A Lesson in Food Preparation at the Mission Home

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This afternoon we went to the mission home and mission office for a farewell dinner.  Two of our Ivorian missionaries have completed their missions and today we celebrated with a departure dinner.  This is the first departing dinner we’ve had since the COVID restrictions were made.

We arrived early, while President Binene was interviewing the Elders.  I went into the kitchen to see if Sis Binene needed any help.  She told me everything was prepared and ready to go.  Soeur Celestine is a caterer who comes to help with special meals at the mission home.  She’s a good cook!

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Today she showed me the food she had prepared, beginning with footoo.  Footoo is made by pounding prepared cassava and plantain with the mortar and pestle.  Then it is cooked in a large pot and formed into these balls.  Footoo is served with a red sauce that is made from palm oil and dried fish.  It’s a favorite Ivorian dish.

The rice and fried plantain are served with fried chicken and a vegetable sauce that has onion, tomato, cabbage, carrots and squash.

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This mission kitchen has been well-used and loved.

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Celeste and Elder Lath showed me how they use the mortar and pestles to prepare the food.  One is for pounding footoo and maize porridge.  The other is for pounding leaves that go into the sauces.

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This is ground maize flour (corn) that is cooked into a porridge, which is eaten every day by families like the Binenes.  Maize porridge is called foofoo.  This is a Congolese meal, often prepared for lunch and dinner, served with sauce.   A small amount corn meal is put into boiling water on the stove and stirred and cooked like a gruel.  After it boils for awhile, more maize flour is added until it becomes very very thick.   It is left to cook for 5-10 minutes and then it is put into forms the size of a ball to make the individual servings.

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Here is an explanation by Elder Lath of how the mortar and pestles are used:

 

Building a Food Supply in Abidjan during COVID Times

Here is a post I wrote for my personal blog.  I thought I’d share it here too as part of our mission history.

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Our Abidjan Kitchen

We are passing through some interesting times.  At the beginning of March we traveled to Accra, Ghana with church members to attend the temple.  We had a glorious week there with them, then they returned to Bamako and we flew to Abadjan for what we expected would be a couple of weeks.   Bamako is our main residence, Abidjan is our other home.  We come and go between our two apartments.

After a day or two in Abidjan, our world changed.  We were not able to get a flight out to Bamako.  Borders closed.  Missionaries were sent home.  Lockdown felt imminent.   We were in an apartment with no food supplies and the world around us was in a panic.  We didn’t know how much time we’d have to stock up on some food before that window of opportunity closed.

On the evening of March 17th we went to the finest supermarche in Abidjan to do a little shopping.  We found a ransacked store with panicking shoppers filling carts with whatever they could grab and afford.  It was frightening.  We purchased a few things to sustain us for the coming week.  We had no idea what the future held.

Gratefully, in the weeks that followed, we were never required to go into apartment lockdown.  We continued to go to the mission office every day, helping there as dozens of missionaries exited for their homelands.

We are still here.  We don’t know how long we’ll be here.  The country borders are still closed.  The Abidjan city limits are also closed to contain the spread of the virus to other parts of the country.  There are not many cases here, which is good.  The stores have restocked their shelves and we are able now to buy the things we need.

What crazy times!  I’ve been thinking a lot about FOOD and what essential food items are most important to us here.  I thought it might be fun to chronicle the list of things we are eating during this particular time here in West Africa.

Here are my cupboards filled with our food supplies–a few things here came all the way from America to Bamako to Abidjan, and we ration them for special occasions.

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We also have a fridge with a freezer.  The small freezer space is filled with frozen chicken, ground beef, frozen peas, cheese, butter, bread, and our homemade frozen yogurt.  The fridge holds water, yogurt, cheese, butter, eggs, some condiments and our fruits and vegetables.  We are so grateful to have a fridge and freezer to preserve our food.

This is my food storage pantry in the other room:

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And here is our water supply–on top are bottles I’ve refilled with filtered water with a few drops of bleach.

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Here’s my list of things I can purchase here that I like to keep on hand:

flour and yeast
brown sugar, white sugar
eggs, butter, yogurt, cheese
dry milk, canned milk
oats
raisins, dates
peanuts
popcorn, oil
granola, cookies, crackers, chips
spices & herbs:  Mexican, Italian, bullion, curry, salt & pepper
baking powder, soda, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon,
seasoning and soup packets
condiments: mayonnaise, mustard, hot pepper paste
canned goods:  corn, white beans, kidney beans, mushrooms
canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste
lentils, split peas
rice, pasta
meat:  chicken, ground beef
fresh vegetables:  carrots, potatoes, zucchini, leeks, onions, peppers, cucumbers
fresh fruit: pineapple, papaya, mangoes, bananas, apples, coconut

We are happy and healthy and we eat well (in spite of losing quite a bit of weight).  It’s a trying time for the people around us who have been impacted by the COVID restrictions.  We still don’t know what the future holds, but we hope we’ve dodged the worst of it here in Cote d’Ivoire.  We’re happy to be here.

Posted originally here:  https://annlaemmlenlewis.com/

Keep a History and a Record of all Things that Transpire in Zion.

On 27 November 1832 the Prophet Joseph Smith in Kirtland, Ohio, wrote to William W. Phelps, who was living in Independence, Missouri. There are a few words in the first page of that letter that grab me. William W. Phelps was a clerk and Joseph was concerned at the time with record keeping.  It weighed on his mind. The Lord had instructed him to write and record and keep records, and he was figuring out what needed to be recorded as the church began to grow in that place.

In this letter, excerpts of which are now found in D&C 85, we are given a clue of what Joseph and the Lord found important:

It is the duty of the Lord’s clerk, whom he has appointed, to keep a history, and a general church record of all things that transpire in Zion, and of all those who consecrate properties, and receive inheritances legally from the bishop; and also their manner of life, their faith, and works . . .

I’m just a bystander here in the Abidjan East Cote d’Ivoire Mission, but I also have a sense of the importance of what’s happening around us and the importance of recording the manner of life, the faith and the works of the good people here.  Sometimes it’s easier to see the miracles when you are a bystander, not a participant, deeply immersed in the routines of a place, its culture and times.

Although I have lived in Africa for many years, life here is not my normal–it’s all a wonder to me, a fantastic and amazing expression of faith, and works displayed to me in a manner of life that to me is incredible. I often feel like I am on the front row seat of an Unfolding Event in the history of the Church in Africa.

Today John and I witnessed the retelling of more of that history as we sat with Pres Binene and completed about 4 hours of interviewing him this week. His story will be told in an upcoming volume of SAINTS, and we are here helping to gather that story.

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Pres Binene is a remarkable man of great faith. He has done hard things and has been a pillar of light and faith to the people of the DRC Congo. You will read about him someday. Next month he will complete his missionary service here in the Abidjan East Mission, and if the borders re-open, he and his family will return to their home in the Congo. They will start a new life there and I wonder where it will take them.

For now, his story is captured and will be transcribed for church historians and for future generations. We will learn from the incredible stories he’s told us this week of his experiences establishing the first branches in his province, of civil unrest and fleeing for their safety instead of accepting a mission call, of helping his people with farming and water projects, and with his calls to serve as a District President, then a Stake President. Nothing in his life unfolded in the way he expected or planned. His manner of life, his works and his faith teach me that a consecrated life is a blessed life, planned or unexpected.

I’m grateful to be here now, during these interesting times, surrounded by people I find lovely, fascinating, strong and good. These blog posts are an attempt to share this world and these friends with you.

Here are a few pictures of our time spent with Pres Binene this week, recording his history.

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Joseph’s 27 November 1832 Letter to William W. Phelps can be found here:
https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letter-to-william-w-phelps-27-november-1832/1#historical-intro

A Taste of America!

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We went out to pay some mission bills today at Cap Sud.  They’ve added some very nice handwashing stations outside the mall now.  It’s a small free-standing station with sinks on 2 sides and a foot pump for the water.  Nice.  Some of the doors still have the buckets with spigots and soap.  Tissues are used here for hand drying.

Many of the COVID restrictions are being lifted.  Stores opened again this week and the curfew at night has been removed.  We are still encouraged to wear masks and handwashing stations are outside most stores (or gel pumps).  Not many people are wearing masks here.   And the streets are full of people coming and going.  Vendors and shops are open and busy.  Normal life here has resumed.  We hope the borders will open soon and we hope the worst is over.  It hasn’t been bad here like in other countries.

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This week we topped 5 million COVID cases worldwide.  Here are yesterday’s stats:
Coronavirus Cases: 5,105,897
Deaths: 330,003
Recovered: 2,035,432
USA: 1,593,039, Deaths: 94,941
Utah: 7,874, Deaths: 92
Ivory Coast: 2,231, Deaths: 29
Mali: 931, Deaths: 55

To celebrate being out, we had lunch at Burger King!  We’ve visit Burger King here about once a month for a taste of home.  It’s better than you can even imagine.  Oh my, it’s so so good.

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It feels worth every penny, and then I think, wow, that could have paid for 2 chickens for 2 families and I wonder if it was.

A little hole. A lot of damage.

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John was pulling into this parking spot a couple of days ago and this hole was not marked or blocked off.  As he turned in next to the car on the right, the hole was obscured by the hood of our truck.  The front wheel went down and the truck bounced out and into the wall in front.   He had no idea what had happened.  (It was the day I was at home throwing up.)  Our phones do not speak to each other, so I had no idea what had happened when he said he’d be home before 5:00 and he didn’t come home until almost 8:00.  It was not a good day for either of us.

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Here is the smashed up front end of our truck.  So sad.  We are grateful for insurance and the kind people here who were quick to help.  (Quick is relative.)

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Visiting the Sisters’ Apartment in 2 Plateaux

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After our Zone Training Meeting, we offered the 2 Plateaux Sisters a ride home.  I told them I’d come in and take some pictures of their apartment.  That was fun.  Here’s a peek behind the door into the missionary life of these Sisters.

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Living room:

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Outdoor open area for laundry:

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The kitchen:

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Chicken in the blue bag and fish in the freezer door:

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And a good supply of Attietke in the fridge:

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Each companionship has their own fridge and freezer.  More chickens here:

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Water storage:

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Shower:

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Missionary supplies:

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Bedrooms and study desks:

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Happy Sisters doing hard things.  You’ll notice there is no A/C in this apartment, but a fan at every bed.  It’s hot and it’s doesn’t cool down much here.  Typical temperatures here are in the 80s and 90s but the weather app “feels like” is always closer to 100 degrees.

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Abidjan Temple Progress

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Here are some exciting photos of the Abidjan Temple today.  I’m old and slow and it has never occurred to me that I could just hold my phone camera up over the tin walls and take pictures of what’s going on behind them without Seeing what’s going on behind them!

So here you go–here’s what has been out of my sight until now:

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This must be the foundation to what they are calling the Visitor’s Center.

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And this is the front side of the temple taken from the north :

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It’s all so very exciting.  Today 17 temples were re-opened in the world.  You can almost feel the connection re-established between heaven and earth.  It feels good.

The Mission President’s Seminar Continues

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Pres & Sis Binene spent the day here, in their office, connected to leaders in Accra and Salt Lake and to all of the other West Africa Mission Presidents and their wives.  This is their last MP Seminar–they will complete their work here at the end of June.  It’s a bit of an emotional time for them–they and the other soon-departing Mission Presidents and wives shared their testimonies with each other and area leaders they’ve grown to love.

We will also be losing Elder Nash, who has been our Area President in Accra.  He will be returning to Salt Lake to serve as the Managing Director of the Missionary Department.

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Lunch and snacks.

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Meanwhile, the work of the mission continues.  John has been busy sorting and organizing files and piles of financial records.

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And during breaks, there are always more things to sign.

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The work moves on!