the call in our hearts to be missionaries one day, we would have to seriously decide what would be the best course of action regarding our children's education. I'm sure I could find a private school of some type, but truly felt His leading to begin the homeschool adventure. Not sure if I'll continue the K12, since it's EXTREMELY expensive to do internationally, but we'll see. I may just venture out and decide on something else, something more "fitted" to our family and the kids' learning styles. But, it's just another step closer in preparation for all that God has in store for us. Yes, I (and the kids) have my time of frustrations, where I think I'll just give up, and send them back to public school, but that's just not for us anymore. We are "new creations" in more ways than one.
Well, tonight's post is only an update...I've been out of service with what I am assuming is the swine flu. I assume this, since it's too early in the year to have the regular flu, and that I had all the symptoms. Misery was my only company. Even my wholehearted fondness for Indian food did not help me. My husband took me to grab some Indian food last week, and despite my desire to enjoy it all, I had to take home my leftovers, and ate them over 3 meals. Since having the flu, I've not eaten much, thus my appetite has subsided, temporarily that is. My funny thought though...wonder what it will be like when I get sick in India. Will I long for the comforts of America, or just tough it out in a foreign land. I often have these times of "wondering what if in India." I guess time will tell.
My husband is the greatest! Last night, after dinner, he took me to buy something. You see, a couple of months ago, we were at Tejal (our indian store). They had just gotten in a stock of salwar kameez's (3-pc pantsuit), which they previously did not sell. I was thrilled at the prospect of finding a treasure. Well, I did. I actually found 2 of them that I really liked, but only could afford one. So, my husband bought it. But little did I know, he called the shopowner later, and had them hold the other one. So, last night, he finally had enough to purchase the other one for me. I was so happy. Now I just need an occassion to wear them. I now have 3 salwar kameez's for when we go to India. We are saving money when we can, and hopefully can make it there April 2010 (next year!!!). I was able to find a previous pic (for now) to post...will try soon to get the 3 in full length! :)
My family's favorite past-time is watching Amazing Race online. While we were waiting for the new season to start, we found some past seasons and have been watching them. Now this does not necessarily relate to India, and our love for the country, but in a sense it does. We love to watch people race around the globe, attempting to get ahead, just to reach the "great equalizer" of a flight or the opening of a business or monument. But we really enjoy it when they go somewhere in India! We love to see how the taxis drive crazy and the multitudes of people. The one thing I cannot stand is when Americans have the nerve to go to other nations, and spew their rude words and self-righteous attitudes. When they have more pity on the animals than the people living on the streets. I'm shocked when they are ignorant enough to say that these people have a choice in how they live. They obviously know nothing about what it's like to live in poverty. They are proud and spoiled. When the Holy Spirit first worked India into our hearts, we began to see this for what it was. Like scales have been removed from our eyes. People have it so good in America, they take it for granted, and expect it. So when they go to another country, they expect people to understand them. They expect people to bow to their comforts and whims. No wonder there are other nations that despise Americans. But, I digress. I also have seen the opposite, so I have hope. I've seen people brought to tears by poverty and want. I myself become choked up. I realize that I am so blessed. Blessed enough to have a home, and a family, to enjoy simple pleasures in life. Like watching our favorite show online, and planning for the day that we can go overseas too!
Tonight's dinner will be tandoori chicken, lentil & sweet potato curry, and jherra rice. I've tried to get in the habit of cooking something Indian at least once a week. My family happily accepts this, since I have mastered a couple dishes. My family is used to my mantra: "better get used to it...we'll be eating it when we go to India." Speaking of tandoori reminds me of a gas station attendant that we happened to meet. His name is Sonny, and we met him during a gas-up before heading out of town for a conference. As my husband was pumping gas, I was sitting in the car, and noticed the attendant. He looked of Indian decent, so of course I took full advantage of getting some "road-trip" snacks. The kids and I walked in, and browsed for items that grabbed our attention. I was looking for water, when Sonny offered a bigger bottle, of which I willingly accepted. As we paid for our treasures, the conversation began. My first question is always, "are you from India?" Of course he was! He told us what region he was from and then for the next 10 minutes, we conversed about anything Indian. Food, Bollywood movies, music, and Hindi. It was a very fun and exciting encounter. Of course my husband piped up that his favorite food was tandoori chicken, but pronounced it "tan-doar-y". Sonny was quick to make the correct pronunciation. We all laughed, and from that day forward, I have never pronounced it wrong again. I usually have a pretty good ear for other languages, dialects and accents. My husband, however, will probably always pronounce things with his New-Mexican/Coloradan English. But, I love him dearly, and so we continue our quest for anything Indian. Thus, tandoori for dinner! :)
Amazing the things you can remember when you are doing a simple household chore like dishes. Today, as I was slaving over the dreaded chore, I began to remember a past experience with Indian food. I laugh to myself as I remember it clearly. Many years ago, when my dad was a truck driver, he stopped in town with the plan of meeting my husband and going to dinner. He offerred Indian cuisine. I hoped for American food. Despite me, we went to an Indian restaurant. I'll never forget my disdain for the strange smells and odd-sounding background music. The pictures and statues of idols were so upsetting to me. Needless to say, I did not enjoy the food or the experience. I was a typical "boring" American. I liked my plain foods, not these strangley spiced dishes. Little did I know, that years later, I would face a pivitol point in my life and my relationship with my Father. The irony now hits me everytime we sacrifice to actually go back to that same restaurant. Life can be funny like that, especially when you lay down your will for His.
Last night at church, we had a snack fellowship after our evening service. So, I spent all afternoon in the kitchen, doing my very best to make these wonderful little Indian snacks. I also made a tamarind chutney and hari chutney (cilantro). They turned out great! And I was so suprised that the aloo matar was spiced to perfection for the samosa filling! This was definitely a "labor of love" since most everyone else was probably gonna either stop at the local grocery store or make something quick. Anyway, I was very pleased. Some people liked them and some were not brave enough to try something other than typical American fare, but the couple comments I did get were all worth it. Later on when we got home, we watched some clips that another pastor had sent my husband. It was of them arriving in Bangkok, Thailand. They mentioned that it was very comparable to India. Made my husband and I stirred so much more to go to the land that God has placed in our hearts! All in all, it was a nice "cultural" day. Now if I can just get more of our friends to venture out and try something different!
I have a new task. Last night, my wonderful husband took us to Yak & Yeti, an Indian/Nepal Cuisine restaurant. They have very good food and the people are nice as well. We always order from the buffet, so that we can get the various tastes from the various dishes they make. My favorite dish is the bhaina bharta (sp?). It was an eggplant curry, and the spices were wonderful! So, the new task is to figure out how to make it at home. I still need to work on the chicken tikka masala and the sweet potato masala. I made the chicken tikka masala the other night, and it was pretty good, but not what I'm aiming for. Anyway, it was wonderful to go and enjoy some food from the nation in our hearts. After dinner, we headed over to Tejal (Indian grocery) and I purchased some needed spices. After we were home for a while, my husband headed into the kitchen. Seeing the spices on the table, he laughed to himself and thought, "only 2 years ago, that sight would have been unheard of." Amazing what transformations you can see in a family, when the Holy Spirit gets ahold of their hearts!
I am happy. Tonight was another success with my quest for cooking Indian food! The menu was chicken tikka masala, cashew & sultana (gold raisin) pulaou (rice pilaf), onion bhajis and naan. I'm still not exactly satisfied with the chicken recipe, but it was good enough for now. I will keep tweaking and searching for other recipes. Tomorrow night will be leftover rice, cauliflower (gobi) curry and something with lentils. I'm very pleased with the progress. A funny thought. We have some friends that were missionaries in India, and they had a cook while there. In times like these, I wonder if the need will be the same for us, or if God will help us intigrate seemlessly. Even now, I feel like I've learned all there is to learn. I am but a "young grasshopper". :)
Today, I made a tikka masala paste for the first time. Planning on making chicken tikka masala with it for dinner tomorrow. Possibly some onion bhajis and naan. I remember the first time I made Indian food. LOL!!! That was a joke! I was almost tempted to never try again. But I knew that Jesus had called us to the nation, and thus I must conquer my inadequacies. My chicken was too hot, my kheer was undercooked (despite cooking for about 2 hours), and the rice and veggies were just plain unacceptable. For many times after that, my family groaned in fear of my attempts. But, as with all practice, I got better. I actually have some requested family favorites now. It helps to have a few good recipes too! I tried to make naan almost 10 times before I got it right, with the right recipe of course. Tandoori has always been pretty easy, but I have pretty much perfected my own recipe. I've also learned how to cut down some of the cooking time, by prepping everything first. It's hard to go from using basic salt/pepper/garlic salt, to using a whole host of other spices that I really had never heard of. But, I've become pretty well-versed in spices, pulses and various terms that are used in Indian cooking. I'm so thankful God helped my family to have grace on me during my early days. I think it was just a small tangible taste of His grace on my life.
Well, here I am, looking for yet another Indian cooking recipe. This time it's for sweet potato masala. Our local Indian restaurant has this dish, and so I'm in pursuit of finding a recipe to make at home. Of course this could be a big feat, considering that India is so varied in culture that you can almost never have the same taste in a particular "dish" or curry. If you know anything about India, you know that it's made up of a myriad of different regions, which can be affected by religion, region and particular ancesteral family recipes. Each household alone may have it's favorite "masalas" (spice mixtures). This could vary immensley by not just particular spices, but also the measurements. So, I continue to quest to broaden my Indian food horizons.
I suppose I should try to start from the beginning. You probably are saying, "why are you intersted in India?" That's the question most people ask us, because besides our love for Jesus Christ and each other, we are constantly referring to anything Indian. Let's just say that it all started in June 2008. My husband and I had attended an annual bible conference, and God really got ahold of our hearts. We were faced with the fact that God explicitly spoke to our hearts that we should've done something and been prepared to do that something. It was a turning-point in our Christian walks. We were living like most American Christians. My husband and I both had very good jobs, a very nice car (Mazda 6, zoom, zoom :) ), and attended our local church faithfully. But there was something missing. To make a long story short, we both realized we needed to quit playing games, and get serious with God and the destiny He has for us. We came back very excited and definitely with changed hearts. About a month later, my husband was helping one of his customers (at the bank), and the man was of Indian decent. In that moment, God clear-as-day impressed upon my husband's heart the need to "go and reach them for Me". My husband thought, "yeah right God! My wife would never go for that!" But little did he know that God had worked upon my heart, and when the time came for him to tell me, I willingly accepted it. My thoughts raced to the possibility of going to some remote village. Possibly with no running water and no electricity. In the weeks that followed, I constantly thought about my "comforts" and what I may have to give up. Little did I know that India actually has many parts that are very westernized and modern. From that moment on, we've submerged ourselves in anything we can to learn about India. We have learned about various foods, the national language (Hindi), and through various methods (Internet, Library, Bollywood movies, Dance Fests, Local restaurants/stores) we have learned a whole lot! I must continue to learn all I can, and do all I can, to reach all I can for Him. Which all brings me back to the search for that sweet potato masala recipe!