An Open Letter to the Youth of MVCC: When in Honduras (or Pittsburg), Always Use Cold Butter

To the students who are going to Honduras (or Pittsburg), or who want to make the perfect southern biscuit, because this applies to you too:

To the biscuit makers:

First, you make your flour mixture. Next, you cut the cold (not room temperature) butter into small cubes, and add them into the floor. Then you do what is called cutting the butter in.

And you have to cut in the butter. And the only way to do that is make sure it is cold. Not room temperature. Not melted. But cold. The colder the better.

But here’s the thing. Cutting butter into the flour is hard. It takes some serious elbow grease, patience, and umph. It would be so much easier to melt the butter, pour it over the flour, and bam. You’re done. Easy peasy lemon squeeze. But if you want flaky, buttery, southern (real) biscuits, pies, doughs, crusts, or cakes, easy just won’t cut it. You have to cut in the butter. There simply is no other way.

And there is no machine that will do this for you. You have to do it for yourself, by hand. There is a tool that cuts in butter called a pastry blender, but if you don’t have one (or can’t find it, like me), you have to use two forks. And it takes forever. The butter has to evenly incorporated into the flour mixture, but because it is cold, this takes some effort. You want the butter and the flour to all be the same consistency, almost like sand. Only then can you add your wet ingredients, knead the dough, and form whatever it is you are making.


Tonight I was making made from scratch strawberry shortcakes and I realized just how hard cutting in the butter can be. Sure, I could have melted it. That would have been quicker. Easier. But I wanted the shortcakes to turn out buttery, flaky, and delicious, not dense, so I had no other choice.

If you want the finished product to turn out well, you can’t cheat. You can’t take the easy, minimal effort way out. You can’t cut corners. You have to cut the butter in. 

So promise me. When you are in Honduras, always cut the butter in. And always make sure it is cold.

Three years ago, almost to the day, I too was preparing for my first trip abroad. I was scared. I was young. I felt unqualified. I was you. So I know how tempting it is to not give it my all. It’s tempting to skimp on memory verses, to not pay attention in the sessions, to blow off your daily quiet time. Because it’s hard work. Standing for twenty minutes over a bowl using arm muscles (that, if you are anything like me, don’t exist) makes almost no sense when you can put butter into a microwave safe dish and press the “add 30 seconds” button. But I promise you. That won’t give you the desired result. 

Even though, like you, this is my first time to Honduras, I can promise you 5 things about the trip.

  1. You will be hungry, even though you just ate. The foreign food will lose the luster that “exotic” brings in a matter of minutes, and it will be just plain weird. You won’t trust it, because you can’t trust what is in it. You will ache for the familiarity and comfort that frozen pizza can bring. I remember eating something in Ecuador and thinking “Back home, I could buy this, alive and squeaking, in a pet store…”
  2. You will wake up more tired and exhausted than you were the night before. Your body will scream at you from overuse and under-rest, your mind will wander, and you will wonder why you ever left the comforts of air conditioning, cable TV, and wifi.
  3. It won’t be a vacation. It will be work. It will test you. Try you. Break you. It will be hard.
  4. Lenor gave you a daily schedule. At the end of the week, you will look back on it and laugh. It won’t look anything like how the days transpired, and you won’t even recognize it as a trip that you were on. Our plans will be wrecked. And it will be Divine Chaos. Sometimes I think God changes our plans just to make us rely on Him, and to remind us who really is in control.
  5. If  you let him, God will use this to change your life. And you will never be the same again.

You see, God asks us to cut the butter in. To do the work. Mark 16:15 says “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation!” It isn’t easy. Our job is to cut in the butter. But the baking? That’s God’s job. 

We are not going on a missions trip. We are joining God on His mission– His mission to bring the world back to himself. We aren’t starting or initiating anything. We are joining in, joining with God in something that He put into motion long ago. 

In Genesis 11, after the tower of Babel, God dispersed the people, creating different cultures, languages, and people groups. This created the need for missions. But our God is beautiful. His timing is perfect, and He doesn’t miss a beat. In the very first verse of the very next chapter we read some of the most profound, characteristic, and loving words in all of scripture. You see God’s plan to bring His scattered creation back to Himself.

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”

In Genesis 11, you see the problem. And in Genesis 12, you see God’s solution. God chose a very normal guy. Abram just arrived on the scene in a very unexpected way. He came out of seemingly nowhere. But he was on God’s radar. God saw Him, and chose to use him to bring back a lost and hurting people. Remember when I said I felt scared, unqualified? Guys, maybe you feel like this trip is coming out of nowhere, and you feel unqualified.

  • “My Spanish is terrible”
  • “I’m shy”
  • “I can’t sing”
  • “I’m a picky eater”

You are on God’s radar. Remember that. You don’t go on a trip like this just for the heck of it. You are called. Believe it. Act like it.

When tracking the Abrahamic Covenant throughout Genesis, several interesting things can be revealed. Not only do you see God’s continued faithfulness to Abraham and those who inherited the Covenant, but you see how important that faithfulness is to Him. God repeats His promises time and time again (over 40 times). If he is willing to put that much time and effort into them, you know he must mean it. And not only does he mean it, but he wants us to get it. He wouldn’t breathe this promise over and over and over again over the pages of Scripture if he didn’t want us too to understand his faithfulness.

You can track not only the historical narrative of the people of Israel, but you can see the beginning stages of God’s redemptive plan. Mankind was created to live in harmony and community with God. Now that was broken during The Fall, but with the dispersion of the people there needed to be a way to reach them. So through Abraham, God created a people called Israel, through which the Savior of the world would be born.

Guys, pay attention, because it is important that you understand this. Through Christ, we have inherited the Abrahamic Covenant. Those promises apply to us now. But we aren’t doing anything new. The need was long ago made known. And the answer? God too made that clear.

So doesn’t that give you peace?

  • Your Spanish does not have to be understandable.
  • You are allowed to be tired.
  • It’s okay not to like the food.
  • You are normal if you get homesick.

Because at the end of the day, IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. We are just joining God on His mission, one that began in Genesis chapter 12. We are called to be obedient. We are called to sow seeds. God will make them grow. Don’t worry about being effective, because anything done in your own power is vanity. Let God work through you. If you let him, He will.

We only have to cut the butter in. It’s hard, yes. But worth it. God will do the baking. It’s his recipe, after all.

All my love,

your summer intern,

~Ellen

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