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 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?


  1. Thank you for sharing Katie! God is faithful in the little things, and we should be too. Every work prepares us for what lies ahead, no matter how small! Great reminder. Praise Jesus :) Love you!

  2. Thank-you for the reminder of how God wants to walk with us through out the day and how important it is to be faithful even in the little things of life. May God continue to bless and keep you dear one. Love you :)

  3. What an awesome testimony, Katie! God is good...all the time. Even, and especially, in the little things! Your faith in such a seemingly insignificant situation is inspiring to me. Thank you, my friend!!

  4. I love it, Katie. Sometimes those answers to prayer that seem so small can mean the most. I'm curious though, who were you making pies with?

    1. Did you ever get to know Robin? She's my pie-partner, and her family (Jon, Noah, Anne, Gibby) is really helpful with cleaning up the evidence... :)

    2. Oh, yes! I did get to know her a little bit. Noah would come and have swimming lessons with Miguel. She was really cool:)