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I can explain.

The summers I was 15, 16, and 17, I attended a two-week program known as “Operation Onesimus,” which arguably changed the course of my life forever. You may never have heard of Onesimus; he is a character–a slave–in the New Testament book of Philemon. The name is symbolic of service; not slavery in the way we usually think of it, but service in love. Ironically, living a life serving each other in love turns out to be the most freeing way to live. To me, this is what the Operation Onesimus program is all about.

In July, I returned to Operation Onesimus not as a participant, but as a helper, excited beyond belief to be able to spend time with such an amazing group of people. My self-appointed title was “Onesimus Experience Enhancer.” Basically, I just tried to find ways that I could make the experience of the participants a little bit better. And one way I thought of (naturally) was to make pie for everyone! Because pie enhances every experience. Ever.

Challenges faced: lots of hungry mouths, no stocked pantry, no rolling pin, no food processor, no wax paper, no apple peeler, looked in three kitchens for a grater…this was quite a challenge. Total time spent on Onesipie: at least 4 hours. I took a couple pictures for you along the way.

(Can I just take a wee minute to show you my “new” apron? I discovered it while visiting my family in Minnesota, and my Aunt Sarah felt that it was only fair that I should have one of Grandmother’s handmade aprons. So now it’s mine, and I love it a lot.)

How to make a pie, Onesimus style.

When you’re baking for thirty, you need a big bag of flour.

Okay, getting started. All-Butter Pastry. Lots of butter. Go.

Apples, lemon zest and sugar get mixed together for the filling.

When you can’t locate a rolling pin or wax paper to save your life, improvise with an empty juice bottle and Glad Press n’ Seal. But this is really a last-resort option.

You’ll notice these pies look a bit naked right now. There’s no top crust in sight…but just wait until you see how we’re going to finish these!

Are you ready for the secret ingredient? Prepare yourselves…here it comes….

Weird, right?

In the absence of a food processor, enlist the help of small friends to mix the Cheez-It topping together by crunching it up inside a Ziploc bag. Many hands make light work!

Add the crumblies part of the way through baking…and that’s how you make an Apple Pie with Cheddar Cracker Topping.

(Thanks so much to our friends Vinnie and Rachel, who let us stay in their comfortable and adorable cabin for over a week! Every time I noticed another piece of bird decor, I squealed with happiness. No joke, just ask Levi.)