An easy dinner! In this sample chapter from Simply Eat, Mary Weeks Millard shares how she unexpectedly learnt the joy of serving others through hospitality in the most unlikely of places – and enjoy the delicious recipe she shares, ideal for a quick family meal!
In the early days of my first marriage, my husband and I, together with our infant son, went to the Democratic Republic of Congo (then known as Zaire) to be missionaries in a remote location near the border with Central African Republic. We flew to Kampala, Uganda, and there had to wait at the mission headquarters until someone with enough room in their vehicle, who was heading to Zaire, would take us over the border.
After about a week of waiting, we were kindly driven through Uganda to the north-west and through the border to a large mission complex in north-east Zaire, called Rethy. Once again, we were to wait until someone could transport us further north. This never happened, as the day we arrived, the American nurse in charge of the hospital heard that her father was seriously ill. Since I was a nurse and midwife, I was taken on a tour of the hospital the next day, and from that time onwards, I was in charge!
That was scary enough in itself and gave many challenges, but as the days and weeks went by, I found this was only one of many duties expected of me as a female missionary. We were the only British family with our mission working in Zaire – all the rest of the expatriate staff were from the USA and Canada. British people tend to be more reserved and private – and I was horrified when I found that I was expected to do a lot of entertaining. I still needed my ‘L’ plates as a cook.
Not only were there several families, couples and single missionaries who lived at Rethy, there was also a school for the children of missionaries who lived all over the country and beyond. At the beginning and end of each school term, plus at half-term weekends, many parents would arrive, and they all needed to be housed and fed.
Sometimes, now, I look back and realise that the Lord allowed me to stay at Rethy because
He wanted to teach me the joys and blessings of being hospitable. It was very hard work, and quite a challenge to stretch our meagre supplies to feed others constantly. We had no shops or supermarkets nearby – just a tiny paraffin fridge, which stored very little, and a wood stove on which to cook. I did have the part-time help of a very experienced young man, who was wonderful at getting the stove to the correct temperature I needed. I also found the soil was very fertile; my husband bought seeds from Kenya and we began to grow our own fruit and vegetables.
Gradually, the Lord helped me to change my attitude from resentment and anger to enjoyment when people arrived for meals. Sharing our lives and our table with so many others from different cultures and backgrounds enriched our lives. We made so many friends and some of them I am still in touch with forty-plus years later.
The children in Rethy Academy became our friends, too. They missed their parents, and although they had lots of fun and lovely dorm parents, they enjoyed being asked out to our home at weekends, and we loved to cook treats for them. A few of these children are also still in touch with me.
I have learned that the gift of hospitality is such a joy – and I still love to invite people round! It doesn’t have to be gourmet food – a simple meal is just as acceptable. It’s eating and sharing together that matters.
So, this is the recipe for the meat loaf I often served in Zaire.
Rethy Meat Loaf Serves 4 to 6
- 1lb minced beef
- 11⁄2 teaspoons salt
- Pinch pepper
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 slices dry bread, soaked in water, but not too moist
- 1 small, finely chopped onion
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 1⁄4 cup chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce
1. Mix all ingredients together and put into a greased loaf tin.
2. Bake at 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6 for 1 hour.
Check back next week for another tasty sample from Simply Eat!