Saturday, January 27, 2018

Furlough Summary

7 months of furlough. It's hard to believe that it went by so fast. The older I get it does seem like the clock hands tend to move a little quicker than they used to.

I can't believe how much we crammed into the 7 months that we were home! The Lord provided an adorable little house for us just a stone's throw away from our home church. Situated in the old Belvior Neighborhood, I was a little nervous that the one bathroom layout of the home would be a challenge for our family. It was absolutely not a problem at all. We got a system down pretty quickly!

The first weeks of furlough were spent on the road picking up a furlough vehicle, spending a week with Ben at PCC for his final Doctorate classes and back up to Indiana again to spend more time with Ben's family and collect the kiddos. We were thankful that we could be a part of Jerry's 70th birthday party in June!

July was probably the fullest month travel wise. We spent the first week in Louisiana at Southland Christian Camp for their family camp. What an amazing week of making great memories! One of my favorites was winning the blindfolded golf cart race...and believe it or not I was the one driving blind folded! Who says women are bad drivers?! :)  The kids made some life long friends as well. It truly was a highlight of our furlough!

From there we headed west to see the Grand Canyon. We spent a couple days exploring God's amazing creation and for anyone who has been there - words and even pictures will never be able to describe the beauty. Breathtaking!

We took a detour north into Colorado to spend some time with Pastor Craig Scott and his wife. It was fun catching up with old friends, Matt and Esther Von, from college as well.

Then the dreaded long trip home! haha! The kids were pretty much over the traveling by then! I'm pretty sure they have decided next time to stay much closer to home. And while it was a long time on the road, I sure don't regret the memories that we were able to make.

Awaiting the kids at the end of the long trip was teen camp! This was the first time the kids have ever been able to attend camp with their youth group. They were SO excited and it turned out to be an amazing week. The best part was that their friend, Lydia, (fellow Cameroon MK) was able to attend camp with them! So much fun!

The highlight of August for me, hands down, was the Solar Eclipse. I will never forget that day. It was the most incredible thing to experience and I love that we barely had to drive that far to be in totality. We went to the Old Mcdonald farm in Sale Creek, TN and paid a $5 parking fee to hang out and watch the eclipse. Definitely a highlight. I hope we can see the next one that crosses the US. We made a couple videos on this day. One HERE of our reaction and then another HERE of all of Ben's photos.

Another August highlight included spending the week with a fellow missionary family, the Loeschers, in the Highlands, NC.

September was a bit of a break before the crazy schedule of October hit. We did have a few meetings, but we were home much of that month. The kids were able to join our church's Christian School and attend camp. Kate and Drew went to the Wilds with the High School and Faith Ann was able to attend the Bill Rice Ranch with the elementary grades.

While Kate, Drew and Faith were at camp, my mom, Emma and I made a trip to Southland for their ladies retreat. Emma had a blast surprising her new friend, Reagan. She worked in the kitchen during the retreat while Mom and I enjoyed all the activities. It was one of Emma's best memories from furlough.

October started off with vehicle troubles. Poor Ben spent a lot of time on the side of the road and trying to adjust his schedule around repairs and finally a vehicle return. By the second week of Oct. we'd decided to take back our rental van and borrow my mom's van. As my parents had just purchased a new car, it worked out perfectly. Dan Spriggs also allowed us to borrow a vehicle which was a HUGE help during that time period as well. It allowed me to have a vehicle while Ben was out of town, and it also served as a back up vehicle until my parent's van was available. We were able to enjoy an amazing missions conference at Bible Baptist Church in Matthews, NC during this month. The kids made some great friends on this trip and they continue to keep in touch.

The end of October and beginning of November brought family vacation. We headed to Florida with my parents and had the best time with them. It was our favorite two weeks of our entire furlough.

The only sad part was that my brother and his family weren't with us. When we left for Cameroon last term, Jay and Sarah and their four kids headed to Venezuela. It was our plan to furlough together, but because of the difficulty of getting their residence visas they weren't able to come home. We are praying and planning that next furlough we can spend some time together. I admit that not being able to see them has brought a lot of tears on our part. We trust God's plan, but it isn't always easy.

November brought the long anticipated Sinclair Thanksgiving. We dream of this holiday for 3 years and it never disappoints! Ben's mom is an amazing cook and she is especially famous for her pies. We had more pie than a human being should eat that week, but we feel it is justified since we are only home every 3 years. :) The kids became close friends with the Frisbys, neighbors to Ben's parents, and we had a lot of opportunities to make some great memories with them as well that week.

December was a month dedicated to staying home and spending time with family. The kids were able to enjoy fun youth activities (ice skating), and parties at the Christian School with the kids their ages. They even participated in the school's Christmas Program. We enjoyed church parties and special fellowships. Ben's parents even sacrificed to drive down and spend about a week with us. A lot took place during that month and we managed to cram it all in and make some incredible memories.

And so here we are. Back in Cameroon. The transition back wasn't easy. The kids made so many good friends and the goodbyes were hard. It is hard for them to be on the opposite side of the ocean. Thankfully they have connected with them and spend a little bit of time each day on email and google hangouts connecting with their friends. Fellow missionary and dear friend, Carol Loescher, once wrote, "A missionary needs an elastic heart because his or her love must span the ocean and stretch from continent to continent." Her descriptive words sum up how we feel as a family.

Thank you to everyone who prayed for our furlough. We don't take for granted the thousands of miles and months of safety. Please continue to pray for more laborers. <3
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Friday, September 23, 2016

What's Up Doc??

It's been a while and for that I apologize

I know that I have people who check this blog out occasionally and this blog hasn't even crossed my mind until today.  So, I thought I would briefly update you on the past several months...or...on most of this year actually. Wow, has it really been since December that I last posted?!

2016 entered in dry and dusty as our least favorite season of the year, dry season, was in full force. In February we had the privilege of hosting Mike Herbster along with his two boys, Micah and Malachi. They spent several days out in the bush of Akwaya with Pastor Felix and a few days with us. It is always a treat to have visitors from the US! (*hint *hint!)

In April we had our annual Family Camp that veteran missionary, Tom Needham, always hosts at his home in Sabga, Cameroon. Thankfully we are only a 20 minute drive from the Needham's house, so we get to sleep in our own beds for the week. The kids always look forward to this event. Emma's favorite activity is held on horseback riding day.

The week of Family Camp is always a refreshing week of preaching and fellowship with other American missionaries. I am normally in charge of the food organization for the event and this year my husband helped out with this task by spending an entire day in town running back and forth working with welders and metal workers to have this awesome gas grill made for me!

This grill really is a work of steampunk art. I was a little afraid it was going to blow up on me at first, but this beauty works like a charm and I now use it weekly to cook our Friday night pizza on it.

At the end of June I had a minor surgical procedure here in Cameroon. I say minor...but it was pretty major for me. It involved getting put "under" which was something I'd never experienced before. I arrived early for my surgery and was able to wait in a private room. From the private ward I walked outside and down a long walkway to the doors of the surgical theater (all in my hospital gown). They made me take my shoes off at the door, and I was escorted in barefoot where they gave me another pair of slippers to put on. I was immediately taken to the operating room.  A very nice American lady put her arm around me and prayed with me before I climbed up onto the operating table. I was in absolute nervous wreck. My surgeon was also an American doctor, Dr. Brown, and was so kind to pray with me again before the procedure as well. The next thing I remember was being lifted onto a gurney, and being wheeled to a recovery room where I groggily kept asking for my husband. He wasn't allowed inside recovery, but he did inform me later that the power went out during my procedure which always makes things very interesting for the doctors at this particular hospital as there are no back-up generators. Everything went very smoothly other than when I learned that I must be allergic to the anesthesia drugs because I spent the next several hours feeling like I had the flu. My medical chart was a hilarious read after the fact. The nurse wrote that I vomited [so many] cc's of green stuff. Very professional explanation.

Summer brought a busy church schedule with our Vacation Bible School events (called Holiday Bible School here in Cameroon). We held a week at Faith Baptist Church and a week at Bible Baptist Church. We had amazing turnouts each day with many salvation decisions. It was an exhausting but very rewarding couple of weeks! Each of our older three kids were able to participate by telling a Bible Story to the children as well!

The kids have enjoyed spending time with their friends, Eddie and Lydia Loescher. Missionary Dr. Carol Loescher spends some time each month at Mbingo Baptist Hospital (where my surgery was held) doing medical work. We try to have their kids over for some fellowship whenever they are in the area.

The Lord is at work in our churches and clearly Satan doesn't like what is happening. In our village church of Bambili, Bible Baptist Church has been facing some difficulties with a dishonest man trying to claim ownership of the land the church is on. This property was purchased legally in 2002, before we were even on the field, and is in the name of the church. The same lawyer that oversaw the sale of the property in 2002, will now help us prove legally that the land rightfully belongs to Bible Baptist Church. We know that God can take care of His church much better than we can.

We just ask for prayer warriors. We wrestle not against flesh and blood here and it is so evident. When God is at work, Satan comes behind and tries to undo and discourage the work that is going on. I'm thankful that greater is He that is in me...than he that is in the world!

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

How to be a friend to a Missionary

Today I want to open my heart a bit and share some of my struggles. My prayer is that this post will be read by many. Honestly, not for my own benefit, but for the benefit of missionary ladies all over the world. 

God designed within each of us the desire for friendship. The human connection is literally necessary for our survival. There is a reason that solitary confinement is a punishment used on criminals. The lack of human interaction can cause a person to go mentally insane. Now, obviously I'm not trying to imply that I'm suffering from a lack of human interaction here in Cameroon. I'm simply trying to emphasize the importance of friendship. 

Over this past year and a half I have struggled with a feeling of loss - the loss of connected friendships. While on furlough I discovered that I wasn't a part anymore. Sure, my friends and I were able to do some things together, but I was an outsider. I wasn't privy to their inside jokes. They had newer and closer friends. Understandably because my life was totally different from theirs now. They were successful and were building families and buying homes. It was difficult to relate to one another. I have tried to put myself in their shoes and I really can understand their point of view. Our lives have gone down two completely different paths.

I shared some of my disappointment with a women's missionary group that I'm a member of on facebook. This group is private and has been a wonderful place to share burdens that other missionary ladies will understand.  The ladies in this group are amazing and my post sparked an online conversation on the topic of friendship. Within that conversation I learned that I am not alone in this. Many of these missionary ladies shared their own sorrow over losing close friends. Some are faithfully praying for one female friend that they can have. This isn't something that we go around advertising - our struggle over friendships. It would sound like we are complaining. Let me assure you that the tone of our conversation was always directed back toward Jesus...He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. However, I felt that it would be beneficial to all these missionary ladies to bring this need of a "bosom friend" (in the words of Anne of Green Gables) to the eyes of the American church.

Don't let your very different lives cause you to distance yourself from your missionary friend. Sure, you both have new friends now. That is the path of meet new people and make new friends. It doesn't have to make your long-distance friend less important, however. Determine to continue to nurture that relationship.

One missionary was warned by a veteran,
"Be prepared to lose friends."
She confided that she thought, "No way! Not OUR friendship!" but in her own words, "Distance can put a strain on the best of friendships."

Another missionary told me,
"The longer you are on the field, the more people will drop out of your life. Life goes on and everyone's life is busy."
And yet another missionary shared,
"I thought I was the only one that felt like this. We've been on the field for 27 months and yes I have been forgotten too."
Might I challenge you to make a decision not to let your different choices and your distance put a strain on your friendship at all?  Decide right now not to "drop out" of the life of your missionary friend. Marriages, friendships, any relationship at all really, take work. Choose to invest the work necessary to maintain friendships.

Stay in touch when they are on the field.  We would be thrilled with a genuine heart-felt note ... even if it is via facebook or email. It doesn't necessarily have to come through the post office. 

One of the missionaries with whom I corresponded on this topic said, 
"I thought things would be different with technology the way it is. So easy to reach us now, but to no avail..."
Another said, 
"I have literally prayed that friends would remember to write me. I guess what it has taught me is to be more sensitive. I want to be that friend that remembers birthdays and to write and call."
I get it...out of sight, out of mind. It is going to take an effort on your part to stay in touch. One of the missionary ladies in my Facebook group shared her hurt over the lack of communication. She said,
"Yup. It can really hurt. I was surprised by my closest friends not keeping up..."
Take the time to remember your missionary friend. Mark your friend's birthdate on your calendar and consciously remember to send a note. Remember to wish them a Merry Christmas and maybe even a Happy Anniversary. Send them a note for no special reason at all....just letting them know you are thinking of them.

We are ordinary people like you. We just have a different address. Some of the missionary ladies said that they'd lost friends because their friends felt guilty. They weren't in full time ministry so they felt uncomfortable being around them. Please let me assure you...we are not on a different plane than you. We have the same battles of the flesh that you do. I fail on a regular basis. I yell at my kids. I get angry and frustrated when the power goes out every night at 6:30 pm. I want to scream sometimes when my internet goes out and I can't talk to my mom. Trust me...we are all made out of the same flesh. We just live in two very different places. Don't let uncomfortable feelings of guilt cause you to distance yourself from your missionary friend. They need you now more than ever!

Go out of your way to include them when they are home in the states.  I think being on furlough was probably the biggest struggle for me. I was in the midst of people I knew and loved and I felt so very distant. Please, strive to include a missionary when they are on a visit to the US. They are totally out of the loop. Help them out. Invite them to extra activities. Remember those new friends you've made while they've been gone? Introduce them and give them the opportunity to make new friends as well. It will be a challenge to do this as missionaries often have busy schedules due to travel. Call them, invite them, seek them out and be prepared for a no. They might have a meeting scheduled during your pampered chef party, but ask them anyway. The thought of being remembered is so, so important. 

One of the missionary ladies expressed to me that she understood the difficulty of returning stateside,
"The exact same thing happened to me on furlough...I have no real advice just a (HUG). It was one thing that blind sided me when we got to the states..."
Patiently invest in your missionary friend knowing that communication can be hard on our end.  Here I am asking you to write, email, send a note on facebook, but I have to be honest. We might not be able to respond in a timely manner. Internet connections can go out, power is often unreliable, ministry is busy. Please be patient when waiting for correspondence. What we missionaries want you to know is that we crave your letters and notes. Even if we can't respond right away we are SO grateful to hear from you. I guarantee you, silence on our end is not because of lack of interest. It most likely has to do with an unplanned interruption of some kind.

You might be asking, "Why are you missionaries so needy?" Well, here is a simple explanation. We are surrounded by people of a different culture, and while we do create new friendships on our field of service, they aren't the same as friendships among people of our own culture. There will always be a barrier there that isn't there among Americans. Many of us are also in a position of Pastor's wife and having one close friend is a challenge. We can't show partiality as we seek to minister to all of the ladies equally. Oh how we miss the friendships and fellowship with ladies in our own culture.

As I bared my soul on Facebook the other day my fellow missionary friends were an encouragement to me. They came alongside me with words of understanding and challenge,
"The struggle is real and so is the hurt, but God has often reminded me that it isn't the end of the world. We cry. We whine. We get frustrated, but at the end of the day our God is always the same and is ALWAYS enough. People will often let us down. It's the nature of this life, but when we stop waiting for others and start focusing on waiting ONLY on God, peace flows much more freely."
As I mentioned before, missionaries are far from perfect. I know I could have done better to continue to foster friendships with those across the ocean. I'm not absolved of all guilt of failing my own friends. Prayerfully I would like those reading this post to see the struggle of missionary ladies across the world. Many have lost friends, have been praying for a close girlfriend, and desire the fellowship of someone of their own culture. Might you take the challenge? Reach out to your missionary friend. Mark their special event on your calendar and write them. Send an E-card. Set up a Skype call if the internet and time allow it.

My mom's favorite verse, Psalms 62:5, has been an encouragement to me. "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him."

May all of us, on both sides of the ocean, continue to keep our expectations from God as He is the only one that will not disappoint us. 

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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Blog Hop: 10 Things You Should Know about our Mission Field

All scary missionary stories come out of Africa, right? I’ve heard people say through the years, “I want to surrender to God’s will, but I’m afraid He will call me to Africa!” 


Perish the thought!! Please, not Africa!

Well, I’m here to encourage you that…Africa isn’t so bad! In fact, what I really want is people to come out and bring me suitcases full of goodies visit me here. I want you to know that it isn’t scary. It is, in fact, fun! It is beautiful! And most of all…the continent on which we serve is wide open to the gospel, so I guarantee your visit would also be very rewarding!

This week I’m taking part in a missionary blog hop that discusses the topic of 10 things I wish people knew about my field. Hopefully these 10 things will be an incentive for my friends, family and supporters to visit me here in Cameroon. At the end of my post will be a link taking you to the next blog. we go. 10 things about my field that are in no particular order:

  1. We speak English!  Yep. When you come to visit us in Cameroon you won’t have to worry about communicating and sharing the gospel through a translator; you can speak English. Now, we don’t speak “American” here :P , so you might have to ask people to repeat themselves and vice versa, but being able to freely speak with the national people will make your visit so much more enjoyable!
    Pidgin is a trade language spoken here in Cameroon. 
  2. Snakes, Spiders and other dangerous, wild animals do not abound here in our corner of Cameroon. Yes, we have on occasion posted photos of large spiders (they were non-poisonous), and only two times during our 11 years here did we post photos of snakes. These are not the norm. Have we seen a snake or two? Yes, we have. But what we mostly see are goats, pigs, chickens, dogs, and cats. Pastor Jim and Myra Wright, Baptist World Mission furlough replacement missionaries, filled in for us while we were on furlough for 7 months. Myra suffers from Ophidiophobia (you're welcome for the vocabulary word of the day). She didn't see one snake during her entire time here. So, please don't let a fear of critters keep you from visiting our field! 
    We love to keep chameleons as pets!
  3. Bambili, Cameroon isn't hot. I know from experience that when people think of Africa they think of how hot it is. And yes, there are some pretty hot places on this gigantic continent, and even hot places within this country, but thankfully Bambili, Cameroon (where we live) isn't one of them. The temperature is in the 80s nearly year round. July through September are our coldest months (usually between 70-80), so should you choose to visit us during your summer break...that would be a wonderful time of year. 
    Our front yard view!
  4. There are no fast food or franchise restaurants in Cameroon. This might seem like a no-brainer to some, but you would be very surprised at how many people don't realize this. We only have small, locally owned places. We eat out every Monday for our family day and have had to wait for our food for hours at some places. Thankfully our most current favorite restaurant is pretty speedy, and we hope it will be around for a long time.  When someone living in the U.S. doesn't want to cook...Pizza Hut comes to the rescue. It doesn't work that way here in Cameroon. Cooking here means a lot of time and dirty dishes. So, you'll understand why Little Caesars is our staple meal on furlough :) 
    Our current favorite family restaurant: PresCafe
  5. Cameroon is sometimes referred to as the armpit of Africa. And aptly named, too. When you enter Cameroon, that is the first scent that will assault you...smelly armpits. The smells of Cameroon will overwhelm you at first. Americans are just accustomed to the over-sanitzed scents of the US. The organic odors here, while pungent, are probably more healthy than the synthetic smells of body sprays and candles! I promise that after some time, you won't even notice the smells. FYI...we still wear deodorant in our home, so don't forget to pack yours.  
    No caption necessary...
  6. Off-roading is a fun past time in the states, but here in Cameroon, even when we are on-roading...we are off-roading! Our roads are quite an adventure here. The driveway to our house is a big hill that, during the rainy season especially, makes for a very fun ride. Our motto is, "We will slip and we will slide, but we will make it to the other side." Thankfully we don't have any death-defying drops near our road. The worst that could happen is that we would slide into the ditch. 
    A muddy road on the way to Benakuma
  7. We have access to internet!! Obviously, right? You are, of course, reading a blog post that was published here in Cameroon. We are actually very blessed to have a very decent internet connection here in Bambili. If and when you come to visit, you don't have to worry about the digital separation that are of the days of old. 11 years has brought a lot of changes in this area. When we first moved here I remember driving to a little internet cafe, scared to death to be behind the wheel of my car on our famous (or infamous!) roads. It took me nearly an hour to get online and order flowers for my mom for mother's day. Now, we have computers, iPhones and kindles all connected to our wireless router. Keeping in touch has never been easier!
    I FaceTime with my mom daily
  8. We have a saying among the missionaries here in Cameroon...TIA. This is Africa. While we almost always have internet, and usually have power and water...This is Africa after all and we are frequently thrown curve balls. Power can suddenly go out for days on end. An appliance can blow up and it take days, if not weeks, to replace. The water could dry up and the internet could go out. Nothing is for sure here. If anything, one learns flexibility by being a missionary.
  9.  The people of Cameroon are friendly, love visitors and are very open to the gospel. Of course there will always be a few exceptions, but we rarely have people refuse gospel literature. The Cameroonians love to chat. Greetings and questions about how one is doing, and how their family is doing are required before a normal conversation begins. I once entered a store to ask if they had a public toilet. I was harshly rebuked for not greeting first. Lesson learned...the hard way of course.  You don't just wave at your neighbor as you drive stop, roll down your window and ask how they are doing and how their family is doing. You always stop and greet. Any visitor to Cameroon will enjoy the many opportunities to get to know the people and more importantly the many opportunities to share the gospel with them. 
  10. The final thing you should know about our field, and perhaps the most important of all, is that we need more laborers. We are swamped in the work. We have people from other villages begging us to come out and preach the gospel. The harvest truly is ripe in Cameroon, but the laborers are most definitely few. Would you pray the Lord of the harvest that He would send YOU into the harvest field of Cameroon?
Hopefully these interesting things about our field of service will give you a burden to pray. We would also love for this post to give you a desire to visit us! A missions trip will change your life. It changed mine. When you travel across the ocean and see the need first hand, the experience will forever change you. 

Our field director, Steve Anderson, says that you may leave Africa...but Africa will never leave you. It will forever be imbedded into your heart.

To hear more interesting things about other fields of service, follow this link to Lou Ann's blog to read more about her field of Sain.
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Friday, May 8, 2015

On Family and Pizza

Family and Pizza...these are a few of my favorite things. :)

I'll get to the pizza in a minute, but first a quick update. Life has been rather busy lately! Whew!  I had the privilege recently to speak in a Pastor's wives conference. There was a group of about 15 pastor's wives that came and we had a wonderful time of fellowship around the Word of God. I enjoyed getting to know some of the ladies better. Public speaking isn't my thing, but the Lord gave grace and wisdom and I'm so thankful for that.

I have enjoyed discipleship opportunities. Freda comes up each Tuesday after to school to go through our discipleship course, The Spiritual Growth Series.

My husband wrote this course several years ago and it has been such a helpful resource. Freda is really growing and she has a real burden for the salvation of her entire family. Pray along with us that we can see her family come to Christ. I am also meeting with Anita each Thursday evening after our midweek Bible study here in Bambili. Anita came to me a few Sundays ago expressing concern about her salvation. After some council she expressed to me that she'd already made a decision for Christ and so we went over some scripture about her security in Christ. I encouraged her to go through the Spiritual growth series as well and so we have started. I'm excited to see the Word of God change Anita.

Our annual missionary family camp is over and we had a wonderful week of fellowship with likeminded missionaries here in Sabga, Cameroon. Pastor Don Barth came from the states to speak to us. My responsibility each year for camp is the organization of the meals. Each missionary lady takes charge of one meal, and I don't do a lot, but I do create a schedule and try to make sure it runs smoothly. We also do a lot of the shopping for the food supplies for the week.

I always schedule my meal for the first night at camp...Monday supper. About three years ago we bought a gas grill off of a missionary family that was leaving Cameroon. I somehow stumbled onto a Pizza recipe created for the grill and our family fell in love. I was adventurous one year and made these grilled, personal pizzas for family camp and since then I've been doing it every year. This was year three. I take my grill up there and start cooking about two hours before meal time and everyone gets their own little pizza.

Since this recipe is such a hit in our family I thought I would share it with you! I have had a lot of people ask me how to cook pizza on the grill. The blog I found had pictures and all of the information, but I still was a bit nervous. I thought I would add some video clips so you can see exactly how I do it. If a picture is worth a thousand words, than a video is worth a million. :) Hopefully it will be helpful.

First thing I do is make my dough. I do this in my bread machine and here is my recipe:
2 c. water
1 TB olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
5 c. flour
1 TB yeast
Put all of your ingredients in the pan in that order, set it to dough cycle and let it work its magic. :)

This recipe makes 8 personal pizzas for our family.  While the machine is working I make my own sauce. I take two packets of tomato paste, which is about the equivalent to two small cans. I add water until it is pizza sauce consistency and season with garlic salt and italian seasoning. Very simple, but we love it. I shred my cheese and cut up my veggies. When my dough is done, I take it out and divide it into 8 evenish pieces and roll them out into personal pan size.

I take all my goodies to the grill. Before placing the dough on the grill I brush one side with olive oil and sprinkle some garlic salt on it (we love garlic salt!).

Make sure your grill is nice and hot, and flip your dough, oil side down onto the grill. Here is a quick little video clip so that you can see it in action.

Once you get your dough on there (excuse the dirty grill...I do live in Africa), close that lid and patiently let it cook for a couple minutes. My grill runs hot, so the timing probably depends on the grill, but once you notice your dough puff up and look dry and cooked, not wet and raw, it is time to brush the top with oil and flip the dough. This is what it should look like.

Here is a little clip of me flipping the dough again (You can't say I didn't explain this process very clearly!) :)

Once you have brushed that side with oil and flipped it, now it is time to top your personal pizza. Let your creativity soar with the possibilities. Our standard toppings are sausage, pepperoni, onions, tomatoes, green peppers and green olives. Another favorite is chicken alfredo pizza. I would love to get some frank's hot sauce out here and try some buffalo chicken pizza. The options are almost endless. Close the lid and let your topped pizzas cook a couple more minutes so the dough can finish cooking and all the cheese can melt.

The finished product is a tender, flavorful crust with ooey, gooey cheese and yummy toppings. It will be like a flavor explosion in your mouth! So much better than pizza in the me!

What can I say...we are a pizza loving family. Some people have Taco Tuesday, we have Pizza Friday. it is just our family tradition. We rarely stray from cooking our pizza on the grill, but occasionally we do something different. For family day two weeks ago we didn't have a gas bottle hooked up to the grill so we made our own personal pizzas and baked them in the oven. The kids had fun creating a unique pizza...some with faces, others in shapes.

It was a fun thing to do, but our favorite pizza method is definitely the grill. Try it - I guarantee you won't want Pizza Hut ever again!
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Monday, April 13, 2015

Pinterest...for the win!

I have had my share of pinterest fails. I don't post them. Goodness knows I don't need to advertise more of my glaring failures. haha! However, I saw this pin on pinterest and loved the idea of beautiful scripture art hanging around my home. I thought, "I can do this!" So, I set out to give it a try. Here is the original pin that I saw.

I went into my storeroom and found the perfect scrap of wood and decided to use the same verse and create something that matches my own bedroom decor. I wanted it kinda shabby chic, so I sanded the edges a bit, but it still wasn't perfect and that was ok. I painted a base color of gray. I still had a ton on hand from my recent stenciling project and it was the exact color I needed. After I painted the base coat gray and let it dry, I then painted some streaks of yellow using acrylic craft paint. On top of that, even before the yellow was completely dry, I brushed some white all over the top of the wood. This gave it a rustic painted effect. 

I then went into my photoshop program and played around with different fonts to come up with the verse word art to place on my piece of wood. I ended up using two free fonts to create the scripture, Gardenia and KG Somebody that I used to Know.  I printed my final draft and then taped it to the wood exactly where I wanted the words to be traced.

Pinterest to the rescue again. I didn't know how to get beautiful wording onto wood until I came across this pin, which gave me all the instruction I needed.  The skinny of it is you put your paper on your wood and use a ball point pen to trace the script. By putting pressure you will create an indention in the wood that you can then paint in. 

I pressed pretty hard so I would be able to see it. My hand was tired from squeezing the pen when I was done! It worked pretty well, and I could see the details I needed to. I was afraid of painting with the faint lines that I had, so I decided to outline with a gray sharpie first. 

I felt a lot better about painting the wood with the stronger guidelines and of course the gray sharpie would be covered up with the gray paint. So, I went ahead with a very small brush and outlined and filled in all the letters. I ended up going over everything twice to give it good paint coverage.

I can still see some minor mistakes, but again...I'm going for shabby chic here. It still had plenty of shabby to it. The next step was to add some flowers. I didn't take any pictures of this part, but I found a very useful youtube tutorial on how to make the fabric rosettes. It is a very simple process. I had the perfect fabric to coordinate it with my room. I had a bit of leftover curtain fabric that I used for one rosette, and then I used a fabric that matched my bedding for the second rosette. My ikea bedding actually came in a drawstring bag. It was the exact fabric of my bedding and I knew that I would never use that bag again so I cut it apart. Perfecto! I added a little gem in the center of the gray flower that I had in my craft supplies.  You could adorn the flowers with anything...fancy buttons or old earrings. The final flower was created with felt. I didn't really use a tutorial for this, but I found a pin that basically matches what I did. I hot glued the flowers and the felt leaves onto the wood and the finished product is an adorable scripture art placque to hang in my room!

While the finished product isn't quite as polished as the original pin, I created it myself and that makes it pretty cool. I might just have to do some more. If you want to give it a try, here is the word art file I created to trace. Just click the image and you can download it to your computer.  I'd love to see your work if you end up creating something! Be sure to leave me a comment and share!

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Deep Dish Pizza

Date Night is something I look forward to every week. We have to be creative here in Cameroon. We can't go out after dark here and there is no such thing as "fine dining" in Bamenda. However, there IS fine dining at Chez Sinclair's every Wednesday night.

Each Wednesday I prepare a favorite meal for Ben and I. We have family devotions, put the kids to bed and then Ben and I enjoy a meal together and watch a movie or something to spend some time together. One of my favorite meals to make is Deep Dish Pizza. My mouth is watering as I type! :) This dish is so easy and Oh so yummy!

Here are some instructions on how to make this sure-to-please dish:

First thing you will want is a pizza dough. You can buy a pre-made dough if you prefer, you can make it by hand or you can use one of my favorite appliances...a bread machine.  Here are the steps for the bread machine method:
1. Put 2/3 c. of water in bottom of bread machine pan
2. Add 1/4 c. of olive oil
3. Add 1 tsp. each of dried oregano, basil, and marjoram
4. Add 1/2 tsp. garlic salt and onion salt
5. Add 2 c. of flour
6. On top of your flour add 1 pkg. (.25 oz) of yeast or I add 2 tsp. from a bulk package.

Once you have your ingredients in your pan and machine, set your machine to dough and start 'er up! This is the actual recipe from my recipe book. It makes the perfect amount of dough for this recipe. I have absolutely no idea where this recipe originated from, so I can't give any credit, however it might have been from Taste of Home magazine.

I'm actually a little lazy when I make this. I add the proper amount of water and olive oil. I then throw in a TB of Italian seasoning and shake in a bunch of garlic salt, add the proper amount of flour, the 2 tsp. of yeast and I'm done! You need to be specific about some things, but you learn over time what you can adjust.

While your dough is rising you can prepare the yummy filling. For the filling you will need:
1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp. ground sage
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fennel
peeled, diced, and seeded tomatoes
1-2 green peppers diced
1-2 garlic cloves, pressed
shredded mozzarella
about 40 slices of pepperoni

As you can see some of my measurements are general. I cook everything to taste with this recipe. I don't do a lot of measuring.

The original recipe called for sausage. A friend of mine, Becky Branch, gave me a cook book that she had created a long time ago and it included a lot of substitutions. A recipe for sausage was one of them and it used 1 lb. ground beef, 1 tsp. of sage and 1 tsp. of salt. I have used this recipe for years with all sorts of sausage recipes, one of our favorites being sausage gravy and biscuits. It is a wonderful substitute and, depending on how lean your meat is, can be a lot lower in fat. So, I substituted this sausage recipe to be used in this pizza. I also added the fennel because that just gives the ground beef an extra sausage kick. If you are a big sausage lover, by all means...use the sausage instead.

Cook your ground beef, onions, garlic and green peppers in a skillet. Add your sage, salt, and fennel and combine very well. The more onions, peppers and tomatoes you use, the fuller your pie filling will be.  Add your tomatoes and cook the mixture down. This is purely preference here, but I hand peel and dice my fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes. I can't handle tomato skins sticking to the roof of my mouth. If that doesn't bother you, just skip the peeling part, OR buy some diced canned tomatoes (be sure to drain them). The seeding part is important, but if you forget, like I did the other night, no worries. Just be sure to cook your mixture longer to cook off all of the extra liquid. You don't want your filling to be runny. Again, I can't give you an exact amount because I don't measure my tomatoes, onions or peppers. I just throw a lot in there. You can use your judgement here.

Once your meat mixture is done you will roll your pizza dough into a large circle and place in the bottom of a 12-inch cast iron skillet that has been buttered or oiled well. Let the dough hang over the sides until the pie is filled. Place some shredded mozzarella on the bottom, add meat mixture, cheese and slices of pepperoni.

Repeat the layer again: Meat mixture, cheese and pepperoni. Fold the dough under to form a crust. It will want to sag worries. It will still look pretty when it goes into the oven.

And it will look even prettier coming out of the oven!

This dish is SO good it will rival any Chicago pizzeria! Give it a try - you won't be disappointed! When mine came out of the oven I made an herb butter to brush over the crust. I just melted some butter, stirred in some parmesan cheese, garlic salt and Italian seasoning. Mmmmm! So tasty!

People often ask me what are some of the things that I like to bring back to Cameroon and I always answer by saying pepperoni is at the top of my list. This dish is why! We are a pizza loving family and for me, if it doesn't have pepperoni on makes me sad. We have run out of pepperoni many times while being on the field. Pizza night isn't quite as exciting for me, but our best substitute is using the above sausage recipe to top a traditional pizza. The kids now prefer it to regular sausage.

Let me know if you give this a try and how it turned out!
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