Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Doesn't taste like fruit to me!

Jamaica has some really good cuisine, ya know...jerk pork, well jerk anything is good. Rice and peas that are not peas at all, but rather kidney beans. Easter bun with cheese. Pumpkin soup and festivals.Escovietch fish, ackee and saltfish. Pattys and yam, boiled or mashed,I like it anyway it comes. Rock buns and guava jelly. Well the list goes on and on! Jamaica has some really good food. It also has great fruits, papaya, pineapple, mangoes and coconuts. Grapefruit and guava, bananas and lots of em. Lychee and cherries. Naseberries and otaheite apples. Star apples and sour sop. Watermelon, oranges and limes. Just about everything fruity!! But breadfruit....what is that?

It is said that Captain William Bligh brought breadfruit to Jamaica from Tahiti in 1793. Why you ask? To feed the slaves of course. Guess what? The slaves didn't like ,so it grew out of control and was used to feed the hogs. They eat anything. Reminds me of the commercial many years ago..give it to Mikey. Mikey will eat it! Those hogs...yup they eat anything. I have observed plenty of hogs and chickens in the back yard of the New Vision Children's Home.

Today, no breadfruit for the hogs. Some smart Jamaican said, wait a minute, let's figure out a way to make it yummy and start using the breadfruit on our table. Well, I can imagine it went something like that!

Today breadfruit is made a hundred different ways! Jamaicans roast it, bake it, boil it, steam it and make it into chips, they make it into porridge and even punch. They marinade it, pickle it and fry it, that's the way I like it! They use it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They puree it for their babies.

I'll never forget the first time I saw it. It was along side the road at a fruit stand and I couldn't get over the size. What is that? I asked. It is the size of a watermelon but certainly isn't a watermelon!

If you want the breadfruit for soup, you need to pick one that is young and light green with no brown spots.

If you want to roast one, you need to choose a dark green one. I wish I had a photo of the roasted ones. They too are really interesting, they kind of look like the brown coconuts ..only with an ashen hue to them. When I have seen them on the roadside I haven't had my camera!

Okay, so what does the breadfruit taste like if it doesn't taste like fruit? Jamaicans say it taste like doughy bread. For some reason I just can't get that taste. I think it is because I eat it with my eyes open! I taste potato maybe that is because I have eaten it fried and I imagine potato chip! Maybe I need to eat it blindfolded!

We are able to watch the breadfruit grow right here on our property. The tree is an evergreen and it can produce fruit for fifty years or more. When I see the fruit hanging down, I just wonder how in the world does it do that. They are so huge! amazing! Most breadfruit are seedless although there are many varieties with seeds.

As I have researched the breadfruit I find that it is everywhere even in Florida! It is in Key West and Vaca Key. The next time I go there I will have to see if it looks the same!

I can't end off a blog like this one without a recipe in case you have a bresheh tree in your yard! yup that is what a Jamaican would call the breadfruit, bresheh.


1/2 medium fit bresheh
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 pints water
2 ounces sweetened condensed milk
3 ounces evaporated milk
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 ounce flour
Put water on stove and turn fire on high. In the meantime remove the skin and heart from the bresheh. Cut the vegetable, whoa, vegetable..I thought this was a fruit, into small pieces. Add pieces to a blender with a little water and puree. Add pureed ingredients to the boiling water and add salt. Boil and stir. To thicken the porridge add the flour. Add the other ingredients and sweeten to taste. Serve in a bowl with ground nutmeg.

Sounds yummy doesn't it. Come to Jamaica for some bresheh, that is if you don't live in Florida!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bible College Students....ready for anything!

This Bible College thing is really neat! The Jamaican Bible College has students who are pretty special! Two of our students are Haitian and the rest are Jamaican. A few of them were able to come to the service on Sunday with Irvin D. Clown and then to the house for some concentrated clown learning! We had a beautiful morning and then the time at the house was priceless. I love having them anytime we can! They light up our lives.

Andre, the brave one!

This moment was priceless. Mousa is one of the students that Irvin chose to volunteer. Renee went into the audience to find a girl and her dress matched his tie perfectly!

Cherley teasing Lolli!

Many hands make the work go faster! Lots of balloons waiting to be made into creatures!

After a Jamaican lunch of rice and peas, barbecued chicken, and salad, they took to the living room for a couple of hours of hands on training and teaching. What a great opportunity for the students and Irvin as well.

We love you Irvin D.Clown!

When clowns come to your house!

What a special treat to host a professional clown at the house! Kevin Ross is a children's evangelist and is a true, blue, clown! He has a Mastors of Divinity degree from ORU and spends his life clowning around! He taught my Ryan tricks of the trade in years past and now teaches Renee how to be a clown, not that she needed much help! While Kevin and Uncle Marty were here, Irvin even got violin lessons! Funny how the mind of a clown works! What fun. What ministry. What memories!

The original message....eternal life.

Sometimes life throws you a surprise and you reflect on it over and over again in your mind. Although this story is very sad, my reflection is the reality of eternal life. Let me start at the beginning.

On March 10th, Den went to pick up Irvin D. Clown and Uncle Marty at a meeting place where the pastor they had been working with in Kingston would bring them. They were with us for 5 days. Irvin D. Clown is no stranger to Jamaica. He has had ministry here over the years so he is an easy guest. There is no cultural adjustments when he is here. This was a special trip for him because he was able to bring a friend. Uncle Marty is 72 years old and had never flown before. He is a gem. We enjoyed having both of them with us for a few days. He just flowed with whatever was happening at the time and ministered with Irvin as though they had done it many times!

Irvin D. Clown's focal point in ministry is salvation. He has led thousands in a prayer of salvation and directed them to stay connected in the local church. He is a happy clown with a positive message. He has been a guest of ours over the years we served in the district office, pastored a church, and also on missions trips that we took from New England. Since we have been in Jamaica, Irvin has been with us twice. Our Bible College students have learned about children's ministry and especially clowning from Irvin.

Before Irvin's arrival, Denny had arranged for him to connect to Pastor Mullins in Hatfield. There would be ministry on Saturday, Sunday, and in the schools on Monday. When Irvin comes into a community, he doesn't sit in the church and wait for the children to come, he hits the road running, well at least making a lot of noise!

One of the special things about Irvin D. Clown is that he makes it easy for others to clown with him. Renee was trained by him! Our students are trained by him and he carries alot of luggage to outfit others!

On Saturday Irvin D. Clown, Uncle Marty, Lolli (Renee) and Den the videographer took off down the road from the church to "collect" children! Little did they know that Joshua would be one of the special guests on Saturday and then again on Sunday. Little did Pastor Mullins know that this would be the last time he would have contact with a special little guy called Joshua.

The services were great and exciting. It was all about the message....eternal life. I am not sure if Joshua was in one of the schools on Monday or not. I sure hope so! If he was, he felt loved by the clowns once again. There is just something about the love of Christ that people feel when ministers of all kinds come to Jamaica....even ministers that are clowns!

On Thursday of this week we received a tragic message from one of our students that is from Hatfield. Joshua was dead. Whoa...what? He met a tragic death when a gun was found and the bullet went straight to Joshua's heart. He was gone. Eternal life was his. We have learned that the church community reached out to his family immediately.

What a difference a week makes. Here today....Heaven tomorrow. There is so much to be said about reaching the children. There is so much to be said about Carpe Diem (seizing the day). There is so much to be said about reaching past the 4 walls of the church building. There is so much to be said about the effect of missions efforts made by people who sacrifice money, time, energy, care, compassion for another culture. There is so much to be said.

Click on the link for the article from the newspaper about Joshua's death.

Tragedy in Hatfield

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Payless in Jamaica!

I hesitate to title this post as Payless! In reality I should have typed PayMORE! A big deal took place this week in the life of Renee! Payless Shoe Source came to Jamaica a couple of weeks ago. There are 2 stores in Kingston and 1 store in Montego Bay with another soon to open there. After her violin lesson in Kingston on Thursday we surprised her with a Payless visit!

So what's the big deal you may ask! A 14 year old being able to walk into an American store, now that's a big deal! As we searched for the store we weren't real sure if we would actually come upon it or if it would be hidden in another part of town but we had success! Or maybe daddy would say ....bummer we found it!

Needless to say, with the prices here it is not a place we will be able to visit every week! I have to say it was SO exciting. To find an American retail store here even made me feel giddy!

There is even talk that a Payless could be coming to Mandeville (our town), won't that be exciting! You know what is funny, it is not a store I frequent too much in the states and with its move here I got so excited! But, anything for my girl!

Renee didn't ask to be a missionary kid and yet she has the perfect temperament for the job. She has gone without a shopping spree for a long time, well this wasn't really a spree! She could look for one pair. She had three styles that she was choosing between and just like that one pair was gone. A man in uniform ripped them out from under her....I guess he really wanted to buy them for his daughter. :(

Man, could we hope for a dollar store! just kiddin!

Here is a photo journey of her experience!

How much would you pay for these little white tennies? Here in the Payless they were $35.00....thanks daddy!

Poison in Jamaica

Ganja isn't the only poison in this beautiful island. From December 1, 2010 through January 12, 2011 there were 23 deaths due to ackee poisoning. In 33 days 23 people died from the same symptoms. After investigation they found some similarities, 20 were men, between the ages of 25 and 44, they lived in the northeast parishes, they ate the national fruit. By the way the other deaths were children under 5. sad....

In 2010 there were 194 cases of ackee poisoning. Not all cases are fatal. If the ackee is eaten raw, or prepared improperly, the poisoning lowers the blood sugar to lethal levels. If one is suspected of having ackee posoning and it is detected quickly enough, drinking sweet fluids to get the blood sugar level up may save the person from death.

This national fruit always intrigues me. It has been said that the ackee was imported from West Africa in 1778 probably through a slave ship. The thing is though, West Africa doesn't eat ackee. No other nation eats ackee except Jamaica. Why did the slave ship bring it? Who would have thought to put a plant or a piece of fruit on a ship that you don't eat and I suppose with so many slaves and necesary supplies, why throw ackee on board? Mystery to me, unless they were bringing it to make soap. That is the only thing some West Africans do with ackee! It puzzles me. Denny always asks, how many people died before they found out how to prepare it and not be toxic? Good question. Another question to me is why was this poisonous fruit chosen as the national fruit and why is ackee and saltfish the national dish rather than jerk pork and rice and peas!

No doubt the fruit is absolutely beautiful in color and is very intrigueing. During the summer season the trees are full of fruit and the way the fruit hangs is beautiful but since this last surge of deaths the paper has been full of study and investigation on how these 23 died from the ackee.

After all, you can't live in Jamaica very long before learning that you never eat the fruit from the tree. You never buy it if the fruit is closed. This is one of those dishes that I like to have prepared at the Bible College by Vivian, our wonderful cook! She knows what she is doing. I have never tried to make it at home. I don't know what I am doing!

Recently the paper has been full of reports on what the study has found about these deaths. I have to say I was really surprised. I thought they would find that these 23 people ate at the same cook shop or they purchased their fruits and vegetables at the same market, or the vendor at the market was trying to make a quick dollar on bad ackee or something like that, or the cook opened the ackee by force, or the water that was used to boil the ackee was not discarded immediately, or that the ackee water was reused for the rice.

Interestingly, there was no connection to the ackee sold in tin cans.

No the report says the blame is to go to the weather. The weather of all things. In this beautiful island with sunny skies and puffy clouds, the ackee deaths are blamed on the weather!

Here is the report from the newspaper:

'Demystifying ackee poisoning'
Published: Saturday | February 26, 2011 12 Comments Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer

PASSLEY GARDENS, Portland:THE RECENT spike in ackee poisoning is being attributed to a lack of adequate sunlight which increases the levels of the toxin hypoglycin, which is found in the fruit.

This argument was put forward on Thursday by Seymour Webster, researcher and lecturer at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) in Portland. According to Webster, ackee poisoning mostly takes place during overcast and short-day periods.

"We are supporting the argument that radiance (light or heat) is important," he said.

"Sunlight does not have a direct effect on the hypoglycin levels in ackees, but does have a positive effect on the enzyme as it increases the catalytic activity of the enzyme so that the enzyme breaks down the hypoglycin," he explained.

"It can also be that the fruit, although left to open in its natural state, can still result in poisoning due to the lack of sufficient radiance."

Ackee, Jamaica's national fruit, if not properly ripened, contains high levels of a toxin called hypoglycin.

The weather.....wow. I was surprised. Yes during that period we did have lots of overcast skies and black clouds. Yes the skies looked ominous, no we didn't go to the beach during those weeks, but I never gave a thought about the effect of the clouds on the ackee. I was only worried about getting my laundry out early enough to dry on the line, I never thought to worry about the ackee growing on the tree.

I guess it is true, the more you learn, the more you want to learn. The report made me to think, what else is out there to learn about what we digest. Den learned something this week. We see the sugar cane getting burnt off and then getting loaded on the trucks to be harvested. Did you know that you can produce 4 harvests of sugar cane from one planting. After the fields are burnt down, the sugar cane can grow again up to 3 more times! pretty cool. the fire doesn't affect what's underground....makes me think of how deep my faith is and the result of fiery trials. I am not destroyed but rather strengthened, well that could take me into a whole nother thought! I better stop here. Here is a picture of ackee at a roadside market where we bought bananas and grapefruit yesterday.