I (Clay) love dessert. It’s my favorite meal! That’s right, sometimes I will just have dessert as a meal… don’t judge me. I was thinking the other day how many idioms there are about dessert. Clearly everyone else loves dessert, too. There are plenty of idioms to choose from: half-baked, have your cake and eat it too, pie in the sky, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I’m sure I missed plenty that you are now thinking about rather than what you were just reading or you quit reading altogether and are now enjoying something sweet in the kitchen.
There are two more idioms that have really stuck out to me over the past few weeks: piece of cake and easy as pie. Now before I continue, I want to give full disclosure here. I have baked pie and enjoyed said pie, but I have never baked a cake. However, I have enjoyed many pieces of cake.
Ok, so, it’s been a little over six weeks since we uprooted our family and moved to El Salvador, and I’ve been thinking about these two dessert idioms because tasks and activities back home that were “easy as pie” or “a piece of cake” have turned out to be like some of the greatest failures from the Great British Baking Show. (you can google that and get some quality laughs)
Yes, of course I have an example for you! I grew up on, and still love, McDonalds. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Their fries are my comfort food. After ACL surgery, the only thing I wanted were fries from McDonalds… one of the many characteristics I got from my dad. McDonalds breakfast is great too: sausage biscuit, two hashbrowns, and a coffee. Their coffee is the best in the fast-food industry (you’re all nodding because you know it’s true. You may get your chicken biscuit from Chick-Fil-A, but you stop by McDonalds to get your coffee.)
Ordering at McDonalds is easy, right? Drive-thru or at the counter, you know what you want and it doesn’t really take a lot of effort. Piece of cake, right? Not anymore! These tasks that were once “easy as pie” now take a lot of effort and thought for me in El Salvador. Where there used to be no doubt whatsoever as to the result of my fast food breakfast order back home, now I face three outcomes:
1 – I muddle through the order in Spanish and things turn out ok
2 – It all goes wrong and I get the wrong food on a tray instead of in a bag
3 – Or because it’s hard and there is a fear of failure I skip breakfast and keep driving hungry and without caffeine
With how bad traffic is here and how crazy the driving is, being hungry and having caffeine withdrawal headaches while driving could be catastrophic.
Want one more example of not-so-easy as pie?
I have been getting my haircut at the same place by the same person, Mrs. Amanda, for 12 years. Yes, you read that right, 12 years. I have known my hair stylist longer than Hannah! I go in and sit down, and she cuts my hair just how it was made to be cut without me telling her how. We talk about family, work, and maybe some politics.
I got my haircut right before we left Macon because I knew it would take time to find a new barber. Well, the boys and I got our haircut about a week ago. It was the quietest haircut I’ve ever had, because of course I am not anywhere close to conversational in Spanish yet. It was anything but easy as pie. The icing on the cake? I am wearing a hat every day except for church.
Here’s the thing I’ve learned from my past baking experiences: getting a pie to turn out isn’t easy, especially pecan pie (where I’m from, it is not pronounced “pee-can,” just so we are clear). It’s actually easier to ruin a pie than have it turn out. The middle is either soupy and not cooked or you overcook it and the top is burned.
Finding that perfect spot is hard and takes practice and requires being ok with losing some pies… AKA failure.
Like many things in life, the more you do the same task, the more efficient and skilled you become at that one task. Throughout your life, you have honed many everyday tasks so that they become almost second nature and they become a piece of cake.
As my family and I relearn every single one of those tasks, we are exhausted and humbled each day as we venture out. Getting internet set up at our house, buying a stove, finding school supplies, getting a car and car insurance and gas for said car. Let’s just say there have been a lot of humbling mishaps.
There are a lot of discouraging moments and days right now. Days that make me question being here, and make me want to just stay at home. But we also have small victories here and there that bring encouragement and motivation to keep pushing forward. Some days the pie doesn’t turn out and some days the cake is edible, but still dry and crumbly.
But, through the grace we receive anew each morning and the strength given to us through the Spirit we continue on.
And by the prayers of all of you! We are always encouraged and thankful to know each of you are praying for our family as we continue to settle into our new home here in El Salvador. Who knows, maybe the next time we see you I won’t be wearing a hat, and sharing the gospel in Spanish will be a piece of cake!