Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Trip to Ermera

  This last Sunday we went on a trip. The jungle was so beautiful that I decided I would be perfectly happy to live as a full time missionary in a bamboo hut far in the depths of a tropical jungle ...well, maybe. I still don't have anything close to a full idea of what that would actually mean, but I'm getting closer. :) The forest certainly was lovely though. Even Av√≥ said she wanted to buy property in the countryside of Timor, and that's a huge statement coming from her!

The purpose of our trip was to go to a market in the district capital of Ermera. Some of our friends who have gone there have come back with rice sacks full of avocados that they purchased for only 50 cents...so we were hoping to bring back a whole bunch of fresh fruits and veggies.

A little more than halfway to Ermera we came across a little surprise.

There were many cars backed up, so we parked and got out to see what was going on...

We climbed up on these logs to get a better look.

Here's a picture of the Szamko family on the logs. My student, Miguel, is the kid in the blue shirt who is trying to run away from my camera.

The little surprise we had was actually one that we expected: a really muddy road. 

What we weren't expecting was this road block.

This microlet, and several others like it, tried to make it through the mud...

 ...and although you may find this hard to believe, they actually did make it through (with lots of pulling and pushing. The one in this picture was almost carried through)! 

We even drove through the mud and made it all the way to Ermera. 

However, the delay caused by the muddy road and stuck microlets made us late for the market, and all that was left when we got there was bread and garlic. 

(Us at the empty market...you can see a bit of bread in bins in the background)
 We still had fun though, and it was very nice to get out of Dili and see some new places.

(The local cathedral)

See! Just look at William's face! We had loads of fun! ;) 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Parable

One summer a year or two ago, I fell in love with making pies. An old room-mate of mine and I used to make apple pies together lots, but I wasn't hooked until I found a recipe that I could really call my own. A basic but luscious one that I could easily keep in my head and whip up from scratch for just about any fruit. That summer we had loads of nectarines, peaches, apricots, and apples, and I made multiple pies out of all of them. I had so much fun that I ended up making several extra crusts and freezing them so my family could use them while I was away.

Well, when I came to Timor, I didn't leave my pie making hobbie at home. For quite a while I've been just too busy, not to mention that I haven't had a pie pan. However, a couple weeks ago a dear friend of mine gave me an excuse to come over and bring my pie recipe along, and I jumped at the chance. After a long evening of laughing, talking, rolling, and chopping, two perfect apple pies came out of the oven. It was such fun, and the pies turned out so well, that we promptly decided to meet again soon to do it all over again. 

"Soon" happened on last Wednesday night, but this time pumpkin was on the menu. Friday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday I kept my eyes peeled for pie pumpkins...but to no avail. The closest thing I could find was a plain-old green squash-y thing that was plain-old pale yellow inside. Certainly that would not work. Yet, as our date got closer, neither of us could find anything better, so eventually we decided we had to make it work. 

The other problem was tofu. Tofu was a problem for several reasons. I was almost afraid to even mention it at the beginning. You see, my dear pie partner is not vegetarian, let alone vegan.The only pumpkin pie recipes I know are vegan and call for silken tofu. I knew that putting tofu in a pie would be a totally foreign idea for my friend, so I was a little hesitant when she asked for my recipe. I gave it as enthusiastically as I could  (it's actually my dad's recipe that he has developed over the past few years and my favorite!), and praise the Lord, she was excited to try it. I guess we sort of thought this would be an experimental pie...experimental pumpkin, experimental tofu, experimental chef (um, I have to admit, I actually can never remember making a pumpkin pie by myself before)...

The other problem with the tofu was where to find it. Usually we have no problem finding silken tofu. In fact, sometimes we only have silken tofu when we want the firm stuff. I've learned though, that part of living in a third world country is dealing with an inconsistent food supply. I've been looking for any tofu besides tofu furak (fresh tofu) for over two weeks now, but the only tofu in all of the markets in Dili is tofu furak, and tofu furak is not for pies. It smells so soy bean-y that it makes me think of rotten egg (don't ask me how extreme soy smell makes me think of rotten egg...it just does). And the texture! Even the texture is like lumpy scrambled eggs. It is not smooth at all. There was no way in the world I was going to use tofu furak to make a pumpkin pie. Until it came down to 10 minutes before I was supposed to start showing my friend how to make the pie, and we still didn't have tofu. I finally broke down. Ok, ok! Fine! Silly Dili food market that only has what I want when I don't need it! 

You're probably thinking, "This is ridiculous! Why doesn't this kid just postpone the pie making day until she can do it right?" Well, you see, these pies weren't just for fun. One of them was for my friend's kids to take to a special meal at school. Not just for their class, mind you, this special meal was for the whole school (only one pie amongst many other foods, but still...I had such terrible visions of all those teachers...all those little children with critical, FBI agent taste buds!). The pie had to be done by Wednesday night so it could be packed off to school on Thursday morning. 

So, I picked up some lumpy, smelly tofu furak on the way to my friend's house, and prayed the whole way. "For the sake of Your health message, Father...for the sake of Your reputation in the eyes of my new friend...for the sake of those poor guinea pigs, I mean, kids...for the sake of our friendship...just for my sake, Lord! Please! Work a miracle and somehow make this mess into a pie!"

I asked Him, and I guess I believed, because I stepped out in faith, but I can't say I wasn't skeptical. When we opened the pumpkins, not only were they not the right kind, but they weren't even totally ripe! As I smelled them when they were cooked and pureed, my heart sank even lower. They certainly didn't smell anything like a pie pumpkin...they smelled like they needed some garlic and olive oil (or maybe I've just been living with the Portuguese too long...). Plus, when I had squeezed all the water out of the tofu, I had half the tofu I had started with, much less than what the recipe called for, and no time to run back and buy more. Not to mention how terrible the pumpkin and tofu looked and smelled when we stirred it together. 

One thing I can tell you for sure, this was the most prayed for pie I have ever made! I was praying for help as I squeezed out the tofu, praying for guidance as I thought about proportions and adjustments to the recipe, and praying for deliverance as I smelled my concoction.

Eventually we added the sweetener and spices, and then things started to smell okay, but I was still uncertain. The test would start when we put the first cup or so into the little hand size food processor. It whizzed and spun and got smoother and creamier and more and more relieving. By the time it was all blended up, it actually looked like pumpkin pie filling! Well...tawny yellow pumpkin pie filling...

Then to taste it. I was so scared that it would taste terrible. We all got out spoons and dipped in, and you know what? It really was alright. It needed a little more cinnamon, but it certainly wasn't bad. We added more cinnamon and tried again. Praise the Lord! I was sure He had worked a miracle.

By the time both pies came out of the oven that night, I had already gone back to my house, so I didn't actually see the finished product. The next day I came by to pick up the smaller pie (we made two: a big one for the school and a little one for my "family" here), and was relieved with the results. It wasn't the rich orange-y brown of a typical pumpkin pie, but it had baked to a pretty, spiced tan. The reports of the other pie were even more lovely though.

There were no left overs! No one even guessed that it was made with tofu!

I was so happy. God made my tofu furak and gourds into a pie, in the same way that He turned water into wine. I knew that I was completely incapable of sharing Him through my own haphazard efforts, so He Himself opened a door for His message of health and shone His love and joy into my life.

 The Christian life is a battle and a march. It is to work for today and not for tomorrow. It is to do the duties of today; it is, when you rise in the morning, to think, now I am wholly dependent upon God, and I will ask him to take care of me; and when I ask him to take care of me today, I believe that he will do so. I will lay my burden of care, and my troubles at the feet of Jesus, and he will gather them up. You must trust in his love; and if he has given you a small work, take that up, and do it today; and if you have been faithful in doing that little work today, tomorrow you will be capable of bearing a greater responsibility, and of doing a greater work; and he will give you a greater work and responsibility to bear on the morrow.  {ST, January 31, 1878 par. 6}

Then it was making pies, today it was teaching women to crochet; everyday has it's share of trials in the classroom, and I know I'll never guess what tomorrow will hold, but through the work He gives me today, I will depend on Him to care for me and to be my constant help. He has given me work, and I will trust in His love, no matter the task. Will you trust Him and labor in His cause?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

If You Want Me To

The pathway is broken
And the signs are unclear
And I don't know the reason why You brought me here
But just because You love me the way that You do
I'm gonna walk through the valley
If You want me to

No I'm not who I was
When I took my first step
And I'm clinging to the promise You're not through with me yet
So if all of these trials bring me closer to You
Then I will walk through the fire
If You want me to

It may not be the way I would have chosen
When You lead me through a world that's not my home
But You never said it would be easy
You only said I'll never go alone

So when the whole world turns against me
And I'm all by myself
And I can't hear You answer my cries for help
I'll remember the sufferin' Your love put You through
And I will walk through the darkness
If You want me to

'Cause when I cross over Jordan, I'm gonna sing, gonna shout
Gonna look into your eyes and see you never let me down
So take me on the pathway that leads me home to you
And I will walk through the valley if you want me to

Yes, I will walk through the valley if you want me to

-Ginny Owens

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Two young gentlemen gave me flowers today! It's the first time I can remember getting flowers from a boy on Valentine's day, and although it's rather silly of me, I really quite enjoyed the gifts. I do love flowers after all.

One darling gave me a few heavenly smelling frangipani, and the other gave me a rose! Don't you worry though, neither of my little dandies are older than ten. Miguel was the one who ran around the yard gathering frangipani blossoms and insisted that I let him put them in my hair, and dear little William told his mommy that he wanted to buy a rose for "Sister Katie" when they were shopping today. Isn't that just sweet?!

However, there is One who's Gift is much greater than flowers. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life," (John 3:16). My Lord has been astounding me with His love and tender care lately. The lovely little things He does for me catch me by surprise and brighten up my so easily dampened spirits. His banner over me is love, and how wonderful it is to be always under that beautiful banner. 

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
for thee all the follies of sin I resign.

My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;

if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
and purchased my pardon on Calvary's tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;

if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

I'll love Thee in life, I will love Thee 'til death,

And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,

if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight;

I'll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;

I'll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

My sweet frangipani and beautiful rose. :)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Have Thy Way

Father, hear me now when I am humbled
I fear that I will soon forget
Now I have no strength to stand and stumble
I have no wish to leave you—yet

O Holy Father, hear me now
When flesh is strong and spirit weak
Please break my back if I won’t bow
Won’t you have your way with me

Father, hear me now when I am humbled
When I am bent with holy shame
All the lies that I believed have crumbled
The blood of Christ my only claim

I cannot trust my own designs
My heart is prone to disobey
So listen, Lord, while there is time
Chain me fast if I won’t stay
Take my life and have your way

Please hear me, Lord, this blessed hour
When sin has loosed its hold on me
Thy mercy is a mighty tower
So why should I not trust in thee?
Father, have your way with me.

-Andrew Peterson