A Week Since Thanksgiving

Thursday – Thanksgiving

We were thankful to have Caleb’s and China back for Thanksgiving. I was especially thankful that they came back Wednesday because they were essentially zombies that day, but they were more lively Thursday. It was interesting doing a holiday together with varying styles of planning and personality involved, ranging from “Here is the spreadsheet for the day” to “Let’s just wing it!” When we all blend together, how happy we’ll be.

We had invited Percy’s and Rafael’s to join us for a meal at 3:00. Lucrecia was the only one who arrived on time, and I now wish I had given her a golden star. Percy and the girls arrived at 4:15-ish, and Rafael’s arrived around 5:30. We went ahead and ate around 4:00 so the food would get no cooler than it was.

As always, I enjoyed the cooking part of the day. I had brined a chicken (that was supposed to be a turkey, but my dearly beloved wife bought the wrong thing). I also made stuffing, which turned out amazingly, and gravy, which was a health hazard. Everyone else had their own things to make, too. We had delicious pies, frightening egg salad, macaroni salad that made Percy’s children cry, chocolate-covered nuts and pretzels, ham rolls, and more.

Elisabet said she was grateful we invited them and that they hope we never stop taking a day to remember what the Lord did for us over the past year. “It’s a good custom for you to keep from the States. You are a good example to us.” We played Ten Thousand with the adults while the children played Catan. It was surprising to me how much Elisabet wanted to talk about being a Christian. Rafael did not join in, but just looked miserable and uncomfortable.

I almost forgot! We also butchered a wether goat. Caleb helped me kill and dress him the night before, then the children and I did the butchering after breakfast. Caleb came down mid-morning to help with the sausage making. We had bought sausage seasoning while on furlough, and I’m glad we did.

Friday – School Transition

Friday, we were back to school. Caleb, Miss Elizabeth, and I all met in the morning before school. I gave my report of how things had gone, and we discussed how Caleb would do for the next two weeks; he’ll be teaching while China is at Bible School. We thought it would be good to stay on with doing Spanish school during those two weeks so Caleb can put to practice what he learned in Puno.

The hardest part of learning a language is having the discipline to use it a lot every day. If you don’t get out and talk for hours each day, you will have a slow language assimilation. This is one reason why we hear that moms learning new languages have a slow process because they tend to talk the easier language at home. Hopefully, Caleb will have a chance to add a layer during these two weeks at school, and China will likewise be able to practice her Spanish in Huaral.

I taught the whole day, gradually including Caleb more and more so he could get a feel for how to handle classes and so on. I enjoyed teaching, but I am looking forward to having more time back to catch up on the pile of stuff calling my name at home.

Saturday – Gardening

I did not need to study! That felt like a birthday present. Caleb plans to share a message once a month now that he’s back from Puno, and he dove right in this first Sunday back. I spent hours and hours and hours out in the garden. China worked with me most of the time, which was fun. We hardly talked at all, just enjoyed the sun and later the drizzle while putting out plants. Caleb dropped by for milk shortly before lunch and hopped in to help us move the compost pile.

What all is planted by now? Lots of pepper varieties: jalepeños, red chili, cayenne, California gold, sweet peppers, banana peppers, Anaheim, and a couple more. There are cucumbers, yellow squash, butternut squash, green beans, pinto beans (a first for me), peas, carrots (three varieties), beets, radishes, lettuce, spinach, chard, onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, okra, and more. I used to have an herb bed, but China was certain it looked like grass, so she thinned it out for me; hopefully, some of that comes back.

She wasn’t the only one who made a mistake. While weeding around the ferns, I yanked up a thick weed only to discover it was the rhubarb that I had planted from seed last year. I don’t know if I killed it, but I tenderly replanted it and hope it comes back. I love rhubarb punch and pie.

Since it was China’s last Saturday here for a while, we decided to have an evening of games together. I pulled out a bag of Skittles from my stash for something special, and it was all eaten up. There are some among us who will EAT Skittles as if they were a food snack; I prefer to have one Skittle at a time to slowly suck on and enjoy for a few minutes. I will have to be judicious in sharing my candy with just anyone.

Sunday – Study and Caleb’s Message

Sunday morning, we had a late start because we were waiting on the other family to arrive. They experienced delays in traveling from their home. I expect it was a flat tire or possibly a traffic jam. We did spend a couple hours working through the final section of the book (Church Planting Movements). We are around 80% of the way through the book.

I had visited with Alicia the week before last, and she said she wanted us to come to her house for the service. I went back to her house last week, but she wasn’t home–she never, ever answers her phone. We decided to go ahead and try going to her house anyway. We went, but she wasn’t there, so we came home again and had service with our two families. Caleb was noticeably better in his Spanish pronunciation than before going to Puno.

We had leftover pizza for supper. Steph has been making cheeses the past two weeks while I was in school, and we enjoyed having some brined mozzarella. She made smoked gouda, using liquid smoke, and she made brick, havarti, cream, and cottage cheeses. All very good. I’m enjoying having what I consider better cheeses and not having them be expensive, other than the time to make them.

Monday – China Left

Monday morning, I worked out in the bodega and in the field. I was mixing the various grass seeds in preparation for sowing the upper field. The dust really irritated me, but we were out of allergy meds, so by noon, I was coughing up a storm–just a small one.

China finished packing. Her flight was to be at 3:00 in the afternoon, so we wanted to leave her around 12:00. We stopped in Izcuchaca to pick up contact lenses for her that she had ordered on Friday, but the man said she hadn’t actually ordered them; she had just said, “Thank you. I’ll see you next week.” China thought that was ordering them. If she loses the last pair she has on her eyeballs now, she’ll have to hunt for some in Huaral.

Everything went well at the airport, and she was on her way. She arrived in Lima shortly before several folks from Puno, including Rafael and his sister Marta; they will be at the Bible school, too. I think she was pretty tickled to be with Marta again; they seemed to have hit it off really well.

I would be slightly jealous of China, but I was warned by a friend not to be because the last time that happened, we had the catastrophe of missing our flight to the States. So, I’m happy to be where I am while merrily reading China’s updates in the evenings. She is having a good time, and her humor is finding enjoyment in places most people wouldn’t think to look.

Tuesday – Sowing the Field

Tuesday morning, Alicia’s sister (who has a name, I’m sure), came by. She is mentally challenged, which creates a challenge for me in working with her. She wanted me to sell her a buckling and doeling pair of goats, but she only had S/5 with her. She said she’d told the Lord she didn’t have money in her coin purse when she left home and that He would have to provide, but He didn’t, so she’ll just take the goats and pay me later.

I told her that it would be better for her to wait until the Lord actually provides. She said she’ll just take them now–that red one and that gray one–and when the Lord blesses her with apples to sell, she’ll give me the money. –¿Está bien, hermano? ¡Hermano, escúchame! Voy a llevarlos ahorita. ¡Hermano! ¡No estás escuchandome!– She was doggedly persistant, but I was cheerfully not listening to her demands.

Her son César who is twenty-one was along. He was looking for work, so I told him he could do some things here for the afternoon, and we would talk about more later. His mother, who only speaks by shouting, told me that he would be an excellent worker, just what I needed, etc. Then when he went out to the barn to start mucking stalls, she came and whispered to me to watch out for him because he accidentally puts things into his pocket and backpack. So, I have hired a kleptomaniac whose mother is more than slightly deranged.

Percy and his family came around 1:00 to sow the field; his father- and mother- and sister-in-law were along to help. The tractor we hired went around and disced the field, then they followed with wheat seed. I helped after the second discing with sowing the grass mixture I had put together of alfalfa, clover, rye, orchard, and a couple others I forget. It is good to have the field sown.

Wednesday – New Calf

César arrived at 7:30 while I was wrestling with a new bull calf. The heifer I had bought from Lamar finally calved. I had AI bred her numerous times, and she had aborted a handful of times last year, but at last, she settled by one of the bulls I had bought. She has a bad case of edema, which I had been treating this week, but she seems to be improving quickly now.

The little guy was born on my oldest brother’s 40th birthday, which was a neat coincidence. I have named him Rey; his mom is Leydi (Lady). He was stubborn, as bull calves are wont to be, so I was rather covered in manure until I had him nursing well. César decided that was a good time to stare or alternately try to talk about my teaching him English.

I set César to work on digging up thistles. He wanted to know what he could do after that, but I assured him it would take him some time. He was incredulous that I wanted him to remove the thistles not only from our side of the ditch, but also from the neighbors’ sides of the ditch. The third time he came to verify if I really wanted him to “perder” his time with that, I explained that the seeds of the neighbors’ thistles don’t know they ought to stay on their side of the ditch, and since they don’t clear out their thistles, we will need to. He found that hilarious and spent the rest of the day laboring over thistles.

I worked at other things but took him snack and lunch and spent some time with him. He wanted to know what music I listen to. “You look like you would like Rock music,” he said. I cannot imagine what made him think that, but that led to a long discussion about what the Bible says about what we should fill ourselves with. He claims to be a Christian because him mom is a Christian because Alicia claims to be a Christian, but he cannot remember when he last went to church or read his Bible. He is slighly simple, whether by nature or nurture, I don’t know, but I want to take time to answer his questions.

Thursday – Today

Steph and Belinda went to town to get some groceries. Belinda doesn’t yet feel confident to go alone, and Steph enjoys the company. I was going to make cheese, but that will need to wait until tomorrow because I need more milk, and I needed to add milk to the mother culture because it was too low; I didn’t want to kill it. I’m watching the children until the ladies get back.

This afternoon, if the weather cooperates, I want to do a video update for the Patrons. It has been too long since I got them up-to-date, and we have two doelings that we need to assign to sponsors. Dane is planning to help me with the update this time; he said he’s going to get his school work done very fast so he can have the afternoon off. I hope Caleb is prepared for dealing with a whirlwind.

César is not here today because he said he had planned to be somewhere else, but he says he’ll be back on Friday to tackle more thistles. Just before he left, he dropped his jacket into the ditch; the jacket had his phone in its pocket. The phone went dead, which was very sad. I gave him a bag of rice to put it in, hoping it may dry out.

Hanging the wether to dress
Butchering crew
Cutting the back for soup bones
Bagging sausage
Prepping for Thanksgiving dinner
School on Friday
China supervising Caleb
Happy little sprouts
Prepping the wheat
Can we finish before it rains?
Looking the other direction
The new bull calf
How I look after chores 😁. Willow is shocked.