I love missions work – hearing about it, reading about it, experiencing it, and talking to those who are serving on the field where God has called them. I am very blessed to be in a family that loves people and hospitality, and to have parents who do everything they can to develop relationships with Godly people and meet those who are following the Lord whole-heartedly. Thus, I have the opportunity to know several missionary families who are serving every where from Florida, to Lithuania, to Mexico, Togo, Honduras, South Africa, Ireland, Uganda, Germany and Austria.
Several months ago, I wrote to our friends who are serving in Austria/Germany, Todd & Kim Lapato. I asked Mrs. Kim for a sample menu from over there – a common meal for the average people. My idea was to re-create that meal here for my family as well as I could, and have a special evening highlighting the Lapatos’ ministry while eating food from that country. (Since we enjoy food so much, I thought that might be a good way to make it more meaningful and memorable!) Her response was quick, mouth-watering, and far more detailed and thorough that I had even hoped for! So then came the next step: finding the perfect evening for our “missionary night.” For me,that was a little more difficult than the initial planning stage, and several months passed before we actually did it. (There were MANY nights that would’ve been great, except that we didn’t know that we’d be home or we didn’t have all the supplies or we just didn’t think about it until it was too late in the day to prepare everything!) However, the idea was “cooking” in the back of my mind all the while (pun intended ), and we finally did it – exactly five months after she sent me all the menu ideas and recipes!
It was great!! I enlisted Mom and Kathryn’s help, and we made schnitzel (a very thinly pounded filet of chicken that is dredged first in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs), fried potatoes, and gravy, as well as a big salad, German style. (Mixed greens on top of individual piles of corn, kidney beans, green beans, grated carrot, and thinly sliced cucumbers in the bottom of the bowl; it was served room temperature, and the dressing was plain oil and vinegar.) Our beverage was equal parts mixed of carbonated water/apple juice – very yummy! (Again, the beverage was room temp, since Europeans don’t usually use ice in their drinks.) Dessert was apple pie (as a substitute for apple strudel) and coffee. Dad even let all the kids have coffee since it was a special occasion, which was quite a treat!
It was a delicious way to “experience” the Lapatos’ mission field, and everything was a smashing success! I’ve heard several requests since then for “Austrian chicken” (schnitzel), so I know everyone really liked that. The potatoes turned out softer than I had expected, so I want to do those again and see if we can make them a little crispier. We put Montreal Steak Seasoning on them (which is a grilling seasoning with black and red pepper in it), and they were really good, although probably a little spicier than they would normally be in Austria. Some of the salad “toppings” (they STARTED in the bottom of the bowl ) were a nice break from our norm, and I heard several votes to make salad like that again. We really enjoyed the whole menu, and I have a feeling that this won’t be the only time we have it!
After supper, we read an update letter from the Lapatos’, and we enjoyed hearing more about what life is like for them. We also got on their blog and read their list of prayer requests, and then prayed for each one specifically during our family prayer time. All in all, it was a fun (and delicious!) way to experience a little piece of missionary life, and we almost felt like we were “with” the Lapatos while we read their updates and prayed for them. Even though we couldn’t physically travel to Europe to see our friends, Missionary Night was a great way to take a mental journey there and visit them in spirit, while we also enjoyed some of the wonderful food like what we might have eaten if we did visit in person! The prayer time was very special, and we enjoyed having a whole evening devoted to just one family, so that we could pray more directly for their specific needs.
So what about you? Do you know anyone who is serving the Lord on a foreign field? Could you set up an evening devoted specifically to updating your family about their lives and ministry, learning about the culture they are living in, and praying for the needs that they have? Read their prayer letters and learn about their ministry. Find out what their needs are, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, so that you know better how to pray for them. Contact them and ask any questions that you may have about their field or lives. Tell them that you are thinking about and praying for them, and if you are going to have a Missionary Night, tell them that, too. I promise, your interest in what they are doing will encourage them greatly, and will also be a blessing to you and your family!!