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The Making of Americans Elwood Dittos, Matthew's new father, explains that playtime must wait while family works in communal garden. . By Shelly Cohen Atsociated Prett Writer HARLEYSVILLE, Pa. (AP)Matthrew, Beth, and Mark join hands with the three other Dittus children, bowing their heads as Elwood Dittus gives thanks for the noon meal to follow. The English words of the prayer are still strange to the three" Vietnamese orphans who came here three and one-half months ago. But their meaning is clear. It's the security of 'three meals a day, a bed to sleep in, and the peace ofthis rural community, 40 miles northwest / of Philadelphia. Nevertheless, for Matthew, 10, Beth, 8, and Mark, 5, a thin line remains between security and inse- ' curity, between trusting their new parents and trusting each other more. A careless word from their parents, a photograph of the orphanage in Saigon, and the security is momentarily shattered. They are learning to trust. They are learning they don't have to stoke up on food at one meal, because there will be others. "We had to cut them off at four bowls of cereal at first," Dittus said. Now Mark has learned the luxury of picking at his chili soup and Beth can feed her salad to the neighbor's dog during a picnic supper. When they talk to each other at the dinner table or in their rooms, however, it's still in Vietnamese, and half their fun seems to be in knowing the folks don't understand. "It just drives you crazy sometimes," Mrs. Dittus said. "You know they're talking about you, but you don't know what they're saying. , The youngsters arrived in this largely Mennonite community of 950 people on April 6. They were part of the baby-lift that brought 1,900 orphans out of Vietnam to new homes in the states. The arrival of the three children ended nearly two years of waiting for Helen and Elwood Dittus, who wanted to adopt Vietnamese children because "we felt there was debt to be paid there." The Dittuses--he is a junior high school teacher--have two children of their own, Donna, 16,'and David, 14, and a three-year-old Korean daughter, Dana Nicole, adopted as an infant. Beth and Mark are brother and sister, originally from Gia Dinh in the Province of Tan Son Hoa. They had been in the Holt Agency orphanage in Saigon since April, 1974. Matthew may be a cousin, Holt officials believe. He spent six months in a Da Nang orphanage before being transferred to Saigon a year ago. The three youngsters always "considered themselves brothers and sister," Dittus said, "and that was good enough for us. In Vietnam there's no such thing as a nuclear family and an extended family, there's just family." So when the fall of Saigon appeared imminent, the three children were among nearly 500 evacuated on one plane to Seattle, Wash. The closeness of the three children is a mixed blessing in their new home. While it means built-in security for them, it has in some respects slowed their development, says a friend and teacher, Johanna Gehman. They would no doubt learn English more quickly if they didn't have each other to talk to in Vietnamese, she said. They speak English haltingly. At lunch, they chatter happily about other members of the family. And they still hunger for other children with whom they can talk in Vietnamese. "When we go visiting, they always ask if there will be other Vietnamese children there." Mrs. Dittus said. There have been traumas during the first three months of adjustment. One came after a visit to the home of their Mennonite pastor to see films of, the Holt orphanage in Saigon. The children spotted themselves in the movie. "First they laughted and argued about who was on earner a. longer," Dittus said. But later that night, they suffered their worst bout of homesickness. Dittus feared that the arrival of a package of the children's drawings and photographs from the Saigon orphanage could have a similar effect. But to his surprise, the children delighted in showing their new family this material. Matthew pointed to a photograph of himself and told his mother that he was sick that day and had to get out of bed to have the picture taken. Matthew, usually .an outgoing and talkative child, grows cautious and hesitant when he discusses his native country. He'll talk about the fish there or the vegetables, and how they are different from the ones he has seen here, but not about his feelings. "I like it here," he said with a shrug through an interpreter "It's better than Vietnam." Matthew was leader and protector of the younger children in Saigon, and he continued in that role Matthew, 10, and Mark, 5, show their new mother drawings they made in a South Vietnamese! orphanage. When the children first arrived they would wait until Matthew had tasted each new food before they tried it, Mrs. Dittus said. Now they are developing their own tastes. Beth likes strawberries! which Matthew still won't eat. Dittus said that Matthew seems to view him and his wife as usurpers of what was once his role. "But I ..think we're gradually getting him to relinquish his authority to us," Mrs. Dittus said. The Dittuses were warned by a friend that a 10-year-old Vietnamese boy would be more like a 20-year-old. But as the responsibilities of caring for his five-year-old brother and eight-year-old sister are lifted and his own sense of security grows, Matthew is learning to be a child. "He was a perfect child when he arrived. Now he's not .so perfect," Mrs. Dittus said as she watched Matthew and David tear through the front door, headed for a game of kickball. Baseball kickball and fishing are Matthew's favorite activities. He likes school, too, but says recess is his favorite subject. Despite the growing sense of security, old habits linger: Mrs. Dittus still finds food squirreled away in Matthew's drawer. Matthew, tattling on his brother, says Mark steals things from around the house and tucks them away in his bureau. And once that fragile sense of security was shattered for Beth. She had been misbehaving, tattling to get her brothers and sisters in trouble. After a spanking, she told her mother she wanted to go back to Vietnam. Â· ' Â· Â· "When I told her I'd pack her bags, she started to cry," Mrs. Dittus said. A lot of loving and hugging and soft words followed the incident and Beth finally concluded: "In Vietnam, when they spank you, they hate you. Here when they spank you it means they love you." Dittus said it was the first indication that Beth understood that discipline and love could go together. Mark also has grown to trust his new family. "For the first two weeks, he walked around his mother with one hand up in a fist all the time, ready to strike." Dittus said. At the dinner table he would throw his head back and make a blood-curdling wailins noise. "One day at dinner, I tried to imitate it and the kids started to laugh, and then Mark started to laugh too," Dittus said. "It was the last time he ever did that." Many of the early fears are gone too. Â· r "Beth cried almost all the time," Mrs. Dittus said. And at night she would wake up from bad dreams." The nightmares are gone now and Beth sleeps soundly. She still insists there are such things as witches and ghosts, but concedes that perhaps they don't exist in this country. Â·Â·Â· Some of the children's most difficult lessons have yet to be learned, however. As Mennonites, the Dit- tases are committed to a brotherhood of sharing, a concept difficult for any child to understand. Beth clutched a tiny grey kitten in her arms during a visit to a nearby farmhouse. She petted'it and talked to-it as the neighbor's child pleaded, with her to let him have a chance to hold it. With a few words and a nod from her sister. Donna, Beth finally relinquished the kitten. "It takes some adults a lifetime to learn to share and then some never do," Dittus said. "But we'll continue to try to teach them." Natural Sweetners By John Shuttleworth Given the high cost of sugar and increasing shortages of natural sweets such as honey, sorghum, and maple syrup, you may be pleasantly surprised to discover how easy it is to make your own sweetening agents. You'll find that a little effort produces some very interesting results. . .so interesting that you may be inspired to do some experiments of your own in this area. Wheat berries, whole barley, rye and oats can all be germinated and the sprouts used to sweeten bread dough, or malted (roasted) for additional flavor and added to muffin, cookie, and cake batters. Soft winter wheat or pastry wheat yeilds a very sweet product. (A nutritional note: sprouted wheat is highest of the above grains in protein content; oats is lowest.) To prepare grains for sprouting, simply rinse the kernels and soak them overnight in about double their volume of water -- preferably spring water, or tap water that has been boiled and cooled. One cup of whole grain will give you around the same, amount of crushed sprouts for breadmaking. The following day, drain the cereal and spread it in shallow earthenware containers or place it in glass jars. The vessels should then be covered with damp cheesecloth or muslin and put in a dark place. Grains usually germinate much more easily than beans or other seeds and need to be rinsed only once a day (except in very hot weather, when you'll probably want to refresh them two or three 'times daily). About the third day - When the sprouts are one to one and one-half times as long as the grains -they're ready for further treatment or for use as is to make an incredibly sweet-tasting bread dough. For wheat sprout bread, you'll need 4 cups wheat berries (or a mixture of wheat and barley), 8 cups water, 1 teaspoon sea salt or kelp powder, 4 tablespoons sunflower or sesame seeds and 1 cup flower (optional). Soak the wheat overnight in water, drain the berries and sprout them as described above. Then crush the sprouts in a grain mill to produce a creamy, paste-like dough. This' is easier to handle if you wet your hands frequently, and it's important to wash the mill as soon as you've finished or the mash will dry like glue and be almost impossible to remove. The ground sprouts can be combined with the other ingredients in this recipe, (omit flour if you wish) oT used to replace part of the flour and sweetening agent in other breadmaking directions. If you use the above formula, pat the dough into shapes about six inches in diameter and one inch thick for best results. Bake the bread at 300 degrees F for one and one-half to two hours. Although the sprouts are rich in enzymes and have a slight leavening effect, the finished product will be dense and chewy. To make slightly malted sprouts for use in bread batter, spread the germinated grain on a cookie sheet and roast it gently for about 15 minutes before grinding. This step reduces a vegetable taste which the cereal sometimes develops. The process can be carried farther by roasting the sprouts in a ' very low oven (225-250 degrees) for about two hours or until they are very crisp and uniformly dark brown. The result is a rich, sweet- tasting, crunchy snack food that can be thrown in with a favorite granola mixture or eaten as is. Alternatively, you can grind the sprouts in a grain mill or electric blender and use them to sweeten cereal batters. The powdered malt also serves- as a sweet grain in coffee. Measure out one rounded teaspoonful for every six ounces of water, add a small amount of chicory and/or cinnamon and brew the drink 10 minutes. must be eaten regularly in the correct proportions. If a protein food is deficient in one of these components, the "limiting" amino acid will correspondingly reduce the utilization of all the others.) The technique described above increases not only the sweetness, but also the food value of cereals. According to a report of studies made at the USDA's Barley and Malt Laboratory in Madison, Wis., the malting process causes considerable changes in protein and sugar composition. The proteins of malts are higher than those of the original grains in several essential amino acids, notably lysine -- the main limiting amino acid of this food group -- as well as arganine, aspartic acid, alanine, valine, isoleucine and leu- cine. The "essential" amino acids are not synthesized by the body and The following method .of increasing or enhancing the natural sugars in grain is a little trickier than others but produces a much sweeter result. The most crucial points are the proper ratio of sprouts to cooked grain and careful control of the processing temperatures: All you'll need is IVz cups of brown rice, 4Vz to 5Vz cups of water and 3 tablespoons sprouted grain. Pressure-cook the rice with 4Vz cups of water for 45 minutes. Or, if you use the regular cooking method, start with SVz cups of liquid and cook the rice-water mixture for one hour after it comes to a boil. Then let the rice cool to 140 degrees. . Crush the sprouts in a mortar, mix them with the rice and continue cooking at 130 to 140 degrees for about five hours. This caiv..be done in the oven, or on top of the stove in a double boiler or a plain saucepan placed on an asbestos pad. * When the cooking is finished, line a strainer with muslin or'several thicknesses of cheesecloth -arid dump in the sticky rice. Strain the product into another pot. You'll have to gather the cloth into a sack and squeeze firmly to extract the honey. The collected syrup can then be boiled down to a taffy if desired. It makes great candies. Parched corn is quite a treat, but since corn is a seasonal item, you'll have to do your planning way ahead to enjoy it. Dry ears of sweet corn in a warm place -- in the attic or hanging in the sun. When the kernels are shriveled and hard, they're easy to remove from the cob. Store the dried grain in airtight jars. It can be eaten as is for another crunchy snack or ground into flour and used to sweeten batter for breads, pancakes, etc. Â·lm CHARLESTON; \\'. VA. Â·Julv'27. /.9/0. Sundav State Mn.tzinc. -hilv '27.