Lentil Soup – THM E

I am anxiously awaiting the cool season here in Senegal. A few weeks ago we had a break in the heat and it seemed as if cooler weather was just around the corner. Sadly the progress is slow going. Now I’m just hoping it cools off by the time my Mom arrives from Minnesota on November 23rd!

Yes, you read that right. My Mom is coming to Dakar! She will be here in 10 days from now! I can’t wait! It has been almost exactly 10 months since I saw her last. I am so excited to have her here with me for a few weeks! It will be fun to show her around and have her meet all my friends here.

In my excitement I am also trying to make sure I have food in the freezer so that we don’t need to be cooking the whole time. Although, we both do enjoy cooking and it will be nice to cook together again! So today I decided to make some Lentil Soup and freeze it.

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All of the ingredients ready to go. Except the tomato paste…I forgot to get it in the picture.

This recipe is one I threw together earlier this fall and liked it so much I have made it a few times. It’s really easy to make, so I thought I should share it! You can also make it more like stew by using less chicken broth.

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Now it’s time to bring it to a boil!

(I’ll try to add a picture of the finished soup when I pull it out of the freezer…I forgot to take one before I put it away.)

My Mom has been following the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating about 1 1/2 years and I have been trying to eat that way as much as possible since June. If you are interested in learning more you can check out the website by clicking here.  This recipe is considered an E, which stands for energizing. It would be really tasty with a slice of homemade sourdough bread! The the recipe I use is from Gwen’s Nest and is also a THM E.

So as you being to feel the chill of fall here is a great recipe to warm up with!

Lentil Soup – THM E

4 cups Chicken broth
1 1/2 cups Lentils (cooked)
or
[2 cups Lentils (uncooked) and 8 cups Chicken broth]
2 Carrots
1 med. Onion
3 cloves Garlic
2 Tbsp. Tomato paste
3 Bay leaves
1/4 tsp. Thyme
1/8 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1/8 tsp. Turmeric powder
Salt and Pepper

——–

  • Chop carrots and onion. Mince garlic.
  • Add everything to a pot and bring to a boil.
  • Turn heat down, cover and simmer for 30 – 45 minutes.
  • If using uncooked lentil simmer for at least 1 hour.

There you have it…simple! Enjoy!

Birthday Blessings

Happy b-day edit

Thursday I turned 29. This past week has been filled with blessings…birthday gifts from God.

The week before my birthday I was treated to lunch by some friends as an early birthday present! Not only did they buy me lunch…they also showered my with some very thoughtful gifts!

[PICTURES TO COME…]

All week God has been showering me with beautiful sunsets! These pictures are a poor replacement for the real thing…the color and layering of clouds has been truly breathtaking!

Thanksgiving edit

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and this year it was my birthday too! I traveled with some friends to our teammate’s house, about an hour and a half away, to celebrate the holiday together. On the way there my friends sang “Happy Birthday” to me and I received some lovely cards from my “nieces”! We also saw a monkey running across the road…that was a first! I wish I had a picture of that to share with you.

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I am so thankful that although I am far from home God has giving me “family” to celebrate special days with! Not only did I have a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner and pie…I also had a yummy chocolate cake to make my day special!

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As a perfect ending to my day, I spent 1 1/2 on Skype with my family! It was so nice to talk to all of them! My 2-year-old niece sang “Happy Birthday” to me and gave me so many computer hugs and kisses!  Then the big girls joined the call and sang to me again! I can’t wait to see them all next month!

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Today I arrived home and was greeted by a surprise…I cake made with a mix and frosting my mom had sent!  I had no idea she had sent a cake for my birthday, it was such a sweet unexpected surprise! So my friends sang “Happy Birthday” to me and we had some chocolate cake together!

Change is good…?

I’m not a big fan of change.  But God has brought me through many changes in my life.  Some of them normal changes that everyone faces at sometime or another…and some less common.

I don’t like change much more now, then I did as an 8-year-old.  I remember one night getting out of bed and crying to my Mom and Dad…why was I crying?  Because I didn’t want to grow up.  I experienced those same feelings many times throughout my growing up years, I can remember many nights thinking, “I wish I could go back to being a little kid again.” Finally in my mid to late teens I decided I didn’t want to go through the work of growing up again…so I had better get use to the idea of becoming an adult.

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It’s funny thinking about that now!  It seems so long ago.  I glad I can look back on my life and see how God works through the changes…how he has shaped me into the woman I am today.  But even still, I sometimes still find myself struggling to stay the same, to avoid change.

Some changes are so necessary in our lives.  Such as repenting of sin and choosing to allow God to wash us clean.  One big change for me this year has been moving to Senegal…choosing to face a big change in my life in order to follow God’s leading.  It is not easy and some days I wonder why God has asked me to make such a big change.  I’m so thankful that if I take the time to look back on my life, thus far, I can see God’s hand in it all changing me and shaping me.  I am choosing to respond with trust in God to the changes I face.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:9

By the way…do you like the changes I made to the blog? 😉

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

Tea & Scrabble

Last weekend I got to experience attaya, a strong, sugary green tea.  It was very good and we had it a few more time throughout the week, it definitely has the caffeine you are looking for when you are draping.  Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about attaya…link.

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I also recently played a game of scrabble in Wolof, the language I am studying here.  It was very challenging, but a good exercise! At least I got to use the dictionary.

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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

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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.)

——-

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

——-

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.

 

“Here am I. Send me.”

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“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6:33-34

2In January I spent 10 days at World Venture Headquarters in Littleton, Colorado.  During my first few days there I attended Pre-Departure training, which was filled with great information to help me prepare for this next chapter in my journey.  The sessions covered topics such as integrity, mourning, transitions, as well as logistical issues of moving to another country.

During my time in Colorado I also attended Renewal Conference, which is held annually for all World Venture missionaries on home assignment.  The goal of RC is to help us missionaries connect on a deeper level with God, each other and World Venture.  The first few days were spent in corporate and personal prayer, along with times of worship.  Later on in the week we heard from many of the World Venture leadership and missionaries, giving guidance and encouragement to each of us.

My time was blessed by all that I was learning and also by the friendships God placed in my life.  I was blessed by getting to know three other single ladies who are each on their own journey to locations around the world, it’s so nice to have friends who are headed down the same road you are.

I also got to meet the lovely ladies in the picture above, each of them have been serving God in Senegal for many years.  They were all so welcoming and encouraging to me and I can’t wait to join them in ministry!

 

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God has used so many different things to speak into my life and lead me to become a missionary.  For over a decade I have told God, “I will go. Send me.”  Now the time has come, God is sending me out.  If everything goes as planned the next newsletter you receive from me will be sent from Senegal!  It’s such an amazing feeling to look back on my life and see the gentle ways God has been directing my life and to see his faithfulness in getting me to this point.
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The question I have heard a lot recently is, “Do you have a departure date set?”  The exciting answer is that I do have a tentative date set.  It’s only tentative because I haven’t been given clearance to buy a ticket yet, but soon!

Another question I hear often is, “Are you getting excited?”  I have such a mixed reaction to this.  I am definitely excited for what God is doing in my life and I’m looking forward to seeing how he will use me in Senegal.  But, I also struggle with being anxious about all the changes that await me.  I know that moving to a new country won’t be easy and I don’t relish being away from my family and friends.  I’m so thankful to be able to look back at my life and see how God has provided for me and my family, it helps me remember that he will continue to provide.

Final Thoughts…

As I sit here writing to you it is 2 degrees outside, with big beautiful snowflakes gently falling and I am relishing the view.   As much as this winter has been cold and long, I know when I’m in Africa I will miss looking out my window in the winter and see the snow falling.  But I can’t wait to see what sights and sounds await me that I can share with you!

I truly covet your prayers over the coming weeks.  There are so many goodbye I must say, all with differing degrees of difficultly.  I know that God will see me through this step of following him, but I ask you to pray that those I leave behind with be reminded of the same thing!

 

One-time Expenses – 100%

Monthly Expenses – 90%

 

Thank you for your prayers,

Kim Johnson

 

 

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!