Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Gwote

I set out to make my family a traditional soup from Plateau State.  The ingredients are:
Alehu (Spinach)
Gauta (bitter little green tomato/pumpkin things)
Maggi (Bouillon cubes)
Acha (Fonio...little grain grown in West Africa)
Green Onions
HabaƱero peppers
Any assortment of other vegetables you have on hand (eggplant, tomatoes, other greens)
And meat, if you have extra cash on hand and want to make it fancy

It's very common, eaten by most indigents of Plateau State.

Here you see my family eating it. However, in this recipe there is:
Chinese broccoli
Acha
Green Onions
Acha (which I brought back with me)
Garlic
Chicken bouillon
Lowrys salt
and...chicken (which in Nigeria, is often only eaten on special occasions like Christmas)

Well, I guess being with my family is an occasion to have...something that is a little bit like Gwote from Nigeria.

Comfortable?

This morning while studying this very well known phrase of the Lord's Prayer I was refreshed...Why? 

I have returned to a place that wants everyone to feel comfortable, okay with where they are in every way. Everyone's choices are their own, and there are no other choices that are any better than any others! This phrase says that there is a good Father who has a divine will for his creation.  Which includes all of these very free individuals that wander on earth as a mist in time.  

What is God's will?  God's will is that we be brought back to himself, secondly.  God's will is that he is glorified, firstly. The Son glorified Father by doing the work that Father sent him to do (Jn 17), and the Son received glory through those the Father gave the Son out of the world to reveal the Father to! Yeah!  The Son glorifies the Father by revealing the Father to the Father's beloved creation. This is God's will, therefore, that we believe in the Son and are brought into right relationship with the Father and live forever worshiping him.  What a marvelous, good, and perfect will. 

This is refreshing to me because in praying, "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,"  I imagine that the angels KNOW that Jesus is the Saviour of the world and they worship him and the Father...all the time!  If I'm praying that God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven, I am saying I want to be part of the whole world knowing the Son of God and believing in him as the way to the Father just as the angels in heaven do!

This refreshes me because it reminds me that just because we all want to be comfortable and let everyone else be comfortable too...God's will is so much greater than that!  His will is that we be satisfied deeply and eternally in Him.  Why would we want anyone to miss that by letting them stay comfortable for the mist of a lifetime on earth?  What's so great about being comfortable anyway?

I love Nigeria and I love the United States for very different reasons.  One thing I love about Nigeria, is that in the dust and dirt and harsh realities of infants dying unnecessary deaths and violence threatening your life, you don't have as much time to think about settling down to make yourself comfortable.  This earth is not meant for eternity, but we are. That's why we long for wholeness and peace.  Why don't we tell people we've found it? 


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Our Father...

We're reading "Lord, Teach Us To Pray in 28 Days"  by Kay Arthur.  Day 5 she asked us, "Why do you think Jesus started with "Our Father, who is in heaven."  In meditating on this, this is what came to me.  If I was to meet an 80 year old missionary who had lived the last 50 years of her life in a rural village and was known to have a dynamic ministry, I would ask a lot of questions.  I would listen really well, and I would keep in mind who she was and what she'd done while I talked with her. Knowing who she is would change the course and nature of our conversation. My attitude toward her would be different.  You can think of a person who would be influential to your line of work as well.  A mother of 10 whose children are all fantastic and has her PHD in engineering maybe? An experienced tree climber and arborist who is known for his skill, accuracy, kindness, and honesty?  A dynamic, passionate middle school teacher who prays for her students and reaches them where they are at?

Then you imagine a morning when the Creator of all things seen and unseen, the Most High God makes himself available for a conversation.  Considering his many titles and his magnificent position of all eternity from beginning to end, of deep inside of our aching souls yet holder of the starry hosts...what a place to start a conversation!  So, Awesome God...what do you see?

Not to mention Father.  "Who of you, when his son asks for a fish would give him a serpent, or if he asks for bread would give him a stone?  If you, then, though you are evil, can give good gifts to your children, how much more with the Heavenly Father give good gifts to those who as him?" A Father who patches up mistakes in our pottery, who inspires us by reminding us of how he sees us, who picks us up out of the dirt when we have a scraped knee and covers it with love....Oh, yes, what a place to start a conversation!

You're Welcome or We Thank God

What can I say, something that bugged me about the Nigerian dialect of English has become part of my own outlook that American formalities sometimes seem trite in comparison.

 

"Your song really touched me today, Dorcas!" I would sincerely exclaim to a Nigerian sister.  "We thank God,"  came back the response.  "Thank you for responding so quickly to my email, Paul."  "We thank God," my co-worker would respond with a shining, warm smile.  'Ah...yeah,' I was thinking to myself.  'I do thank God...kind of, but I was actually thanking YOU!  I thank God for you, but he didn't write me the email!'
However, after hearing this response again and again, day after day, I started to wonder if there wasn't something precious about a constant "thanksgiving!" Just like "How are you?" and "You're welcome,"  "Thank God" can become common and meaningless.  But for this American who doesn't get to thank my God openly every time a moment of His goodness passes my way, it became special.

 

The other day one of my many dear sis-in-laws said cheerfully, "Thanks for helping me with dinner, Christy!" I had to will myself to say, "You're welcome," but realized that I don't even know what that means to me except that I most certainly did something you should be thankful that I did...for you...and I will accept your thanks for this task well accomplished by...none other...than me!
  "We thank God"  is clear as todays winter sky, but "You're welcome", well...I guess just as every culture learns and relearns the meaning of language as it changes through time and culture, this common response to a service rendered will become as natural as eating apple pie at Christmas after a year in the states...just in time to say "We thank God" all over again! 


Who Dishes the Pasta?

Mr. Martin at my left is telling me about air conditioners and Mr. Bob at my right has explained his lifetime work in heavy farm equipment when the linguini is served.  Clams smile toothlessly up at us, and the shrimp adds it's own rosy element.  One plate, 8 invitees, one serving utensil.  As I am pondering this, Mr. George to Mr Bob's right stands up, grabs the prongs, and declares, "I'll serve!" I shrivel, shrinking down in my chair at how I am disgracing Mr. George with my slow response to the obvious need.  I am the youngest woman at the table by at least 30 years. One week back in the States did NOT prepare me for this!  My role as a young woman often finds me dishing up the sauce, the tuwo, the fish...the pasta. Culture shock strikes again! 


Chosen Banquet

"Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.   God decided in advanc...