PHYLLO DOUGH?…PUFF PASTRY?…No thanks!

November 12, 2011

Today I did something that I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time. I made homemade strudel. As I gently stretched and pulled the tender dough around the kitchen table, I realized that I have a long history of strudel. I thought of all the “Strudel-Makers” who were part of my life, and what I learned from them.  Let me share that with you.

Sometime between 1913 and 1920 when my paternal Grandma passed away, she made a lasting impression on her youngest son, George. Not only did she make “the cake that you walk around the table to make” (The way he referred to strudel in his childish language), she taught God’s Word to my Dad – and no doubt to her other three children also – with a huge, illustrated German Bible. Even in his 90’s, Dad would get teary-eyed each time he related that she read that Bible and sang “Who Is He That Careth For Us?” with him on her lap. From the grandma I never knew, a Strudel-Maker, I learned the importance of teaching God’s Word to the little ones He loaned to us.

In the 1960’s, my maternal Grandma, originally from Austris-Hungary, taught my sister to make strudel. She made apple strudel and nut strudel. Grandma always had a generous heart, and was known for making an extra pie or whatever she was baking  – to give away! From this Strudel-Maker, I learned how important it is to share what God’s given us.

Early 1970’s: I was in college when Aunt Katy was in her 80’s. Aunt Katy was my Dad’s aunt, “famous” for her incredibly delicious strudel, so I asked her if she could teach me how to make it. She was thrilled that she could teach me something that no one at the University of Akron could! Aunt Katy’s health was very precarious for many years, but when asked “How are you doing, Aunt Katy?” she never failed to respond with an emphatic “Thankful”. An elderly Strudel-Maker with a grateful heart taught me how important thankfulness is, in every situation.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, living in Argentina among a largely German population, making strudel was very common. What WASN’T common was the love that Ema put into every batch of strudel she made, even for our youth camps with 100+ in attendance. Ema was the cook at the Peniel Bible School where young men and girls studied to be missionaries, evangelists and pastors. Ema untiringly served them, knowing that she was serving God. From the example of Ema, an unforgettable Strudel-Maker, I learned how important it is to serve God’s people, and to do it with a real servant heart.

While living in Argentina for 27 years, there was another Strudel-Maker who left a tremendous impression on me: my mother-in-law. Born and raised in Yugoslavia, strudel was almost a staple for Ana. It was no big deal for her to whip up a double recipe. She made quite a variety of strudel: apple, squash, ricotta with sautéed onions, potato, cabbage, ham and cheese. When making strudel, she always made sure she had enough of each kind to be able to send some to each of her three children. Ana taught me that when love is the motivation, no task is too big. She also gave me the recipe I use, which I cherish.

So as I thought about my “strudel history”, remembering all of these Strudel-Makers, I thanked God for each of them. They all impacted my life. Don’t I want to use Phyllo dough?… Puff pastry? …No, thanks!

P.S. My strudel came out YUMMY!

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“So Where Did You Meet?” (Part 2)

March 18, 2010

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well….Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed, and in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”

Psalm 139:13-16

The “Lord, I want to go visit Argentina some day, but I have to learn Spanish first” prayer was prayed. God allowed me to learn Spanish, and I got that part of the prayer answered, and checked it off my list. Life went on. I graduated from Chippewa High School, and commuted to the University of Akron, where I was carrying a double major in Fine Arts and Education, as well as working full-time for my brother Russ, who was initiating his Chiropractic practice in Sterling, Ohio. Somehow in the busy-ness of that pace, that only an 18-21 year old can manage, I forgot about the other half of the prayer I made some years earlier. A visit to Argentina was the last thing on my mind as I juggled a very hectic schedule. In October of my senior year at the U of A, I almost couldn’t handle it all anymore. I got home late one night, and my parents announced: “We’re going to Brazil and Argentina in January and February. We want you to go with us.” With the prayer I prayed 7 years earlier forgotten, of course I answered, “No, thanks.” Then I even tried to re-direct their plans, adding: “You’ve already been there. If you want to travel and spend money, why don’t you go to Africa, or Europe, or somewhere you’ve never been?” That didn’t work. They insisted. “No, we’re going to Brazil and Argentina, and we want you to go with us.” I repeated my “NO”, because I wanted to graduate in June with all my classmates. After a few days of mulling it over in my mind, and sick of my pace, I remembered that I prayed that God would give me a chance to visit Argentina, and conceded. That trip was part of what God already had written in my book…

In January, we visited several places in Brazil, then in February, we went to Argentina. My prayer was finally answered!! Immediately I was very impressed with the friendliness and openness of the people. The first night we were there, we attended a baptismal service in the city of Lujan, Buenos Aires. Little did I know that my future husband was in that same room! Although we didn’t meet, years later a friend sent us a picture of the group that was present, where we are both seen.  That wasn’t chance. It was written in God’s book before we were born!

Being in Argentina, we did quite a bit of traveling. I met a lot of young people in different cities, who I started writing to when we returned home. I never thought that one day I would live close to them and share life experiences with them for 27 years! Even to this very day, some of these people are among my dearest friends. Along with the letters I exchanged with these new friends, one day I got an envelope from Argentina, with the name JORGE NEMEC in the return address. I knew I never met anyone by that name, and mentioned that to my parents. In that letter, Jorge introduced himself, and gave me a little of his life story. He told me he had a personal encounter with Jesus, and that he knew that God was calling him to be a missionary. I was impressed and decided to answer him. It only costs me a postage stamp. That letter was also part of what God already had written in our book….

Part 1 of So Where Did You Meet?” was posted on February 27, if you didn’t get to read the beginning of our story. In future blogs you’ll read more of what God had written in our book. We fell in love….


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