LILIES OF THE VALLEY or wild
Mother's Day, 1973. Loneliness engulfed me. Sure. I was a mother; but
three year old Joy knew very little
of Mother's special day. And my own mother was far away in California.
We had recently moved to Northeast Brazil, and just out of language school, I could barely understand the
country version of Portuguese. So, even though I was dorm mother to six
Bible School students - communication was
difficult and superficial. Often Joy translated
there were other things, hard things. The rains were late that year.
Everything was hot and drab! For as long as I can remember, I have
enjoyed beauty...brightly colored flowers, sunsets painted across the
sky, the happy descant of birds...but there was nothing beautiful about
the Sertão! Or so I thought.
Stretching and yawning, I crawled out of bed...enjoying a bit of well deserved self-pity. "Humph! Mother's Day."
In the kitchen, I began breakfast. "No one would serve me breakfast in
bed..." my mind ran on, "or even take me out to dinner after church.
And if he did, where would we go? To the local bus station for beans
and rice?" Tears were fast collecting.
Clap! Clap! Who could that be at the door? At this hour?" Drying my hands on my robe, I went to see...pasting a
smile on my face.
"Happy Mother's Day!" Esmeralda held out a lovely bouquet of
lilies...lilies of the field. Esmeralda, whose mother
we had buried a month before, was lonely too. She smiled shyly.
Instantly, my whole outlook changed. "They're beautiful. Where did you get them?"
"Come with me." We walked to the front of the dorm and there - all over the fields - those drab acres of stubby weeds -
God had splashed color: white, pink, deep rose. Thousands of lilies were
"smiling" in the quiet morning cool. God had
given me beauty here in Northeast Brazil!
Every Spring when it rains and the "surprise" lilies appear, I am reminded of that Mothers' Day so long ago, and of a
sweet young girl who reached out to me in a language I could understand.
It all came back to me this Spring, while riding with a friend. For two nights it had rained. The lilies had sprouted
and were in bloom. "Look? Aren't they beautiful?" I remembered Esmeralda's gift. Perhaps I would tell my friend?
"Hm? Oh. You mean that wild garlic? It is kind of pretty, isn't it?"
It's all a matter of perspective. "All the days of the afflicted are
bad, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast." Proverbs 15:15. On
that May morning, more than twenty years ago, Esmeralda did not bring
me "wild garlic!"
She painted my Day with a bouquet of Mothers's Day Lilies!
CHECKER BOARD CAKE (Marli's Pão de Ló)
2 Tbs. margarine
4 cups flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
6 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups hot milk
margarine, sugar and egg yolks. Add dry ingredients, alternating with
hot milk. Fold in the egg whites. Divide the batter. Add 1/2 cup
powdered chocolate to one part. Make two cakes...one white, one
1 qt. milk, 1 tsp vanilla, 4 Tbs. cornstarch, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 1 can of canned cream
(may substitute 1-1/3 cups dairy sour cream) 1 egg yolk, 1/2 - 3/4 cup coconut milk.
Cook milk, vanilla and cornstarch until thick. Gradually add to the egg yolk, mixing well. Add remaining ingredients.
Let the cake cool. Cut in strips 1 1/2 inch wide. Then cut in squares.
You can put it together in a Tupperware cake holder (rectangular) or a
box lined with aluminum foil. Put together as a checker board, painting
sides of each square with the above filling...alternating the white and
If you make two layers, alternate the squares of the second layer
against the first. Always paint sides and top with above filling (glue)
Spread filling over top, before adding second layer; and over top of
second layer. Cover and store in refrigerator for two days before
Bring to a boil 2 cups sugar, 1/2 tsp cream of tartar, a dash of salt
and 2/3 cup water. Cook until sugar dissolves. Slowly add to 2 unbeaten
egg whites, beating constantly with rotary or electric beater until
frosting is of spreading consistency. Add 1/2 tsp vanilla. Frost cake,
and sprinkle with grated coconut.
MOTHER'S DAY, 1996
It was a very full week-end. And it came after an even busier week.
Definitely no time to be bored:)
Saturday was the Mothers' Tea - in our yard. The ladies at Hope Baptist (Esperança) put together a lovely program,
including a one act play on Jochabed, mother of Moses.
The theme, "The Garden of My Heart" was carried thru the whole program.
There were arrangements of tropical flowers everywhere. Several unsaved
relatives and friends came.
And, then came Sunday. Mothers' Day! Should we have refreshments after the Sunday evening service? Sure. "I'll bake
a cake," I offered. Several volunteered to bring juice.
Sunday afternoon, I cleaned my office...finishing up several projects and packed to go to Fortaleza on the night bus.
Joy would be arriving from the States very early Tuesday morning!
Church Service. 6 p.m. At 5:45, just as we were loading the car, the phone rang, "Please bring some
"The cake!" I had completely forgotten to bake a cake!
The program, put on by the children under the direction of our Brazilian Missionary,
Marli Gavioli, was very nice. At the end,
after Darrel's short message, the kids did a skit. "Baking a Cake for Mother." Their cake looked so good. If only...
"It almost looks real, " Shirley whispered in my ear. A shame it's only
styrofoam!" and she chuckled. My heart sank.
Then, the "mother" in the skit offered the cake to all the mothers present. Surely she
wouldn't offer a styrofoam cake.
I held my breath. I hardly dared to hope.
One of the mothers came forward...napkins in one hand and a knife in the other. The Lord knew that I
had had neither time
nor energy to bake a cake that day, and He had allowed me to forget!