Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday Topic: Skills to learn

From a reader who is preparing to move overseas:
Is there anything for my household that I need to learn while still in the comfort of my own home? (like doing laundry by hand, etc.)

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at fylliska@gmail.com. Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)


  1. This is such a good question!!! Seriously, there are things that will be easier to learn before you are thrown into the craziness of transition! Way to think ahead! I would suggest you work on your cooking from scratch skills. Work recipes that don't require packets of this, cans of that, and bags of that other thing into what you eat now. Not sure where you are going, but knowing how to make stock, a rue, bread, tortillas, spaghetti sauce, Alfredo sauce, how to cook a whole chicken, those sorts of things are good to know anywhere. It would be good to get used to doing those things even before you leave. Also, talk with people on the ground in the country you are moving to. If you will have a washing machine, don't worry about learning to wash your clothes by hand. But if you won't, start researching how to do it. But really, anywhere you go, learning to cook from basic ingredients will help you!

  2. I totally second the learning to cook from scratch. Also do some research on what you can use as a substitute - like no eggs in the market and you need them for a birthday cake - what can you substitute instead. Consider learning how to preserve food - canning, dehydrating, pickling, smoking, jellying, curing/fermentation, etc. Learn to wash clothes by hand and how to make simple sewing fixes/repairs by hand. Make sure you know how to change a tire, check the oil, jump start a car and other basic car maintenance. Of course all of those skills are more critical if you are going to a developing place where electricity and all that is available to you now will no longer be so. Make sure you know how to drive a stick shift/manual transmission. If you can begin language work ahead of time, go ahead. If playing piano is important and you won't have a piano available (and keyboards require batteries or electricity) - consider learning to play the guitar or other more portable instrument because that can be an important stress release... Make sure you brush up on your ironing (have met some people who had never ironed and were very frustrated with cotton always looking wrinkled). Consider learning some simple hair cutting/styling - especially if you have daughters. Obviously - you can't become an expert in every area, but it is fun to learn new things and already gets you into that teachable/learning mode long before you actually make the move elsewhere.

  3. My first response was also learning to cook from scratch using basic ingredients (like Liz said -- no food from cans, packets, bags, etc.). You could ask other missionaries in the country where you are going if there are commonly used ingredients in American recipes that are hard to get or expensive there (for example, cheese in our case) so that you can develop recipes that avoid those ingredients but that your family still enjoys. Soon after getting to your new country, ask a neighbor or other local person to show you how to make some of the best known foods there. This will be a great way to learn to cook like they do... and to also make a new friend! If you haven't washed laundry by hand before, it might be a good idea to try it out before you get there. I've had several periods of time without a washing machine even though we are in a place where it is pretty common to have one. I wish I had learned to sew before we came, especially to be able to sew curtains, pillows, etc. for our house.

  4. I have typed several long comments this week and they disappear as soon as I hit Publish. Ugh. I mainly wanted to add that I was so glad I found and tried recipes for taco seasoning, ranch dressing, etc before we left the US. There are so many recipes out there, and finding ones our family liked before we left allowed us to more easily make those familiar items in our new home.

  5. It depends where you live, but many missionaries I know (even here in Thailand) do their laundry by hand. I prefer to budget some baht for the laundry mat. Find out how you will get around where you are, and figure out the transportation--if it is a city or suburb area, start becoming familiar with transport names online and find websites in your language. If not...well no experience in that yet!

    Learn the language. Learn to sew things if you don't already--in harsher climates clothing, shoes, furniture, etc falls apart easily.

    And learn what animals, bugs, etc. are poisonous!