Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday Servings: Pear Bread

Being the new gal on the job isn't all that easy.

Fumbling through the day, asking question after question of colleagues, double checking and rechecking to be sure you filled out the form correctly and generally feeling somewhat adrift.

But I think it is equally hard, if not more so, for everyone else, especially if you and your colleagues need to work closely together to get the job done.

From the person who trains you and puts off their own deadlines to make sure you swim and not sink the first time you head into the waters on your own.

To your teammates who are used to the manner of their former coworker and are not quite sure about this new person and their personality and whether they'll jive with the rest of the team.

To the boss who's encouraging you and giving you pats on the back, all the while praying she made a good decision in hiring you and you'll step into the role without too much difficulty.

And finally there's all the people on the periphery who are just trying to remember your name when you smile and tell them good morning on the way in and good evening on the way out.

It's an adjustment for everyone.

I've been pretty blessed to work with some wonderful teams and at some wonderful places throughout my working career. Each place had its own culture and its own spirit. Each place accomplished and did in its own way.

I've learned with each new job, it takes time to assimilate into the culture of a company. It takes time to learn what the politics are and then how to avoid them. It takes time to get to know people's personality quirks and to recognize when they're having a bit of an off day. And it takes time to know exactly who you are within the organization and how you fit into the workings.

I'd been with Mmametlhake Family Care Centre for about three months when my first birthday in Mmametlhake rolled around. Although I'd been living in the village for just under a year, I had only been working directly with the centre since January and was still in the early stages of learning the culture of the organization and finding my role within it.

The morning of my birthday, after coffee and dressing, I pulled out the big bag of pears I had lugged home from my shopping town a few days before and began to grate them--one after another after another until my fingers were wrinkly from the pear juice.

As I shredded pears and mixed the batter and baked the loaf, I thought about the centre and how blessed I was to be a part of this little NGO in this little village. How I was somehow fitting in quickly despite not really knowing the culture of the organization and barely knowing Tswana culture or the culture of South Africa. How blessed I was for the friendship I had with my coworker Elias and how excited I was for the World Cup camp we would put on for the local school children in a few months.

I thought about how weird and wonderful the last year of my life had been--living in the rural areas of South Africa, far, far away from friends and family.

I thought about the journey that brought me there and the journey that was still to come.

I thought and dreamed and baked, and then I wrapped up my fresh loaf of pear bread and carried it the short distance to the centre's office and shared my birthday treat with my new colleagues.

My favorite was Pastor Bethuel's face as he enjoyed one slice and then another and then asked to take some home to his wife.

It was a special blessing to get to share that loaf of bread with those good folks--a special blessing and a special treat I will always remember.

I've pulled the recipe back out for this weekend and will take a fresh loaf of pear bread to my new colleagues on Monday. It's a gesture of thanks after two weeks of kindly dealing with my newness, but I think for me it is also a gesture of remembering and in remembering blessing--blessing the new job with the goodness of the old one. And a gesture of commitment--of committing whatever talent and skill I may possess to support and help my new team and those we're serving. And a gesture of thanksgiving for how God provides for us in ways we cannot imagine and cannot understand.

I hope you enjoy!

Pear Bread

Original recipe available on


  • 3 cups all-purpose (cake) flour (or 1 cup all-purpose and 2 cups whole wheat)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups peeled shredded pears
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)


  1. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Make a well in the center of the bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl combine the oil, eggs, sugar, grated pears, pecans and vanilla. Blend well. Add to well of dry ingredients. Stir until just moistened. Spoon batter into 2 greased and floured 9x5x3in (23x13x8cm) loaf pans.
  3. Bake in a preheated 325°F (165°C) oven for one hour and 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack before removing from loaf pans.

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