Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas in Southeast Asia 2015

While around the world you will see twinkling lights, millions of parties, lines to see Santa clause, Christmas carols and cantatas being sung far and wide in Our corner of Southeast Asia the site is far different. You realize when you move to a nation whose people have barely ever been exposed to Christianity how much our beloved American holidays are inseparably tied to our nations roots in Christianity. Although many Americans choose to celebrate without ever broaching the true meaning of Christmas they have been blessed to be exposed to Christmas due to the thousands of Christians in our countries heritage that honored Christs birth.

So, what does Christmas look like in a staunchly Hindu/Buddhist country that is just budding in its knowledge of the modern world and what does our holiday season look like? That's what I'm going to write about today.

This year since September some time the border between India and Nepal has been mostly closed. You may think so what? America is so diversified from the places it imports from it is hard for us to imagine a place like here. I myself honestly didn't even realize the extreme dependency we had until this situation came up. I would be willing to guess 95% all of our imported products are from India and very little is made domestically. All of our gas, diesel, cooking gas, most all packaged foods, frozen meats, hygiene products, clothing, appliances just about anything you can think of we get from India. So when they became irritated with Nepals new constitution and slammed shut the border a country limping to recovery after a ginormous earthquake skidded to an abrupt stop!

So as the months ticked by December found Nepal still in a dead lock with India. While we are receiving more goods than in the beginning and most people can buy gas through black market channels at 3x-6x the previous rate. You don't see as many bicycles during the holiday season as we did the first couple months but you will pass tons of public transportation packed to the gills and thousands of people cooking over fire due to cooking gas shortages.

In all the hubbub of shortages we found a great local photographer that did our family pics and Marcus' 1 year old pics.

After I recovered from all the Thanksgiving cooking we set in for Christmas festivities. You will not find streets and stores decked out with Christmas decorations or music playing from every speaker. If you didn't put forth an effort, besides the 20-30 Christmas trees you see speckled through our town of 5 million people you could probably forget it was Christmas at all. So after a brief respite after thanksgiving we go full force into creating a festive atmosphere.

This year we were able to make our own felt tree for the kids to decorate (which they played with 1 time!), got together with a friend to make Christmas cookies and even was able to make a Christmas pillow!


We pulled out our artificial tree to throw it up and found it had at some point been broken in the middle. After a few days of innovation we finally found 2 wooden sticks, a large amount of duct tape, some red ribbon to cover it and some cans of corn on the base got her up and standing. No small feat!

Cold weather set in with a fierceness! We have no central heating and cement houses; essentially a meat locker:) Generally everyone uses gas space heaters but due to the shortage it has left everyone with only their electric heaters. Annually the week of thanksgiving begins our electricity cut backs. They gradually increase until the spring until we are up to only 2-3 hours of electricity a day. Also due to the increased amount of electricity usage because of all the shortages they drastically began cutting our electricity after thanksgiving till it was already almost at its highest rate for the season. So on came the layers, fleece and down.

Package began swiftly arriving at our bustling post office from family members and Supporting church friends for Christmas. We are always overjoyed to have friends and family that take the time and money to share Christmas with us so far away. With little diesel for the car we try to limit it to family trips and mostly church. So on his trusty motorcycle Cory plays Santa toting all the packages home with much finesse!

And of course Christmas wouldn't be complete without Mom and Dad making a last minute trip to the store and toting home surprises on the motorcycle.

As Christmas Day drew ever nearer we anxiously planned what is generally our biggest outreach of the year. Nepal may not celebrate Christmas but they are highly curious about this "western holiday" they see on TV. Which is a great open door for Christians here to spread the gospel. Unlike the states, people here don't generally understand celebrating a holiday on a day other than the exact date. So every Christmas Day you will find all the Christians in Nepal present at their church to celebrate with their Christian family and all the friends and family they persuaded to join them. This year I had sketched out pictures for our young people to color for the Christmas decorations.



I had also dreamnt up ideas of all the sweets I would make for our family and for the church activities. About 10 days out I started making cookies for our family. After it took about 3 days to get them all cooked I realized rellying on baked goodies was not the path of wisdom with all the electricity cuts. So I began conniving some easier ideas.

Our festivities started on Tuesday the 22nd. We brought all our sketches and some cider and angel shaped donuts to church for the Christmas party.


We all had a blast coloring and decorating the church, eating goodies and playing some Christmas games.



Wednesday, I began making bags of popcorn and I connived a no bake cookie recipe. Consisting of cracker, topped with peanut butter, melted chocolate, crushed nuts and Christmas sprinkles. No bake goodies, check.

I had the menu planned for our family celebration on Thursday. We are terribly busy once the church programs start so we schedule another time to celebrate at home as a family. The menu was written; roast duck, shrimp scampi, scalloped potatoes, carrots and strawberry pie. But I honestly had no idea if the electricity would come on for me to accomplish it. So with small expectations I waited For the day of. We finished our sweets and rushed off for Wednesday evening services which are at 4 here in the winter due to people not needing to walk in the dark.

We rushed home, ate dinner, put the kids to bed and began wrapping all the presents we had, had hidden in the wardrobes. We carefully placed them around the tree to be seen upon the kids awakening and I fell into bed as Cory stayed up studying for his first big outreach speaking in Nepali.

Thursday morning came and we eagerly anticipated the kids rushing out if their rooms to find packages from here and the states. We opened gifts as a family and then with all the grandparents on Skype. What a wonderful time of excitement and present destruction.


As we hung up the internet call with our parents Cory rushed out the door to speak at a local school near our church. The Lord gave him a wonderful opportunity to speak to 80-100 kids about the true meaning of Christmas. It was a total surprise to have this opportunity and a great blessing. I tidied up the destruction in the house and began wondering what the night would look like with our electricity issues. Hubby came home after about 3 hours away at the school had some lunch and took a brief nap. The clock struck 4pm and the electricity roared to life. I saw my opportunity and I seized it! First I threw together a pie crust and some strawberry pie filling I had waiting and threw it in the oven.

Then I pulled out the best Christmas present ever. #1 husband of the year bought me a Ninja crockpot I had been coveting and had it shipped all the way from the states for little ole me:)

It is terrifically awesome! I threw in some scalloped potatoes and set the timer for 90 minutes.


Next, I began my first ever attempt at roast duck. Eeeeee no clue where to start?? I won't share my recipe because I know I made mistakes but it was tasty. I stuffed it with orange slices and garlic and drenched it in a balsamic vinegar, orange juice, honey and butter sauce.....mmmmmm. Meanwhile we scrapped up some shrimp scampi.


Come 6:15 or so all was set to serve! I could hardly believe it! All was finished right on time. We enjoyed a scrumptious Christmas meal and ended our Christmas celebration with the reading of the Christmas story.

You can see the camo blur in the corner of the couch who didn't have the spirit of silence for the story:)

Thursday morning we woke bright and early to dress and head out for our Christmas service at church.

We had a wonderful crowd and enjoyed a great day of celebrating with our church family. We enjoyed a meal of my cracker cookies, popcorn, Nepali donuts, egg curry (sounds strange but yum!) and sprite:)

It was a blessed day! We had our first ever kids program, first ever Christmas special by our young ladies, first ever Christmas food preparation by our members and first ever Nepali message by Pastor Cory and I got to wear my first ever "' umbrella Kurta" a rendition of their traditional Nepali dress. Wonderful day of firsts! We all went home completely pooped!


We returned the next day for our weekend service with multiple return visitors and a repeat performance by the kiddos. I carried around two exhausted children who had, had a long week "experiencing" Nepali Christmas:) We got home around 1:30pm to embrace in a weekend of complete laziness. We ended the night relaxing as a family, Savannah telling us she was riding her horse to Bethlehem with Joseph to have a baby:) and an empty strawberry pie plate.


So as you can see Chrsitmas in Asia is far from traditional but it is full of excitement, blessings and answers to prayer.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What Is My Greatest Testimony for Christ?

I'll begin by saying I don't know that I have the answer to this question. But it's been on my mind recently. As ladies in the ministry we often struggle with nagging thoughts.

"Am I doing enough?"

"Am I being selfish by focusing so much on my family?"

"Am I too consumed with the ministry and forgetting my family?"

"Does what I do at home really matter?"

"Does it matter to anyone besides those who live under my roof?"

"What should my priorities be?"

"Should I feel guilty for choosing different priorities than other ladies?"

"Does what I do please the Lord?"


As you can see I obviously have long conversations with myself:) Tell me I'm not the only one...please:) I think we all struggle with these thoughts and the devil riding our shoulder. Through certain circumstances recently the Lord really has been working at opening my eyes to my greatest ministry and my greatest effectiveness. I think it would be such a benefit if we could be truly, wholly convinced of this. With true confidence the weight of guilt is lifted and you have the freedom to completely give yourself to the task at hand.

We have all heard that our children are our greatest ministry. We have all nodded our heads and went, "blah, blah, blah....but when do I really do something great? When do I do something that can be seen? When do I do something that makes me feel like I've accomplished something for Chrsit?"

Even if we do love and embrace our role as mother and wife and aren't driven to lead the ministry the devil sneaks in to discourage and frustrate us. He sneaks close and whispers in our ear, "Why don't you do the things you used to?" "Why aren't you doing what that lady is doing?" "Why is your life so wrapped up in your kids?" "People need you, you should give more!" The stab of guilt runs deep and we begin to bleed remorse and regret and connive ways to fix our station.

So many lies swirl around when The Devil speaks and they sound so good!

"Should we love souls?"

"Should we invest in others?"

"Should we be a witness?"

"Should we give our all to raise our children?"

"Should we do anything possible to walk along side our husband and meet every need we can?"


The answer to all of these is Yes. But what is the path to accomplish them? Must we be at the church everyday? Must We personally be the mentor and guidance counselor to every female and child in our church? Must we visit ladies for hours every week? Must we teach every class and play the piano? All while running a household, schooling our children, loving our husband, cooking the meals, cleaning the house, organizing the masses?

From how I see it I say No. Is there anything wrong with doing all of those things if it is right for your family and all the needs are met? No. But I would say generally that isn't how it works out and if it does it is a wave of time that changes. I feel like I have been though multiple major changes of my balance of ministry/family in the short time we have been married. Every stage of life is different and with it comes an equally different ministry opportunity. God moves us and grows us and we can't cling desperately to the check list of ministry opportunities we once held. We as ladies love stability. We love feeling we are accomplishing something meaningful and worth while and if ever feel we are truly doing that we may cling desperately to any change that threatens that. But God sees the future and knows the necessary steps we must take to get there. I think all of the previous questions ARE important to Christ. However, I believe they can be accomplished in a much simpler, beautiful way.

Prayer and Obedience

This what God has been opening my eyes to.

#1 Prayer. We all know we should. We all know it's good. We've all heard it's necessary. But sadly I assume we have all been guilty of putting it on the bottom of our priority list as we fight to SERVE in the battlefield and not the prayer closet. Prayer is something I can always do. No matter what stage of life I'm in. No matter how few churchy opportunities I'm allotted. I can always pray. When I feel like a failure as a parent, I can pray. When I feel like a disappointment as a pastor/missionary wife I can pray. When I feel disconnected from the people due to the ministry God has given me PRAYER can bind our hearts again. When the heaviness of the temptations and struggles that weigh on our husbands weighs so much you think you might break, I can pray. When you see a lady or child or man struggling and you want to do more you can pray. I should always be willing to put feet to my prayer but not in defiance to my calling and God given ministry. Being your husbands helpmeet and your child's parent and a witness and example for the saviour can co-exist. You don't do less for someone by choosing to pray instead of go if God has told you to stay. You only do a disservice if you refuse to go when God tells you and God will never tell us to do something that will hurt another ministry he has given us.

#2 Mothering is mentoring. This is another area God has been opening my eyes. First of all of course, mothering is mentoring our own children. And what an important irreplaceable role that is. No one in the world can do it but you.

In the country where we live it is very common for women to go abroad and leave their children with any relative who will keep them. No one thinks twice about it. But you watch that child with the relative they are staying with and something is definitely missing. They don't have that vital role of a mother who is willing to discipline and completely pour their life into the child. Even in a pagan place where parents definition of love and attention can vary greatly to scripture, having their own mother present can many times still be the best choice.

I also recently read a short story about Albert Einstein. One of the smartest men to ever live. Come to find out was expelled from school for being unable to learn. They told his mother to not bring him back. She in turn told her son the school says they don't have good enough teachers to help someone who is so gifted. So instead she taught him at home and under her guidance and great support he blossomed into a world renown scientist. Nothing can replace a mother who believes in their child and takes the time to invest in them. Who doesn't wish for public fame or allow the devil to beat them up over the lack of it.

But here is the clincher, not only is motherhood mentoring our own children but it is mentoring anyone you come in contact with. You may think what?! Here is what drew me to this conclusion.

Recently, I noticed something in our church. It is small and relatively insignificant but I found it astonishing. Their is a certain area of modesty that is an issue where we live. In every church you will most likely see many saved ladies who don't understand or choose not to do it. It is one of those cultural issues foreigners struggle to help them learn. We have a time of teaching about it but we haven't really had many people in our church that it applies to until recently. A young visitor lady came. A relative of a man in our church. These boys and man have never been taught on this are of modesty but one thing they have seen is they have seen me model it in our church. It is pretty noticeable that I do it, being so drastically different than the culture as a whole. (It is not something that is simply culture that we wish to Americanize, it is an area of biblical modesty.). So as this lady came I watched as her relatives kindly and gently helped her with this area of modesty. Absolutely no shame was inflicted or derision. It was all done very lovingly. This was my lightbulb moment. Who taught them that, April? You did! Not because I'm great. Not because I'm a wonderful teacher. Not because I taught a lesson on it. Not because I took her aside and taught and mentored her. But because I simply lived the life of a mother trying to follow Christ. I don't say that to boast. I say it because in generally we feel that it is such a small task. One that is important to our children's lives and that is the end. That we sacrifice any other ministry we could possess to care for the menial one we have been given. When in fact when we embrace our role and do it well we actually accomplish both. Our life is able to teach what and accomplish what we could never do with our words. Only God could make such a perfect plan.

Yes, we must still make time for people. Yes, we must take the time to invest and share the gospel and the teaching we know. But I am starting to believe I haven't sacrificed the greater ministry for the necessary BUT in doing the greatest necessary ministry my ministry through prayer is farther reaching and more effective than pursuing my own sincere intentions. The woman who have affected my life the greatest are woman who not only embraced their role as mother and wife and did it superbly but they also took the moment God allowed and shared that wisdom with me and prayed for me. If you leave off one or the other your effectiveness is greatly diminished.

So let us bite our tongue and hush that old devil when he comes to our hearts door with lies and discouragement. Help us to never say I wish for more than JUST raising my children. Help us to never diminish the greatest ministry has given us. I won't claim authority in this but I hope it helps some the way it is helping me. Other ladies I would sure love to hear any advice or experiences that would be encouraging.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Cheap O Deepo Menu

A friend of mind got my mind churning about the old days when we first got married. We had a tiny apartment, tiny tummies and a tiny salary but big love! Most weeks we had $5 a week for frivolous things like a hamburger or Taco Bell and some weeks I shopped for all weeks meals for $25!!! I can't believe i did that. It's crazy! But I do like a challenge. So anyways I'm working with a friend to make a weekly menu, grocery list and recipes for an affordable price. No coupons here just sticking with the essentials.

1. Use the same ingredients in as many meals as possible in that one week.

2. Homemake thing that are cheaper than buying pre-boiled, canned, frozen or boxed. If it's not cheaper and you are in a pinch buy the cheaper option but if you put some effort into it you should be able to homemade things and definitely enjoy the fruits of your labor.

3. Snack on real food, not packaged alternatives.

3. Cheap doesn't have to be yucky and boring.

4. Keep your cupboards full of the essential ingredients and you will always have a meal.

Let's get started.


Breakfast: 1-Oatmeal. Recipe 1

2- smoothie. Recipe 2

3- Oatmeal

4-Veggie scrambled eggs, toast & fruit. Recipe 3


6-French Toast. Recipe 4

7- Oatmeal

Lunch- 1-Grilled PB& J, fruit

2- leftover soup

3-broccoli and cheese baked potatoe

4-bean and cheese burritos

5- taco salad (using either beans, any leftover meat or homemade retried beans)

6- salad

7- free day- makes whatever is easy

Dinner. 1-chicken chili soup. Recipe 5

2- chicken stir fry. Recipe 10

3-nachos. Recipe 7

4-hamburger casserole. Recipe 8

5- pizza. Recipe 9

6- Salisbury steak. Recipe 11

7-tacos. Recipe 6

Snacks- veggies, fruits, muffins, peanut butter & bananas, honey toast, chips and bean dip, peanut butter toast

Desert- banana muffins

Grocery list- Additional spices grocery list. Buy if desired or buy a few each wk.

Oats. Cinnamon

Milk. Parsley

Eggs. Taco seasoning or cumin, chilli powder, garlic salt, oregano

Bread. Ginger powder

Syrup. Cilantro

Brown sugar



Peanut butter

Tortilla chips

Bag of beans. ( your choice of brown and a white if you have them at your stores)

2 lbs of hamburger


Bag of rice

1 bag of chicken

Sm. grape juice



Pizza sauce


Corn chicken broth

Green chilies (fresh, canned or a chili sauce In a bottle)










Green pepper




Soon after returning home let's set those beans in a bowl to soak overnight. Drain the water and pop them in your crockpot, cover with 2" of water, turn on high and in 3-5 hours they should be done and you will have plenty of beans for the weeks meals. If extra you can freeze them in a ziplock bag. If you buy two different kind of beans you can do this two different days. Soup is first on the menu so start with white. Or use the same color for all the recipes.

Also cut and freeze some bananas if you like icey smoothies.

Note you will need 1/2 of your chicken for your stir fry. And then 1/4 for your soup and 1/4 for your pizza. We are mixing meat and bean meals to get filling meals with less meat and cost.


1. Oatmeal (recipe is based on one person portions, add another portion for each person)

1/3 C oats

1 T brown sugar

1 t cinnamon

1/2t vanilla

1t coffee creamer (optional)

Fruits and nuts (optional)

2. Smoothie


Oranges (if your oranges are very pithy you may want to blend them first and then drain off the pith and discard.)



3. Veggie Scrambled Eggs, toast & fruit

Use premade mushroom, onion & green pepper mixture. Add a desired amt and top with as many eggs as desired. Scramble.

4. French Toast

Whisk 3 eggs, 3/4 milk, 1t vanilla, dash of cinnamon. Dip your bread in and then cook in butter or oil.

5. Chicken Chilli Soup

Add all these goodies to your crock pot.

1/4 of your chicken

2.5 cups of pre- cooked beans.

1 can of corn

1 chopped onion

1-2 cloves of garlic

Can if green chilies, 1-3T of green chili sauce or one green chili chopped

1 1/3 c chicken broth

Can of cream of chicken soup or cheaper version (melt 1T butter, stir in 1.5T flour, add 1/2 cup milk and 3/4 chicken broth, parsley and salt and pepper) you need to cook this part separately then add to the crockpot.

Taco seasoning or little bit of each of these. cumin, oregano, garlic powder, S&P, chilli powder

Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-5. Smash the ingredients after finished for a thicker soup.

Can add sour cream and tortilla chips (optional)

6. Tacos

Fry hamburger with onions. Add taco seasoning or alternative seasonings.

Serve with beans, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese.

Can serve with rice, cilantro, lemon and a dab of butter


7. Nachos

Take 1 3/4C of cooked beans and put it in a skillet with 1/3C chicken broth, chilli powder and cumin. Cook on low for a few minutes and then smash them into retried beans. Save some on the side for snacks.

Fry 1/2 lb hamburger meat.

Layer chips beans, hamburger & cheese. Do this twice. Top with diced tomatoes and bake at 350 till cheese is melted.

8. Hamburger Casserole

2 lbs potatoes


1/2 lb of hamburger

1/2 onion

4T butter

1/4 C flour

Black pepper

1.5 C milk

1/2 c cheese

1/2 C breadcrumbs

Dice and boil potatoes for 15 minutes till slightly tender. Drain and put in the bottom of a square casserole dish.

Cook hamburger and onions together then put on top of potatoes.

Melt butter, whisk in flour. Whisk on medium flame until it bubbles and turns into a light brown color. Slowly add milk. When it thickens add cheese and salt. Pour over potatoes and meat. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Add breadcrumbs and cook another 5 minutes.

9. Pizza

Make pizza crust- 1 cup of body temperature water. Add 2.5t of yeast. Wait till it bubbles. Add 2 T oil, 1 T sugar and 1t salt, and 1 C flour. Add 1-2C of more flour slowly. When it start sticking together begin kneading it. Knead for 5 minutes while adding necessary flour. When finished. Cover in a warm area for 10 minutes.

Sauté green pepper, mushrooms and onions. Save a small amount for breakfast.

Top with pizza, sauce, 1/4 of your chicken, 1/4 lb of hamburger. And veggie mixture. Bake

10. Orange Chicken stir Fry

1/2 of your chicken

3T Honey

Orange juice from one orange.

1 T Zest from the peel

2T Soy sauce

1/4C Chicken broth

2 cloves of Garlic

1t Ginger powder

1-Green chilies



Cook rice. Steam broccoli. Save some on the side for baked potatoe lunch. Sauté chicken. Mix all the other ingredients. When chicke is cooked thru, add Cooked broccoli, and sauce.

Recipe 11- Salisbury steak

3/4-1lb Hamburger

1/2t Mustard

1t Steak sauce

1/2t Worcestershire (optional)

6-10 Crackers you want this to bind your meat but in no way dry. I'm kind of a guesser?? Sorry

2 Onions, sliced long and thin.

1/2-1 lb mushrooms

Grape juice

3/4t Garlic powder

1/2t Salt and pepper

1.5-2.5 C Beef broth. Again guessing:)

Serve over mashed potatoes

1. Mix hamburger, mustard, steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce, crackers, salt and pepper and garlic powder.

2. Make into patties the size you want.

3. Fry on a high temp until you have a crusty skin outside. You don't want them cooked through. Set aside

4. In the same pan melt a Tablespoon of butter. Add 3T of grape juice and all your onion slices. Cook these on low with the lid on until very soft. 15 minutes should be enough.

5. Add mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes. Add 2T grape juice. Then enough flour to bring it into a thick mixture. Probably around 1-2T. Slowly Add 1.5C of beef broth. Simmer on low until it begins to thicken. Can add more if too thick.

6. Serve over mashed potatoes.