A Taste of Home

I have been pleasantly surprised that since moving to Africa I have missed very little when it comes to food. That’s not to say I never miss any easy-to-come-by food from home. But in general I am very content with the food I eat here. Traditional Senegalese food is very good (even if you are a somewhat picky eater) and someday soon I will write a post about some of the most common Senegalese meals…but today is about American food!

Before I even set foot in Senegal I had heard of the “American Store”…where desperate Americans go when they need Frosted Mini-Wheats, Betty Crocker cake mix, Starbucks coffee and other hard to find essentials. (Or if they just really love American brands and don’t want to buy a French brand of apple sauce from a local grocery store.)

The New “American Store”

Recently, while on a trip to the American Embassy to pick up my renewed passport we stopped in at the new “American Food Store”…which is just down the road from the embassy.

Here is what I found that couldn’t live without…

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Okay…I could have lived without all of this but it is nice to have a taste of home!

But when you live thousands of miles from “home” you pay the price to eat like you were still living there…

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The exchange rate here is around 500CFA to $1.00.

So here is what my receipt would look like in dollars…

A&W Root Beet – $1.20

Hidden Valley Ranch – $3.20

Reese’s PB Cup – $1.30

Gold Fish – $0.80 x 4

Borax – $8.20

Total – $17.10

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Gardening in Dakar

 

When I decided to start a blog I told myself I would never apologize for long periods of silence.  When I was young it seemed like every letter I wrote to family or friends far away began with…”I’m sorry it’s been so long since I wrote.”  I would feel guilty because I had intended to write and just hadn’t done it.

Sometimes it’s so easy to get busy living life, that making time to connect with people who are important to us gets lost in the shuffle.

This weekend I had a phone call with a lifelong friend and I was reminded of why I began blogging…I want to share my life with you.  I want you to know a little more about me as you read my posts.  It’s important to me.

Since moving to Africa you would think I would have lots of exciting things to share, but it doesn’t always feel that way.  My mornings are filled with my ministry and the rest of the day is spent in a variety of tasks…checking/responding to emails, doing laundry, trips to the grocery store, taking  naps – I don’t know if this really can be considered a task but it is part of some of my afternoons, studying Wolof, making dinner and taking care of my garden.

But while all of these things seem very routine to me, you may still find them interesting.  So I will try to give you a  picture of what my life in Senegal is like.

 

Gardening in Dakar

 

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This picture was taken in the beginning of June. We bought 5 bags of dirt to fill empty pots that we already had and bought 3 new pots to fill.

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Here are the cucumbers growing up their trellis and their neighbors, the basil plants. The basil is really liking the hot humid weather in Senegal!

 

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The cucumbers have put out so many blossoms…but sadly no little cucumbers.

 

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Our young carrots being protected from the birds who like our roof.

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A zucchini flower! I’m anxiously awaiting eating my first zucchini.

 

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Our volunteer tomato…we are hoping for a beefsteak. We planted cherry tomatoes from seed and they are doing well too. I love how fuzzy tomato plants look!

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We have been enjoying the beautiful purples of these plants we got from a teammate. The one with the light purple flowers are Russian Sage.

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God provided me with an unfinished courtyard that I decided would make a perfect garden…I named it “The Secret Garden”.  It’s small but things are growing!

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Green bean blossoms with white fly larva. (Any hints for getting rid of white flies? I would love to hear them.)

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Look! Our first green bean…we are going to cut it into thirds and share it!

Gardening is in my blood.

It is definitely different growing plants on a rooftop garden in pots and a small sandy courtyard, then growing a 1/2 acre garden in Minnesota with my family.  But I am so thankful God has given me a way to connect with Him through growing things!

While I was writing this I took a break to go water my plants on the roof and got to enjoy a gentle rain…such a long-awaited joy!

Thanks for taking the time to connect with me.

 

Toubab Cooking – Jewish Apple Cake

cake

Last Saturday I decided it was time to try my hand at some baking…just to make sure my baking skills were the same in Senegal as they were in Minnesota.  As of today I have been in Dakar for three weeks.  The time seems to have simply melted away.  Although it hasn’t been too hot, but it has been windy…so maybe I should say that the time seems to have blown away!

Here in Senegal it is hard to find good sandwich bread like we are familiar with in America and if you can find some it quite expensive…like — for a loaf! So making bread was high on my to-do list.  I was really hoping it would turn out good.  I was worried that the difference in climate and possible difference in ingredients would make it flop.  I used my recipe for Honey Oatmeal Bread and it turned out great!  The only thing I did different was I left out the wheat flour, as I couldn’t find it here.

I also wanted to make something sweet that we had all the ingredients for…so I made a family favorite, Jewish Apple Cake!  My Mom has been making this moist, cinnamon apple cake for as long as I can rem
ember.  But it was my grandma who first found the recipe in a local newspaper in the 1960’s.  The original recipe called for layering the cake batter and apples, but with having a large family and trying to save some time my grandma decided to simple fold the apples in instead!  As a young girl, I always remember my Mom getting complements  when ever she would make this cake for company…so it seemed like the perfect recipe to begin my time in Senegal!

I hope you enjoy making and eating this cake as much as my family and I do!

Jewish Apple Cake

3 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 Tbsp. baking powder

4 lg. eggs

1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

1/3 cup Orange juice (I used mango and pineapple juice)

2 tsp. vanilla

5 apples

4 Tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup raisins (opt.)

1 cup nuts (opt.)

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1/4 cup sugar and 2 tsp. cinnamon – mixed together.  Use for dusting the pan.

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Instructions:

– Grease a 9×13 inch pan and dust with cinnamon/sugar mixture.  This works great on a variety of sweet breads and cakes!  Save any extra to top the cake.

– Peel, core and thinly slice apples…I like to use a variety of apples if I can.  Mix cinnamon (2 tsp.) and sugar (4 Tbsp.). Toss with apples until well coated.

– In a large bowl add flour, sugar and baking powder. Mix.

– In another bowl mix together the eggs, oil, juice and vanilla.  Then add to the dry ingredients.

– Mix until thoroughly combined.

– Gently fold in apples and the nuts or raisins.

– Pour into your greased pan and top with any extra cinnamon/sugar mixture.

Bake at 350° for 1 hour

Enjoy!

Toubab – a Wolof word for white person. (Pronounced: to-bob)

Quick story…so last week I visited a local market for the first time.  There were lots of cute little kids running around many of them would come up to us singing, “Toubab, toubab! Bonjour, toubab!”  Many of them may have only seen a white person a few times in their lives.  They were so cute and polite, some of them wanted to come up and shake our hands!  It made my first time to the market a memorable experience.

 

God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

I’m sorry it has been so long since I have shared anything with you.  The last few months have been so filled with preparing to move to Senegal…and now I am here!  I arrived in Dakar less then a week ago and have already begun to settle in.  Hopefully, now that I have arrived I will be more consistent with posting.

Although I haven’t been writing here about all that has happened in the last few week, I have been updating family and friends through Facebook.   So I thought that for now I would share those updates with all of you!

The last few weeks in review…

Sunday, April 6th – “Today I experienced such an outpouring of love from my church family at Faithbridge Church! This morning started out with a commissioning service – to pray for me and send me out from the church body to be God’s hands and feet in Senegal. After church, some of my dear friends had planned a pot-luck to give me a chance to say goodbye to so many special people in my life. I am still in awe of all the love and encouragement I received today!!! Thank you all so much for your love and prayers…I will miss worshiping and serving with you in Park Rapids!”

 

Wednesday, April 9th – “FSM staff (Thanks for the memories Kim – Africa is not that far away, besides now that your planted in West Africa we can rotate our students over there, summer of 2015, right)” – Phil

My last night working alongside Patti and Phil (our youth pastor).

Friday, April 11th – “Today I said the last of my goodbyes in Park Rapids…now I’m on my way to the cities for some time with my family before I fly out on Sunday! A very emotional day, but I am so excited to be on my way!”

Sunday, April 13th – “Our girl enjoying a drink from Caribou Coffee!!!” – Mom

Here’s me and my Dad…waiting for my flight!

Tuesday, April 15th – “Sunday I said goodbye to Minnesota and my dear family. Thank you all for praying for us…although it was very hard to say goodbye I definitely felt God’s peace through it all! When I was checking in I asked if it was possible to get passes for my family to come to the gate with me (explaining that I was leaving to live in Africa for two years) and they said yes. What a great blessing!!! I’ve been having a great visit with family and fly out for Dakar tomorrow night. I’ll be sure to check in with all of you sometime Thursday or Friday.”

My older brother Mark and my niece Caelyn were able to come spend some time with me before I left…I’m so glad they came!

Thursday, April 17th – “Praise the Lord we just got a call from Kimberly Johnson and she is safe in Africa after a good flight!!! We will all continue to pray for you as this new phase of your journey with God begins! Love, Dad & Mom”

“God is so good! I have arrived in Dakar safe and sound! I left the airport in Washington, DC at 6pm last night and got here around 6am (the time zone here is 5 hours ahead of MN). It is a little after 2pm here now…I have had breakfast, a tour of my new home, begun to unpack, seen much of Dakar on a trip the a grocery store and taken a nap. Thank you all so much for your prayers! I had a good flight and was able to get some sleep.”

Friday, April 18th – “I’m still working on getting a short video put together…but it’s all new to me so it’s taking longer then anticipated. Today I got to meet many of my World Venture teammates at a team meeting. It was great to meet them and begin getting to know them all! It was 84F today…just a little warm for me! But tomorrow should be a little cooler.”

Saturday, April 19th – The first picture is of my new home! The rest are from the park and zoo just a short walk from home. I loved sitting by the lake with Denise today…different birds and a much warmer temperature, but it felt a little like MN! God is so good! Happy Easter! 


Sunday, April 20th – “This morning I enjoyed an outdoor Easter Sonrise service at Dakar Academy! It wasn’t quite like home…but the students did a great job with the choir and drama! In the afternoon I went with the McCarthys to another missionary couple’s home for Easter Dinner. Which included ham and lemon meringue pie! Happy Easter!!!”

 

So there you have it.  I hope that gives you a good picture of what the last few weeks have looked like for me!

New Friends

This past week I have had the chance to make many new friends and see old ones.  I have been at World Venture in Littleton, Colorado for my last missionary training and for Renewal Conference

Missionaries who are on home assignment with World Venture come to Renewal Conference to be informed and encouraged.

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This was our first day of Pre-Departure training…the staff at headquarters helped us celebrate how far God has brought us in our journey. The sparkling cider was great and the joy expressed on our behalf brought tears to my eyes!

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This is me and my new friend Hannia…she is also from MN and is headed to the Philippines to minister through Agricultural Community Development!

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During our free weekend Hannia and I went for a hike at Red Rocks. The views were amazing, the weather was beautiful and the time for growing our friendship was priceless!

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Each of these ladies has become such a blessing in my life! Spending time with other single ladies with a similar passion for God and missions has been so encouraging. (Clockwise: Soraya – Spain, Hannia – Philippines and Karen – Uganda)

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After 44 years of ministry with World Venture Marilyn Escher, missionary to Senegal, retired! I was invited by the rest of the Senegal team to join them in a celebration dinner in her honor.

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Each of these lovely ladies has been serving in Senegal for a number of years. I am so glad I got to meet them this week and I’m looking forward to learning about missions from them and serving together!!!

Fun Fact Friday

 

Did you know that there is a pink lake in Senegal? 

Well, there is and here are some pictures of it!

Lake Retba – Senegal, Africa

Senegalese men collecting salt from the lake.

Salt collector’s boats

So Why is Lake Retba Pink?

The pink color of Lake Retba is the effect of high density of  Dunaliella Salina algae in the lake. You might think that this makes this lake dangerous and you cannot go near it. Quite the contrary, a sizeable population of people in the Cap Vert peninsula of Senegal make a living out of Lake Retba. The lake has a high concentration of  salt  in its water and the locals  harvest it for a living.

Lake Retba is Therapeutic!

The pink water might not be enticing to swim in, but the Dunaliella Salina algae and salt rich water  has anti-oxidant properties. A quick swim in these waters is not all that bad an idea, especially since floating in the highly salty water is rather effortless (simple principle of buoyancy). More importantly mineral deposits from the Lake Retba are used in the cosmetics industry for various product. The food industry also uses the salt extracted for special purposes. Though the minerals themselves are widely sought out, the locals who collect the salt deposits from within the lake floor have to apply a coat of protective butter to prevent excessive dryness and skin reaction from over exposure to salt.

Facts about Lake Retba found here.

For more information and pictures check out the following website…http://www.lakeretba.com/

Isn’t God amazing? He is always giving us something new to learn and beauty upon beauty to satisfy our souls!!  I’m looking forward to the chance to visit Lac Rose for myself someday…who knows maybe I’ll be able to rent a kayak and paddle around!