Several years ago when our youngest son was first diagnosed with autism, we read all the ideas people had about what causes it and how to cure it. So we started going gluten free. The gluten free products available five years ago were, well just plain bad. Fast forward to today as we are working to see if our oldest son has a gluten issue we are finding many more gluten free products and have been surprised that the taste and texture have improved.
So far we really like the Betty Crocker Gluten Free Brownies and Sugar Cookies. (http://www.bettycrocker.com/products/glutenfree)
We are still looking for a gluten free bread that our son will eat and not complain about. So far all we have tried have been way to dry or had a texture he cannot stand.
It is called Budin (pronounced boo-deen) It is a bread pudding except this version is made with banana bread. It is sweet but not overly so, it has cinnamon, cloves, vanilla and star of anise spices as additional flavors. It was just sweet enough for my taste. Some El Salvadorians add raisins to it. Ours was simply bananas and it was wonderful. Ours was delivered on a large round platter and was cut into a circle and the center. This allows more pieces and less waste. There could not have been a better way to end our days in El Salvador than with this dessert.
While we were in El Salvador working on the house, the church had local ladies that cooked for us. Honestly we did not have a bad meal. The church made sure the cooks washed everything in water that was safe for us drink there by removing the threat of parasites. Our first meal was grilled chicken, rice, tortillas, fried cheese and steamed broccoli and carrots. This was the best grilled chicken I have ever had bar none. the rice was cooked just right and seasoned with butter and spices. The only item I could grow to like was the tortillas, they were very bland to me.
Our first meal in El Salvador
Breakfast usually consisted of eggs, ham or sausage, re-fried beans, fruit and bread. One of the mornings with sausage, we had a wonderful salsa with it. This salsa was spicy and flavorful but not spicy hot. All of the breakfast were filling and hearty.
The fruit ranged from oranges to pineapple to grilled plantains (my favorite). I was surprised by the coffee. I did not think of El Salvador as a coffee growing area, but there is a significant amount it grown there as a cash crop. I found the coffee smoother than some others I have ad from Central America. The coffee will not replace my normal morning brew here in the states, but it is good.
Dinners were typical El Salvadorian fair. Lots of rice, some pasta for side dishes. Fried or grilled chicken and fish for main dishes and of course the ever present tortillas. I think I cleaned my plate at every meal except for the tortillas they were just a little to bland for me.
Thursday dawned bright and early with the transformer providing power to our mission residence exploding, but hey that is part of life in El Salvador. This day saw rapid progress the house. the walls grew from about a foot tall when we ended on Wednesday to over seven feet tall when we left on Thursday. This house will be there for a very long time. The foundations are over 2 feet deep in the ground and the entire structure is tied together with rebar. This 400 square foot house will provide a home for a small growing family. Henry and wife, the folks getting the house are expecting their first child in November. On Thursday our youth on the trip really built some long-lasting relation ships with the children in Ahuachapán, El Salvador. It turns out that the “Ninja” Game is played their too. Thursday we attended the Munday Thursday Church Service at New Jerusalem Methodist Church. They were so happy we were there. The church really went above and beyond to make us feel welcome. We did foot washing and communion as we did this small recreation of The Last Supper.
Friday we finished our building project before noon. We had done all we could do that week. the house was ready for the next team to install the roof, doors, windows and floor. With all the work done, we took the youth to see the Pacific Ocean. This required a few hours on a bus but was well worth it as only one of them could remember ever seeing the Pacific before let alone getting a chance to swim in it. The beach where we went was black volcanic sand and the surf can be very rough. This Friday the surf was ok. We were at the Blue Merry Beach Hostel wish also has a restaurant. We had our dinner for the day there, and compared to prices in the United States we ate very inexpensively. I had grilled lobster for $12.00. Large Cokes cost $0.60. Really cannot beat it.
This was my first experience with a mission trip and volunteer travel and it was a positive experience. I got to watch our 12 youth and 6 adults grow in ways that would never happen in our hometown. It was a great experience to see God working on our lives and through us to improve the lives of others.
if you would like to help with Mission Projects or get more information here is the link to the Salvadoran Mission Projects Web site.
Here are some Pictures of the house we built:
Tuesday started with three of our youth and myself heading out to deliver bags of food to families here in El Salvado. Thru the morning we delivered food to 10 families. This was done not as a hand out, but to show God’s love for these families. We also took great pains to let the people know it was coming from God thru the church in El Salvador and not from Us as Americans. This is done to help build the church here in this community. One story I will relate is of a family of 3, they bought land 2 years ago and built a small shack. When we invited them to a worship service, they explained they cannot leave the home vacant as others will come in a steal from them.
In the afternoon we went back to work on the house. Tuesday and Wednesday we finished the foundation and have the walls about half way up. I will post pictures when I get home next week.
Today we started the mission part of this trip. We started building the house for a family here. The house will be about 400 square feet when done. As with any building we started with the foundation. We completed digging the footings, building and setting the rebar. With the numerous earthquakes here houses are built from block reinforced with rebar tied into the foundation. The leader of the construction crew, Oroacha has the patients of a saint in trying to work with us that really do not know what we are doing……time for dinner….more later.
My next travel experience will be to El Salvador. I am going as a Chaperone for a youth mission trip from our church. We are headed out with 12 teenagers and 6 adults to Ahuachapan, El Salvador. Look for post here soon about the food and culture of this Central American country. On out tourist day we are heading to Parque Nacional El Imposible (The Impossible National Park) where we will spend the day hiking and swimming.
In June I am headed to North Alabama so my oldest son can attend Space Camp. I went when I was 13, my daughter went when she was 13, now it is my middle child’s turn. I am planning for us to cooperate on some post about Space Camp after that week.
In August the adventure will continue as we will be off to experience a NASCAR Race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. In between you can look for content about experiences from some of my previous trip and things to do around my current home in North Carolina.