Wednesday, October 22, 2014


After kicking off October break with a weekend of NUTS (Niamey Universal Tournament of Softball), I took a few days to simply recover and relax:  hanging out with my housemates, watching movies, reading, sleeping, running, and the like.

On Thursday and Friday, I joined the other new missionaries of SIM for an orientation.  It was a great time to learn and relearn a few things about culture and living as a missionary.  I met some wonderful missionaries from Galmi and Maradi and got to know a few others from Niamey a bit better.
Mr. Hama led an insightful talk on Nigerien culture.
 At the end of our time on Friday, we all participated in a cooking competition in Sahel Academy's kitchen!  We broke into three groups of five or six and were challenged to cook an entree with given ingredients.  All of the ingredients were purchased at the market and the object of the game was to work as a team to cook the best dish without any recipe!

Our team's eclectic collection of Nigerien market food.
Our group's identifiable ingredients were eggplant and Nigerien squash.  The other three items required for our dish were something that looked like a very fine millet, a hunk of meat - bones, animal hair included!, and a small bag of brown seeds.  Our team decided to add water to the sand-like grain and cook it into a paste.  We added the seeds and some garlic to the mixture and fried it in oil!  As the judges walked around, they looked awfully worried to find out that we were cooking our grain, which we found out is called sorghum.  It is traditionally prepared with only a little bit of water and NOT COOKED.  Oops!  It was too late, so we forged ahead on our own Nigerien-style cooking adventure.  Team members hacked away at the meat to sort it from the bones and hair.  Veggies were chopped, diced, and minced.  The squash was placed in the oven.  We had no idea how anything would turn out, and as all three teams shared the two stoves, we could see how beautifully their meals were coming together.  I was a bit worried, and to be honest, I had already admitted defeat.  And yet, thanks to a childhood with three brothers, my competitive nature inspired a strong finish.  In the end, we cubed the meat and cooked a stir fry to go along with our sorghum fried pancakes.
3 teams, 2 stoves, 1 hot kitchen

Presentation is everything, so we prepared a plate for the judges and waited to hear their praises (haha...).  The other dishes included a traditional peanut sauce stew over rice and mashed potatoes with tomato based stew.  One had goat, the other beef, and we found out that our hunk of meat was lamb.  The judges tasted and talked, and my team won!  They decided that the originality and flavors were creative and delicious.  Who knew?!  And I thought that I couldn't successfully cook in Niger.  What a blessing to know that I cannot only cook, but I can cook well!

Rachel and I were on different teams, but we had to get a roomie picture!

Of course, not without the help of my teammates!  We all got a package of Oreos for our prize!  I am so glad to have gotten to spend time with these lovely people :)  God is good.

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