The Weather in Our Neck of the Woods

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Life is just to good to forget how good it is!

Behind again – sorry!

The week has been very busy. A dear friend from Searcy, Arkansas, who now lives and works in Panama City as a Christian school teacher came to visit, along with her mother. Her mom was here visiting for two weeks, so we just had a few days together, but it was nice – they spoke English and everything! But now they are on their way home, so I am sitting to catch up on our happenings:

Yesterday Marleni had surgery in David. She had 2 fibrous tumors in her uterus that needed to come out. She is in a lot of pain, of course. They did this as an out-patient surgery, so she is home now. This was her first surgery ever, and her first time to have an IV so she was pretty nervous. She has had 3 children, but this was her first hospital visit – imagine! After speaking with her this morning, I now know that the surgery ws not successful. The tumors were too big and too numerous to remove the way that they had hoped. she will be scheduled for a full blown surgery as soon as she recovers from this small one. Please pray for her well-being. She is a wonderful, Spirit-filled part of our church.

I went to yet another doctor on Tuesday. This was a neurosurgeon. He agrees with everyone else, but actually told me that I probably will not get better without surgery. I am still waiting. He prescribed more anti-inflammatory drugs. He says that I can hold off on the surgery as long as I can stand it. I am waiting. Enough about that. God knows what I need when I need it, and he will make it clear what I need to do, and when. I am hourly reminded of Paul and his problem, and what the Lord told him – “My grace is sufficient for you”. Surely Paul was more worthy of healing that I. He didn’t just keep complaining about it, so neither will I. It hurts. It will get better or get worse. Regardless, God has work for me here, and I want to be about it.

That being said, yesterday the ladies who hope to go to the Convention were here all day preparing tamales to sell. Each one has contracted for at least 10 tamales @ $.60 each. Wow! What an experience! Everyone helped. We (ok, I just watched mostly) cooked dried corn – just like they feed the cattle – for about 6 hours, until it was really soft, then we ground it up into a mash, mixed all kinds of good veggies into it, mashing them as well, then kneeded the huge mass as we would do fresh bread dough. It was really pretty, and smelled wonderful! At the same time, others were cooking the chicken and pork to put inside. Again, with lots of spices and veggies. Again, smelled wonderful! Two of the ladies had collected tallo leaves for the inner wrap of the tamale, and we used guineo (banana) leaves from our trees for the outer wrap. When everything was ready, they began wrapping the tamales; first the banana leaf, then the tallo leaf followed by the ‘massa’ which is the corn mash mixture. With a spoon the center was hollowed a little, then a small piece of meat and a sauce made of the meat juice and other spices and veggies. By the way this sauce was actually blended in my blender until it looked like a shake. Then they took the leaves on both sides and wrapped it like a tortilla, folded down the ends, and tied it in place. From there it went into the boiling campfire water in a huge ‘paila’ (pan) where it cooked for about 20 minutes. Then the younger girls delivered them all over town.

The time of fellowship was wonderful. I have never felt so comfortable and such warmth as us all working together, laughing, crying (lots of onions) and chatting since we have been here. It was like… a Riverside thing! We ended up making 137 tamales and selling every one of them. It was kind of….Panamanian, I guess, but we first thought we had too little corn massa to make our order of 117 tamales, but thought we would wait to see how it went. When 100 were made the ladies realized that the massa was fine, but the meat would not hold out. We bought more chicken and veggies to cook with it, and sat and visited while it cooked. By the time it was done, the massa was a little dry so we added water to it and it swelled---a lot. So, when we were going again, one of the ladies said there were not enough of the tallo leaves. I said, but we had 119. She said yes, but now there is a lot more massa, so we need more leaves. Xavier went and found us 10 more leaves, as directed. About 30 minutes later (after they had been boiled to take the bacteria off of them) the other ‘head chef’ said we still needed more leaves – banana and tallo this time. I went to pull another leave from the tree and Xavier headed to find more tallo leaves. I learned a valuable lesson – you are not finished cooking tamales until the massa is all gone, regardless of what else you have prepared. The massa is the deciding factor. Now we all know!

Finally, after beginning at 8:30 am, the last tamales were cooking at 4:00 pm. We had to leave for the Wednesday meeting in David, so took our tamales, which we bought for Brother Ponce’s family in David, and left. Dani and the others stayed until about 4:30, then headed out to sell the product of their 2 days work. In total the supplies cost $46. If every person pays for their tamales, we should make about $40.00. Doesn’t sound like much? Maybe it isn’t going to get us very far, but the time together was priceless!

One other note, regarding the convention; We have had $170 donated toward these ladies being able to go. Thank you very much!!!!! We are still shy of our goal, but it is getting there! Thanks again to those of you who are helping. We will sell Lynn’s cookies next week, and there is talk of another tamale sale in two weeks. It is quite obvious that these folks don’t mind hard work, and are willing to do what ever they can to go. I have to admire that, and appreciate it. It just makes me want to help them more. Well, that and the fact that I love them all very much!

I actually stood at the stove and cooked a meal for Marleni today. This is a new custom here, for the church to help with the care of a sick one. They usually depend totally on their family. I am also doing laundry – okay, Ben is helping me – for Marleni and José this week. I am hoping that Dani or Carmen will volunteer a meal later. I just keep reminding them that we are just like their blood family, only it is Jesus’ blood that connects us.

Lynn and Ben are still getting the chiquero (chicken pen) built. It is going to look great soon! That is a good thing because the chicks are almost grown! Yaritza is taking a nap in the girls’ room, and I have 30 minutes before my next class – I think I will follow her lead!

Richest blessings!


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