Learning to Give It a Try

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Our friend Susan is a true blue friend. Many people count on Susan. I have learned much from her. On Sundays we often eat out with her and her mom and other friends.

Susan is retired from teaching special education at our local elementary school and middle school, but she still works as a substitute sometimes. She has a special affinity for children with special needs. They are by far her favorite students. The last time we were at a restaurant with her, we ran into mutual friends. They were a father and his only child. They had lost their wife and mother a few months ago. We all had a warm reunion.

Susan had the son in her classes several decades ago. He was very happy to see her. She talked about what a sweet student he was. She told us that he was a student in her class for several years when she taught at the elementary school and that when she transferred to the middle school, he was in her class again. Susan’s affinity for children with special needs must have been very obvious to this former student’s parents. His parents gave her a plaque of appreciation when he left elementary school. It is a gift that she cherishes.

Susan is also fun and adventurous. Those traits often go hand in hand. They must have been helpful during her decades of teaching in special education. Susan loves to go places, keep up with her many friends, and serve elderly people. One way that she shows her adventurousness is by her enjoyment of trying new foods.

Ray and I returned home on Saturday after a sweet visit with our older daughter and her family. When we decided to go out to eat on Friday night, our nine-year-old granddaughter suggested that we try a Salvadoran restaurant. This gave us a chance to be adventurous with foods and it was a fresh and fun experience.

Our group of six walked in tentatively, wondering where to order and where to sit. Soon our waiter (who I assume was the owner) set us completely at ease with his running gags. He could tell that we were new to foods from El Salvador. He asked the nine-year-old if she would like for him to start in the beginning. Then he said, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

This Salvadoran is make a great goodwill ambassador for his country. He was excited about their special foods. He enjoyed telling us all about them and making sure that we did not think that the dishes were Mexican.

I have since learned that Spanish conquerors originally called the area Provincia de Nuestro Senor Jesus Cristo, el Salvador del Mundo, which means “Province of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the World.” Over time residents began to call their country El Salvador, meaning “Our Savior.”

Our family decided to try pupusas, which is El Salvador’s national dish. Pupusas are thick corn tortillas (about the size and thickness of a medium pancake). They are stuffed with cheese, meat, squash, and other fillings. Pupusas are served with a spicy, sour slaw and a tomato sauce.

We also tried a fruit drink called ensalada, which was a blend of pineapple, apple, passionfruit, a type of cherry, ice, and water with bits of the fruits floating on top.

We are now big fans of pupusas and ensalada. We liked the slaw, too, but let me warn you that it was so spicy that I needed lots of water—and I mean lots of water—to keep from sputtering.

From my seat, I could enjoy these Salvadoran decorations.

A map of El Salvador, a Central American country about the size of the state of New Jersey

The flag of the Republic of El Salvador

A cafe scene with women cooking pupusas. The jar with the red top in the foreground is likely the same kind of slaw we enjoyed.

I could also watch one group of customers after another come in with what must have been the same wondering expressions that were on our faces when we came in.

Homeschooling parents have unique opportunities to give their children adventurous experiences. We can help them:

  • be willing to try something new.
  • know how to have fun.
  • have the courage and confidence to walk into a new situation without undue fear.

Developing those traits as children helps adults become flexible spouses, creative parents, and willing servants. Each of those traits helps us to set aside our own comfort to bless others.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit,
but with humility of mind regard one another
as more important than yourselves;
do not merely look out for your own personal interests,
but also for the interests of others.
Philippians 2:3-4



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