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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