Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Child's View of Mission Work

The kid's wrote this to their King's Kids class in the States.  I typed it for them, for the sake of time.  (Any of you moms with kids in the class....don't spoil the fun....Mrs. Gina plans to read it to the class tomorrow.  I mean it, I was using my stern mommy voice!)

Lena scrubbing stains out of a shirt.

Dear Kings Kids,

It you were down here you would really love it, and make lots of friends. We are learning Spanish really fast, maybe next time we see you we will be able to speak Spanish. We get to play war and it's lots of fun at the childrens home, because there are lots of kids to play. We live in town and are able to walk to the store and tortillaria by ourselves. We are thankful we have such a nice house and it is much bigger than our trailer. It is getting hot here and we are starting a garden. We are doing school again. Heidi is getting really big. We said our first verse in Spanish at church on Sunday - Proverbs 18:24. When we ride on the bus route with daddy there are 39 topes (speed bumps). There is a lot of laundry at the childrens home. We hang if all on the line, if you came, you would be surprised how many loads there are everyday. Hannah and Lena do a lot of it to earn money for missions. Pray we learn Spanish very fast so we can tell others about Christ, and just pray for us please. Some of the children at the home have gotten sick, so pray everyone will be healthy now. We have missed you.
The Mean Little Missionaries!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ministry Newflash!

The church has a memory verse time every service.  If you know the verse you can get up and say it.  Our children are allowed to say the verse in English, but tonight everyone except Adelina said their verse in Spanish, including Mom and Dad!  We are making progress.
Also tonight we learned that door knocking for Vacation Bible School will start in the next week or so.  Sam will head that up and is very excited.  Please be in prayer for the door knocking and VBS at the end of July.  A group from the States is coming to help, but the church members and children at Casa will be helping in many ways.  Please pray for everyone involved, this is a great opportunity for the church and children to serve the community and for Christ to be lifted up.
We sure do have beautiful sunsets at Casa Betania Fuente de Vida.  You can follow the home on their Facebook page, search for Casa Betania Fuente de Vida.

Language Training

The Means Family has been blessed with the unique opportunity to minister as we learn the Spanish language.  We are able to participate in both the Benedict Family's Church and Children's Home ministry.  With God's guidance we believe this is how our language training should be conducted.  Also, the newest version of Rosetta Stone was provided for us shortly before leaving for Mexico, which was a huge answer to prayer.  Sam and I make it a habit of going through as many lessons as our brains can contain at a time and then our didactic learning is reinforced as we interact with the kiddos at the home.  They have been gracious, only slight giggles sometimes and very polite corrections.  They don't mind repeating things, speaking slower, using words they know are in our Spanish vocabulary, and playing charades if necessary.  They understand we are working hard to learn.  I am so excited for the day we speak better and can get to know them better.  They are really great kids.
My ninth grade Spanish teacher said it you can learn 500 words in a language, you can really start to communicate and understand, so that is my/our first goal.  If is good to have goals, right?  Or in my case thrive on them, I love list and goals. :P  I tend to enjoy the destination more than the journey, so struggling constantly to communicate is something I have to remind myself to be thankful for.  As of about two weeks ago we were officially over the 100 word mark, putting us at 1/5 of our goal in the first month of being here.  I know we know quite a few more words, the 100 words only includes what we have learned on Rosetta Stone, not out at the Casa Betania.  So, I think we are coming along well.  The only way I can describe it, is that I feel like I am in a fog, making out a little here and a little there, some days are better than others and I think I have started to not translate as much, but just hear the Spanish. 
The kids are still struggling, but I think it will come for them, much easier than Sam and I actually.  Haden has begun to realize we use a different vocabulary when we are at Casa Betania.  Extremely amazing to see a three year old incorporating a new language into his vocabulary.  There is absolutely no struggle or stress for him.  He translates nothing, he just adds it in.....absolutely amazing. 
We play a lot of futbol, or should I say Sam and the kids play a lot of futbol.  I usually go for a run with the kids that want to go.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


POTEN'TIAL, n. Any thing that may be possible.

Just in case you needed a vocab. lesson. The definition was taken from Webster's 1828 dictionary, where many of his definitions are based on the Bible. Webster is quoted saying,
"In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed.. .No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people."
- Preface

Amen Brother!

The following is Potential in picture form.

You know your man loves you when he goes and gets you a truck load of poop!  Looks like we are starting to settle in.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Good Creepy Crawlies....also known as Probiotics...Kefir and Kombucha

Just like to start this by saying, I know this is eccentric, however most missionaries are a little.....shall we say "different", so it's all good.

In addition to avoiding consumption of water born undesirables, we attempt to put good bacteria in our body.  This is actually pretty easy here, because the dairy section has mostly milk products that are cultured.  Seriously, we have tried about five different creams and soured cream in your coffee is not tasty. This is probably to help offset bad bacteria and such.  There is always the option of taking oral probiotics in capsule form, but this is not cost effective for a family of seven and why bother if you can get it in you food. 

For now there are two things I have added to our diet, specifically for their probiotics.  Kefir cultured at room temperature and kombucha.  Kefir is a form of yogurt, that can be cultured at room temp, the vitamins and other good things are not killed in the process, but instead made more available.  Plus, it's a much easier process than yogurt that must be heated, cooled and then kept at a certain temperature for a certain amount of time. 

First, find a friend that cultures milk and ask for some kefir grains.  These multiply with each batch, so she'll have plenty.  There are several women in NWA that have active grain cultures.  You can also order them, but I haven't had much luck with getting them mailed.

Update:  I have since ordered from Cultures for Health.  They have great products.

Kefir Grains
Kefir after 24 hours.
OK, watch carefully, this is really close to rocket science.  Take your kefir grains out of your culture; they are usually at the top.  Place them in the bottom of a clean glass jar and add milk.  Cover with a cloth and secure with a rubber band.  Let sit about 24 hours and repeat for more kefir.  Did you catch that?  Place in jar, add milk, cover and let sit.  It can be a bit sour and strong.  If it’s too strong for you, just don’t let it go the full 24 hours, but the sour taste adds a lot of good flavor to smoothies.   Just remember not to let anything metal touch your grains, use a wooden spoon and clean jar.  I’ll have more ideas for how to use this wonderful food that is teaming with good bacteria, just ready to help your whole system work better.

Update:  I just wanted to mention that if you use raw milk it is better to pasteurize first, so the bacteria in the milk doesn't compete with the kefir grains.

The other food is kombucha.  I would like to state up front, this is a NONalcoholic drink.

1. I grew my own kombucha mushroom from a bottle of GT’s raw organic kombucha. (Of course she did)  Drink half the bottle then sit the other half somewhere where it will not be disturbed and a mushroom will form on the top.

About Kombucha from the people that make GT's Kombucha:
"Kombucha is alternately known as a Chinese tea, a plant, or a mushroom. But it's not really any of these. It's a living culture of beneficial microorganisms, and in Kombucha's case, the whole is infinitely greater than the sum of its parts! Our Kombucha is delicately cultured - some liken it to fermentation - for 30 days. During this period, essential nutrients form like active enzymes, viable probiotics, amino acids, antioxidants and polyphenols. All of these combine to create an elixir that immediately works with the body to restore balance and vitality. Kombucha has been used for hundreds of years throughout the world as a daily health tonic. The culture resembles a light brown, tough, gelatinous disk—and because it's a living, growing entity, it can regenerate and create new cultures with every batch. In fact, GT's Kombucha and Synergy are made from Kombucha cultures that are descendants of the original culture GT grew to create his first bottles."

Did you catch that.....active enzymes, viable probiotics, amino acids, antioxidants and polyphenols.....all in a refreshing tangy, naturally effervescent beverage.

2. Brew about 4 cups black tea. 

3.  Place black tea and 2 cups sugar in container, make sure sugar dissolves.  Don’t worry the sugar will be “digested” by the mushroom.

4.  Add about 12 cups room temperature water.  

5.  Make sure the mixture is not too hot, it could kill your mushroom.  Then you would have something not very great growing in your cabinet instead of kombucha.

6. Place the mushroom back on top and leave for at least 14 days.  If you like it sweeter, a little less than 14.  If you like it on the sour side, a little more than 14.  I just sick a straw in the side and take a drink to see if it is ready.

The first time I tried it, it was a little shocking, it's different from anything I've had before, but now I find it very refreshing.  The kids loved it from the get go.  It is naturally effervescent and very good.

Above are some ingredients (ginger, mango and strawberries) you can add when you bottle the kombucha.  Then place it in the refrigerator.  

Note** This was a fun blog, with fun pictures, but it you're serious about making kombucha go to this web site for more precise directions.  http://www.laurelfarms.com/laurel_farms_kombucha_tea.htm  

There are things I am sure I left out; for example you must use a glass container, a new mushroom grows each time, and earl grey is not recommended.  So check out Laurel Farms.

My happy cultures brewing on the top shelf of the cupboard.

Update:  I have since learned that you should not place different cultures so close together.  They do not remain happy.  They maybe friendly to your body, but they are not friendly to each other.  So make sure you give them their space.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pictures for the Last Blog and Ol' Man Sam

A small water purification and bottling business, situated directly on a main road in Jerez.  This is were we buy our five gallon containers for drinking.

We return the containers and they are washed and refilled.  Here they are being washed and rinsed.
This is the view from the street of the containers being filled with potable water.
A water trucks drive around with a loud speaker, playing music and exclaiming "Agua!".  We go get ours, because it's cheaper to pick it up yourself, but many here do not have cars.  So there you have it, probably more than you ever wanted to know about water, but for those of you homeschooling, it's a good lesson in Exploring Countries and Cultures. ;)

And finally some absolutely hilarious photos of ol' man Sam.  His hair gets very white in the sun and so he pulled up his pants and embraced it.  It's not quite the same without the whole act.  I absolutely rolled on the floor.

Pardon the bad photography, I'm still learning to use my manual settings.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Creepy Crawlies in the Water

Questions concerning water have been numerous and frequent, so here's to low down.

Mexico's water is so famous there is a name for the condition you get if you drink it.  It's called Montezuma's Revenge.  Now I know a lot of people in the States are leery of drinking the water that comes out of their kitchen sink, but here in Mexico it really isn't potable water. If you are unfamiliar with the term "potable" here is a good place to start.  The World Heath Organization  or WHO, also has a lot to say about safe drinking water and possible treatments.  The second leading cause of death for children under 5 in developed countries is diarrhea, which is in largely caused by unsafe drinking water and unsanitary living conditions.  To learn more about this and a good treatment click here.  Eventually, there is the possibility of working in more remote areas, were potable water is even more of an issue.  According to the WHO, solar pasteurization is very effective in creating potable water with out the need of fire, which is what spurred all the solar oven experiments.  We plan to work on another solar oven at some point in the future.

In American, even the water used to flush the toilet is potable, however here the locals even fear the creepy crawlies in the water.  By creepy crawlies, I mostly mean amoebas, parasites, viruses and or heavy metals that are harmful to the body.  Many ask why the water that comes out of the faucet is not in better condition, one word - expensive.  It is quite expensive and maybe even a little excessive to even have potable toilet water. 

So what to do to keep all those creepy crawlies from getting......well you get the idea.  Common sense does most of the guiding here. There is a two fold way to combat the nasty little creators.  First try not to consume them.  Second, make sure you have enough good bacteria in your gut to combat them...otherwise know as probiotics.  Here are some of the lengths we go to, to ensure we are consuming the least amount possible.  First we purchase purified water.  It is potable and affordable, we are thankful it is readily available from reliable sources.  Also, we soak all our fruits and vegetables that will not be peeled or cooked in a water treated with colloidal silver solution, which kills the things you are trying to avoid and is harmless to the human body.  Well, you would have to use a lot of it to have ill effects anyway, so stick to the instructions.  That is it you can translate them, if not just dump some in until you feel good about the situation at hand. Some sources say to soak vegetables in a very diluted bleach solution before the colloidal silver solution, but we have found this unnecessary.  The trick is to not give in to the temptation to then rinse your now sterilized produce in unpurified water, but instead allow in to dry. Colloidal silver solution is readily available in almost all stores here, and for that we are grateful.  I have seen more natural ways of sterilizing produce like a concentrated vinegar spray, but I'm going to stick with what's not getting us sick.  I know, very unlike me, but colloidal silver solution is not harmful, it's proven and having an amoeba or parasite does not sound very appealing.  So, I'll let someone else do the experimenting on their family on this one. ;)  Now, some suggest washing your dishes or even clothes in purified or potable water, but we have not found this necessary in our area.  There are some areas were you are unsure if sewage may have been dumped directly into the water, in these cases, I would probably boil water for washing and bathing.  

The other thing I have seem suggested, is to brush your teeth with purified water.  This is probably prudent, but we just brush spit, gargle with Listerine (most of the time) and hope for the best.

So that's the low down on the water situation and my defensive stance.  Next time I'll write about my offensive strategy of bumping up the friendlies with our diet.