Cultures are complex and have so many nuances that when you’re new might overwhelm you. If someone asked you to describe your culture you may struggle. It is hard to recognize the water of the pool you are swimming in.
When you are new somewhere, an outlander, you may feel like you’re drowning in all of these new experiences. My family has definitely been overwhelmed at times, but one way we are keeping our heads above water is by eating the foods we know and love.
Nick lovingly looked through our binders of favorite recipes before leaving Ohio and took pictures of some of our favs. We have searched the stores to buy the right spices to make taco seasoning, I have made homemade tortillas 4 times already, and we forgo the beloved sour cream so that we can enjoy some Congo-Mexican food. Controlling the food that we eat is just one way we are transitioning to life here, but it is an important one.
Don’t get me wrong, we have every desire to immerse ourselves in the new culture. Our wonderful housekeeper, Mama Fifi, purchased 3 chickens (who were alive when they arrived at our house), fish (not alive), and some other local vegetables for us to try. This also involved bukhari which is a sticky corn paste that they form into balls and eat with most of their dinners.
As excited as we were to try these new things, I quickly realized that we needed to apply the brakes. Immersing ourselves in the culture did not mean forcing new foods on Nick and the kids while all other things were still new. I have gladly regained control over dinner time for the time being. We have embraced sourcing fresh bananas, mangoes, and pineapples regularly on our drives home from school, and have enjoyed the practice of consuming far too many cookies. There are a lot of cookies in Lubumbashi! My father has always said that cookies should be their own food group. Here in DRCongo, they seem to have that status.
All in all, we are not starving and you would be happy to know that we are prepping by lantern light when the power is out and cooking outside. God is so gracious, and even these challenges are no longer surprising or even discouraging.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13