Obedience leads to an extraordinary blessing for a missioner as she returns to Sierra Leone.
by Tina DeBoeser, Director of Missions & Outreach, Ebenezer United Methodist Church
I had no plans to go to Africa in 2019. I will say that again - I had no plans to go to Africa in 2019. My year was simply too busy. A year of too much going and too much going on. Although I had been part of a team in 2018 and fell in love with the mission and people, I was not going back in 2019.
That was final.
Ever heard of the old Yiddish proverb, “We plan, God laughs”? I should have known my head’s very reasonable reasons for staying were no match for the Holy Spirit whispering ‘go’!
So I went back to Bo to embrace the people, beauty, dignity, promise, and the mission.
I am no stranger to international missions; I am in fact the Director of Missions & Outreach at a large suburban church. As such, one of my key roles is to recruit, prepare, and send teams around the globe to work with partner organizations like Helping Children Worldwide. I recognize and appreciate what a privileged position I hold, one where I have the freedom to choose to experience these opportunities.
I am also no stranger to the criticisms of short-term mission trips. Many of the concerns raised are valid. When done poorly, a short-term mission trip can actually cause harm and prevent healthy development.
But when we start a trip well prepared, with a humble heart, and the expectation of developing a mutual relationship, it can be a thing of beauty. This has been my experience with HCW.
Returning to Bo in 2019 was especially exciting for me. Part of the trip was devoted to visiting and developing an agreement between HCW, my church and two (of an eventual five) villages. This new formal relationship is the brainchild of HCW and we are thrilled to be the beta test!
Visiting Samie and Fengehun villages was a surreal experience. We were greeted by the senior residents and chiefs, welcomed with song and given the VIP tour of community resources and liabilities.
Once we sat down to hammer out an agreement, it was fascinating to hear the villagers’ hopes for their community’s future. I was so encouraged to hear strong women speak about their aspirations for themselves and their children.
One thing I have learned from short-term missions is the truth about mothers. All mamas, regardless of where on the globe they happen to stand, want the same thing. They want the opportunity to raise their children in a safe environment, free of fear and disease. They want their children to have the opportunity to learn, pursue their purpose, to know that they are valued and loved, and to fall asleep with full bellies.
I believe that much division and fear in the world could be solved with proximity. Taking the time to be in authentic give-and-take relationships with others who do not look, act, buy, speak, think, vote, love, or live like us is the only way to remove the fallacy of ‘otherness’. Sometimes it takes going to the other side of the world to open your eyes and heart to those on this side of the street.
Africa imprints on your soul, just as surely as the beautiful, deep, organic smell clings to your clothes and suitcase long after you have returned home.
Although I have no plans to return in 2020, I believe I can hear God laughing right now.
Learn more about joining a mission team to Sierra Leone: www.helpingchildrenworldwide.org/mission-trips
Visitors to the Missionary Training Centre always rave about the delicious Sierra Leone cuisine dished up by MTC Manager Fudia Ernest and her amazing staff. It's mild enough for American palates, but with a deliciously piquant African flair, satisfying to body and soul. Many have wondered if they could learn how to make some of Fudia's spicy entrees when they return home.
Well, now you can, starting with "Fudia's Famous Groundnut Stew," a crowd pleaser for missioners and Sierra Leoneans alike (download the recipe below.) Groundnuts (as West Africans refer to peanuts) form the base for a rich chicken stew flavored with jalapenos and served over rice. The secret ingredient is Maggi seasoning, available on Amazon (your purchase supports Helping Children Worldwide) or at Lotte stores locally.
Coming soon, Helping Children Worldwide will be publishing Fudia's Cookbook, which will be available for purchase on our website, all proceeds to benefit the Missionary Training Centre and missions in Sierra Leone. Stay tuned!
Fudia Ernest (below) cooks her amazing culinary creations on an open fire in the kitchen hut behind the MTC.
Fudia's Famous Groundnut Stew
1. Clean and roughly chop the onions, tomatoes, and spring onions. Set aside.
2. In food processor, grind together garlic and desired amount of jalapeños.
3. Season chicken pieces to taste using Maggi seasoning or Season-All. Add garlic/jalapeño mix to
4. Place seasoned chicken pieces in large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook
for 5 – 10 minutes.
5. Remove the chicken from pot. Set stock aside for later use.
6. In another large stock pot, heat 1⁄2 inch of vegetable oil on medium to medium-high heat.
Carefully add chicken pieces to oil and fry until lightly browned. Remove chicken from pan and
drain off excess oil. (TIP: to avoid overcrowding your pan, fry chicken in batches)
7. Using the same oil from frying the chicken, add onions and tomatoes and cook over medium heat
8. Add peanut butter to vegetables and cook until combined, stirring.
9. Add reserved stock to the peanut butter mixture. Simmer over medium heat for 5 – 10 minutes.
(If stew seems too thick, add water to mixture to increase volume)
10. Add chicken pieces and tomato paste to peanut butter mixture. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce
to a simmer over medium heat for 20 – 40 minutes, until thickened.
11. While stew is cooking, make rice of choice to pour stew over.
12. When the stew has thickened, remove from heat and let sit for 5 – 10 minutes. It will continue to
13. Serve over rice and enjoy!
*TIP: If you don’t want to butcher, feel free to buy chicken pieces at the grocery store.