March 2013 Update
Ed & Dorothy Woods (1971)
Dear Ministry Friends,
After a recent Saturday afternoon of teaching our students (Chinese professors and families) how to make pizza, someone enthusiastically offered, “Now we can teach you to make dumplings!” With notebook in hand, we set out as learners of this ancient Chinese dietary delight. Hence emerged “The Parable of the Pot Stickers.” It has many ministry implications.
Dumplings (or pot stickers) are difficult to make and very time consuming. The vision of plump, tasty pot stickers motivates throughout the long process. Preparation is orderly, involving purchasing and utilizing many different ingredients, from salmon, seaweed, and tofu to pork, carrots, onions, and celery. Everything for the filling is chopped fine and mixed well. The dough (or skin) requires energy, then rest, then more kneading, then rest until it is the right consistency. When I asked, “How much flour?,” the response was, “We just know by experience.” The dough is rolled like play-doh to a precise diameter, then sliced thin. (“This thin?” “No, that’s too big. Thinner.” Then each piece is rolled into a flat, 3” circle, with the middle a little thicker than the edges.
Next, each future dumpling receives just the right amount of filling, which is then carefully covered by the skin and formed into a crescent shape, the edges pinched and pressured—gently and skillfully—into a fluted half-moon. Done yet? No! The above takes much time, shortened if there are many helpers. (When the children are old enough to want to help, they, too, become part of the team.) Practice coupled with anticipation results in 100 dumplings ready for the pot. The water is boiling; the dumplings are added, and I think, “Good! They’ll be ready soon.” Wrong! After the first re-boil, more water, then another re-boil, more water, then a third, till the dumplings float freely on top.
Finally a heaping plate of perfect (or not so perfect) pot stickers graces the middle of the table, around which gather the happy—and hungry—family members. How are the dumplings enjoyed? One at a time. With each mouthful, we are strengthened, refreshed, and motivated to do it again next time. The results are definitely worth the long and hard work!
In case the lessons are not obvious enough, here are a few. First there is preparation: relationships established through personal time together via ESL classes and activities. Everyone involved has the attitude of a learner, because we all are to be learners. Ingredients cost money, as do ministry resources. Easter Saturday we will host 15-20 students and team workers for Easter dinner and another opportunity to sow the seed. God called home the McNicols, longtime supporters and surrogate grandparents for our kids, so our support is now at about 74% and could use a boost. Time is invested, including travel to supporting churches to give updates. It’s hard to leave here for that when things are going so well. Patience is necessary. A new teen Bible study using “The Story of Hope” involves 3 Chinese girls while their parents attend the interactive Sunday morning Bible study. We continue again and again inputting God’s Word into lives, knowing that “some sow, others water, but GOD gives the increase.”
The results? God is answering prayer; inquiring minds and hearts are asking many questions and showing serious interest in the Word. The pot is still boiling, and we trust to see the process completed with the salvation of students. Rejoice with us in God’s working; pray for us and our students; and next time you eat dumplings, remember us.
In His service, Ed and Dorothy Woods
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