Belizean Cuisizean Saturday

Hey you guys. Thanks for all the kind words in response to my SOS.
It turns out, people love.

(And while I’m at it, thanks for the gentle nudging to put down the Oreos. Thanks to Kenzie for wrestling me to the floor over a second slice of chocolate cream pie. And thanks to Sprinky for holding her back while I ate it off the floor.)

I have a few things to report, including reflections on my new hair color, the status of Samantha and Jon (my parasites) and pictures of our spectacular Belizean Cuisizean Saturday. But first I want to share a couple of insights from encouraging e-mails I received this week. Consider it eavesdropping. It’s much more fun that way.

God is good! He doesn’t leave us where we are to wallow in our pity. He shows us how to find love, joy and peace. He is where you are.

Did you guys know about this? God is right here in my extra twin bed at my dad’s in Indianapolis AND he is next to Inez and Bryon and Antonia and David in their beds in Belize whispering us all to sleep. I just love that about God. It’s enough to make me want to stand on my dad’s balcony and sing “Somewhere Out There” to the moon. But he doesn’t have a balcony, and his porch faces the pool. So that option is out.

Next.

You’re right. We’ve got lots of things really screwy. We’ll probably never get them unscrewed. Our “progress” has come at a cost.

Interesting insight. I’d like to counter it with the John Legend song that always makes me cry in the hopes that it’s actually true:

I still believe that-
We’ll get it right again

We’ll come back to life again

We won’t say another goodbye again

You’ll live forever with me

Someday, we’ll be together…

Unfortunately, I don’t think this will be fulfilled until we are all sitting on heaven’s curbs eating calorie-free ice cream and cheesy potatoes together. Steven (my step-boo) wrote something last fall. I hope I am not taking this out of context, but it struck me when I read it and has stayed with me ever since— especially in light of my visit with Hannah yesterday and the time we spent remembering Katie, and in the wake of the Cerak/Van Ryn family tragedy:

This is what heaven will be for us. It is a journey we should look forward to with great anticipation knowing that we will not be disappointed as we round that last bend and see it all unfold in front of us. There will be the laughter of those we love most, the old friends we’ve not seen in years, even those we have known in our hearts but have never seen with our eyes, they will all be there. There will be peace and comfort and every earthly pain we have felt, every bit of sadness and heartache, they will all be gone forever. It will be family and friends and life and love and it will be unlike anything we could ever have imagined but it will be just as we had always hoped. It will be perfect.

And the coffee…

I love the part about the coffee. Thanks for letting me share, Boo.

The thing is, I had ice-cream with my old best friends last night.

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These three saved my life once, literally. Tonight, they just reminded me that we really can reconnect even after 10 years. It gave me a sliver of what heaven might be like, because I couldn’t have pieced together better company, better conversation or better dessert. Unless, maybe, it had been Chocolate Odessey 2001.

Which leads me to my next comment:

No matter how much we want it and how much we miss it and how much we beg, Baskin Robbins is never bringing back Chocolate Odyssey 2001.

Well. I am starting a prayer chain calendar for a 2010 comeback. Who wants April?

Great. Moving on.

This is important, as Bryan would not let me touch the baby unless I had a note from my doctor:

I am parasite free!

I spent an exhaustive 3 days at the Doctor getting tested for things like TB, and making sure all my little parasites and E. Coli were gone, which involved a very intricate stool sampling kit. In Belize, they just handed me a container and told me to eat some burritos, walk around and come back with a full jar at 2. Here, I was totally confused by the take-home kit they gave me, and I’m sure Sprinky was thrilled to find the little container labeled “refrigerate” in the back corner when she reached for her Las Lomas leftovers.

Hil-air.

Anyway, the TB test came back negative and the chest x-rays are clear. Whew!

Tomorrow is the welcome home celebration with CFI & my Belize team from last fall. Lisa, Mackenzie and I spent the day experimenting with all our favorite delicious dishes from Belize. I like to call it Belizean Cuisizean Saturday.

The results were fantastic! (Except for the tortillas, which looked like tiny little weird ovals. Antonia warned me this would happen if I didn’t practice. She also frequently sent me out back to pick cilantro from the grass and said I always came back with the leaves that would kill us.)

So, who wants to try my special cilantro salad?

Here are some pictures of the day. I WILL be recreating this event in Fort Wayne, so friends beware. You’ll be receiving an invite shortly.

The international isle at Wal-mart. Actually, we just think this picture is funny because it looks like I am caught red-handed trying to hide, like, a pack of Oreos under the rice and beans, drunk.

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Tortilla mixing

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Result

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Quote of the day: “Yeah, but I think she would say my balls are just too small.”

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Empanadas (I realize taking pictures of food puts me on the same page as my Great Aunt Gwen, but I am just proud, okay? Cut me some slack.)

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Garnaches

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One out of one Randys found our food deliciously satisfying.

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This was a trial run. Stay tuned for the real thing tomorrow at 2:30/1:30 central.

Thanks again for the support this week. I mean it.

Oh!
I almost forgot the funniest thing. Hannah colored my hair yesterday. We got rid of the highlights and took it back to my natural color, black. You’d think it was a simple procedure, but, actually, there are a million shades of black. This one is dark. I loved it at first. But now (maybe it’s just because I’ve had sun-streaked hair for over a year) I sort of feel like the Wicked Witch. Especially when toddlers look at me and then start crying. I’m just sayin.

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Week Five: Elections!

I miss writing.

So, I decided to keep doing it despite the no internet thing.And I decided to pay $4 every Saturday morning to use the village computer for an hour.Its a nice one!

Thursday was Election Day.There were two major parties running:

People’s United Party (PUP), they’ve been in power for 10 years
Slogan: Believe in Belize

United Democratic Party (UDP)
Slogan: Fi u, Fi me, Fi all ah we

Some interesting facts:

  • Elections happen every 5 years
  • Its normal for each party to create music CDs to campaign, and its normal for the radio stations to play these songs, and only these songs, all month.(Not jingles—entire dramatic, catchy, full-length songs.)I have the CDs.They’re coming home with me.
  • Voting happens from 7am to 6pm.Its normal and legal to pay people $100 to vote for their party.This usually happens in the form of a handshake at around 5:45, which is why everyone waits until after 5 to vote.
  • The UDP party promised a national holiday on Friday if they win.Naturally, all the students, teachers, and bankers wanted UDP.
  • Primary School was canceled to keep kids safely at home.
  • Because UDP won, all current government (PUP) positions lose their jobs.
  • On voting day, one or two people in each party drive around all day and pick up people to vote who don’t have vehicles.
  • Each party provides a hot meal for their voters.
  • In the evening, families bring snacks and drinks to each others houses and sit around the radio with notebooks and manifestos until, like, 2 in the morning while they tally and announce the votes for each district.

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  • The winning party, in this case, UDP—the first party change for Belize in 10 years—begins a parade as soon as the announcement is made, and the parade lasts all through the night and throughout the next day, which just means everyone with a vehicle loads in as many people as possible and drives through the villages honking and yelling.

Some other things I have been noticing:

  • Love really does conquer fear.Tonight I realized (as spiders and ants and cockroaches crawled across my path) that I genuinely love being here with the Flowers and Cabb families more than I fear the bugs.I harbored no bitterness toward the spider that crawled out from underneath my suitcase tonight.I just smiled and thought—Oh, Belize.You’re totally worth the trade.(If you know me, you’ll recognize this as a small miracle.)
  • No one ever eats oranges.They cut them in half and suck on them.They ask, “Do you want to suck an orange?” and then, when you’re done, it looks like this:

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  • I learned how to make corn empanadas today, and then I helped Antonia make them for dinner.
  • I also learned how to make garnaches:

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  • This morning I taught Antonia how to make “eggs in a basket” or, as my family calls them: One eyed sailors.Everyone got a kick out of them, and Antonia had to make about 3 before she could do it without burning the bread…Next week, we’ll do French Toast.Delish.
  • Here is the smallest banana I’ve ever seen (and there’s no need to laugh at my face.It was 2 in the morning on Election Day):

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Well, Thursday is Valentine’s Day.That means double minutes on my BTL card, so if you receive a call from an unknown number, pick up!It might be me.

Also, if you want to chat- get on gmail Saturday mornings. I would LOVE to see your voice. (That was my mom’s joke. I’ll totally give her credit…)