Sunday, January 28, 2018

Come Grocery Shopping With Me

Thought those of you on the other side of the world might be interested to take a trip through my grocery store with me.  Grace took most of these pictures, so some of them are kind of random....but maybe that will entertain you.  

My grocery store recently acquired a whole fleet of these car carts.  I just stared at them and thought, Where have you been all my life?  Did you really have to wait to get these when all of my kids are in school? Johnny's too big, but he still likes to squeeze himself into them any time he's with me.  

Things I buy:

Cleaning supplies

Coconut oil from Kenya.  I buy this occasionally.  It's wonderful, but it's about $12 for a quart.

Clarified butter.  This I buy and use regularly.  Love the stuff.

Palm oil is the cheapest kind available here, so it's what I use most often.

Tanzania produces amazing rice.  So much better than what is available in the States.

Spices.  Big selection.  Love this.

I often buy popcorn, flax seed, and raisins from these bins.  And look at that--quinoa. $2.50 for 100 grams (3 ounces).  Yikes.

We buy American Garden mayo, ketchup, canned corn.....  I'm not really sure it really is Born in the USA, but it's closest to what we are used to.

I grew up on Nutella in Liberia, long before it came to the States.  It's expensive here, but worth it (of course).

We eat a lot of local chips, usually plantain or cassava.

Various sugars

Locally produced jam--good stuff.

Pringles can be found practically anywhere in Tanzania--even way back in 2001 when we first arrived. I have no idea why.

Cheese, usually from New Zealand.  Expensive but usually available.

Eggs come in flats of 30.  We go through about one flat a week.  I've learned to only buy certain brands, because only some kinds have yellow yolks (the others have white yolks, which means the chickens basically ate dirt).  The brand I buy aren't very clean, but it's worth it for the yellow yolks.

Milk comes in boxes from South Africa.  High temperature pasteurized, which means it can sit unrefrigerated for months.  Practical, but not exactly healthy.

The other option for milk is locally sourced, and comes in 1/2 liter bags.  I get this kind sometimes. We also eat the local yogurt, especially when strawberry is in stock.

Frozen whole chickens.  Great for the crock pot.

Ground beef, known as mince around here.

Cereal is at least $8 a box so we only get it rarely.  It makes good birthday presents.

We only buy soda once in a while, but it is literally found in the farthest reaches of Tanzania.  Soda used to only come in glass bottles, but I'm kinda bummed that in recent years, plastic has taken over.
We eat a lot of local honey.  I guess a good way to know for sure that your honey is raw and organic is when you find a dead bee in the unopened bottle.

My filled shopping cart.

I buy most of my produce at another store, or at roadside stands.  We have so much wonderful produce available and take full advantage of it.

Including the monster avocados.

Things that are available that I don't buy:

About $6 a jar; not worth the price.  I make my own from the plentiful local tomatoes.

Apparently Spam circles the globe.  Not interested.

We also are not interested in vegetarian mock-duck.

Granola bars range from $2 to $5 each.  We don't buy them....unless they are expired and therefore on sale.

These come out to about $1 per tortilla.  Instead, I buy handmade tortillas from a local non-profit bakery.

$6 a box.  I make my own from scratch.


Chicken gizzards.  Nope.

Way too expensive for me.  But I recently have found another brand that is more reasonable....about $5 for a container.

Chicken necks.  Nope.

And since we don't have a lot of processed food available to us, we can conveniently buy this whole bag of MSG to add to our meals.  Ummm...nope.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Learning From Those Who Pray All Night

One Sunday morning, I picked up this paper from the pew at our church.  It is the schedule for a Friday night vigil that had happened just a couple of days before.

We didn't attend this event.  The idea of staying up all night to pray, worship, and study Scripture feels like a form of torture to us.  But in East African Christian culture, it is an assumption.  Some churches do it every month.  Some do it every week.  Gil has taught at a few of these, where he agreed to come from 10 pm till 1 am.  That was his limit.

So I read over this schedule in awe.  To most American Christians, this practice may sound crazy.  But African Christians will explain that they are simply following the ways of Jesus, who many times spent the whole night in prayer (Luke 6:12).  Sure, it takes discipline, but it's a great way to grow in godliness and faithfulness.  So, they argue, why shouldn't we follow Jesus' example?

This time of year, North American Christians might not be resolving to spend all night in prayer, but they are buzzing about Bible reading plans. Daily Bible reading has the #1 place on  a Good Christian's Resolution List.  As any American knows who was raised in Christian culture, daily Bible reading is the epitome of godliness and faithfulness. 

But is it?

Now, before you excommunicate me, let me assure you that I absolutely believe in the importance of regular study of the Word of God.  I started reading through the Bible at age ten, and I've lost count of how many times I've read it from cover to cover. In our ministries in Tanzania, we emphasize careful, regular Bible study as the foundation for life and holiness. The first class that Reach Tanzania Bible School students take is Bible Study Methods (Hermeneutics).

I am a reader.  It's my primary source of learning.  I read at least one or two dozen books a year, and I would rather read than listen to a sermon.  So Bible reading comes naturally to me. 

However. This is one of those examples of how spending large amounts of time with Christians outside my own culture has caused me to re-think some of my assumptions.

If personal Bible study is the most important way that a person grows in their faith, then what about the people in the world who are illiterate, or those who do not primarily communicate through the written word?  Or what about those who just don't learn well by reading?  Is there hope for them to know God as fully as those of us who are natural readers?

My point is this:  I think that all of us would agree that knowing God and growing in faith comes from the regular intake of God's Word.  But must the source of that intake mainly be from personal, daily time spent reading the Bible?

Shouldn't the goal be a heart who yearns to know God through his Word?

And in that, can't we be creative?  Can we learn something from the disciplines of Christians in other cultures?  Why do we put so much emphasis on reading, and often neglect the other spiritual disciplines like fasting, corporate prayer, Scripture memorization, and meditation?

What about listening?  The Bible on audio is catching steam, but there are other options. What about two friends getting together for the sole purpose of reading the Bible out loud to each other?  In small groups, why do we always jump to discussion and application, when we could spend more time reading long passages together?  How about group efforts to memorize verses or passages?

I might never attend an all-night vigil. But I'm learning a lot from the people who do.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Head for the Hills

While the northern hemisphere is running to warmth this time of year, we down here in the southern part of the world run to the cold.  

Okay, so not actually cold, unless you consider 75 degrees to be cold (which we do).  Every year in Tanzania, we spend the week after Christmas in the mountains, to escape the suffocating humidity in Dar this time of year.  

We go with friends, and the kids run off and we barely see them, and the grown-ups read and chat and play games.  We get our jeans and hoodies out of storage and pretend that we're cold.   Beautiful, peaceful, soul-lifting.

Every year, "Aunt" Alyssa gives each kid the equivalent of a dollar and sends them into the market to see what they can find.  (As I recently blogged, Tanzanian markets are crammed with cast-offs from other countries.)  Whichever item makes Alyssa laugh the most is the winner.  

Grace's find was the runner-up:  A baby shirt which is obviously "The Letest Design."

But the winner was these (intentionally) split toddler pants, which apparently are a real thing in Asia to help kids get potty-trained.

New Year's Eve

Grace's 12th birthday--more on her later!

Good-bye, lovely Lushoto. We'll see you again next year!