Pizza Amour

Today is the first time that I have had some time all to myself in the middle of the day in forever.  The five oldest went to Miss Jasmine’s house for an end of the school year party and Aimee is taking her afternoon nap.  I may have indulged in the last piece of chocolate cake, without even sharing.  Ahh…

While enrolled in education courses at what is now Missouri State University in Springfield, MO, it was quite common to hear my professors tell us students that teachers do not teach for the money.  They weren’t lying.  Then came the opportunity to be a campus minister for the Wesley Foundation in Joplin, MO at Missouri Southern State University.  The pay took a turn for the worse.  Finally, God returned our family to Haiti to serve as missionaries.  We were definitely not climbing the ladder of worldly success, which was never very high on our priority list anyway.  The succession of these  life events is making it difficult for me to wrap my mind around why we are trying to get our pizzeria off the ground.  Do I feel like we are doing what God is leading us to do?  Yes, but I have no idea for the why, which is ok.

For over a year, we have been talking about opening a restaurant. Originally we thought we were heading towards a Mexican restaurant in Haiti (which if someone would ever do that, I would definitely be there!).  I am not sure how to explain this, but pizza makes us feel normal.  Just like a big plate of rice and beans makes a Haitian feel at home, pizza does the same for us.  Unfortunately there are not a lot of choices when it comes to pizza in Haiti, so we started making it at home.  My husband starting inviting guests over for pizza.  People started requesting pizza on their return trips.  We held a wedding and pizza reception at our house.  Pizza Amour it is!

Already we have hosted a few groups of short term mission teams, served some customers in our front yard seating area, and have sold quite a few take-out orders to those passing by our house.  I never dreamed of moving to Haiti to start a pizzeria, but as weird as it sounds, it seems quite natural.  In case there is a question, yes, Eric is still working for Operation Blessing as the acting national director of Haiti.  We are only making pizzas on the weekends and for special group requests!

Many thanks to Jadon Salvant for helping us with our logo!

Crazy Zany Bands

Finally, I have found a use for all of those crazy, zany bands! or Zandy Bands as Jett calls them.

Back in August, the kids and I started memorizing the Sermon on the Mount.  We have had dry seasons along the way and are not as far as we should be; however, we are soaking in the words of Jesus.  We are chewing on the meat of the matter.  We are being changed.  We are finishing up the last few weeks of school memorizing Jesus’ words about murder, anger, and name calling.  It is no secret that anger is a sin that I struggle with.  It is a sin that my kids struggle with.  It is something that God has been working on in me for a number of years now. You can read about it in Anger Management?

Matthew 5:21-22, the words of Jesus

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.  Again, whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin.  But anyone who says ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

Sometimes we just need a physical, visual reminder of our sin.  This is where the Zany Band comes into play.  Each Lotz kid got their own Zany Band, along with myself.  Each time we lose our self-control, call a name, or get angry with each other, we have to switch the band to the opposite wrist.  It doesn’t sound like much, but oddly enough, it really seems to signal to my brain and to my heart that I need to carry on in patience and love toward my children.  Yes, I have had to switch my zany band.  Yes, I have to apologize and ask my kids to forgive me when I lose my temper.  Yes, it is humbling.

Today, Wilson acted unkindly to one of his siblings.  I immediately called him on it and asked him to switch his zany band.  He didn’t want to have to switch it, and I saw his heart grow heavy for sinning against his sister.  Hannah says it is helping her, too.  Even though it annoys the heck out of me, I will not lose my blue Tinker Bell zany band anytime soon…not till my heart is completely changed.

Oh the irony, I think Tinker Bell had anger issues, too...

On this Good Friday, I am thankful for the cross and the sacrifice Jesus made for my sins against Him.  I am thankful for the Holy Spirit and the process of sanctification on this journey Home.

Pizza Love

One of the Haitian Operation Blessing employees was married last Saturday.  We had the privilege of having the wedding at our house, along with the challenge of preparing pizzas for 60 ish people for the reception.  Our friends, Scott and April Salvant agreed to keep our children for the day so the the house could stay clean and I didn’t have to worry about getting 6 kids ready for a wedding and preparing 15 pizzas!

Hannah Hamilton and Brett Murray are working here in Haiti over in Fonds Parisian. They came early on Saturday and I had wonderful unexpected help for the pizza preparation and serving.  They are amazing!

Thank you Brett and Hannah for all of your help!  Hannah is still recovering from malaria.  Pray for her complete recovery!

We worked hard throughout the early afternoon and I went upstairs to grab a quick shower before the wedding/pizza baking. I came back downstairs to discover they had taken my couch outside on the sidewalk for the bride and groom to sit on.  I sure would have swept under the couch had I known they were going to use it!  Eric was Martial’s best man for the wedding.  Ironically, the maid of honor sat between the bride and groom on the couch.

Yep, that's my couch right there on the sidewalk!

The day was a success, Martial was married and the guests loved the pizza.  Additionally, Eric and I have fallen in Pizza Love, we are now working diligently to take our pizza quality up to the next level.

More Pine Forest Pics

I love this picture, but I would love it even more if Eric could have been in it with us!  I know that my hiking attire is so not ranking on the cute scale.  I needed that sweater for a little while though!  It was chilly.

Sweet Callie posing with her daddy.  The other kids were off playing “Hunger Games”!

There is some terrace farming taking place beyond the trees on the hill.

This shot was taken coming through the mountain pass and overlooking the valley below.  The whole day was beautiful and so fun!

Foret d’Pins

The Haitian Pine Forest!  Sixty-five degrees and fresh pine air awaited us at the top of the mountains, a welcome change to the hot and dusty streets of Port-au-Prince.  It is a rare day when we load up everyone in the middle of the week along with a big bag of muffins, Pringles, and some chocolate bars (that may have melted  beyond the point of eating).  Ahh, but that is what we did on Ash Wednesday, a day when all of the stores and schools are still closed in Haiti because of Carnival. The beauty of God’s creation surrounded us and at every turn we stood in awe and wonder at the One who made it.

Immediately as we hopped out of the car to hike up a trail through the pine trees, the kids spotted wild strawberries covering the ground.  They started picking and eating the strawberries.  As soon as they cleared out a patch, they went looking for more.  They were delicious, but only enough to whet the appetite for more.

There is no way these wild strawberries would ever truly satisfy my family of eight, but the kids were determined to try!  Strawberries are a coveted item amongst my kids. We found a 2 lb pack of imported strawberries at the grocery store for the bargain price of $13 just the other day.  Needless to say, we didn’t buy the imported ones.  I am pretty sure they didn’t taste as good as the wild ones anyway.

Other cool things we found on our trip to the Pine Forest:

Hannah's five leaf clover

Agave antillarum (as best as I can decipher)

Flower stalk of the Agave plant, close to 12 feet high!

As we were heading back near the end of the day.

I cherish these moments with my family.  I love the joy of hiking through the forest.  I adore the One who makes life worth living.

Sausage Making

One great benefit from butchering your own pig is deciding on how you want to use the meat.  Our next pig, assuming there will be another one, we will definitely make sure to grind more of the pork to make our own sausages and brats.  In fact, we will probably use both shoulders for sausage making instead of brining.

That meat grinding attachment for the Kitchen Aid that I thought I would never use came in handy for grinding the pork.  We used a lot of the ground pork as pizza topping, Sausage and Red Bean Stew, and also to make these amazing Hot Italian Sausages, and brats.  Unfortunately, I think we have already used all of it!

Eric was in charge of the sausage making.  I cannot say that I am jealous about that, either.  He started by cleaning the small intestines.  Ironically, he learned the most from a blog of a missionary in Africa who was doing the same thing!

After “harvesting” the intestines from the pig’s insides, I (Eric writing here) handed them over to some ladies standing nearby to clean for me; they had offered to do it for a small fee, and I was glad to let them!  Haitians normally just cook them in soups, but I had sausage making plans!

I brought home a bucket of pig intestines to hopefully turn into some great brats, but didn’t know a lot of the process.  It seems the art of homemade sausage is almost lost in this day and age…but thanks to the internet I found some helpful hints.  You can’t just use the intestines as they are…they walls are about 1/8 ” thick and really slimy.  To turn intestines into sausage casing requires a lot of scraping, after several hours of soaking in salt water to help clean them.

I grabbed a plastic auto body Bondo scraper from a box of car stuff I had laying around, and got to scraping.  I probably wasted several feet of casing trying to figure out how much pressure to apply, should it be right side in or right side out, etc.  Just when I thought I had really ruined one piece, I held it up and realized it was exactly what it was supposed to look like!  The prepared casings are paper thin, just a very thin membrane, but incredibly tough!  I was able to fill them with water to see their shape…perfect brat shape!

Eric scraping the intestines

A Proud Moment

Our meat grinder did not have the sausage stuffer attachment, so that was another hurdle to overcome.  I looked around at some pvc supplies I had laying around, and within 30 minutes or so of cutting, gluing, and filing, I had a workable attachment for the meat grinder.

Eric's Sausage Making Attachment

It was a pretty easy process from that point…just mix all the spices and ground pork, and stuff it into the casings I had just made.   It was pretty fun twisting the links after every six inches or so, it definitely takes practice.  Each sausage has to be twisted the opposite direction as the previous brat so they hold their shape.  It was definitely a rewarding adventure!  I absolutely love the spicy Italian sausages I made!

Here Piggy

Living in Haiti has afforded many different experiences that we never would have experienced had we stayed in good ol’ Missouri. One of which was the purchase of a pig!  We bought a piglet up in Fort Jacques in May of 2009.  Just after Thanksgiving of 2011, Eric had Macron (our piggy) butchered.  We learned all sorts of things through the process. In addition to an education, we have reaped the benefits of fresh pork in our freezer!

Way back seven years ago (or so?) when I received my Kitchen Aid from Eric’s mom for my birthday (for which, I am forever grateful!), Eric wanted to get the meat grinder attachment to go with it.  I wasn’t really sure why we would ever need it.  Apparently, he knew something I didn’t know.  And that pressure cooker that Eric’s grandma gave us 11 years ago was used for the first time with this pig, too.  I sure am glad that we decided to bring that pressure cooker with us to Haiti.

The story begins with Christa running down to the pig pit everyday to give food and water to Macron, a job she mostly enjoyed (especially when her daddy helped her).

Hannah with Macron, (more than) full grown

More to come about the Pig Adventures in the next few days…

Saut d’ Eau

Last Sunday afternoon, we took a two hour drive out of Port-au-Prince to see a part of Haiti that we have yet seen.  Eric was scouting out the land to see about drilling a well in a little town called Zorange.  The fam piled in the car to spend some quality time together. What we found was beautiful!

The road up the mountain was actually a great road, wide and even.  This is always a bonus!  As we wound our way up the mountain, the sights of the city were diminished by an amazing view of the Caribbean Sea.

We found the little village Eric was looking for and instead of turning around and heading home, we kept going up and up.  We came to this beautiful waterfall cascading over the side of the mountain.  As we were gaping out the window, Eric asked a man on the street what we would find if we continued up the way.  He laughed and said what we were looking at was nothing and to continue further up to see the real waterfalls.  What a surprise!  We found this little community at the top of the mountain called Saut d’Eau, ( French for ‘waterfall’)and a Haitian national park.  We had to make a donation to get in and then a group of locals followed us to watch us look at the waterfalls.  Funny how they didn’t have to make a donation…

Christa with her little brothers.

Unfortunately, we showed up late in the afternoon.  We are planning a day trip soon so we can go prepared with lunch and swimsuits.  What a gem in the middle of a country where everything is difficult!

Oh yeah, and on the way home we found these amazing watermelons for sale.  Watermelon for breakfast in the middle of February? Sure, we can handle that.

 

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Two Years Later

Today is the two year anniversary of the disastrous earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  The eyes of the whole world shifted to and lingered upon the tiny nation on the island of Hispaniola on January 12, 2010.  Over the course of the past two years, many people have asked us to recount that day.  Sometimes I can tell it without too much emotion, other times I remember too vividly the wild adrenaline pushing though my veins for hours afterwards.  The fear, the instability, the ignorance that I had as I comforted my little Lotzes are all too real.  We were completely unaware of the complete tragedy that had unfolded around us.  With an attitude of humility, knowing that God’s hand was on each of us, we are forever thankful for the mercy that spared our family.  May we continue to live in Haiti to work and serve where our lives were spared tragedy.  May we forever be thankful for the huge blessings that God has supplied in our lives.  

Today is a national holiday in Haiti so the people can grieve, fast and pray.  Let us join in prayer for brothers and sisters in Haiti.

Going Home

Less than a week before Christmas, my momma received a diagnosis of Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer and just three days before Christmas started her chemotherapy.  It has been a hard month and a half for her and my dad with many days of uncertainty.  In times like this, it is hard to live so far away from home and so far away from my family.

God worked out the details for Eric’s mom to come for a visit in January this year.  Because she is going to be here, I feel like I can leave my family here in Haiti to visit my mom and dad in St. Louis.  I leave on Friday the 6th and get a whole week and a half to spend with my parents.  I am anxious to be there to serve them anyway I can.  I know that my kiddos will be in good hands while I am away.  I am trying to leave the freezer stocked with a bunch of food for my mother-in-law.  There is just something about these kids of mine…always wanting food!

In addition to seeing my mom and dad, I am looking forward to reading some books, catching up my blog, and spending time in God’s word.  These things somehow seemed to get pushed aside in the midst of cooking, piles of dirty dishes and dirty laundry, and educating my Little Lotzes.

Please pray for my mom and my dad.    I am so grateful for the opportunity to visit them right now!  Please pray for Eric’s mom, too, as she has to take care of six kids!  We will worry about school after I return (much to the delight of the kids).

 

 

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