Wednesday, July 7, 2010

By love, serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)

 When a Yankee moves to a third-world country as a missionary, then you get extreme frugality. We had to learn to make do and to do without so many things we were used to! Many ingredients I was accustomed to cooking with simply are not available in Nigeria; others can be bought but are so expensive they must be stretched.

My daughter holds a chocolate Easter Bunny that was mailed to us from America.
Yes, those are the eyes.

But we do like food, so I searched hard for ways to create delicious meals from what is available. As a Vermont wife, I had already learned to make most meals from scratch as the most thrifty way of cooking. A pound of dry beans goes a lot farther than a can of prepared beans; a whole chicken can make two or three meals for a family; homemade cookies are less costly and better tasting than store-bought. This served me well in a country where beans are bought by measure from a basket in the marketplace; when you buy a chicken it is generally still clucking; and cookies are mostly imported and cost several times what they did in America!

Ginger, cut and drying on a large rock

Nigeria IS rich in fresh food, and for the most part it is grown without pesticides or artificial fertilizers. Steroids have yet to find their way into the chickens and cows (which here are actually cebu; not the Herefords that supply American beef). We learned to capitalize on that, and to find ways to make luxury items like butter and cheese go a long way. We learned a brand of frugality that makes the most of what we have. That is the SERVE part.

To me, this is the essence of frugality: it is not miserly thrift that robs life of goodness as it seeks an obsessive degree of control over resources, but a way to maximize enjoyment within the range of resources that are at hand. It is not an end in itself. And it is not everything. Frugality should be the embodiment of contentment and wisdom. It is realistic and at the same time, joyful. It says, this is what I have: let me make the best of it for us! That is the LOVE part.

A lot of so-called "frugal" recipes seem to leave that out. Just because it is edible, doesn't mean it is good (or good for you). Cheapness is not equivalent with frugal!!

We put our heart into what we serve. Love first, then serve!

Of course, there is nothing original in this. The Bible says that when we give, we give ourselves first, then we give what we have (2 Corinthians 8:5). And before we SERVE the Lord, we first LOVE the Lord (Deuteronomy 11:13).

So love, then serve... delicious and nourishing food to the people around you!


Meredith DeVoe

Jos, Nigeria

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