Creating community through rookie mistakes

By Kelly Frey Martin
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Soon after we arrived in Colombia, our Spanish teacher and friend, Diana, and her husband, Felipe, invited us to Felipe's hometown to meet their family and friends. Diana did a wonderful job of helping us engage with the culture. She arranged for us to spend the day with their friends and cook a Colombian dish together. In the morning she accompanied us from a distance with a grocery list, and my husband and I were encouraged and coached to buy the groceries—a real challenge for us since we were just learning Spanish. Instead of just picking up a package of chicken off a shelf, we were encouraged to interact with a store clerk to find "una libra de pollo."  

We took all the ingredients to their friends' house and Diana and friend, Viviana, began preparing the Colombian arroz con pollo. I asked to help. They put me to work slicing the hot dogs. I didn't realize the hot dogs were covered in plastic, so I started cutting them without taking it off. It was embarrassing, but gave us a chance to laugh together about my rookie mistake.  

Two hours after we'd begun cooking, we sat down together to eat the arroz con pollo. While it was cooking, we struggled through conversations but had fun together. We were a part of a typical Colombian lunch experience—where the food is not just prepared and waiting for you when you arrive, but instead, made while guests converse with hosts.  

We are continually grateful for gracious hosts who take time to teach us about their culture. Just as Colombians take pride in their culture and are happy to teach and share together, we're happy to share this video with you. As is common with food dishes, each family has their own recipe. You may notice that this video does not include hot dogs. You may want to experiment with your own special ingredients to make this family recipe your own. 

Arroz con pollo 

First, make the chicken stock by adding the following ingredients to a large pot: 

2 whole chicken breasts 

5 c water 

2 garlic cloves 

bay leaf 

½ T ground cumin 

½ T Sazón Goya con Azafran 

½ wedged white onion 

1 whole scallion 

salt and pepper to taste 

  • Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat. Simmer for 20–25 minutes. After, set pot aside to rest for 15 minutes. Strain the stock, saving 2 ½ cups for later use.  
  • In another bowl, shred the chicken and set aside.  
  • Begin making the rice. Heat 2 T olive oil in a frying pan.  


¼ c chopped green pepper 

¼ c chopped onion 

¼ c chopped red pepper 

1 clove minced garlic 

  • Sauté 4-5 minutes.  


½ T Sazón Goya con Azafran 

1 T tomato paste 

1 tablet chicken bouillon 

1 c long grain white rice 

  • Mix together and add the 2 ½ c of chicken stock previously set aside. 
  • Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.  


½ c diced frozen green beans 

½ c frozen peas 

½ c diced frozen carrots 

  • Stir, cover, and cook for 7 minutes.  
  • Add the shredded chicken and a ¼ c chopped cilantro. 
  • Stir, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. 
  • Serve with avocado and lime. 


Eric and Kelly work with young adult leaders of the Iglesia Cristiana Menonita de Colombia (IMCOL) in helping develop youth programs and recognize and nurture the spiritual gifts of young people growing in their leadership potential. Pictured above are Felipe Preciado, Diana Cruz, and Eric and Kelly Frey Martin.




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