Monday, February 13, 2012

Culinary Missions

I like hanging out with missionaries.

I admire anyone who puts their life on the line for what they believe. Now, they may not be risking life and limb directly, but the temptation to live the typical American (or Western) life is so great that they are making a distinct sacrifice. It encourages and enlivens me in my walk with the Lord.

Now, before this post gets off on high and lofty ideals, let me change directions.

Missionary stories inevitably end up talking about food.

There is a wide world out there, and there are so many foods throughout the world that every person with cross-cultural experience eventually has a food story.

These are some of the most entertaining stories you will hear.

They usually deal with some outrageous culinary item that a Westerner can't fathom eating. The classic story involves balut, a fertilized duck or chicken egg that has been left in the sun for several days before serving. It is common in the Philippines especially, but I haven't had the honor.

This will probably be the grossest picture ever on this blog
I spent two months in Thailand, so we did have our share of food adventures. The street vendors made wonderful fresh smoothies, but we could only drink them if we ordered them mai sik glua, "no salt". They packed them with so much salt it was undrinkable to our taste buds. Why? I don't know. This was a tame one, to be sure.

Australia promised to be calmer, despite the reputation of Vegemite. But I made some Filipino friends there, and those sneaky guys got me eating fermented shrimp eggs. Bagoong if you're curious.

My mission experience was all with Youth With A Mission (YWAM), and if you get some YWAMers together, we will eventually come around to the various horrendous/unbelievable/crazy foods we encountered. Usually during dinner. Non-YWAMers in the group didn't finish their meals, typically.

It is fun to talk about it, but it does come back to humility and laying down our rights. When we are willing to accept someone else's hospitality and try something that doesn't come naturally to us (some things were most unnatural!), it is a dying to self. Missionaries risk offending the very people they came to serve, so more often than not, it is down the hatch.

So here's a light-hearted Mission Monday. To all the missionaries who have had to swallow something they never thought should be made into a food product - you are showing in a small way sacrificial love.

And guts.

By the way, that probably was what you were eating...

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