Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Baking Monster Cookies in the Village

During the month that our family lived in Awalmade Village, Papua New Guinea, I learned many things about cooking over an open fire. It's not really knowledge that you can explain verbally, you just kind of get a "feel" for it. For example, knowing how hot the fire has to be to cook but not burn, and when do you need to start "turning down" the heat in order to finish things well.

We made a village pizza by cooking the dough on the first side, then flipping it over, adding the toppings, and covering the skillet to melt the cheese. I have a feeling that if we'd been served this pizza in the U.S., we might've turned our noses up at it. But, in Awalmade Village, it tasted great!!

This is a pot oven. You put about two inches of sand inside and then set some clean tuna cans on top of that. The sand spreads out and holds the heat from the fire so that there is a more consistent temperature inside the oven. Keep the lid on to hold in the heat and you actually have a pretty decent baking apparatus! It takes a pretty hot fire and some experience to know when it's too hot. That experience comes by trial and error: some of my banana bread loaves were burned on the edges and still raw in the middle. But I eventually caught on.
Baking Bread
When you're baking in a pot oven, you want to do a lot of baking at once, because once you have the fire right and the oven heated you really want to take advantage of that! Imagine trying to line up all your ingredients and your mixing station on a couple of thin, rough board counter tops. You have to find something to cover all of your dishes with because the flies want to land on everything. You've got sweat dripping from every limb because it's more than 90 degrees and very humid. There's no washing water handy, so you're going to end up using almost every dish you own in the process.

On this day, I made three loaves of banana bread, one loaf of sourdough bread, and a batch of my husband's favorite cookies--monster cookies. You can see that the two loaves in the containers have all of the sides and bottom cut off because the edges were burned by the time the middle was done; the pot oven was too hot. I do not recommend baking cookies in the pot oven because you can only bake about 8 at a time so it takes a LOOOOONG time to get them all done. And the chocolate chips were already melted from the climate before they ever went into the oven! 
But, my boys loved them (even without M&M's), so I guess it was worth it!! Thinking back, I think that round of baking took about 6 hours (thankfully, I could fit 2 loaf pans in my oven at once).

Our was papa (guardian father) LOVED banana bread! So for our last big bung kai (family potluck) in the village, he put out the word and people brought me dozens of bananas so that I could make a lot of banana bread and banana cake for our big get-together. Our PNG family had never done any baking because they didn't have the right utensils or an oven. So, I held a baking lesson in order to get all of that cake ready. They had never read a recipe or measured ingredients, so we had to start with the basics. Most of them took their turn reading the recipe I had translated into Tok Pisin, practicing measuring the ingredients carefully, and mixing things in the order & manner given. It was so fun hearing them give each other reminders and advice as they took their turns. They did a great job! 

Hopefully, they'll be able to remember their lessons because "was papa" told me that if they don't make him banana bread after we left, he was going to call me and tattle on them!!
The yummy results of our baking lesson

 After all that baking, you get to go cool down in the river as you wash every dish you own!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Some Things I Learned While Living in a Village in Papua New Guinea

I don't know how many items will be on this list.

It is in no particular order.

I reserve the right to add more items later after my brain has processed this whole experience for a little while longer.

1. It's amazingly easy to forget to brush your teeth in the village.
2. You know how when you feel like you have bugs crawling on you and then you can't NOT think about DO have bugs crawling on you.
3. It gets dark quickly. Start cooking supper early (4:30 at the latest) so you don't have to cook and wash dishes in the river in the dark. If you try to wear a headlamp, humongous flying insects that you've never heard of before will be all over you.
4. Stop fighting the mud. Just stop.
5. Clean is relative. When you wash your self, your laundry, and your dishes in the same river...a stream, really...(see #4)
6. Life without refrigeration is possible. Not nice though.
7. When you finally give up on seeking comfort, you can sleep anywhere. For short, painful periods of time.
8. Fire ants do not care who you are. (See #2)
9. Women in this country are amazing!! and very strong!!

That is all. For now.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

We've Arrived in Papua New Guinea!

After working and praying so long toward this, it's actually kind of surreal to BE HERE FINALLY!!

Here are a few pictures to let our family know we are well and so you can see a little bit of what our situation is like (for a few days anyway), while we wait for training to begin on June 24th.
The three of us at Madang, Papua New Guinea

The Guest house where we are staying for a few days until training begins.
The view from our porch
Joel and Eli chillin'

Pizza with a view


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Our Commissioning Service & Send-Off Party

The past two weekends, we experienced new milestones in our journey to Papua New Guinea: our commissioning service and a send-off open house. We are so blessed to have so many people who care for us and serve us by participating in our Wycliffe ministry in these ways!

On June 19th, the Evangelical Free Church of Marshalltown commissioned us as the first missionaries from our own church family who will go out as full-time, foreign missionaries. Our pastors and elders shared some scripture and prayed for us as we "go". Though we are the first to go as foreign missionaries, we are not E Free's first efforts in making Christ known to the nations! We are so proud of our church family and their heart for the nations; AND we feel very privileged to represent our spiritual family as we begin our work in Papua New Guinea.

And, we were so grateful to have our grown children, Cady & Lucas (& wife, Alyssa); our grandchildren, Lily & Henry; Tina's parents, Sam & Karen Herkelman; and Tina's great-uncle & great-aunt, Delbert & Darlene Eakins; present to witness and participate in our commissioning. THANK YOU for supporting us and sending us with your blessings!!

When Pastor Bob invited anyone who wanted to join us on the stage to pray for us and symbolically lay hands on us...WOW! It was overwhelming and turned into a big bawl-fest!!

This past Sunday, June 26th, we had a "farewell" open house and ice cream party. We estimate around 150 people stopped by to give us a word of encouragement, a hug, and to send us on our way. WOW!! It was so wonderful to see so many friends, partners, and loved ones on one day!!

We were able to get a picture with almost everyone who
stopped by to see us. What fun! This is one of my favorites
because of Yohan's sideways look at Joel! :)
We were afraid we would cry a lot with all of the goodbyes, but, really, it was just such a sweet, sweet blessing to see everyone!

THANK YOU to everyone who attended. THANK YOU to everyone who donated ice cream toppings. THANK YOU to our small group, the Tweedys, and the Mattsons for their help in serving us and all of our guests.

Lily & Henry enjoying the party!