Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Housewarming Soup

Well... we've decided. Over the next several days, we are moving our stuff out of storage in Vancouver and into the third floor of my parents' house in Seattle. I thought I would celebrate with a recipe. There's plenty to celebrate, since we just had our 5th anniversary last Friday! We went out for a fancy "sunset dinner" at the Crystal Mountain Summit House (see above picture)!

Anyway, on to the previously mentioned recipe. I thought it would be appropriate as a "housewarming" post to write about something we harvested out of our yard...

Revenge Soup
Yes, you read that right. Let me explain. This is a soup made with stinging nettles. I cannot tell you how many times I was stung by them as a child. It really does the nasty little things justice to turn them into a nutritious soup. BWA HA HA HA HA!!!!!

A couple days ago, Keith and I decided on a whim to make nettle soup. I started by searching the internet for ideas. To my amusement, I discovered that people actually pay good money for nettles at farmer's markets. We, on the other hand, put on heavy gloves and walked down to the end of my parents' driveway to harvest ours.

  • Olive oil or butter
  • 2 large onions, coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, or more if you like, minced
  • A couple sprigs of rosemary and lemon thyme, leaves removed from stems and minced
  • A large pot of young nettles, perhaps 3-4 pounds, coarsely chopped
  • 12 c vegetable stock
  • 3/4 c uncooked basmati rice
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Corn starch to thicken (optional)

Seasoning options
  • Lemon juice
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Cooking sake
  • Soy sauce
  • Shichimi tougarashi (or another hot pepper blend)

Heat the oil or butter in a frying pan over low heat. Add the onions and cook them over low heat for at least 15 minutes, or as much as an hour, until they have caramelized. Add the garlic and herbs, and cook for a few more minutes.

Meanwhile, put the nettles and vegetable stock in a large pot, and bring to a boil. (I didn't chop the nettles, but you may want to do so, since otherwise you get lots of fibrous clumps which get stuck in the blender. Just make sure you wear heavy gloves!)

When the nettles cook down so there is room in the pot, add the onion mixture and rice. Cook for about 15 minutes until the rice is tender.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup.

If the soup is not as thick as you want it, make a slurry of cornstarch and water, and add it to the soup. Season to taste with some or all of the suggestions I listed above. Serve plain or top with yogurt, pan-fried tofu chunks, or halloumi cheese.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

June Newsletter

Keith and Celia Olson
Newsletter #5, June 30, 2010

Dear friends and family,

Praise God, we’ve been appointed as members of OMF International! We just finished Candidate Course, an intensive 2-week training and interview session… it was “the job interview that never ends.” Towards the end of the second week, we felt a bit like we did at Regent College during finals week. Despite exhaustion, we are very relieved that we have been appointed and thankful for the times of fellowship we have had with the other missionary candidates and staff.

We have tentatively expressed interest in attending Orientation Course in Singapore in February 2011 and then arriving in Sapporo, where we will resume language school, in March. We will need to have medical and financial clearance before we can go, and while we wait, we will continue to gain experience and training which will help us when we return to Japan.

Unfortunately, we still have no news regarding new home and work at present, though we may be coming close to a decision. Please continue to pray with us for discernment!

Celebrating the completion of candidate course


Communication Update

Being full members of OMF International comes with some perks: among other things, the nice people in the OMF office will edit, print, and mail our prayer letters for us. While we were short-term missionaries, Celia’s mother printed and mailed our newsletters for us, bless her. I’m
sure she’s glad that someone else is going to take on that role now! However, since we will no longer be handling the print copies ourselves, we need your help to get things started on the new system.

If you are interested in partnering with us (specifically, receiving our newsletter and praying for us), we would like to ask you to do one of three things:
  1. For a paper copy of our prayer letters, you can sign up by visiting the OMF International website.
  2. If want to receive prayer letters by email, and you are not currently on our list, please email us directly, and we will add you to the list. Likewise, if you are currently receiving a paper copy, please let us know if you would like to only receive an email copy.
  3. If you are already receiving our prayer letters by email and you want to continue as you currently are, you don’t need to do anything. We will continue to send you our letters by email unless you tell us to stop. We love to hear from you, though, so you can email us if you want, too.
(If you need a reason to sign up to receive our newsletter rather than simply reading it on the blog, there are actually some things I left out in this version, since I didn't think it was appropriate to publish them on the internet.)


Prayer Points
  • Satsunae Lighthouse, our church in Japan, called a pastor! Praise God! Please continue to pray for their transition, and for Tony and Pat Schmidt, the current pastors, as they prepare for retirement in Vancouver. We have mixed feelings, as we had hoped to work with Tony and Pat again!
  • We’re very thankful to be done with candidate course and appointed!
  • The next step for us is personal preparation and partnership development. We will need people to pray for us and to support us financially. We need 100% pledged monthly support before our departure. Please pray with us that God will provide for us the means to return to Japan in his timing. We are confident; in the words of Hudson Taylor, the founder of OMF International, “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.”
  • Celia’s grandparents recently moved to a new home, and it has been a hard transition. Please pray also for Celia’s mom, who is supporting them.
  • Safety in upcoming travel: we are going to Brazil in August for a wedding, and we anticipate visiting many friends and churches to share about our work in Japan.
  • Continued discernment: we are still deciding where we will live and work.

Many ways to get involved

Other than reading our prayer letters and praying for us, there are, in fact, other ways you can partner with us in our work. We have been learning about the importance of partners in Candidate
Course. We've been compiling a much more extensive list on our "get involved" page, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
  • Host us at your church, prayer group, or Bible study group to talk about Japan and the needs of the Japanese church. We love to talk about Japan. We can help you to pray more effectively for the Japanese people, the Japanese church, and the work of OMF International missionaries, including us.
Celia will come to your church wearing a kimono.

  • Learn about Japanese culture. See our "get involved" page for some suggestions.
  • Befriend Japanese (or other) international students, many of whom have never been invited inside a North American home.

Money Jar

We just started, so there’s nothing there yet. We’ll keep you updated. 
Please keep praying!


Wow, that was a lot of information. If you’re still awake, let me commend you and thank you for reading. The next letter will have fewer instructions, we promise. There will also be prayer cards with our pictures on them, so you have that to look forward to! (Edit: I'm not sure if we will be able to post the prayer card on the blog, so if you want one, please make sure we have your address so we can mail you one.) Thanks again for your prayers during the candidate course; it really meant a lot to us to know that so many people were praying.

Blessings, Keith and Celia