I find myself chuckling as I attempt to describe corndogs to the group of children in front of me. As I describe the concept of a hotdog wrapped in corn bread and fried they turn up their noses in disgust. Today, we are studying the English words for some of my favorite foods– hamburgers, spaghetti, steak, tacos. But to the kids that come to English Club each week, these are mostly foreign foods.
They are familiar with many of the foods and their English names––fish, fried chicken, rice, French fries. When we get to “pizza” they get excited, proclaiming how tasty pizza is, but when I ask them to raise their hands if they’ve actually tried it, only about half of them raise their hands.
Other foods are completely foreign––like tacos. They’ve never even heard the word. The picture I hold up doesn’t help them much. “It has vegetables,” one boy proclaims. Another adds, “And potatoes on top!”
My friend and I share a conspiratorial glance. She has made up a batch of tacos for the children to sample and we can’t wait to see their reactions. The ingredients for the simple dish came from far and wide. It took some effort to gather them, but we know it will be worth it.
When we finally bring out our taco treat, it is hilarious to see the children’s faces as we hand them their bite-sized taco. Unsure of how to take their first bite, the kids poke at their tacos with a finger, picking out a little taste of the meat, a tiny bite of cheese. Several smile shyly at me when I ask what they think and it’s easy to see that they are struggling with this strange American food. We are surprised when about half of them come back for seconds, though many ask for no meat this time … or no tomatoes … or just the “chip.”
As I watch these kids gamely trying our tacos, I am filled with awe and joy. What a gift, what a blessing, to serve in this far-flung corner of the world, to see these faces before me and to share a little bit of American food and, hopefully, Jesus with them each week as they come to study English. Like so many other experiences I’ve had in Indonesia, this was one I never could have imagined in my wildest dreams.