Friday, December 31, 2010

okay 2011 I'm ready for yah!

2010 had its share of ups and down for us... but I am ready for whatever 2011 decides to offer us.

Absolutely ready to put aside the frustrations, pain, fear and losses that we experienced with leaving our ministry and life in Russia and am looking forward to a year of settling into a full life here in Belize.

The name I have decided on for this year is JOY. Not the simple 'I'm happy and have a good outlook on life' kinda joy but the type of joy that only comes from an anchored soul.

I desire for His joy to be mine.
I cherish in my heart a joy that no one can take away.
I am willing to take the joy with the trouble and the trouble with the joy.

 I wish you all

May you have joy in your heart,

joy in your soul
joy in your home.

 Joy & blessings to one and all 
and have a


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Two of the three...

Yesterday I went with Tom to visit his doctor. During the consultation Doctor Ramos recommended drinking plenty of water, cranberry juice and coconut water.

I had seen coconut water in the stores here but we had not tasted it yet so this was the perfect time to give it a go. After doing a bit of research online I discovered that there are many benefits to drinking coconut water; it hydrates the body, is an antibacterial and is the purest liquid second only to water itself. Apparently it is chock full of electrolytes, calcium, potassium, magnesium; everything that is good for you.

As for taste, well it isn't bad.  I just had a sip. Tom drank the whole bottle and was not totally sold on the taste.  He said he would rather have Gatorade!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tasty Tuesday

I stopped in Sarfield's Bakery the other day because I could smell something fresh from the oven and just had to see what it was.  Mrs. Sarfield always has something in the oven that draws people in off the street!

One of the things that she had just taken out of the oven was her Cassava Pudding.  I didn't know exactly what cassava was but of course Google came to my rescue and I found a photo:

I found a description of the vegetable here: Cassava

And of course I had to bring home the pudding and take a photo:
It was actually kind of tasty and the recipe can be found here:

For more recipes and tasty treats head over to Tasty Tuesday hosted by
For the Love of Blogs

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas blessings...

This year's Christmas was a very modest one for us. We decided not to buy a tree this year... but, I did manage to get a few decorations up to brighten up the place for the holiday.

We even managed a bit of shopping for each other...just one present each.

However we did have a few people play Santa for us.

These bikes were a major blessing.  Now we can get around town 
easier and still get exercise while we are out and about.

These small appliances provided by a small group in Kansas
also brought joy into our home.

and a few things from the Southwest were a delight
and came just in time for Christmas as well.
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 Not all of the blessings we received this Christmas can be shown in photo.

Christmas Eve was spent having dinner with Tom and June out at their place.  We enjoyed an evening of fellowship with them and were glad that they were here in town and not back in the states for the holiday.

We were blessed with phone calls from our parents, connecting with our children, and lots of holiday greetings in English and in Russian on Facebook and in emails on Christmas day.

We also feel blessed to have experienced our first Belizean Christmas. Church bells sounded around 10 pm Christmas Eve then fireworks were set off by our neighbors right around midnight.

Christmas morning we awoke to church bells, fireworks and music coming from the homes around us.  Church was canceled on Sunday because most of the people at the small church we attend went to visit their relatives in villages out in other parts of the country... this gave us a leisurely day to relax, go on a short bike ride and enjoy the quiet here in town.

I encourage you to take some time to count your blessings and in doing so may you feel rich with joy and hope for the coming year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Be blessed not stressed!

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The merry family gatherings -
The old, the very young;
The strangely lovely way they
Harmonize in carols sung.
For Christmas is tradition time -
Traditions that recall
The precious memories down the years,
The sameness of them all.
~Helen Lowrie Marshall

Everywhere we have lived we have watched children participate in Christmas skits, say their poems and sing their songs.  Traditions like these truly touch my heart.  I think back to when my oldest son was the baby Jesus in a Christmas musical back in Kansas 23 years ago.  I can also remember reciting a poem, playing the violin and singing in church as a child.  

For all who celebrate Christmas take some time to rejoice in and reflect on the reason for the season. Be blessed not stressed over all the traditions and getting it all just right... just have yourself a

Merry Christmas! 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Candy Cane Cookies....

This is my first year making Christmas cookies to give away to a large group. I decided to try my hand at making Candy Cane Cookies. I found a simple recipe online here: (Recipe) then I found a poem to go along with the cookies here: (Poem)

Tom cut out the poems

I shaped and baked 100 cookies

Tom put two cookies in each ziplock bag and tied the poem to the bag.

Tom read the poem while Pastor Jose tried to sneak a bag of cookies....
and then together we passed out the cookies to the kids.

 Christmas cookies are not part of the traditions here.  The Black Fruit cake and the plain white cake are the only homemade holiday treats here.  The cookies were a big hit with the kids and with the adults.  Even the teens came up to thank me and tell me they were delicious.   Next year I will start earlier and make more than just one type of cookie for them to try.  I guess we can help start a few new traditions at the Sheperd's House.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tasty Tuesday

 My hair dresser had an open house at her salon for Christmas and she invited me to come out.  I was excited about the invitation and about trying the Christmas desserts.  She had her daughter bring me out a small slice of each cake so that I could sample both the black fruit cake and plain white cake.  


The black cake is called that because there is a food coloring they use to make it dark...and the fruits inside are soaked in rum weeks before the cake is baked.  Doing an internet search led me to recipes for both of them along with some other holiday dishes enjoyed here in Belize.


Here is a copy of the white cake recipe for you to enjoy!  

White Cake

No Belizean Christmas is complete without plain white cake being offered at EVERY house you visit.
  • 1 lb cake flour (16 ozs)
  • 1 lb white sugar (16 ozs)
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 tsps baking powder (level)
  • 1 nutmeg grated
  • 2-3 tsps lemon & pineapple essence
  • 8 Ozs + 1 tsblsp margarine (1cup or 2 sticks)
  • 1 Sm Evaporated Milk (diluted) with equal amounts of water to make 1 ½ cups


Prepare cake tins. Preheat oven to 350F
Sift flour, nutmeg & baking powder (Set aside)
Cream margarine and sugar until light & fluffy
Beat eggs one at a time until very frothy
Add margarine and sugar. Mix well after each addition. If an electric mixer is used, mix at medium speed.
Add essence. Mix well.
Before adding flour, decrease speed of mixer to low.
Add sifted flour alternately with milk. Begin and end with flour.
Bake for 40 minutes 350 or until a tester inserted in cake comes out dry. Cool before moving cake from tin.

Monday, December 20, 2010

it's not about the stuff...

As we get closer to Christmas and we still don't have a tree, we have no idea if our boxes will actually arrive from Russia or not and all of the furniture we currently have in our rented home is borrowed.

Seems kinda whiney to say all of that.  Especially in light of where we went Sunday morning.  Our normal habit is to attend church.  But on Saturday we got a call saying that the church service had been canceled due to the death of the Youth pastor's grandmother.  We were given an invitation to attend the funeral and though we never met Granny Choc we decided we should go to support her grandson.

Mrs. Choc was born in September of 1918 and died on Saturday, December 18, 2010 at noon. Within 24 hours she was laid to rest in a cemetery not more than a half mile from the house we are renting.

We were picked up by Pastor Jose and his wife Carla.  The van made the rounds to pick up a few other church members before arriving at the house where the service was held.

The house was very plain.  Just a simple cement shell... not even painted.  The only color that contrasted with the grey cement was the large black bow hanging on the front door.  A tent in the yard covered the seating area of metal folding chairs.  I was grateful to the chivalrous young man who gave up his seat for me.  And someone else went to grab a chair for Tom, Pastor Jose and Carla.

The service was simple but powerful.  And dare I say almost joyful.  You see Granny was a believer.  She gave her life to Christ 25 years ago and today at her funeral the eulogy was delivered by one of her grandsons, Jonathan, a youth pastor, scriptures were read by her granddaughter, a worship leader, and several other family members were listed as to how they each serve in the local churches.  Granny was a tiny little woman; her casket reminded me of the size they use for children in the states...and yet she had a major impact on her family. 

Pink carnations made from plastic were fashioned into a wreath laid at her feet in the casket.  She was covered with a beige blanket and only her face was visible.  The coffin looked to be made of wood but was covered in a majestic purple material.  With a gold plated sign on one end that read: AT REST.  A fan was placed in front of the open casket to keep the body cool before the burial.

The pastor presiding over the funeral opened with prayer then we sang a hymn followed by the reading Psalm 90.  After another hymn and scripture reading Jonathan came up to do the eulogy. He described his grandmother as 'the rock that all the waves shattered upon.'  He implored everyone to follow Grandma's example and seek God.  Even up to the age of 92 she still knelt in prayer everyday for two hours.  She was frail in body but strong in spirit. Jonathan called on us to celebrate her life because she was finally out of pain and was entering into the Kingdom of God.

Much like in the small church I grew up in we sang a few traditional funeral hymns.  When the Roll is Called up Yonder and When we All Get to Heaven.  I remember singing them at my grandfather's funeral over 30 years ago.  The theme for the pastor's sermon was 'God speaks. Listen and respond.'  Using Psalm 19 he imparted that God speaks to us in two different ways;  through creation and through His word. After the final hymn was sung Pastor Jose was asked to pray the closing prayer.  We were allowed a short time to view the body and then the casket was loaded onto the back of a small truck.

Surrounding the coffin were Granny's grandchildren and great grandchildren.

We walked behind the truck about 3/4 of a mile to the cemetery

The casket was then placed down into the grave

 Following another hymn and more words from the pastor
some of the family members put handfuls of gravel into the grave
while others prepared the cement to seal it.
  As one group of men mixed cement another group prepared the grave
placing boards and a metal grate over the coffin.  
Wetting down the area was the final step before pouring the cement.

After the funeral Tom and I walked home.  We were grateful that we were able to be there for Jonathan and his family.  Grateful that we are alive, healthy and that we have each other to share life with. 

As we count down the days to Christmas we cannot help but ponder the real reason for this season.  And we both know for sure it is not about the stuff.  

Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday displays...

After leaving the tree lighting last Friday with our bellies full of garnachas and tamales we walked over to Cardinal's grocery store to get some soda. The line for the free soda at the tree lighting ceremony was just too long to handle. 

As we walked into the store we saw this Christmas display
of Santa and his reindeer. 

Standing in line to pay we noticed this display above the doorway.

I wasn't totally shocked to see a Nativity scene here but very surprised it was in the grocery store and not in front of someone's home.  I mean this is the place where people come to shop, pay their electric bills or put money on their cell phones.  Does this even happen anymore in the states?

This year we spent New Year and Russian Orthodox Christmas in Krasnodar, Russia, Easter in Istanbul, Turkey, and the Fourth of July in Dallas, Texas.  Each location had it's own take on the holidays.  Russian Christmas has Ded Moroz in place of Santa Claus.  And in Istanbul only a handful of people celebrated Easter.  We were fortunate to find an English speaking Christian church for the Easter service and while the church was packed it did not compare to the number of people we saw headed toward the mosques when the calls to prayer were sounded.

Since our arrival to Belize we have enjoyed celebrating Thanksgiving and now we are looking forward to the Christmas and New Year's celebrations. We are excited about seeing and experiencing all that the holiday season has to offer.  We are eager to try the holiday dishes and learn how the this country celebrates its holidays.

When Mayor Simeon Lopez spoke at tree lighting he reminded everyone that the purpose of the Christmas holiday is to "commemorate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ".   Keeping that in mind as we face our first Christmas without our loved ones around we have hope that we too will have a Merry Christmas here in our newly adopted country.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tree Lighting in Belmopan

Kids dancing around before the show begins
Dancers from Our Lady of Guadalupe Primary School

Mayor Simeon Lopez

Our Lady of Guadalupe Primary School Choir

Area Representative, Honorable John Salvidar

Wen dey gunna lite di tri?

ready for the countdown...

The 2010 Belmopan Christmas Tree

jumping the line for free sodas...

Free drinks from Bowen & Bowen