Lo’s Kitchen: Fruit Pizza

February 29, 2012

I have learned that in this country, if there is even one grey cloud in the sky, life basically stops. No matter how small or large the cloud or how many millions of degrees it still is outside, you can expect everyone to lock the door and forget about venturing outside until the weather clears.

Unfortunately, a covering of dark matter rolled in on Monday afternoon that nearly rendered my second cooking workshop moot. I did have one student show up, and although the turnout completely nixed my “Bring a friend and bring a fruit” exhortation with the hopes of expanding my youth contacts, ultimately, it was a good opportunity to focus all my attention on J.

She brought one-year-old K along, which breaks my heart because 1) This child so desperately needs the love and attention of her own mother, and 2) J is pretty much her mother. At 15 years old, she is still a child herself, and it angers me to that she is paying the consequences of her sister’s poor decision making.

J is the one who buys and changes K’s diapers. J is potty training K. J sacrifices her own food for K, bathes her, plays with her, and has to take K with her wherever she goes. J has been missing school because no one else is around to take care of the baby (and we’re surprised she failed eighth grade again?).

We must persist in our prayers for this family.

Mixing up the dough for the crust.

Patting the dough carefully into the pan.

Voila! Finished product.

Jewels on J’s crown in heaven someday.

OANSA: Family Day.

February 26, 2012

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed about Family Day not panning out as expected, but at the end of the day, we did have three moms show up to check out what we do for the kids on Saturday mornings. And we did play some pretty great games, if I may say so myself.

Three-legged water race:

Banana peeling and eating relay (one-handed madness):

Lesson time:

It’s nice to be back at Primero de Marzo. Bring on OANSA 2012.

[I wrote this back in 2006, which is a scary long time ago (I mean, seriously, xanga references?). Regardless, I re-post this almost every year, because no matter how much time has passed, the lesson remains the same and honestly, I need the reminder.]

You know, there’s always this cliched hype about “never letting a moment pass you by and living each day to fullest.” It reminds me of the CEC trend where Carpe Diem showed up everywhere–xangas, AIM, etc., for awhile. But honestly, how many of us truly adhered to that mantra in those “every moments,” and are to this day striving to keep that ingrained in our mind, not just marked in colored font in our profiles?

I remember one particular Friday in November of 2002. I was standing in the hallway right outside of my mom’s classroom along with my brother and James, as Mrs. Cottrell and my mom wrapped up their conversation about the next day’s lesson plans as usual. Then in addition to the typical parting goodbyes, my mom gave James a hug, as he was scheduled to go into surgery for his pacemaker that weekend. I stood there awkwardly, not sure if I was supposed to follow suit or what. Then somewhere in that limbo of unease and sharp discomfiture, my moment passed. I didn’t give him a hug.

And then…I never saw James again.

In the time between November and February, James went through dire surgery complication after complication. His life hung by the thinnest thread for three months–one minute he was going strong on his pacemaker, the next instant he was being frantically hooked back up to the machine. I sat at the hospital countless nights, prohibited from seeing him, staring hard at the sterile hospital surroundings, watching the hearts of his parents being wrenched out from within them, wondering how much hurt a human was capable of withstanding. But nothing could change what God was about to ordain, not a mother’s love, not the many fervent prayers, not even having Uncle Frank Ing as one of his doctors.

The morning after James died was like that of a movie in its most depressing scene. Except it was actual, tangible reality as I watched the dark clouds roll in, spreading a heavy, mournful covering across the sky as I silently rode in the car. The fat drops that splattered against the car windshield mocked the wet beads threatening to spill from my own eyes. My mom and I went to take breakfast to the Cottrells before heading to school. Their house was as desolate as the somber sky. The windows were shut, and no light touched a surface save what daylight snuck in when we opened the door. Shades of black, gray, and sadness were all one could see inside. It was agonizing to see Mr. Cottrell sobbing yet still able to find the grace to be hospitable as he ushered us in. It was excrutiating to hear Mrs. Cottrell wailing in deepest sorrow from within her room.

Sadly, it takes moments like these to drive us to realize how truly short our time is here on earth, especially for those who have the vastness of eternity stretching before them. It’s those memories of a missed hug seared in our minds–incidents that occur over a span of mere seconds that remain etched in our memories for a lifetime.

And let’s face it, kids, no one’s perfect. Humanly, we can’t possibly live each little, every single moment of our lives to the fullest, but we can pray for passion. A passion that would drive us to madly seek after God. A journey of pursuit that would then result in an overflow of our hearts. An overflow of such love for God that we wouldn’t want to spend our time any other way, than fruitfully for Him. An overflow that would engender boldness and courage, impelling us to grasp so tightly onto those “every moments” so as never to leave room for a ‘what if,’ ‘if only,’ or ‘would have been,’ and squeeze out any potential regret.

I pray ardently for your hearts and mine, and may God always be glorified.

Rocks.

Located about 35 minutes outside of Asuncion is the city of Areguá. Known for its strawberry festival in August, Areguá is also notable for the Cerro Koi hill. Nestled up in the CK is a distinctive rock formation site with honeycomb-like sandstones only found in two other places in the world (Canada and South Africa).

As you enter the park, a police officer either hops in your car or accompanies you by motorcycle, and shows you around. Really though, he is there less as a tour guide and more as protection from robbers, who apparently hide in the underbrush and prey on unsuspecting visitors. Fun times.

Fortunately, no one jumped us (this time), and we got our fill of red clay mud, overgrown weeds, broken glass, and even a little love message from B’s secret admirer in Paraguay. Check it.

Look who I found in Paraguay!