Souper Supper Recipes: Week 2 of 4

The annual GPC Souper Supper will be held virtually on Zoom on Sunday, January 31.
We collected soup, stew, and chili recipes from our members which can be found here on the blog and in the weekly Thursday e-blasts during the month of January. There will be three recipes shared each week.
Here is the second week of recipes:
Questions? Contact Sue F.


Souper Supper Recipes: Week 1 of 4

January is National Soup Month so you might find it exciting to know that the annual GPC Souper Supper will be held virtually on Zoom on Sunday, January 31.
We love soup not only for the satisfaction it gives us but just as much for the people with whom we share it. Soup is good for the soul!
We collected soup, stew, and chili recipes from our members which can be found here on the blog and in the weekly Thursday e-blasts during the month of January. There will be three recipes shared each week. Here is the first week of recipes:
Questions? Contact Sue F.


Devotions: Transitions

Transitions are challenging for most people. They define a season of change and a time when a part of life is undefined or uncertain. My most recent life transition is the one I am currently in, the transition from college to the “real world.” I graduated from the University of Maryland this past May. Although I anticipated the transition to be challenging in some respects, I did not expect to be confronted by a pandemic and one of the worst job markets since the Great Depression. My plans for creating more memories with friends, attending graduation, and starting a job upon graduation were all taken away in a matter of weeks. The 3-week transition period I had planned for post-graduation turned to 4 months with no distinct end.
Despite all this, I have experienced indescribable peace and comfort from Christ during this season. There are two verses of scripture that I have hidden in my heart and have used to remain optimistic over these past few months. The first is Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” There is great comfort in knowing that when it seems as though your way of life has been uprooted and everything around you seems to be changing, you can remain grounded in Christ. Since Christ is unchanging, so are his promises. His promises for grace, mercy, provision, and strength to persevere in any circumstance.
The second verse is Jeremiah 29:11, a Christian favorite, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” This verse reminds me to take a step back from my situation and try to view it with a godly perspective. It reminds me of the sovereignty of God in my life. He is a good God who created me for a purpose, and I have to allow him to work through me to fulfill that purpose. So when some of my carefully thought out life plans are disrupted, instead of sitting in despair for too long, I turn to God for clarity of where He is at work and for reassurance that what He has for me is better and fulfills a kingdom purpose.
In context, Jeremiah 29:11 was declared to the Israelites after being told that they would be in exile for 70 years. To me, that shows that God’s plan requires patience and trust, and throughout scripture, He has promised to provide the strength and endurance to withstand any season. Just as God recommended that the Israelites get comfortable and continue their lives in Babylonian captivity, I decided to do the same during this time of transition. In the past few months, I have rediscovered my love for serving, working out, cooking, reading, and panting. I have also been consistent with having quiet times with God, a goal I have had difficulty with for years.
Whenever we find ourselves in times of change, we should embrace the uncertainty, find ways to prosper in that season, and focus on the ways that God continues to work in our lives.
–Jane Njihia
Jane recently took — and passed — her Fundamentals of Engineering exam, the first step in becoming a licensed engineer.


From the Mainstream: Honeybees & Covid

What have Carol and I been doing since COVID-19 raced around the world shuttering the world’s economy? As a Realtor and a beekeeper, I have stayed busy as an essential worker. For the most part, as a Realtor, work has evolved, more Zoom calls and fewer face-to-face meetings. But not for the bees. Bees are all hands on, but the benefits are so very sweet.

Honeybees are not native to North America. There are about 4,400 bee species in North America, and a little over 400 bee species in Maryland. Most of Maryland’s native bees are solitary bees and do not build colonies like the honeybee or the native bumblebees. The honeybee was brought to North America with the first colonist and the honeybee spread throughout the continent. Indeed, the Native Americans called them “white man’s flies” because they usually arrived just before the settlers did as they moved west. Feral hives in the wild were more common than now for a variety of reasons. For example, a few years ago, Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), was described. We have not seen CCD for several years now and it is thought to have been caused by a virus. But the bees are still struggling, and we lose about 60% of our hives a year in this area alone. Why are they dying? There are several reasons: loss of habitat, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, and disease. Right now, the Varroa Destructor Mite or Varroa Mite is one of the biggest culprits. It attaches to the underside of a bee and sucks the fats out of the liver, weakening the bee and transmitting disease. This means that every week I am working with my bees or doing something for my bees to keep them alive.

Carol and I find that going into the hives and husbanding the bees is very relaxing. Yes, honeybees are considered a type of livestock. They are so relaxing to watch. I am not afraid of being stung and do not wear gloves, just a veil and a jacket most of the year. Many of my fellow beekeepers just wear shorts, a T-shirt, and a veil most of the time as honeybees are not normally aggressive. The bees tend to be cranky in July and August when it is hot, the colony is at its largest size of around 60,000 bees, and they do not have much to eat. We call this time of year for the bees the dearth, the nectar flow has slowed down. I know I get cranky when I am hot and hungry so how can I blame them.
I can go check on my bees, expecting to spend an hour, and when I look at my watch it will be 3 or 4 hours later. Taking care of the bees gets us outside. We have hives in the backyard and at Soleado Lavender Farm in the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain. It is so idyllic. We harvested the honey the first of July because that is when the nectar flow slows down around DC area. Most of the nectar in this area comes from the Black Locust Tree and the Tulip Tree (Tulip Poplar) but we call the honey Wildflower Honey because the nectar comes from many sources. A bee will travel up to three miles to a nectar source and a single bee makes only 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in its life. During the dearth, July through September, we will be feeding the bees sugar water so that they have enough stores to get them through the winter.This is also the time we treat them for Varroa Mites. In the fall we will balance out the hives, and in the winter, we will feed them fondant, a food supplement made for the bees. In the spring we will check on the bees, and around St. Patrick’s Day we will start putting a box called a honey super on the hives.

I started beekeeping because I found that my garden was not being pollinated the way I hoped, and I had noticed a sharp decline in native pollinators in the yard. One-third of the food that we eat is produced because of the pollination done by pollinators such as bees. But I also did not realize how much work it is to keep bees. As beekeepers we visit the bees weekly in order to keep the bees alive. The only downtime is in the winter when on a warm day we check to see if the bees have enough food, it is also a time to prepare and repair equipment for the following year. Overall, beekeeping is a very rewarding hobby. Carol and I enjoy the drives out into the Agricultural Reserve, and since both of us have farming backgrounds, it is a way to revisit our roots. I also feel beekeeping allows us a way to be closer to God.To have a teaspoon of sweet honey is always so special. Honey is mentioned in the Bible 61 times so it must be good!

—David Mecklenburg& Carol Anderson


PDA Mission Trip #27 (Cumberland, MD): Day 4

Day 4 – We’ve melded into one work group at the Race Street house . . . all hands on deck – or porch, as the case may be. The dreaded rain that spurred an outdoor painting marathon yesterday was much lighter than predicted today, allowing us to not only finish all the painting and touch-ups on the porch, but also add molding, baseboards, and trim. 
There was one additional round of sanding the drywall (and vacuuming the dust) before we were ready to begin painting the dining room, stairs, and upstairs hallway. In addition, we decided to fix one of the cabinets and drawers in the kitchen. By the time our day ended, everything except the hallway ceiling had been given a first coat of paint, and the cabinet was basically back to normal.
Our homeowner spent much of the day watching us work and reading, several times expressing how nice everything looked and also a feeling of safety. Tomorrow we’ll complete a second coat of paint where needed, finish the kitchen drawers, and clean up, leaving the house looking as if we had never been there.
We thank the First Presbyterian Church of Cumberland for hosting us, the NAILS organization for directing our work, and all the volunteers who contributed their time and skills in carpentry, painting, etc. and COOKING!!  And most of all, we thank God for the good health and friendships we enjoyed!

Trip Participants:

Bob and Maxine Aldridge, Carol Anderson, Bruce Andrews, Cecilia and Edco Bailey, Ella Bastine, Lucille Baur, Carol Bunch, Dottie and Lynn Cairns, Dave Francis, Mary Beth Lawrence, Abby Lindstrom, Elisa McClelland, Russ Madsen, David Mecklenburg, Stuart Morrison, Alexandra Parker, Mel Reid, Fletcher Tukes, Steve C. Ward, and Bob and Mary Wasik