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An international flair; Ethnic Local Church People Prepare Dishes From 18 Countries | Community

The Maryville Mountaineers Pathfinder Club offers a unique experience this weekend – the chance to try dishes from 18 different countries, all in one convenient location.

It is a worldwide Christian organization of young people in grades five and up, explained Tomoko Kim, director of Pathfinder. They are sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but anyone is welcome to join the organization, Kim said.

The International Food Festival will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 26 at the Maryville Seventh-day Adventist Church, 2921 Sevierville Road, Maryville. Admission is free but tickets will be available in amounts of $1 to purchase food at each booth. Most stalls will sell small amounts of food for two to four tickets, Kim said.

Countries represented are Guam, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Philippines, United States, Lakota Indian Tribe, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Brazil, Ireland, Scotland, Country of Wales, Italy, Greece, Denmark and Russia. All dishes will be meatless.

The Philippines will offer fried lumpia or spring rolls, pancit noodles and seitan adobo, Kim said.

Japan will have different types of sushi and yakiosoba.

Italian dishes will include lasagna and tiramisu.

Scottish choices will include sweet and savory scones and Cranachan raspberry desserts.

Empanadas, guava cheese pastries and guineo eschabeche, popular dishes in Scotland, will be served alongside Korean leek dumplings and cucumber kimchi.

“Our church is so diverse that most ethnic people cook their ethnic dishes,” Kim explained. “Most cooks have their specific country in their ancestry.”

These cooks are the parents of Pathfinder members and supporters. Most teenagers will take care of the ticket and drinks. They will also sell homemade products such as quilted blankets, soap, essential oils and bread, Kim said. The younger ones will help serve at their parents’ booths.

Last year, there were 15 members of this Pathfinders club. It has now risen to 24, Kim said.

“It’s similar to Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, except we’re a mixed Christian group, and we emphasize the importance of doing things together, which can include worshiping and praying together, memorizing scriptures, and studying the Bible, doing community service, learning about nature and outdoor skills…” Kim said.

This youth group begins to meet in September on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. There is a ceremony each May where members celebrate what they have learned over the year. So far this year, these youngsters have enjoyed camping in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, cooking meals together and hiking.

“It’s so important for these young people to fast from electronic devices and just enjoy face-to-face time outdoors in the open air and around campfires…It’s also another way to connect with God, our creator who made all of nature so beautiful and in order,” Kim said.

In addition to these adventures, Pathfinders also focus on community service. In the fall, the group collects non-perishable food items and delivers food baskets to families at Family Promise. Last year, the youth organization teamed up with the Foster Parent Association to help grandparents raising their grandchildren.

In 2019, this community service expanded outside of the United States with a missionary trip to Ecuador.

“We are happy when we serve others and take our time to make others happy,” Kim said. “That’s what Jesus taught us to do.”

The SDA Church around the world is known for its emphasis on plant-based diets and healthy living. In the past, Maryville SDA hosted its Supper Club where community members enjoyed a plant-based meal. Speakers were invited and recipes were also shared.

The Supper Club will resume its activities on the first Thursday of May. The church also offers a Creation Health Seminar and a Smoking Cessation Seminar.

Kim said the International Food Festival is a way to reach out to the community and share the excellent cooking skills of the church congregation. Fundraising for future Pathfinders projects is also a goal of the event.

When it’s all over, the International Food Festival will have been an experience that helped build teamwork while bringing people together to simply enjoy each other’s company, she added.