Cooking class combo offers appetite, spiritual fulfillment for Soldiers

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 10:36pm

When Spc. Hyunjun Yoo and Spc. Marta Villanueva first started preparing and sharing evening meals in their rooms, they realized the family setting helped reduce the loneliness and some of their post-deployment symptoms.

After coming back from deployment, hurt, broken and pucker-browed, appetite and spiritual fulfillment seemed to bring a smile to their faces, noted Yoo, a Soldier assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion, during the first Bible-study combination cooking class, held at the Family Resiliency Center here last month.

The combined classes were initiated by Villanueva, a Soldier assigned to the WTB, and her battle buddy Yoo, who due to post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression, were confined to their quarters.

Soon after, more WTB Soldiers joined the two and the exchange of recipes, and ideas on how to create new dishes flourished. And to make the meal even more meaningful, Bible study was added to the venue.

“I love the food, but I really come here for Bible study,” said Staff Sgt. Carlos Zuniga, a Soldier assigned to the WTB.

“The message is what really fills me inside and makes me feel at peace.”

Chaplain (Capt.) Troy Blan, William Beaumont Army Medical Center chaplain, said when they approached him with the idea of combining the classes, he thought of it as a great opportunity to spread God’s message to Soldiers who are going through similar tribulations, while doing something fun.

“We have been able to eat, laugh, talk and share positive messages in the middle of the day,” said Blan. “They can learn a skill set and get away from some of the issues they are dealing with.”

Villanueva, who prior to deployment did not like cooking, said she enjoys it so much now she applied and was accepted at the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Yoo, who is already a professional chef specialized in Asian cuisine, will be pursuing a Le Condon Bleu Pâtisserie and Baking diploma.

His goal is to create a special desert, “something you never had before,” Yoo said. “American deserts are too sweet, so I just want to create my own.”

Next cooking combination Bible study class for WTB Soldiers is July 30 at the FRC, 350 Club Road on West Fort Bliss. The cooking class begins at 9 a.m. and the luncheon and devotional at noon. Those who participate, have the option to leave or stay for Bible study.   

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