Sunday, October 7, 2012

Preparing Arepa

Saturdays have become 'Hiking Day' and yesterday was no exception.  Carlos and I headed out with friends from our English class.  Isa came – and hiked in flip flops once again.  His mom, Margot, came, too.
This time we went up a mountain, around the top of it, and then down the other side.  We stopped when the road we were on ran into a place where two rivers met.  “Road” meaning a rocky, pitted, muddy path I cannot imagine any four-wheeled vehicle using!  But, this time we didn't need a machete, which was great, as Ramon wasn't able to come.

We sat down to eat our breakfast.  This was at 9:30, and we’d started at 7am, so we were hungry!  Breakfast was arepa (the polenta-like Dominican food I’ve written about before) spread with peanut butter.  It was so good – and so, so filling! 
Taking a turn stirring the arepa
Margot made the arepa the day before, and invited me to come and see how it was made.  If you know my love for food and cooking, you’ll know I loved it! 

Arepa is made with fresh coconut, cornmeal, evaporated milk, vanilla, cinnamon, salt and sugar.  She also added fresh grated ginger, which made me happy as I love that fresh flavor with a bit of a kick!
The whole mixture is stirred and brought to a boil on the fire out back.  I took a turn at stirring, but couldn’t do it fast enough and it started clumping and burning.  Carlos took a turn, and was a much better stirrer.  And, of course, Margot made the whole process look easy! 
Margot adding twigs (with Isa)

After the arepa thickened, it was poured into another pan, with a large piece of metal (the size of an over door!) on top for a lid.  Twigs and pieces of dried banana leaves went on top and underneath to cook it through.  And wow, did it smell amazing!
From start to finish, it took around 2 hours to make the arepa.  It also meant using a blender, bowl, two pans, several spoons, and a whisk. 

Carlos, Margot & Isa at the top of the mountain
You know, we could have just taken along some store-bought crackers.  It would have been far faster and easier.  Of course, it wouldn’t have filled us up nearly as well... or been so tasty!  We burned a lot of calories, and that dense, delicious food kept us going. 

Enjoying our breakfast
In arepa, and in life, preparation takes time.  I have to admit, I don’t always like it.  It can be messy, tiring, and yes, time-consuming to prepare.  Why not just skip it and settle for dry crackers, for ‘good enough’?  After all, there’s a big mountain to be hiked.  There’s important work to get to.  Preparation seems to keep me from doing the ‘real’ stuff. 
In our lives, too, it’s tempting to skip the preparation to get onto the hike, onto the work at hand.  Especially as Christ-followers, we feel an urgency to get out there and make an impact. 

The trouble is, we’ve got it backwards.  The work is terribly important… and that should make us terribly eager to be as prepared as possible. 

Yesterday we completed our hike (after 5 ½ hours!) with empty water bottles, sore feet and sunburned necks.  Next time, I’ll bring even more water, and some sun screen.  And, I’ll wear better shoes! 
That’s how preparation works in other parts of our lives is, too.  It is a continuing process. 

In the Holy Spirit’s power, we do our best to prepare ourselves, and then we step out in faith.  As we go, we get hot and tired, we face new challenges.  This means replenishing ourselves with the food of God's Word, refreshing ourselves in Living Water.  That enables us to stretch even further than before. 
Sharing 'dessert' - Hershey's Dark Kisses

I’m so thankful God is involved in all parts of our lives.  I’m so thankful He invites us to prepare… and keep preparing.  And, I’m really thankful for the beauty of mountains, the taste of arepa, and time with people I’ve come to care about so much!

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