Sunday, August 14, 2011

On eating and packing: The adventures of the Missionary Sister Cook

 By The Missionary Sister

Greetings from the cook.

No, this is not Catherine. It’s her sister, Hannah.

Otherwise known as the cook.

Catherine is in Papua New Guinea this very minute, with, hopefully, the hardest decision she’s had to make over the past few days being whether or not she wants to risk ingesting the airplane peanuts which probably had an expiration date of about a hundred years ago. Mercifully, she didn’t have to suffer such culinary injustice during her last week at home, thanks to her sister.

Otherwise known as the cook.

Although many of you have been deeply involved in Catherine’s journey to Papua New Guinea, unfortunately—or fortunately?—most of the behind-the-scenes fun is hidden from your eyes. Therefore, as we are all waiting eagerly for Catherine’s next blog post from Papua New Guinea full of stories of monkey attacks and capsized canoes, I thought I’d fill the space (with Catherine’s permission) with tales of our own adventures here in the last week before she left: namely, Catherine’s packing and my cooking, both of which were extensive

Chocolate chip pudding mix cookies... mmmm.
Saturday was nothing of much importance except I helped make a huge breakfast and we all ate some amazing pudding mix chocolate chip cookies that I made the day before. Catherine crashed and tried to salvage what brain cells she had left after finals. I made some gourmet grilled sandwiches for lunch to help that, got Catherine’s and Dad’s mixed up, but Catherine was nice about it anyway, because she always is.

On Sunday was her commissioning service, which went wonderfully! She was so blessed by all of you who came and understands that many of you wanted to come, even if you couldn’t make it. Of course, the advantage for me was that I didn’t have to cook, because if you came, you know that we fed you. ;) I promised to stuff some food down Catherine because I knew she wouldn’t eat with her friends there but I’m afraid she still didn’t get much to eat. Oops. At least that meant she was talking with all of you and saying good-bye.

I love lasagna! The colors are so beautiful.
She kept on unpacking (from SIL) and getting ready to start repacking (for PNG) on Monday. We really didn’t see each other much, though, because she was locked in her room and I was locked in the kitchen, as that day for dinner it was lasagna and roasted peppers and corn on the cob and chocolate chip pie (though not at the same time). I wandered around the kitchen and tested the chocolate chips for poisonous ones and Catherine wandered around the house and tested the packing lists for faulty ones.

Tuesday I ignored all cooking and Catherine ignored all packing and our family went on a positively marvelous vacation in Duluth where we ate lots of food that I didn’t cook.

It was gorgeous bread.

On Wednesday, her request was homemade bread, so I looked through a whole bunch of recipes which we didn’t have ingredients for and finally chose one that we didn’t have the ingredients for and made it minus all the ingredients we didn’t have and changed out ones we did have anyway. Catherine and I ate a lot of that bread in a sister bonding activity.

That nice calm atmosphere got a little shattered on Thursday: With 24 hours to her departure, we found out that weight limits on baggage on the last connecting flight to PNG were significantly lower than expected, and this began the semi-panicked repacking. It was panicked because suddenly much of what she wanted to bring she couldn’t, but only semi because, well, Catherine doesn’t panic.

And I just kept on cooking.

Yeah, my pizza roll ups didn't look this good.
So while Catherine and Mom and Dad threw themselves desperately into intense packing and repacking and measuring and weighing with Dad’s whiz bang space age scale, I threw myself into intense chopping and rolling and baking and measuring. They took lanyards off flash drives and were relieved that that actually reduced the weight; I chopped peppers and was relieved that my cut finger didn’t bleed more than it did. They searched the house to find containers that weighed ounces less than other containers and made due without them anyway; I searched the kitchen to find ingredients we didn’t have and made due without them anyway. They contemplated making Catherine wear all her clothes on the flights so that she would look like a little walking pumpkin; I contemplated how these annoying little pizza roll ups could end up looking like a little nuclear explosion.

The intrepid packers made progress, however. This was in part through discarding from Catherine’s bag nearly all of her things to do on the plane (I suggested she keep busy by flipping a coin 1000 times to see if it really came out even 500 heads and 500 tails) and we were all tired and then we ate pie. Pie that I dished up.

Chocolate chip pie: nearly as amazing as peanut butter and twirly skirts combined.

Finally, Friday morning I made a Last Breakfast complete with 6-fruit smoothies (about which Catherine commented, “So, this sure has a lot of flavors in it,” ever the polite sister) and fluffy French toast (which is profoundly different from moldy French toast). They kept packing and weighing and after a short break I found myself dragged into the kitchen again by some mysterious attractive force and started making soup and sandwiches for the Last Lunch. They were positive Energizer Bunnies (my wonderful food did it, for sure…) after eating she went right back into that living room and kept on weighing (did you know deodorant weighs six ounces? Unreasonably heavy.).

Finally, however, with about an hour to spare, it was finished. The checked bag weighed 44 pounds to the ounce, her carry on was acceptable, and there was a new tote full of stuff she now needed shipped to PNG. We were excited—we were sad—but most of all, we were all looking forward to the incredible miracles God would be doing through her and looking back with thankfulness to all of the miracles He has performed already. In this spirit, we sent her to PNG with a toast:


Because send-off toasts are always better when done with chocolate malts.