Connecting With Your Missionary Through Food | Wycliffe Bible Translators

Connecting With Your Missionary Through Food

  • August 1, 2022
  • By: Emily Lupfer
man and woman cooking in a kitchen

When I was in college, my friends and I enjoyed having progressive dinners. A progressive dinner means that we would start at one friend’s apartment for appetizers, then travel together to another friend’s home for the next course and so on. Progressive dinners are kind of like potlucks but with some steps — or miles, if you’re driving to each spot — in between!

Our progressive dinners would typically follow a theme centered around a holiday, movie or type of cuisine. You can participate in your own progressive dinner by traveling further than my friends and I ever did — to different regions of the world for each course. (No passport necessary!)

This menu invites you to “travel” to different regions of the world through your taste buds. Visit Africa for appetizers, Asia for soup, the Americas for your entrée, Europe for a side dish and the Pacific for dessert. And as you explore the recipes you’ll encounter different ways to connect with your missionary friends serving around the world. After all, food brings people together — no matter where you’re located!


Appetizer: Somali Sambusas

Somali Sambusas

These savory triangle wraps from Somalia can be filled with different kinds of meat (feel free to substitute with other meats or veggies) and are the perfect way to kick off your dinner around the world.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 package spring roll wrappers (rice or wheat)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon water (or as needed)
  • Oil for frying

What You’ll Do:

  1. 1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. 2. Add onions, leek and garlic. Cook until the onions are translucent.
  3. 3. Add ground beef and start cooking it.
  4. 4. Season meat with cumin, cardamom, salt and pepper when it is about halfway cooked. Mix it well, and keep cooking the meat until it’s browned.
  5. 5. Once it’s done, set the skillet with meat aside while you get the wrappers ready.
  6. 6. In a small dish or cup, mix together the flour and water to make a thin paste.
  7. 7. To make the sambusas, put the unsoaked wrappers on a work surface.
  8. 8. Fold wrapper into a cone, sealing the sides with paste so that only the top side of the cone is open (like an ice cream cone).
  9. 9. Spoon about a tablespoon of the mixture into the center of each wrapper (or less, depending on how big the wrapper is).
  10. 10. Using your finger, seal the top edges of the wrappers with the paste. Now you’ll have a wrapper that looks like a triangle!
  11. 11. Keep forming the sambusas until you run out of wrappers or filling.
  12. 12. Heat the oil in a big pot until it’s hot enough to fry the sambusas. There should be enough oil in the pan so that the wraps are fully covered as they cook.
  13. 13. Fry the sambusas, a couple at a time, until they’re golden brown. Take them out, and place them onto paper towels, patting gently to soak up the extra oil.

While It Cooks:

Do you consider yourself a picky eater? When missionaries move overseas for the first time, they often have to adjust to a new diet and type of cuisine. Ask your missionary friends if there is a local food they were reluctant to try at first but enjoyed. Consider giving that food a chance if you can find it wherever you live!


Soup: Asian Khao Soi

Asian Khoa Soi

Continue your dinner with khao soi — a soup dish from Southeast Asia with a coconut milk base. Cut back on the spice if you prefer a milder version or keep some Sriracha hot sauce handy if you’re feeling adventurous!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup deep-fried fine egg noodles
  • 2 cups boiled egg noodles
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cups coconut milk, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 spring onion
  • 3 chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons pickled cabbage
  • 1 lime cut into quarters

What You’ll Do:

  1. 1. Put the boiled egg noodles in a bowl and set aside.
  2. 2. Mix together red curry paste, the yellow curry powder and cilantro in a small bowl.
  3. 3. In a wok (or frying pan, if you don’t have a wok), pour the oil and turn the heat on low. Add the curry/cilantro mixture, and stir continuously until it starts to smell good.
  4. 4. Add chicken, onion and 1/4 cup coconut milk to the curry/cilantro mixture. Stir constantly until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. 5. Add the remaining coconut milk. Turn the heat to medium and continue stirring.
  6. 6. Add the fish sauce (or soy sauce) and the sugar. Mix well.
  7. 7. Pour this into the bowl with the boiled egg noodles, and add deep-fried egg noodles on top.
  8. 8. Remove from heat. Serve with pickled cabbage, lime and shallots.

While It Cooks:

Reach out to your missionary serving overseas and ask them what food they miss the most from their home country. Consider using this information as a reminder to pray for your missionary whenever you encounter their favorite food. (And if it’s possible, you can surprise them with the food item in a care package!)


Main: Lomo Saltado

Lomo Saltado

Dig into lomo saltado for your main course, a savory Peruvian dish with beef, rice, veggies and potato. Potatoes originated in Peru so it’s no surprise that they make an appearance in this popular dish!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 pound steak or lean beef, cut into thin strips
  • Soy sauce
  • 2-4 tablespoons oil for frying
  • 1 big onion, sliced in long strips
  • Half a red or green sweet pepper, sliced in thin strips
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt, pepper and cumin to taste
  • Either homemade french fries or one bag of frozen fries
  • Rice

What You’ll Do:

  1. 1. Marinate beef in soy sauce for one hour.
  2. 2. Heat oil in a large frying pan, then add the beef and start cooking it.
  3. 3. Once the beef is almost cooked, add the onions and sweet peppers, cooking until almost tender.
  4. 4. Add the tomatoes, stirring gently. Turn down the heat.
  5. 5. Let the tomatoes cook for about five minutes (until the juice cooks into a light sauce).
  6. 6. Season to taste with pepper and cumin (a light shake of cumin gives this dish a very Peruvian flavor!).
  7. 7. Spoon on top of the french fries, sprinkle on the fresh parsley and serve with rice.

While It Cooks:

Lomo saltado is a favorite dish of Danny and Luis, two missionary kids who live in Peru. Do you know what your missionary’s favorite local meals are where they’re serving? Consider adding their favorite recipe to your progressive dinner around the world. You could even send them pictures of how your re-creation turns out the next time you write to or email them!


Side: Bulgarian Cheese Banitsa

Bulgarian Cheese Banitsa

Banitsa is a popular cheese-filled pastry that originated in Bulgaria. It’s the perfect side to provide a touch of a sweet in an otherwise savory meal.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 1⁄4 cups feta cheese
  • 1 cup Greek-style yogurt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Cooking oil (vegetable, canola or olive works)
  • Butter
  • One package thawed phyllo dough sheets

What You’ll Do:

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. 2. Whisk egg in a bowl.
  3. 3. Add cheese and yogurt into the egg mixture, breaking apart the cheese with a fork.
  4. 4. Add baking soda to the mixture.
  5. 5. Lay out two sheets of phyllo dough and cut them into quarters.
  6. 6. Drip oil on dough (just a few drops here and there).
  7. 7. Put a spoonful of the cheese and egg mixture on the dough in the center of each square.
  8. 8. Fold the squares into pouches.
  9. 9. Repeat with additional sheets of phyllo dough until you run out of mixture.
  10. 10. Put a pat of butter on top of each banitsa.
  11. 11. Bake until they’re browned on top, about 10-12 minutes.

While It Bakes:

What would a dinner menu look like if it was made exclusively with dishes from the country or region where your missionary is serving? Use this opportunity to research and learn more about the local culture and cuisines, and consider putting together a similar menu for your next international meal!


Dessert: Coconut Cake

Coconut Cake

End your dinner around the world with a slice of coconut cake from the island nation of Vanuatu. You might not be able to schedule a beach getaway anytime soon, but a bite of this easy-to-prepare cake might just provide the tropical flavors you’ve been craving.

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 cups fresh grated coconut (you could substitute dried coconut, but the cake may not be as moist)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 8 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

What You’ll Do:

  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
  2. 2. Let the butter soften. Then mix the sugar and butter together with an electric mixer until light and creamy.
  3. 3. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing them in well.
  4. 4. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and grated coconut into the bowl.
  5. 5. Butter and flour a 9-inch round or square baking pan and pour the mixture into it.
  6. 6. Bake for 60-90 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

While It Bakes:

As a partner in the work of Wycliffe, one of the most important things you can do is pray for your missionary friends. As you prepare food — whether the recipes are from your missionary’s overseas location or somewhere else in the world — pray for them, their ministry and the work they’re doing to advance Bible translation.


  • That God will open doors of ministry, blessing partnerships and friendships.
  • That the Holy Spirit will provide missionaries with words that communicate effectively in other cultures and languages.
  • Against evil forces that would seek to hinder the spread of the gospel.
  • That an abundant harvest will be produced as more people learn about the love of Christ.
  • For required permissions to be granted for travel (visas and passports) and for necessary
  • funds for tickets and fees.
  • For protection and provision during travel.
  • For God’s grace and favor when challenges or obstacles appear on any journey.
  • That an abundant harvest will be produced as more people learn about the love of Christ.

These recipes were adapted from “Cooking With Kate & Mack” and “Lessons from Lesser Knowns” — a dinner party devotional.

Looking for additional ways to connect with your missionary friends? Explore five meaningful ways to be an encouragement to missionaries serving around the world.