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Saturday, April 23, 2011

sweet bonds

I was asked to bring an American cookbook the last time I came. Instead of bringing an entire cookbook I brought a collection of recipes. Before coming to Zim again this time, I was kindly prompted again to please bring a full American cookbook. I decided to donate one of my own, a good old-fashioned Better Homes and Garden recipe book. I presented the book to Fatima and the kids and there was much celebration about it. Now, I completely understand that their food supply is limited and low. I wasn't really sure what they could accomplish with the book, but decided it wasn't for me to worry about. A couple of days after my arrival, one of the staff ladies (Yvonne approx age 29) asked if I could teach her how to bake cakes. No one here in the teenage home has ever witnessed baking. Never. I agreed and went shopping. I had to spend a small fortune to acquire every ingredient, but yesterday I worked with all of the girls, including the adult staff and even some of the younger girls from one of the other orphange units....and we baked all day. We made 4 cakes. I instructed and oversaw the process for 3 cakes and then the final cake they had to do on their own. If joy, pleasure and pride could float, it would have been hovering over this house. We even made homemade butter cream icing and the girls all got to share icing the cakes. And would you believe that I made my first ever pineapple upside down cake in Africa? That is funny to me.

The challenges were many. First of all, in Zim they measure everything in grams and kg's and ml's of which I know nothing about and neither does my cookbook (now theirs). But even so, this home does not have a measuring cup or spoon of any kind, let alone the American kind. We had to improvise, but this is a practice they are more than used and now, so am I. We took a plastic green cup and pretended it equaled one cup and then we measured everything by it. In truth, it was more than one cup, so when using the actual table spoon or the actual tea spoon to measure those ingredients, we added a little more to try and accomodate. I think everything turned out fine. We did manage to destroy one of the cakes because we did not cook it long enough and learned that the inside was still creamy. We cooked it longer and then covered it all up with icing so that the boys wouldn't know that it was messed up. And indeed, they did not know. The cake was gone in about 14 seconds flat. There might have been some tummy aches, but I warned them. They determined the ache to be a gift that they would receive mightily. Ha. (I love it).

The icing on my cake day was at the end. I have been really blessed while I have been here this time to form a great relationship with Winnet. Winnet is 26 years old and is currently working on her MBA. She is on the staff here, very thankfully she is not orphaned although she has had a very rough background. She has a mother whom she loves very much. Winnet is in charge of the teenagers here at the orphanage. She is their live in matron, but she also works on the business side of the orphanage with Fatima. Winnet is beyond remarkable. There are no words truly to describe her. The wisdom that she holds is for that of an 80 year old woman. She has incredible business wisdom, remarkable relational wisdom and above all, she has a keen and glorious spiritual wisdom. She is an observer of all things and of all things she learns something valuable. And then of what she learns, she teaches. She and I have taken a strong bond with one another. It is going to be so deeply painful to leave Winnet. She comes into my room at night and we can talk for hours. And she is normalyl the first to give me a hug in the morning, and her hug is made of love and strength. There is no denying that this young woman, with wisdom far superior to my own, is my sister. The last time I was in Zim she was completely professional and reserved. This time she is the joy of the room at all times. She reminded me last night during our private talk that when I was in Zim last time I wrote each person a personal letter. She shared with me that she reads the letter I wrote to her about once per month at the end of the month and that she is inspired and encouraged by my love for all of them. I couldn't have believed that my letter would have made that much of a difference, but I sure am enjoying the joyful, praise filled, prayerful, glorious Winnet. How blessed the children are to have her. She is a mighty woman of God. She is also hilarious. I will remember her all of the days of my life.

To view a photo of Winnett please go to


  1. Hi Melissa,

    It sounds like you had a blast baking! I'm impressed that you all managed to bake 4 cakes without measuring cups/spoons. If I tried that, I'd have messed it up for sure! :)

  2. I'm totally going to do this with some of my kids on my next visit. So fun. Oh, and Winnet is beautiful. I am pretty sure I can see her wisdom from your picture :)

  3. I absolutely love that you baked those cakes with them. I'm so glad that you and Winnet have been blessed with such an incredible bond! What a gift!

  4. Winnet is a beautiful young woman! you have had a blessed trip... Sharon

  5. Winnet is beautiful. I want to know her.