Trading Recipes, Building Connections
Story by V. Michelle Bernard
Nellie Dakanay had been a Seventh-day Adventist before attending Allegheny East Conference’s Breath of Life church in Fort Washington, Md., but she was new to American life.
“I would not have known how to eat kale or collard greens, pastas or salads,” says Dakanay, if she hadn’t started attending Breath of Life. Originally from the Philippines, Dakanay and her family moved to the U.S. in the early 1980s. Prior to arriving to the U.S., they served as missionaries in Nigeria.
It was at the Breath of Life potlucks, in the predominantly African-American congregation, that the Dakanays learned how to cook American and vegetarian meals.
“When I started bringing food to potluck, I would approach other cooks and ask them how they made that,” she says. “Little by little I [also] learned to cook vegetarian dishes. At the same time, they would ask for my pancit and eggroll recipes.”
Dakanay encourages members to stick around after church and build relationships. “Stay over for the potluck or fellowship. That way [you] will [build] relationships with the church members you would
not [normally] meet,” she says, adding, “If you know the church members and you have a problem or any issues ... here in America you can ask church members. ... That way they can advise you with some biblical advice. ... Anybody who is new to a church should fellowship together.”
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