Recipe Thursday: “Greek Tacos”

Mmmm, this is a favorite!! This is a whole meal with several elements: garlic naan, sautéed chicken, cucumber-dill yogurt, and lemon rice

First, the naan. Here’s the naan recipe I use. This one took me a little while to get the hang of—especially how to gently flatten and stretch the dough balls—but it’s worth trying a few times to get the feel of it in your hand. And don’t forget about kneading some crushed garlic into the balls and putting butter in the pan and on top of the cooking naan (so on both sides). Delicious!

Next, I make cucumber-dill yogurt. I use the recipe at this link—I’ll also copy it below because there are some other recipes on the link as well. 


  • 1/2 English cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 cup plain low-fat or whole milk Greek yogurt (do not use non-fat)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill 
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.”

Next, we also cut up a chicken breast and marinate it with (loosely): 

2 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp turmeric
2 cloves fresh chopped garlic
1 tsp fresh dill

I put the cut chicken in a bag, add the above ingredients, and shake it around, then store it in the fridge until later. When I’m nearly done cooking all the naan, I put this oil, spice, chicken mixture into a pan and sauté it. 

Finally, we make lemon rice, according to this recipe. I usually leave off the last three ingredients because I often can’t find them.

Once everything is done, we put a naan on our plate, spoon some yogurt on top, and add rice and chicken. Then we roll it up and enjoy!! If you can find feta cheese, this is also delicious to add. 

This is one of our favorite meals! Enjoy!

Friday Family Update – October

We’ve had a great month here! We made a quick trip to the capital to work on renewing our visas. This trip was a huge emotional encouragement for us—it coincided with the opening of domestic flights (suspended since March) and the lifting of some additional travel restrictions of the past few months. We also had the opportunity to visit some of our coworkers there—such a blessing! 

Chyella bravely faced a COVID test and 4-year vaccines on our trip—what a plucky girl! And Jairus enjoyed exploring a new place! 

With the start of October, we were able to put Chyella back in preschool. She is soooo happy. She loves the time at school and all her friends. We’re so grateful for this opportunity for her to play with other kids. Churches has begun to open as well, so we’ve been enjoying finally worshiping together with local believers again.  

Jairus continues to be a smiley, happy boy! At 9.5 months, he’s still cruising around, and we’ve caught him standing on his own for brief moments . . . I think he’ll be walking pretty soon! 

Nathan and the local team here wrapped up a radio drama from the book of Job—20 minutes, four voices, and sound effects! They had a great time working together to create a story to encourage people here during these challenging days. Nathan has also been able to visit the rural churches to the north and south with the local pastors, to hear how God continues to sustain and use them, and to encourage them during this time.

I’ve had the opportunity this month to interview many of the local leaders here about how they disciple people in their churches to spiritual maturity. What a rich example of self-sacrificing, dedicated, humble care for the health of their people. I’m learning so much about the personal integrity and everyday obedience to God’s Word that characterizes the spiritual maturity of Malagasy people. Very thankful for this opportunity.  

Recipe Thursdays: Curry Vert

One of our favorite restaurants here in Toliara—the Blue—is owned by a German man. He and his team serve a delicious meal called Curry Vert, French for Green Curry. It’s yummy!! It’s a favorite for sure. 

When we were staying in due to COVID, we really missed this meal! I decided to tackle it myself! I needed green curry paste—you may be able to find some at your local grocery store! Here’s the paste recipe I found to make it from scratch. We were able to find most of these spices here, though not the galangal and not the kaffir lime. What is galangal, anyone? 

Then, this is the Thai green curry recipe I found to use for the whole meal—the green curry chicken with veggies and over rice. I love this recipe. The only thing I do differently is that I really don’t like touching raw chicken—even cutting it up! So I put the chicken in right after the oil, garlic, and paste and let it pan fry. I usually have to add more oil and some water, and keep turning it over. Small tenders works great for this. Then once the chicken is pan-fried I go on with the coconut milk and the rest of the recipe.


Faithful Friends: Pastor Edia

This month, we want to introduce you to Pastor Edia. I (Tessa) first met Pastor Edia in 2010. He was a part of one of the first three story-crafting groups. He is Tanalana, one of the people groups of the southwest, and he was enthusiastic about studying God’s Word. At this time, Edia was not yet a pastor. Very quickly, he became the story-teller of that group. The group would work together to create Bible stories in their dialect, and once all were satisfied, Edia would tell the story for the recording. 

Edia and I worked together for three years, meeting with the group weekly to craft stories. Week after week, the group would debate specific words choices, meanings of words and concepts in Scripture. Sometimes Edia found himself surprised by what he found in Scripture—but whenever God’s Word was different than what he had believed, he submitted his heart to God’s Word. 

The group crafted over 45 stories, which God has used all over the southwest of the island. Edia answered God’s call to obedience in believer’s baptism. He answered God’s call to serve the Baptist church as a pastor. He has followed God’s call to seminary. He also has had the opportunity to teach around the island about the helpfulness of creating oral Bible stories in each dialect. Edia continues to be instrumental in God’s work all over the island. 

Pray for Edia. Pray that the seminary will be able to reopen and he’ll be able to complete his studies. Pray for the church and cell groups he serves here in Toliara, as he continues to disciple their leaders for when he’s gone. Pray for his ever-growing depth of knowledge of God’s Word. Pray for God’s guidance, protection, and provision on his life as he continues to follow God’s call. 

Recipe Thursday: Meatball Subs

This recipe comes from one of my pregnancy cravings with Baby Jairus. Nathan and I had just moved back to Toliara, and we were watching Brooklyn 99 at night. Throughout the season, one of the characters was trying to open up a food truck serving meatball subs. Every night, the characters on the show would start talking about meatball subs, and I would get a super intense craving for this deli delight!

Nathan decided to take on the challenge! He found a meatball sandwich recipe, bought some delicious fresh bread at the bakery, and gave it a try one night for dinner. And it was delicious!! This has become one of our favorite meals. It’s now improved by doing the bread at home using a French bread recipe I wrote about last month. The crowning touch, though, was that our local grocery store started carrying sliced gouda cheese, which we melt over the top of the sandwich. Amazing! 

Recipe Thursdays: Spanish Tortilla

A few years ago we had the fun of attending a big meeting in Spain! We had a great time—we got to see a bit of both Madrid and Barcelona. Some highlights of the trip:

  • the Basílica de la Sagrada Família—This is the most incredible cathedral I’ve ever seen! I wish we could have spent much more time there. 
  • Delicious hot chocolate with churros—a must-try if you’re in Spain, in my opinion!
  • the Spanish tortilla—this filling and tasty potato dish became an immediate favorite. I thought we would never be able to reproduce it at home, but this easy Spanish tortilla recipe has made it a regular part of our monthly meal plan. We also do the tomato mixture and fresh bread with it—using that French bread recipe again! 

Now we’ve got some dear friends in Spain, so I hope we can eventually visit again! At least we can enjoy some treats from there even if not there in person! 

the beautiful Sagrada Família
Enjoying some hot chocolate and churros!

Remember the Poor . . . even in a Pandemic

Just recently, I stumbled on a wonderful collection of resources by Lausanne Conference (evangelical group for world missions) for leading through COVID-19. I was struck and convicted by what I heard from these global leaders. This webinar was put on by Lausanne to discuss the global impact of COVID-19 on the poor and vulnerable–especially majority or 3rd world contexts.

Ivan in the above video taken from that webinar, said . . .

“For those for whom survival is an issue, ya know, they don’t mind the possibility of contracting the disease [COVID-19] if that means . . . when the option is to die of hunger. And that’s what it boils down to. I think, ya know, what several speakers have pointed out this . . . The irony is, an estimated 200 to 250 people die every day in India of poor man’s diseases: diarrhea, dysentery, water-borne diseases. And that happens as a matter-of-course. So, to some extent, yes, it [government mandated social-distancing measures] is something that is protecting the middle-class, people of power and wealth, at the expense of not just inconvenience but life-threatening, existential problems that the poor are facing. And I think it’s not just a question of India, metropolitans in India, but it’s across the globe, I would imagine, it’s the same issue.”

Ivan Satyavrata

For those who are interested in this webinar, it’s linked above and I’ve also attached my Brief of the 90 minute conversation with appropriate info and quotes.

As a disclaimer, I’m really not weighing in on the Open vs. Reopen debate in America (or elsewhere for that matter). Listening to this, I was blown away by my inability to understand what poor, vulnerable communities need right now–and I live in and near  vulnerable communities in one of the poorest economies on earth!

I’m not sure exactly what to do with this either. First, we pray. Christian prayer and reflection leads us to compassion and social action. How can we join into the grief of our local and international communities who are more at risk? Reach out to those near you and those in or near at-risk places internationally, just to listen.

I am meeting with friends here locally to listen and pray. So many have already asked us for money, jobs, food . . . hope. I know I can’t just tell them God has them and hope for the best. We will have to figure out together what we can do to provide physical relief now and moving forward. It’s long overdue.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:14-17)

Coming away from this webinar, I was reminded how we have to risk coming alongside the poor and hurting communities–just as God did for us. It is how, as MLK said, the church is able to fulfill its role as the conscience of the city. I don’t know what that means for you. If we were in America, I think in some ways it’s more obvious where the pressure points are . . . even if it’s not clear what to do about it. Honestly, I don’t know what it means for us here either. But let’s not use that as an excuse for doing nothing.



Pentecost Now!

The Universe has as many different centers as there are living beings in it. Each of us is a center of the Universe,”

Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 3.

Read: Acts 2

What’s changed? If we’re looking at the world around us, maybe nothing. But that’s not where Pentecost starts. As the world-wise Solzhenitsyn wrote, any one of us is the center of the Universe. A crime against another is a crime against the universe; on the other hand, change the hearts of a few and you have started a universal revolution.

That’s what happened at Pentecost. Jesus started a heart renovation project in a few that in short order up-ended the entire world. I believe that’s what is happening today if we allow God to let his Spirit run rampant in us.


If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change

Michael Jackson, Man in the Mirror



Waiting – Day 10

“But it is exactly in common searches and shared risks that new ideas are born, that new visions reveal themselves and that new roads become visible.

We do not know where we will be two, ten or twenty years from now. What we can know, however, is that man suffers and that a sharing of suffering can make us move forward.

The minister is called to make this forward thrust credible to his many guests, so that they do not stay but have a growing desire to move on, in the conviction that the full liberation of man and his world is still to come”

Henri Nouwen, The Wounded Healer, 100.

Read: Habakkuk 3:12-19

When Habakkuk asks God what’s going to happen to his nation, God tells him he wouldn’t believe him if he told him—it’s going to be that bad! But after back and forth questioning, Habakkuk sees that even in the face of disaster—even if the economy absolutely fails (v. 17)—God can still be trusted. In fact, he rejoices that God is a God who can not only save us in the midst of a broken economy, but he will actually transform us so we can walk through the hard times (vv. 18 – 19)! What’s God doing in our nation? Let’s ask and trust God to steel us and transform us—whatever happens next.

“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”


For help understanding what’s going on in Habakkuk’s story, check out Bible Project’s Overview of the story. Plus they have a video on Hope as well.



Waiting – Day 9

Read: 2 Thessalonians 3 (see 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 for more context)

People were expecting Jesus to come any day. Some leaders were saying it was the end. But Paul reminds us to not worry when the end will come; we wait while being productive until it does. Work, feed your family, make some money so you can help those who cannot. This is not frantically working to get ahead. We can work hard without worry because God is faithful and our future is secure in Jesus. What are we filling our time with that doesn’t matter? How can we make ourselves more useful to those in need?

“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

I believe that though our current global moment is in so many ways different from the early church’s, this kind of life is the way forward. To live ordinarily and quietly, work with our hands, embrace the rhythms and realities of daily life, is seemingly mundane. However, it is actually how we engage in the great spiritual battle against the flesh and the powers and principalities. One could be fooled by such a quiet life, yet when tuned to a heavenly frequency, such a life resounds with a mighty roar.

Mark Sayers, Strange Days, 166.


  • I just finished reading Mark Sayers’ Strange Days (above quote) and he’s brilliant. He does a great job at both cultural analysis and pushing us for a more biblical, Spirit-fueled life. It helped me make sense of some of what’s going on around us now, how we got here. Plus, his advice on living a scaled-back life landed with me because of where we are right now. Check it out! You can also listen to him on the This Cultural Moment podcast.