“The Kingdom of God is not about Eating and Drinking…”

I’m not sure why, but a lot around here revolves around food. I keep quoting to the children, “The Kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking but about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit!” (Romans 14:17), but it seems that no sooner do we finish breakfast than one or more of them is asking what’s for lunch. While around the supper table, how quickly a conversation moves from Dad’s mission that day to how much we would love a McDouble from the Dollar Menu at McDonald’s. *Sigh.*

Previously, I shared some thoughts on what we’ve been eating since coming to Africa. And for some reason, my mind has been ruminating on food again lately. At first, I was happy with how much (comparatively) simpler things were as far as our diet is concerned, and that’s still true. However, we’ve also made some changes that I’m not sure I like so much.

Quite a while ago (still in America) I decided to switch from margarine to butter…just felt it was healthier, for a variety of reasons. Now here, we’ve switched from butter to margarine. Why? Well, to get butter we have to travel all the way to Kitale, which doesn’t happen that frequently. And without refrigeration, I don’t think it’s practical to expect to keep butter fresh for that long between trips. Then there’s cost (butter is expensive and we’re pinching our grocery pennies a little more than we used to). I suppose we could just eliminate butter from our diet, but…that’s hard!

Also, corn…of the GMO variety. It’s plentiful and cheap. Many Africans eat ugali (essentially cornmeal mush) three meals a day. In fact, “it’s not a meal without ugali!” seems to be the general sentiment. So, to be here and NOT eat ugali would really set us apart. Even though we’ll always be mzungus in Africa, there’s some truth to the saying, while in Rome, do as the Romans do. I don’t think there’s ANY non-GMO corn here, so we’re eating what they eat. We certainly don’t eat ugali every day, but a couple of times a week has become the norm. Something else I don’t particularly like, but…what to do?

And then there’s oil. People here don’t use oil, they use “cooking fat,” which actually is vegetable shortening. Another thing I’d streamlined out of our diet in America, in favor of healthier coconut oil. Getting coconut oil here? I don’t think we can…and if it were available, I’m quite sure it would be out of our budget in the amount that we use it. So, for lack of alternatives, we’re back to vegetable shortening.

Another preference of mine was apple cider vinegar over the distilled white variety–many health benefits there. And I was surprised to find that even white vinegar is rare here. What you usually find is a cleverly labeled vinegar substitute, which is just water and acetic acid. Even that is not particularly cheap.

Flour…used to be whole wheat only, and ground fresh at home. Now, white flour. Cheaper and easier. The wheat berries here are so dirty that I haven’t committed time to clean them in addition to the beans, corn and rice that we use on a daily basis. The last wheat bread I made actually tasted dirty, even though the wheat berries were cleaned as well as I was able. Bleck!

So for as many health benefits that I believe there are about living in this part of the world, there are just as many sacrifices that I feel we are making. Trying to find a good balance in this area has been difficult. We’re doing the best we can to be good stewards of our health, and there’s much that is out of our control. But, I figure, God is faithful and we’ll be around on this rock for as long as He wants us to be.  So, it’s all good…




4 thoughts on ““The Kingdom of God is not about Eating and Drinking…”

  1. Dear Cindy,
    I just read Michael your post and he said he really enjoyed your beard when he was there. He also agrees with you on the ugali he doesn’t preferr it either.

    1. You meant *bread*, right? I know we’re eating GMO corn, but I don’t have a beard yet. 🙂 Although the topic of “the beard” did come up several times while Michael was here…

  2. Hey sister. I just wanted to let you know that we are still praying for you daily. God has really put you all and the work you are doing on our hearts. Yes, we do hope to come, though are unsure when we might be able to make it happen. We will, of course, be in lots of communication to make sure the time is good for you all when it seems good for us :).

    I laughed to myself reading your last post for two reasons. First, I have often thought that one of the greatest challenges for me on the mission field would be being unable to control the healthfulness of the food that I feed my family. When you inform yourself to the point of grinding your own wheatberries, it’s hard to go back! 🙂 So, I feel your pain from afar, and I will pray for God’s best provision and your peace of mind. I also chuckled because it reminded me of my dad, who passed away a few months ago–reminded me in a good way. He grew up in Puerto Rico back when P.R. was more like Haiti than Miami, and I grew up hearing stories of eating cornmeal mush three meals a day during the war. At other times it was rice and beans. I’m grateful that he passed on to me a most economical love of both those foods. I have to admit, though, that I “doctor up” my cornmeal a bit. Oh, have you ever tried “ghee.” I never have, so I don’t know how practical it is, but I know that it transforms butter into a long-lasting, no-refrigeration item. Wiki-pedia has a good entry on it. I also read through your other “thoughts on food” entry and you mentioned meal ideas. Last night I was struck with the inspiration (because I hadn’t soaked any beans ahead of time) to serve rice with baked sweet potatoes, steamed greens and fried eggs. What’ya know, it was a hit. I think it’ll be my new “fast food” dinner–at least until we run out of greens and sweet potatoes.

    One last thing…this morning I used “The Gospel According to Jesus” in an impromptu extended Bible lesson. We are studying “Creation to the Greeks” this year and in “Dinosaurs in Eden” I found the “satisfaction” model of atonement laid out in perfect detail. As I tried to explain why that was not quite what we believe, I said, “Well, let’s read about it.” The kids thought it was really fun that the author was someone they knew and we had a great discussion. Thanks.

    Better go soak some beans :).

    God bless you all, Lorna

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