Thursday, September 27, 2007

Good Thai Eats

My Psychology of Diversity class was talking about culture differences and our guest speaker from Japan talked specifically about food related differences. This got me thinking about our trip to Thailand and some of the differences we experienced there.
Our hotel was attached to a mall, think Rivercenter in SA. The mall had several of the same restaurants as in US, but some totally different flavors. Baskin Robins had Green Tea ice cream and Mangosteen sherbet. Pizza Hut offered a sea food pizza- prawns, squids, baby clams and mussels. Pizza Hut also had the yummiest shakes with flavors like Kiwi Apple. Brent was particularly captivated by the host and her Pizza Hut hat. Swensen’s had an ice cream dish that boasted jackfruit, corn and jelly, along with a scoop or 2 of your favorite flavor. There was also a small grocery store in the mall, Topps, on the bottom floor, where I could have spent hours scouring every last product. Lay’s carried chips in flavors like seaweed, wasabi, salt and pepper, and prawn. Picture our bread isle here… Picture every loaf replaced with a bag of rice instead… Picture the isle facing it full of oil. Imagine eating rice for every meal every day of your life! The produce section in incredible! Mangosteen, rambutan, longan, durian, litchee, mango, pomelo are some of the new fruits I tried. Mangosteen and pomelo were my favorites; durian was by far the worst! Check out some of the fruits here.

We mostly drank water while we were there. Our hotel room would provide 2 glass bottles each time the room was cleaned (daily). We also bought a few cases of plastic bottled water. Occasionally when we dined out, we ordered sodas. Regular sodas came in recycled glass bottles. And typically cost around 15B. Diet sodas came in cans, marked Lite, and cost around 30B. There was not a single place we went that offered soda “on tap.”

Our hotel offered a breakfast buffet, talk about a broad range of food! The Western side offered corn flakes and cocoa flakes (strange concave shaped pieces), bread pudding (I am positive at least 1 of the 3 pounds I gained came from this), French toast, and toast. There were several items I was never able, or courageous enough to identify from the other side of the buffet, some kind of cream of wheat looking substance to which many added unidentifiable foods (green onions was all I could recognize). There were coconut milk fritters (?) with either green onion or corn mixed in. I tried the corn ones, pretty yummy. Phad Thai, for every meal, yes, breakfast too. Tommy was a big fan of what he always referred to as “the fried chromosome looking things” despite the sign that said “Chinese donuts.” These were yes, chromosome shaped, but much like a more substantial hunk of funnel cake. There was a bowl of sweetened condensed milk to top it off. I preferred to use the sweetened condensed milk on top of my sticky rice.
I had never eaten Phad Thai before our trip. The first time I ate any was at the breakfast buffet at our hotel in Bangkok. I only tried a little bit because I wasn’t sure what it was. When I sent Tommy back for more, there was none left. The first time I ate it and knew what it was was at the Riverside Restraunt on the Mae Ping in Chiang Mai. Delicious! They typically serve it with a pile of bean sprouts on the side, I passed on these, preferring the cooked ones already in the meal. It is also served with a key lime and a small bowl of soy sauce. I’ve had Phad Thai here in Texas a few times since being back. I didn’t care for either, and I might actually say one of the times, it was gross. I am truly glad I didn’t try it here before heading over, or I might have really missed out.
My favorite dish in Chiang Mai wasn’t even on the menu. There was a small place a block or two from our hotel that we frequented for cheap and yummy food. In the US fried rice is served on the side. In Thailand, it’s the main course. On our first visit to The Lemon Tree, Dr. Eitel, asked about an item that was on the menu on a previous visit. Chicken Fried Rice with Pineapple. This is seriously one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. Sounds like it’d be simple to make right? I am quite positive nothing in the states could come close.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Divine Swine?

Just how far can we go in trying to express the Gospel message in contemporary contexts?

Recently over lunch, a fellow I know related a story to me about the difficulties faced in missions work. The story comes from a friend of his, the fellow said, and goes something like this:

"Working with a remote tribe, a missionary came to the gospel passage where John the Baptist declares, "Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world." The problem was, this island tribe had never seen a lamb or a sheep. Not even a picture of one.

As this translator dialogged with the tribal elders, he began to describe the imagery that this passage described. He elaborated on the attributes of the lamb and its sacrificial symbolism. When he finished, he asked if there was an animal they were familiar with that might have these same spiritual connotations. With big smiles on their faces they replied that, yes, indeed there was. This tribe sacrificed pigs, native to their island.

So after much struggling with God, and prayer, the missionary translated the passage for the tribe as this: "Behold the pig of God Who takes away the sin of the world!" What's important here is that the principle of Scripture was expressed in a contemporary way and the message is now getting through."

I was rather stunned, as were the other people sitting at our table. The pig of God?!

This, my friends, is why we need good education. Prior to age 8, I had never seen a real-life sheep. Even to this day, any substantial knowledge of sheep and Shepherding I have is restricted to what I have been told by others, and the pictures they have shown me. How hard would it be to show a picture of a sheep to this tribe? Or, lacking a picture, simply describe the sheep and how they behave?

Sheep are helpless, easy prey without a good shepherd. Pigs are not. Sheep are fairly gentle animals, who respond to the voice of their shepherd. Pigs are not, and do not. Sheep are silent before their shearers, but pigs are not shorn. Pigs are slaughtered. I'm under the impression that they are not quiet about it either. Just how many of Jesus teachings using the imagery of sheep would be distorted, or even contradicted, if you impose the imagery of a pig in the place of a sheep? How many years will other teachers and missionaries have to spend fixing the problems such a "translation" can create, if they can be fixed at all?

I think this missionary is right to have struggled in prayer. He should have struggled more. If we follow this missionary's line of thinking, how far should we go in contextualizing the Gospel message? Suppose a people group are unfamiliar with good, faithful Fathers. Should we then baptize in the name of the Mother, Son, and Holy Spirit? No, you explain from the Bible how Fathers are supposed to behave, and that will clarify the imagery being used. What if the culture you are trying to reach has rejected marriage? Do we start calling the church the "same-sex partner/one night stand" of Christ? I think you get the idea.

I'm not saying we need to export American churches with fellowship halls and pews, with ice cream socials and VBS. What I am saying is that teachers need to actually teach, not confuse.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hard Up for the First Blog Title

Tommy and I decided to veer away from myspace for blogging and use something a little more friendly and more stable. We want to have a place where friends and family can keep up with us easily. Voila! There will likely be quite a mix of things here.
Tommy will surely want to share some of his exciting seminary finds, theology, greek, lots of big words! I'm sure he'd also want you to know, he did after all wake me up with this bit of info.. today is National Talk Like a Pirate Day! I will probably share things slightly more sundry. What the exciting plans for the weekend are, who won Settlers of Catan, how my venture with weight loss and running is going, and how much smaller our apartment has gotten since we moved in over a year ago.We're open to suggestions, and would love to know what you miss hearing about since there are so many we don't see or talk to as often as we want to (and should).
Fall 2007 has proven to be quite an abundant one for us! Tommy is taking 9 hours at SWBTS, he works about 30 hours a week in the TeleComm department. Our church is also offering an evangelism class that he's taking Tuesday evenings. And much to my excitement, is beginning an informal internship at our church, and is also weight lifting!! woohoo :) I am taking 12 hours at UTA, working about 30 hours a week at Box & Ship. I'm also taking a Student Wives' class at SWBTS and doing nursery duty Sunday evenings at our church. All this in addition to working out 3-4 times per week, watching what I eat and enjoying the benefits of weight loss!


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