This Little Light of Mine

"To whom much is given, much is required"


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Maasai Soup

Making Veggie Burgers in Kenya

“Miz Pat, would you like some Maasai soup?”

Traveling to other countries revolves around food for me. I usually travel to parts unknown because I do the cooking for medical teams when they travel. It really is a win-win situation. I provide a service – food – and it keeps me away from helping the dentist pull teeth or from holding steel-cold instruments during a surgical procedure. Important tasks, but realllllly not the tasks for me.

I don’t exactly faint at the sight of blood, but I don’t like seeing it in large quantities. Usually the only blood I see is my own should I nick my finger slicing and dicing the salad. Mostly minor and gets covered rather quickly.

I remember one trip to Kenya when I almost had more blood than I really wanted to see. The Maasai tribal ladies that worked for the eco-lodge where our group was staying were a fun bunch. They were thankful they had a job in such a nice facility. The kitchen had counters where they could mix the food. But the ways of the Kenyan people change very slowly and the counter usually stayed bare as they worked on the floor like they were taught by their mothers growing up.

Most Kenyan ladies have one common complaint and that is back pain. Standing with locked knees, bent at the waist working on the floor or over a fire day after day was very debilitating indeed. But they served to the best of their ability and they were taught well how to provide upscale service for the company retreats that came from Nairobi. For how dark the little kitchen they worked from was, I was amazed at the wonderful food they produced.

We quickly divided up the work for the group and they agreed to serve breakfast and I would fix the traveling lunches and then have dinner waiting when the group returned around sunset. Although the ladies were done after breakfast, they hung around to see what I would cook and later jumped in to learn new techniques and recipes. We had a grand time. We fried donuts and baked rolls in a large pot filled with sand. Really! They filled a large pot about 4 inches or so with sand and set it over the fire to warm for a couple of hours. When everything was evenly heated they set the rolls in, covered them with a lid and placed more coals on top. The rolls baked just like in the oven. Fabulous!

Eco Lodge Camp in Kenya

While that was new to me, I showed them how to use my old canning pressure cooker I brought along to quickly cook beans for the group. They were fascinated with it and asked if I would leave it for them. I taught them the best I could on how to handle a pressure cooker and have often wondered if anyone blew it up. I hope not.

Toward afternoon, one of the husbands would drop by for some lunch. He parked his herd of cows outside the compound while looking for something to warm his belly. One day he arrived and the Mrs. was all giggly. She lifted a bowl toward me and asked if I’d like to share her Maasai Soup.

I had already been cautioned about traditional food staples in Kenya. I was mighty glad that I took a pause before automatically accepting because I don’t think I could have taken even one sip of warm soup in the bowl she lifted toward me. The ingredients of the soup consisted of newly caught cow’s blood from a small slit in its neck which was then mixed with fresh cow’s milk.

Haiti will bring more food adventures and I can hardly wait to see and taste the things that whisper Haiti. So far, I have not heard of food items to be wary of but I’m sure there will be something. I love trying new things, and I know not all things will be loved, but they will be fascinating just the same.

I want to check out the fresh fruit and vegetable markets and take in the colors, smells and textures of the region. Maybe learn how those with so little money manage to feed their families. Where can we help them “bridge the gap” so the children can go to school with full bellies ready to learn the lessons for the day.

Yes, I’m looking to help “bridge the gap” instead of teaching cooking techniques and exchanging recipes. There will be many in that gap in Haiti. My prayer is that Jesus will bless the money that we will bring so that we can purchase food supplies for those we serve plus a few more. After all, the Bible tells us He fed the 5,000 from a small boy’s lunch of fish and bread. Do I have enough faith to ask for that miracle?

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The Unknown: Traveling to Haiti

Joe Parmele

A guest post by Joe Parmele

“Let’s go to Haiti!” my wife suggested. A deer caught in headlights was what I hoped my face didn’t show because that is clearly how my brain reacted.

People have risked all they have to explore and discover the unknown. Abraham answered God’s call to leave his homeland for a place he did not know. On faith he journeyed to his new homeland and was recognized by God for his faith. Christopher Columbus risked falling off the end of the earth to discover what was beyond what the eye could see. From David Livingston to Sir Edmund Hillary to Neil Armstrong, exploring the unknown has been irresistible.

I may not be exploring the vast unknown regions of the universe but there is that uneasy sense of adventure when I plan a trip to a place I have never been. That uneasiness comes from encountering people who speak a different language; whose food may look and taste different than anything encountered before.

Sure, I’ve done all the usual things to alleviate those traveling nerves such as reading travel books and learning all I can about the country and people. But for me I think having a defined mission and goal helps ease my concerns just a little.

I anticipate excitement in the children’s faces as they get school supplies and backpacks. I can vision the look of amazement on parents faces as they understand what a Lifestraw will mean to the health of their families. It will be great to see a small solar system work to provide a small amount of power to help in powerless areas. All this helps relieve anxiety and replaces it with excited anticipation.

Most of all, I am hoping for a change in my life that will enable me to be more grateful for what I have. To be more responsible with my resources, and to be more aware of needs in my own community. God seems to be opening more doors for Children for a New Haiti. I don’t want to be a stumbling block. I want to have the faith of Abraham to pack up, start the journey and see where it takes me.

Joe is the Vice President for the not-for-profit “Children for a New Haiti”.  For more information visit http://www.childrenforanewhaiti.org