Missionary Hacks

Two weeks ago, I learned something very important.  Something that I wish I had known a year ago.  Something that will improve our quality of life here in Japan.

I learned how to make sour cream.

This may not seem like anything of value to you, but to me…. Let’s just say that the night before we left to visit home, my eyes gleamed at the thought of sour cream 1/4 the price that I would pay here.  Which means that we don’t buy it except in special circumstances.

Anyway, one enlightening conversation and practice with an American missionary of 15 years and I was in awe.  Milk, cornstarch, lemon juice and salt and viola! And things get even creamier with if you use whipping cream instead of milk.

BUT WAIT.  It gets better. Add a few spices, particularly dill, and you have ranch dressing! OR make some french onion dip!

Guys, this is really amazing.  I attempted to make sour cream from a website I checked out last summer.  Yeah.  Didn’t work.  But this one did! Sure, the consistency was a bit off, but I’ll take what I can get!! Besides, this was the feeling of home.

Anyway, this got me thinking about missionary hacks… things we do and use on the field when our cherished or needed items are unavailable or too expensive to be reasonable.

After checking in with some missionaries on the field, here are some of hacks that we’ve ingeniously picked up!

-One family on the field learned how to their own pancake syrup, as syrup in many countries is a wee bit expensive in many countries.  The same amount that you’d buy in a Jemima bottle in the States would cost about $10 or more here. I plan on trying this out soon… we’ve just had plain pancakes or used jam on them if we had it in the house.

-I’ve heard that if you boil milk and then add lemon juice, it will make it curdle immediately and then you get ricotta cheese.  But it’s not quite worth the expense for the amount you get (at least here).

-I’ve heard that you can make vanilla extract with a vanilla bean and vodka and a long time.  But for many serving overseas, buying a bottle of vodka for whatever reason would cost them their testimony.

-One missionary suffered from ear infections and was told by the doctor to just use vinegar to wash out the ear to restore the ph balance. Vinegar is also good for the stomach and cleaning out your system.

-I had an infection pop up over a long holiday when all the doctors offices would be closed.  I’d heard that garlic is a natural antibiotic.  So yes.  I chewed two cloves of garlic a day- I have no words for that experience- but it cleared right up.

-My wonderful senior missionary Vonda taught me to make a burn cream (when I blew my face up when lighting the water heater pilot light for the first time) out of vaseline and diaper rash cream. It works fabulously and can even be used for a bad sunburn.

-It’s a common remedy for almost anything in Mexico and Latin America to use lime and salt water– particularly for sore throats.  I also read somewhere that lime, native to those areas, are a natural remedy for many of the particularly things they suffer from.  I remember being impressed when I read the article, so take it for what it’s worth to you.

-And I heard from the parent of one MK that they made a make shift jump rope out of turkey intestines that the parent had just killed for their first Thanksgiving Dinner.

Granted, most of these things you can find on Google these days (thank God for the internet!)– so the thoughts may not seem as novel to you.  But many of the things that we can find in the grocery store with our eyes closed are unavailable in other countries. So, we learn to be clever and learn how to make our own cake flour.

So, if you have any tips and tricks for me, post a comment below.  I’m always interested in finding new solutions or doing things in a cheaper way!