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30th December 2012

Hangari Kimchi

19 Woolley St, Dickson, Canberra ACT

In a street full of Asian restaurants, why not try something a little unusual? Although Korean food hasn’t made a big splash in the West, this small restaurant makes a good case for it. The centre of our meal was the Dubu-Beosoet-Jeongo, a hot-pot of tofu, several kinds of mushrooms (large, small and floppy), vermicelli, carrots, white onions, shallots and greens in a spicy stock with plenty of pepper that is cooked on a little stove on your table. It’s a wonderfully hearty stew that would be very warming on a cold day and is welcome on a hot one. We also enjoyed the Maewun-Jabchae, a dark stir-fry of noodles made from sweet potatoes and veggies that is a bit hard to divide into shares, the only cutlery on the table being chopsticks and long spoons. The entrees include Yachae-Jjinmandu, a dish of steamed vegetables and tofu, and Ddeokkochi, fried rice cakes served like kebabs on skewers that come with sweet chilli sauce. Four condiments, ranging from extremely spicy to bland, are placed on the table: kimchi, the alleged super-food of cabbage fermented with red chilli after which the restaurant is named, flat green beans, sprouts and strands of potato, not cooked to the extent they would be in the West. This is a most interesting and enjoyable cuisine that we should all know better.

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15th October 2012

ROCOR mission on Bukasa Island, Uganda

This is a followup to my last posting in the category of Orthodox Missionaries. I highlighted the FFA (Fund for Assistance) operated by ROCOR since 1959. It led me to reading about the Orthodox Church on Bukasa Island, Uganda.

“I have almost come to the end of the wall. I sometimes can’t afford to buy the church wine. This means I have to miss the Holy Liturgy… I trust in the Lord for everything,” wrote Fr Christopher Walusimbi in an email to the FFA. Fr Christopher is the first African priest ordained in ROCOR.

Bukasa Island overlooks Lake Victoria, and is the second largest of the 84 islands in the Sessee archipelago. It is a remote and dangerous place to get to. Poverty is rampant, and there is no health care or electricity. Most people survive by growing and selling produce.

Here, in the midst of Africa, stands a beautiful Russian Orthodox Church, complete with multi-coloured Russian style cupola, built by Fr Christopher, who is not only a priest, but a representative to the District Educational Committee, a Board member at two other school committees, is considered an elder in the community, and is a popular person to consult within any family crisis.

Despite being over 60 years old, Fr Christopher is very active. He is involved with helping children orphaned by AIDS. For the past 25 years he has run an ambulance service from the island to the mainland. Besides serving every Saturday and Sunday, hearing confessions, and taking care of his parish and other duties, Fr Christopher has to take care of his own large family; he has a wife and ten children. The family survives on their own produce and donations from people who know his difficult situation.

Even though the parish comprising of over 100 parishioners has never yet been able to pay him a salary, Fr Christopher feels responsible for their financial as well as spiritual well-being. He continually looks for ways to help the mission’s financial situation. Because in his thinking, when the mission gains strength, so will the members.

Recently the community started planting orange trees with plans to sell juice and wine in order to sustain the mission. They also raise chickens and make charcoal to take to the mainland for sale.

Despite many difficulties, the parish continues to grow. Sometimes whole families convert, sometimes individuals. All of them need help.

Although there are many needs, Fr Christopher considers education as the most urgent, as it helps people to understand their faith. Contrary to most of the Ugandan population who think that women do not need an education, Fr Christopher believes it is especially important to educate girls. “We need to collectively fight this way of thinking if we are to expect developed society”.

“I feel so blessed that we have God’s people coming for us at all times, I thank everybody for all the love not only to us sinners but to our Holy faith” wrote Fr Christopher.

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7th October 2012

Bombay Woodlands

19 Tanglin Rd, Singapore

If you enter this restaurant at lunchtime you will be offered a menu, but my advice is to ignore it and go with the flow by asking for one of the set-meal thalis, whether north or south Indian. On the day I visited the latter comprised two papadums with a bowl of pepper soup, curries of potato, potato and onion, and dark lentils with greens,  yoghurt, rice and two puris; at the end of the meal a dessert was waiting. Such a meal gives a good feeling of what everyday food is like is a cuisine with a powerful vegetarian tradition.

This restaurant is in a tourist area far from Little India. The nearest MRT station is Orchard, but be warned that to leave this station you have to walk through a confusing shopping mall; look for the ext to Wheelock Place.

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29th September 2012

Orthodox Mission in Haiti

ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) has 7 Orthodox parishes across Haiti. The website for Orthodox Mission in Haiti is: http://www.orthodoxhaiti.org/

The Haiti Orthodox Family Relief (HOFR) program enables Orthodox parishes from around the world to provide direct financial support to Haitian Orthodox families.  

General expenses of the HOFR program are paid by the ROCOR Mission in Haiti and the Fund for Assistance (FFA).  This means the HOFR program delivers 100% of the money raised by Parishes and individuals directly and securely to recipients.  Every dollar of Parish support raised through HOFR translates into a dollar of life-saving food, water, shelter or medical care placed directly into the hands of a Haitian Orthodox family.

You can read the September edition of the Haiti Mission Booklet at the following link: http://haitiorthodoxfamilyrelief.com/docs/HOFRNewsletter.pdf 

FFA (Fund for Assistance) has been operated by ROCOR since 1959, and is or has been operational in Chile, Costa-Rica, Haiti, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Uganda, Ukraine and the USA.

FFA’s activities in Haiti began in 2008 in response to three devastating hurricanes that left hundreds of people dead, most of the harvest destroyed and many cities uninhabitable.

Most recently FFA activities have been focused on responding to the needs of the ROCOR mission in Haiti after the earthquake in January 2010, that devastated the country and threw back the mission to its starting point, destroying cities, homes, the mission’s churches, parishioners’ homes, a school in Port-au-Prince and the priests’ only vehicle that allowed them to visit the faithful all over the country.  

Currently the mission is suffering from

  • lack of food, water and shelter
  • lack of church books, vestments and holy vessels
  • absence of church buildings

This ongoing effort has enabled the Fund for Assistance to raise around $160,000 for Haiti.  They are continuing their efforts in order to enable the mission to survive; the goal is to raise $2000 a month for our Haitian brothers and sisters.

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9th September 2012

Eight Treasures Vegetarian

282A South Bridge Rd, Singapore

An elegant restaurant specializing in traditional Chinese food seems a good idea for a light meal. The ginko and bean curd soup comes with mushrooms and plenty of pepper that lies in wait at the bottom of the pot in which it is served, while a dish of beautifully fresh steamed broccoli, asparagus, carrot and mushrooms works well, although right in the middle is something reconstituted to resemble meat, which I could have done without. Both dishes make liberal use of big slices of fresh ginger, which is believed to help in overcoming wind, and there is plenty of brown rice. A tall glass of lime juice strikes just the right balance between sweet and sour.

The nearest MRT station is Chinatown, but despite its address you enter the restaurant from Sago St, opposite the temple. The little streets running between South Bridge Rd and Eu Tong St contain many shops selling the traditional herbal ingredients so adeptly used in this restaurant.

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18th August 2012

Meeting Minutes 18 August 2012

Minutes VVOC 18_8_12 004 Minutes VVOC 18_8_12 007

Thank you to Melissa and Jacki for hosting today’s get together of VVOC. We enjoyed a lovely warm lunch of Chickpea ‘cutlets’, which we renamed Chickpea Crushlets after the structure didn’t quite live up to expectations – however this in no way impacted on the flavour, Corn and Black-eye pea stew from Kenya, Roast Vegetables and Spinach, and Crispy Roast Potatoes. Dessert was a real treat…….Cherry Cake and Chocolate Mousse! (A special thank you from the birthday girl:-)

1. Thank you to all members for their recent contributions as discussed at our previous meeting. We now have regular postings on the site.

2. A reminder that some postings need a link created in their particular section, e.g. recipes and restaurant reviews need a link created in the ‘About’ tab. Helen to email details of how to do this, as well as how to create Urbanspoon links.

3. Twitter…We discussed the idea of opening a Twitter account for vvoc.org to promote our blog postings. All agreed with the proviso that the account be named vvoc.org and none of our names/details included.

4. Today we also took the opportunity to watch a film together. Previously, Jacki and Melissa had gone to hear a presentation by Sam Childers, founder of Angels of East Africa, when he came to Brisbane. The film titled ‘Machine Gun Preacher’, is the story of his journey. Angels of East Africa is the name of the children’s village Sam founded in Sudan. The film was emotional and moving and highlighted in no uncertain terms the plight of the people of Southern Sudan and the terrors they live with daily under the force of the LRA.

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14th August 2012

Gereja Ortodox Indonesia (GOI, the Orthodox Church of Indonesia)

GOI is pan-jurisdictional, incorporating churches from the Patriarchates of both Constantinople and ROCOR. The Church began with the conversion of Fr. Daniel Byantoro, a young Indonesian man of Muslim background, who had been searching for a deeper certainty of God. While studying in Korea in the early 1980’s, and yearning to find the ancient Christianity of the East, he encountered the Orthodox Church in that country, converted to Holy Orthodoxy, and brought the faith back home to Indonesia. After a long struggle, Fr. Daniel obtained the right to legally practice Orthodox Christianity in Indonesia. There continue to be many difficulties in nurturing the Orthodox community in Indonesia, complicated by internal struggles as well as external resistance. Despite these troubles, over thirty Orthodox Parishes and Mission Churches exist in Indonesia, along with a score of indigenous ordained clergy. The fledgling Orthodox Church is very determined to spread the ancient, timeless Orthodox faith to every part of Indonesia, and to all of its hundreds of millions of souls.

Several groups assist the church in Indonesia:

Friends of Indonesia

Friends of Indonesia exists to raise awareness and support for the Indonesian Orthodox Church. The vision of those who support the Indonesian Orthodox Church is to infuse the local Indonesian culture with Orthodoxy.

Friends of Indonesia hold firmly to the Orthodox missionary imperative that the Church grows in each local culture according to the truths those cultures already hold. They workto bring the Gospel of Christ to the Indonesian people in ways that respects and affirms their cultural distinctiveness, and build a Church that will reflect and strengthen the rich cultural heritage they already possess.

Holy Cross Orthodox Mission, Melbourne, Australia

Holy Cross Mission partners with Gereja Ortodox Indonesia . Holy Cross Mission maintains close contact with a number of Indonesian clergy, some of whom have served at the Mission. They operate the “Support an Indonesian Priest” fund, providing a practical and safe channel for Orthodox Christians in Australia to support their brethren in Indonesia.

In 2010 they became aware that some parishes were struggling to even meet the costs of celebrating the Divine Liturgy regularly, and began a three-year plan of targeted giving, focusing on the liturgical requirements of the parishes, and starting with the clergy most in need. The objective is to contribute $A600 per year to each priest, for three years, for the liturgical needs of his parish or mission.

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29th July 2012

L’Emir Libanesisches Restaurant

17 Weserstrasse, Frankfurt

 A bowl of pieces of fried bread to be dipped into lemony tahini greets you as you settle in at this slightly fancy restaurant, which prides itself on serving authentic Lebanese food in the financial capital of the Eurozone. The fatousch is a mixture of salad vegetables common in Germany (tomato, cucumber, lettuce, red capsicum) with more fried bread; it is livened up by lemon juice, olive oil, parsley and plenty of mint. The hommus is as good as can be, the brown dish in which it is served and the well of olive oil in the middle being guarantors of its authenticity. Lubiet Bizzeit comprises flat green beans in a sauce that has been prepared in advance and stands at some remove from fresh tomatoes with plenty of parsley; to the side is a mound of rice with slivers of almond.  What a pleasure to stumble upon such excellent food in an unlikely environment!

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22nd July 2012

Paradise Kids 4 Africa

This is a new category on our website, aiming to highlight the work of Orthodox missionaries around the world. I am starting with the work of Paradise Kids 4 Africa, as it was my privilege to see this work in action in Sierra Leone when I was there in 2011 (volunteering as a nurse with the charitable organisation Mercy Ships).

Paradise Kids 4 Africa (PK4A) is the Australian support arm of the work of Reverend Themi (Archimandrite Fr Themistocles Adamopoulos), an Egyptian born Greek raised in Melbourne. Back in the 1960’s he was the founding member of Australian rock band “The Flies”, support band to “The Rolling Stones”. Fast forward and he turns to Christianity and goes back to his cultural and spiritual roots, Orthodoxy.  He chose to become a monk, then a priest and then a missionary. Working among the poorest of the poor became his purpose in life. He went to Africa and worked in Kenya and now in Sierra Leone. The people of Sierra Leone are indeed among the poorest of the poor according to the United Nation’s Human Development Index. The HDI is a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, standards of living, and quality of life for countries worldwide. It is a standard means of measuring well-being, especially child welfare. Australia is listed as 2nd, while Sierra Leone is 180 out of 187. This puts Australia in the category of Very High Human Development, and Sierra Leone in the bottom category of Low Human Development.

Eleven years of brutal civil war, often fought with child soldiers, has left Sierra Leone in utter devastation, with an almost total absence of infrastructure despite its incredible wealth in natural mining resources. Although the country has been peaceful for the last seven years, the wounds of war dominate the country’s daily life: there are thousands of orphans, amputees, disabled, homeless and unemployed. Life expectancy is around 41 years for men and 44 for women. Many children have no access to schooling, millions live in inhumane conditions, and health care is unaffordable for the poor and substandard at best. For example Sierra Leone has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world (i.e. mothers who die in childbirth).

With support from Paradise Kids 4 Africa, Paradise 4 Kids (the US support arm) and supporters in Greece, Rev Themi is working hard to make a difference.

Since 2008 much has been done:

– in Freetown, the nation’s capital: a Mission headquarters known as the “Paradise Kids House”. Surrounding the Mission Headquarters is a small Chapel and a College of higher education teaching Early Childhood, Computer Studies, Communications, Journalism, Media Studies and Teacher Education; At another location in Freetown, primary and secondary school with approximately 2000 children and an adjacent church; At the Women’s Jail a Tailoring School to help rehabilitate women for their future outside of jail; the sponsorship of a small Hospital called the Good Shepherd Clinic.

–  in Waterloo, a town on the outskirts of the capital:  St Moses the African Orthodox Village with housing for the disabled, a school, a guest house, a church, a priest’s house and a Medical clinic.

The focus in Sierra Leone is education and training. But Rev Themi does not stop here. His long-term vision is for a prosthesis clinic to give a new lease of life to the amputees. “We’ll need a lot of money for this, but with God nothing is impossible” he says.

To find out more about the work of Rev Themi and PK4A, have a look at their website: http://pk4a.com

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1st July 2012

Amrit Indisches Restaurant

40 Winterfeldstrasse, Berlin

What form do the vegetarian delights of Indian food take in Germany? The serve of onion bhaji at this suburban restaurant is enormous: the large pieces come on a bed of lettuce, grated cabbage and tomato with finely grated yellow cheese on top and three dips standing by, one of chilli and two dairy-based. Natraj thali comprises four bowls: one of chick peas with a few cubes of paneer that is quite mild by the standards of Indian food, one of vegetables, very much al dente, one of rice, and the final one a salad of tomatoes, cucumbers and rings of red onion on which pepper and green chillies have been sprinkled! This is Indian food adjusted to German tastes and, very obviously, appetites, and cries out for a glass of pils to wash it down. It may be a wee bit more expensive than some other dining options, but never mind, if you have the meal just described for your lunch you won’t need to eat for the rest of the day!

The nearest U-Bahn is Nollendorfplatz.

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