Thursday, February 21, 2008

Home Sweet Home

This past Tuesday, after 5 wonderful, busy weeks with my friends in Ukraine, I bid farewell to Joshua, Kelsie, Abby, and Rebekah and boarded a plane for home. It was a lengthy journey from Ukraine to Frankfurt, over the wide, blue Atlantic ocean to Washington D.C., and then at last - to the waiting arms of my family in Texas! I was exhuasted after traveling a full 24 hours with little sleep, and oh-so-glad to finally reach my beloved bed! :) To those of you who prayed for my safety in travel - thank you! The Lord gave me great protection and smoothness each step of the way.

God has been so good to me. As I sat on the plane, reflecting back over my experiences in Ukraine, remembering His many blessings and lessons for the heart, and coming to an ever-deepening understanding of His great love, tears welled up in my eyes. I am awe-struck when I ponder the amazing fact that the God of this universe - so great and powerful and big - chooses to be intimately acquainted and personally involved with the lives of us tiny little beings called people . He loves us so much that He cares to teach us His ways and fashion us more in His image. Though His teachings sometimes mean pain, sorrow, or lonliness, these times of refining are a gift of His love just as the times of joy and blessing are, for they serve to deepen my relationship with Him and strengthen my trust in Him. I am so grateful that He cares for me so much. I am so grateful for His teachings, His guidance, His presence. How I look forward to the day when I can see Him face to face and run into His arms!

For now, the joy of being home is sweet! I have relished the opportunities of morning quiet time spent at Jesus' feet as well as the pleasure of visiting non-stop with my family about all these past weeks have contained! Looking ahead to the coming days, I am excited about what the Lord has in store.

To God be the glory ~ great things He hath done!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Fun Evening

Tonight, Josh and Kels took me out for dinner at an elegant restuarant called Shakespeare's. It was most enjoyable to eat a delicious meal (cooked by someone else!), engage in uplifting conversation (without interruptions from the bubbly toddler we all adore), and not have to wash a single dish! :)

Then we came home for dessert and a game.
A fun evening indeed! :)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Borsch Making Day

Today, Kelsie and I had a lot of fun learning to make borsch the traditional Ukrainian way! Borsch - a soup made primarily from beets and vegetables - is a Ukrainian staple. And every woman in Ukraine has her own version of making it. Today, we learned from Vira, a sweet friend of Kelsie's who comes once a week to help with housework. As Vira explained each step along the way, we scribbled her recipe and instructions down to have a preserved copy of this delicious dish! The recipe is as follows...

For a large pot of soup, the ingredients needed are:
2 large beets
1 large carrot (peeled and grated)
1 onion (chopped)
1/2 head of cabbage (chopped in strips)
5 med.-large potatoes (peeled and cubed)
3 gloves of garlic (finely grated)
1/2 red or orange bell pepper (chopped or sliced)
celery (optional - we didn't have it on hand, but as much as you want could be used)
1 small can of red kidney beans (optional)
1 Tbls. tomato paste
favorite seasonings (parsley, ground red pepper, herbs, chicken boullion, etc).

Begin by washing the beets. Then, place in boiling water unpeeled with 1 Tbls. salt and 2 Tbls. vinegar. Let simmer for 1 hour. When beets are finished, peel and slice into thin strips or grate.

Vira peeling beets.

Sliced beets ready to go

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in a large soup pot half-filled with water. When potatoes are boiling rapidly, add 1 Tbls. of salt. Boil until tender. While they are boiling, prepare other veggies.

The product of Kelsie's and my labor!

Cover the bottom of a skillet with a generous amount of oil. Sautee carrots, onions, bell pepper, and celery stirring occasionally. The total sautee time is about 10 minutes on med. heat.

About half-way through the sautee process, add 2 spoonfuls of the potato water for additional moisture. Also, add tomato paste to the skillet mixture and stir.

Cooking together is lots of fun!

When potatoes are soft, add skillet contents to the pot of potatoes. Place sliced beets in a bowl and mix with a heaping spoonful of vinegar to preserve the red color. Set aside. Add sliced cabbage and any desired seasonings to the soup pot. Make sure to include 2 Tbls. sugar. Once cabbage has been added, boil only a few minutes. (At this point, more water can be added to the pot if a more liquidy consistency is desired.)

Add the beets, garlic, and beans as the last ingredients. Bring to a boil uncovered and then turn off immediately (again to preserve the beautiful red color). Serve hot with a dollup of sour cream if desired!

Ta-Da! It's done!

Kelsie samples the final product.

And the verdict is...


Friday, February 8, 2008

A Quick Tour Around Town

A few weeks ago, I posted a small handful of pictures of the neat looking buildings are here, with the promise for more soon. Well, a couple of days ago, I was able to get out for a nice, long walk to the downtown "center" area of town and take those promised pictures! So, welcome to a virtual tour of L'viv!

Mr. Shevchenko welcomes you!

This is the opera house - rated to be the second most beautiful opera house in Europe!

A bank

Hotel George

An office building and book store

A busy part of town... Another pretty bank with a fresh coat of green paint!

The residential area

A very fun looking little truck ~ though I don't think anyone drives it.

And of course, there would be a McDonald's here!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Recommended Reading

"O! Sit not down nor idly stand;
There's plenty to do on every hand.
If you cannot prosper to work like some,
You've at least one talent, improve that one."
~ George Washington Carver

Kelsie and I recently started a read-aloud book during her nursing sessions entitled, George Washington Carver - The Man Who Overcame. We are now half-way through, and thus far, this well written biography has proven to be delightful to read! The author's notable gift with words makes the account of this former-slave-turned-famous scientist (and artist, agriculturalist, botanist, musician, and teacher) come alive off the pages!

George W. Carver was certainly an incredibly gifted man of many, many talents. However, what has especially struck me about his life is the depth of character he possessed from a very early age. As a young man, George W. Carver demonstrated an amazing amount of diligence and perseverance on his quest for knowledge and achievement. He worked countless jobs in countless little towns cooking, cleaning, chopping firewood, washing/ironing clothes, waiting tables, tending plants, and typing telegraphs in order to put himself through school, all the while touching countless lives.

We are now at the part where George has finished his master's degree and is collaborating with Booker T. Washington to form the Tuskegee Institute. I am looking forward to learning the rest of his life story in such detail!

If you are looking for a good book that is both fun to read and inpsiring, check out George Washington Carver - The Man Who Overcame!

Monday, February 4, 2008

International Granola

Because of my various mission trips abroad, this granola recipe has become internationally loved! I understand it is now a staple food in the Ukrainian branch of the Steele household. :)

While a fresh batch cooks away in the oven this morning, I thought I'd take the time to share this simple, delicious recipe with you!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine in a saucepan:
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup oil

Heat mixture to boiling. Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until oil and sugars blend. In the meantime, combine
5 cups quick oats
1 tsp. cinnamon

Pour sugar/oil mixture over oats and mix thoroughly. (If you're like Kels and Josh who enjoy their granola in chunky format, you may want to drizzle a little extra honey and oil over it all and mix again.)

Bake on greased cookie sheets for 20-30 minutes, depending on how crispy you like your granola.
Half-way through the baking process, take the granola out to stir. (Katrina's note: In our oven at home, I bake for 10 minutes, stir, bake for 10 more minutes, then set out to become crispy. Every oven is different. The longer it cooks, the more crispy it will get after it sits out for awhile.)

Yum, yum!!!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

A Gem From the Word

"Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness." Psalm 107:8-9

Whatever our longings today, God is the answer. He is always enough.