Thursday, April 17, 2014

But I Liked That Pot!

Joanna Burdett and her husband are missionaries serving in Madagascar. Her last post on her blog really hit home with me, so I wanted to share it with you. (Please stop by her blog. The Burdetts are NEVER short on adventures!)

This post is about a process, not a lesson learned and checked off the list.    The call of Jesus is to follow Him. Sure, sometimes that means  Sunday School and Sermons, village outreaches, health clinics that help hundreds of people or disaster relief during cyclone season.  Those are the more visible acts of following that look good in prayer letters.  Then there’s a normal day – choosing joy when the geckos nibbled most of the cinnamon rolls that were supposed to be for breakfast, smiling at the beggar who is not happy with the donation just given, praying for someone who takes advantage of you, dealing gracefully with people who steal from you, or speaking kindly to someone you’d rather pinch.  I don’t always follow that well. (yes, missionaries struggle too!)

There is a beggar in our town who is wheeled around by three different kids.  He has cerebral palsy, probably no education and has most likely begged his whole life.  He knows our truck and will wait by it until we come out from the market to give him money.  He also comes by the house for rice.   He has also asked for batteries and soccer cleats.   The other day he tracked me down in the road to ask for something more than rice.  His speech is slurred and I didn’t understand what he wanted.  Yesterday, Bobby called me to say the crippled guy wanted a pot because his was stolen.  That’s what he’d been trying to tell me!  Did I have a pot I could give him? Yes.  Did I want to give him that pot? No.  My first thought was “but I like all my pots!”  Then the Spirit rebuked me.  The guy didn’t have any pot and I was fretting over which one to release!  Even then, as I gave him the pot, the temptation was strong to mention how valuable a gift he was receiving. ( I can’t believe myself even as I write this!)

Sometimes we feel like we have given and given and can’t give any more.  If one more person asks us for something, we will scream.  Then Jesus asks us to give again.   Jesus said if any man would follow Him he was to deny himself, take up his cross and follow.  For me, yesterday, following meant giving up the luxury of four pots so that a crippled guy with cerebral palsy could have one.  Today, it means doing/being/saying whatever God asks of me today.  Tomorrow?  Well, let’s just say I’m so very grateful for new mercies every morning.  I have a feeling this will be a life-long lesson.  Hopefully, next time I will more quickly respond with a cheerful heart.

-- Joanna Burdett, Madagascar

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

INTERNATIONAL DINNER: Brazilian/Lebanese Fusion (Kibe)

Kibe (pronounced kee-bee)

I was first introduced to Kibe by Adele, a dear Brazilian lady in our church in New York City.  She is one of the best cooks I know, so we are always delighted to taste her creations.  Most recently I was reminded of Kibe when I posted a request for idea for a Brazilian snack to take to a church potluck.  Althea responded with this recipe.  She’s a veteran missionary to Brazil (a veteran missionary is one of those people who has been in her host country forever but still looks really young, at least on her prayer card).  Althea says you can’t have a party in Brazil without Kibe.  This notion was confirmed by Lilian, my cousin’s wife, who actually IS Brazilian.  She says it might be Lebanese, but it's also one of her favorite comfort foods.

Kibe is probably Brazilian like Pizza is American (or is it Italian?), but whether you call it Lebanese or Brazilian, it’s delicious, and will be hit—at your dinner table or your church’s International Potluck.  Here is Adele’s version of Kibe.

3/4 cup bulgur wheat (see substitution below)
1 cup water (to cover)

2 lbs. ground beef
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chopped mint leaves
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/4 cup cilantro
3/4 tsp. salt (to taste)
½ tsp. cinnamon (optional)
½ tsp. pepper (to taste)

1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
Oil for frying

1. Cover bulgur wheat with water and soak overnight (or use boiling water, cover wheat and let rest ½ hour)

2.  Finely chop/mince the onion, garlic, parsley, mint, green onion and cilantro.  Combine with meat in food processor and pulse for 1 minute.

3.  Drain the wheat and press excess water out.  Add wheat, salt and pepper to the food processor for an additional 2 minutes.

4.  Make “cigar” shaped meatballs by taking 1-2 tablespoons of meat and rolling between hands.  (“Football” shaped might be more authentic, but Adele likes hers more skinny and long like a cigar, and I think they are easier to cook evenly.)

5. Roll “meatball” (either cigar shaped or football shaped) in bread crumbs. 

6. Evenly coat bottom of frying pan with oil and fry in small batches over medium heat.  Every 2 minutes, roll another third of the way around, for a total of 6 minutes.  Remove extra drippings after each batch and keep oil fresh.

Substituting hard-to-find ingredients has always been second nature for me.  Growing up in Mexico on a tight budget and long before free trade made for great training ground.  Today I live in one of the most international cities in the world, and I’m sure there is nothing I couldn’t find here if I tried.  I don’t know if I’m cheap or lazy, but most days I think it’s more fun to see what substitutions I can come up with from my own cupboard.  The first time I made Kibe, I tracked down the proper ingredients, the second time, I used these substitutions.  Both ways seemed pretty authentic!

If you can’t find bulgur wheat in your corner of the world, try this:  pulse wholegrain brown rice in the blender ¼ cup at a time to coarsely ground.  Soak and treat the same as bulgur wheat.  White rice would probably work, too.  It should be raw when you grind it.  

If you can’t find mint leaves try a package of peppermint tea!  It is dry, therefore more concentrated, so I just used the leaves from one tea bag plus a bit more parsley. 

Both substitutions ended up tasting quite similar to the “real deal”.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Where Thieves Break Through and Steal

Lessons from a Thief
Lessons from a Thief
Since being robbed three weeks ago, I have been pondering the effects of a break-in on my spiritual and emotional state. Here are some missionary musings of mine:

The Danger of Danger

Besides the obvious physical danger that danger poses, it can also tempt your spirit to worry and fear, and secondly to discouragement, the latter being perhaps more dangerous than the first. After some of the adrenaline from the first rush of fear has subsided, discouragement creeps in to trap you in the Slough of Despond.

Maybe I should mention cynicism here as well, because when a missionary is discouraged, it is easy to be cynical about the people--all the people--around him. Whatever growth may exist in the handful of believers is easy to overlook, and the culture's faults all magnified. David said in his haste, "All men are liars." And a missionary in his discouragement may make similar negative universal statements.

"These people always... never..."
"This is impossible. A church will never happen here."
"No one is trustworthy."

Of course we know these statements aren't completely true or fair; and in our meeker moments we remember to close our mouths when angry, because a man who can control his spirit is better than he who conquers cities.

So that's the lesson I learned from danger--that we must remember to submit to God who allowed it, and not to "charge God foolishly." That we must not forget all of the blessings of growth and the work God is doing in some people's hearts, just because of personal attacks.

Evangelizing Thieves

Which brings me to my next point. Some have mentioned that maybe God will use this to bring the thief (our neighbor) to the Lord. That sounds great, doesn't it? I also long to see miraculous conversions--a well-known drunk turning sober, and the like. I know God can do that!

Unfortunately in this specific case, the above encouragement on seeing this boy enter the Kingdom was our consolation several years ago when he stole from us. We did attempt to evangelize him, and he came to church for a while, and we even baptized him! (Which if you know Seth, is saying something.)

He eventually quit church, however, and is no longer a church member. So while trying not to be complete wet blankets and unbelieving in God's ability to save, we're not getting our hopes up too high, lest we battle even more discouragement over this boy.

So the lesson learned here--well, one lesson that we've learned is to be even slower to baptize children and teens until we are sure that they have committed to following Christ.

Why Africa Is Poor

I have so much to say on this subject that I will try to do the opposite and keep it short. We lost money in the valuables the thief took and to install "burglar bars" afterwards. We lost a lot of time as well.

But we are not the only ones being robbed. Several church members and neighbors have been robbed, not once, but a number of times in their lifetimes. While it may not touch us as seriously because of our savings account, think what it means to a poor person who saved for a long time to buy a personal computer and cannot replace it easily.

One reason Africa is poor is high crime rates. Obviously there is so much more interconnected than that point alone, and certainly more reasons why there is poverty, but it is devastating to people already struggling with finances to have someone take the little they have--and then not have the money to either replace it or to buy the security to prevent the next occurrence.

Treasure on Earth

We love things too much. I was reminded of that when I read The Sermon on the Mount shortly after the break-in.
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Missionaries may sometimes excuse their materialism by remembering what they left behind, and thinking that it's okay to hold tight to the things they brought over with them--their consolation. But it's not. Our heart cannot be in things! Does the extent of our frustration when we have to go without a luxury or convenience communicate how much we treasured that thing?

It's almost as if I can hear Jesus saying, "Don't you get it? Those things are temporary. It's obvious that that's why you shouldn't love them! They can be stolen. They can get old and break. They will pass, so why would you set your heart on them?"

We are pilgrims looking for a city. Let's travel light and not burden ourselves, or rather, our hearts, with extra lovely treasures. Tools? Those are nice. But each in its place...with its correct priority.

In heaven, our treasures will never fade or be stolen. That is a beautiful thought to someone who's been robbed. That means that those treasures must be leagues better than the treasures here below! My "wanter" must be broken, for me to value things so highly here below that are useless toys from the Dollar Tree in comparison to the treasures that can be stored up in heaven.

The Generosity of God's People

What makes me want to fall on my knees in humility and gratitude, though, is when American Christians sympathize and give to replace our things. This has been done already. Did we love our things too much? If so, no word of judgment from them.

In the middle of our discouragement over the depravity of some people, Christians reminded us of God's grace and gave us just a glimpse again of the love and beauty that will one day be constantly present in God's eternal Kingdom. Thank you. It eliminates much fear and discouragement to know that we have friends like you.


Having gone through these different stages of learning from our robbery, there are so many things to be thankful for.

Our children were safe.
We were safe.
They did not take more.
We have the money to secure our house better.
We were born as Americans.

What we love most cannot be touched, and what we love next most wasn't touched.

But best of all...well, I'll simply quote Matthew Henry after he was robbed:
“Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before; second, because, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Road Rage

I was on the scooter, heading up the steep, bumpy hill I hate the most. The traffic was its usual nightmare of congestion. Motorcycles were bobbing all around, and the potential for collisions with cars, tuk tuks, motorcycles, pedestrians, and animals was a matter of inches. It is more like playing with bumper cars than driving, only you see how close you can pile up vehicles without actually hitting each other too hard.

(This is the kind of road I prefer. No traffic!
Although I don't prefer the 100 foot cliff just to the right of the picture!)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wednesday's Wonderings...

How many of you ladies stay at a home base during deputation/furlough while your husband travels alone?  What do you do to help the time pass?  How do you help keep communication flowing? 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sunflower Seed Butter

Until we arrived in Brazil, we had no idea the value of a jar of peanut butter.  Each jar sent from the States is a hoarded treasure.  Occasionally, a small jar or two makes it's way to our Super Muffato for the bargain price of $8-10 American dollars each.  When researching online for baking alternatives, I came across sunflower seed butter.  Because of the rise of peanut allergies, sunflower seeds have become a healthy option for replacement, especially in the States.  Our local health food store in Londrina sells bags containing 1 cup of hulled seeds for less than $1 each.  The recipe I used filled an 18 oz. jar, and half of another jar the same size.  My children liked the sunflower seed butter for their sandwiches, though we have not tried baking with it, as of yet.  If you have blanched almonds or skinned peanuts readily available where you are, feel free to substitute for the sunflower seeds.  If you're making it at home, you have better control of the quality of ingredients that are used!

Sunflower Seed Butter

4 c. hulled sunflower seeds
4 tbsp. Coconut oil (or sunflower seed oil)
2 tbsp. Honey
1/4 c. Brown sugar (because we like it sweeter)
1/2 tsp. salt

Roast the seeds for 20 minutes at 325 degrees, stirring often to avoid scorching. While it isn't completely necessary to roast the seeds, it will greatly enhance the flavor.  Using a 14 cup processor,  process the seeds until they start clumping together.  Add in the oil 1 tablespoon at a time, processing until smooth.  Each batch may require more or less oil depending upon humidity and the natural seeds oils.  Add the honey, salt, and extra sugar after tasting.  To get the same texture we are used to, I moved it to my Vitamix, but it's not necessary.  Process until desired texture.  I believe it took about 10 minutes in the food processor, so don't be afraid to let it work for a while.  Lasts longer in the refrigerator.