On Sunday night, we had the undergraduate leadership team over for dinner and their weekly leadership meeting. (We’ll be hosting them this semester, while Aaron is on sabbatical and Hans is working with the undergraduate InterVarsity chapter.) During dinner, Hans asked everyone to describe their winter break with one word. He started with the word, “exhausting”. When my turn came, I answered with the word, “refreshing”, to which everyone laughed… apparently they liked the contrast between our answers.
The truth is, exhausting is a valid word to describe the last four weeks. We spent the week before the break by working hard to get year-end ministry things done while also spending more time with international students than normal, since they were more available during the exam week. Then we jumped into the car and zoomed to Minnesota, to spend most of a week with my (Lindsay’s) family. My brother, who works a crazy night-shift schedule, was able to be there the whole time we were, and we spent the week playing games, enjoying food together, and of course, celebrating Christmas with all of the Williams family traditions.
The day after Christmas, we jumped into the car and made our way east across Wisconsin and the UP, to Hans’ parents’ house. Both of his sisters and their husbands were there for the weekend, and we enjoyed the time with them. Between playing games, installing solar lights on the woodshed (one of Dale and Mary’s Christmas presents), watching his sister’s bunny run around, and opening gifts, the one full day we were all together passed way too fast. After his sisters left, we had the rest of the week to enjoy being with Hans’ parents.
And then, on January 2nd, Hans and I left Caleb with Grandma and Grandpa and went home. Our time at home was short – just over 24 hours (in which we worked on finishing drywall) – and then we hopped on a plane and went to Texas. The purpose of the trip was to attend an International Student Ministry (ISM) conference near San Antonio, and we took advantage of the time to take a few days before the conference for ourselves.
Even though it was a big reason the break was exhausting, the conference was also what made it so refreshing. We had four days to spend with other like-minded staff, worshipping God, studying the Bible together, and sharing our ISM experiences. Hans and I asked questions, learned a ton, and were re-awakened to the passion that God has given us to serve international students. I went to the conference feeling like ISM was a job, and I left the conference being reminded of it as our calling.
Because our last flight was cancelled, we had to scramble to get home (and as a result had a fantastic visit with friends in Chicago). But that meant we arrived (via an overnight bus) just nine hours before we hosted the leadership meeting I mentioned above. Even with all of that, and though it was hard to leave Caleb for so long, I am incredibly thankful that we had the chance to go to the conference. Here’s to 2015 and what God has in store!
Last year Easter surprised us. Life was moving full speed ahead and suddenly Easter morning dawned before we had really thought about any way of celebrating it. This year I wasn’t caught quite so unprepared!
We have never dyed eggs as a family but I think it might just be something we do every year. It was fun to see Caleb’s reaction to the way the eggs were becoming colored – and he really liked helping to put them in the dye solutions! I forgot to use the time when we were dyeing the eggs to talk about why we were doing it and what Easter is about, probably because the entire time we were working I was imagining a cup of bright red, blue, or green dye spilling into Caleb’s lap, but we did talk a little about what Easter is after we finished. And now that I know how nerve-wracking egg dyeing can be, I can plan ahead to talk about why we’re doing it before or after the process!
On Sunday, we celebrated with those at church with Bethany’s tradition of a pancake breakfast before the Easter service. I was working in the toddler class during the service (the class gives the 2- and 3-year-olds somewhere to learn and wiggle while everyone else has to sit still and listen) and it was really exciting to see the kids grasp the theme of the lesson. It was the first time they’ve done that while I’ve been teaching and to hear them say, “Jesus is alive!” at the end of our time together was really exciting.
To end our Easter celebration we welcomed 5 international students and a friend from church to join us for Easter dinner. I did my best to make it a traditional dinner and it was a great time to talk, get to know each other better, and enjoy lots of food. It was a simple way to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, but it was a good way.
It struck me this year that we spend a whole month getting ready to celebrate Christmas, with lots of traditions and reminders of the coming day, but Easter doesn’t get nearly as much fanfare. Next year I hope to be able to start a few new family traditions to help focus our celebration of Easter onto Jesus and to help teach Caleb that Christ’s resurrection is such an important thing to celebrate.
Most people know that I (Lindsay) like to cook. In fact, I spend so much time in the kitchen, that Caleb’s favorite activity is “cooking” and he has claimed the seldom used, small pots and pans for his personal use in the living room. In spite of all of my experience in the kitchen, last Saturday had me a little concerned about roasting my first turkey.
Of course, I wouldn’t have been as nervous if the turkey was for a small group of friends and family. But we had sent an invitation to IFA (the international student ministry we work with), inviting the 200 people on the email list to a Thanksgiving-themed potluck at our house. Come Saturday morning, I was starting to sweat a little when I thought about roasting the 17.5 pound turkey sitting in the refrigerator. And the two loaves of bread spread out on the counter waiting to be made into dressing taunted me with the fact that I still hadn’t figured out how I was going to bake it at the same time as the turkey.
In one of my semi-panicked phone calls to my mom, she told me, “Maybe you should have bought a smaller turkey since this is the first time you are roasting one.” I was starting to agree, especially when I realized that we might not have many people show up.
Two hours before I expected it the little button on the turkey popped, so we kept the turkey in the still-warm oven, hoping it wouldn’t dry out. But one problem was fixed and I baked the dressing without a problem (and the turkey stayed hot enough without overcooking, too!) And at 6:00, our doorbell rang and for the next 20 minutes we had a stream of people filling our entryway. Caleb charmed students on the couch while Hans carved the turkey and I helped organize the kitchen. And the fear of two weeks of turkey leftovers disappeared.
About 30 people came to join us for dinner, and everyone had a great time talking and eating. I didn’t know most of those who came, and it was great to meet everyone and get to know them a little. I’m looking forward to having more potlucks in the future – especially if I don’t have to roast a turkey!
What on earth is an huminta, you ask? It’s easier to show than explain…
First, you separate the corn from the husk – cutting off the bottom of the cob so that the leaves peel off intact.
Then you cut the corn off the cob, grind it, and add cinnamon, sugar, salt, oil, and anise seed
Then you overlap two leaves and add a small slice of cheese. Once you’ve folded the leaves over and tied the little bundle shut, all that’s left is cooking the humintas.
To prepare the pan, place some of the used cobs in the bottom of the pan and lay extra leaves on top of them (to prevent the bottom humintas from burning on the bottom of the pot). Place the tied humintas on top of the leaves, stacking them on top of each other. When all of the humintas are in the pan, place a layer of leaves on top of them. Add boiling water so the pan is about 1/3 full, cover, and let cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
The jovenes (college students) at our church decided we needed to learn how to make humintas and so last Monday they all came over. We didn’t realize the process would take so long… though it only took an hour or so to get the humintas in the pan, it took a lot longer to cook them! But since Monday was a holiday, we enjoyed the time together.
Of course, we didn’t just make humintas. Lots of Dutch Blitz was played, a movie was watched, and Caleb was loved on.
Just in case you want to try your hand at humintas, here are the proportions we used:
25 ears of corn (makes about 4-5 quarts of ground corn)
1/2 – 1 cup sugar (or to taste)
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp anise seed
1 Tbsp salt (or to taste)
2 Tbsp oil