Conversation in the household Monday morning:
Kate: Kids, do you have 2 chickens you want to kill today? We're cooking Silver tonight but we need another one.
Kate: Which one is Chip?
Abigail: The skinny white one.
Kate: Why did you pick him? Does he kooka-looka-loo in the morning?
Caleb: He poops in the schoolroom!
Well, there you have it! Not exactly the same as running out to Harris Teeter for a chicken to throw in the crockpot before heading out for the day, but the result is the same. Or better. Silver was the proudest rooster that ever lived, judging by his constant crowing from before dawn til the sun was well over the horizon. But he blessed the world with his last kooka-looka-loo on that Monday morning, and then the family blessed themselves by putting him in the pot for lunch and thereby reaping a few more minutes of precious sleep the following morning.
Rosa had been hired to cook the main meal for the family Monday through Friday of this week so that Kate would be free to immerse herself in the first ever outreach specifically for women in the 3 years of their ministry in this country. They had received many teams of short-term workers during that time but they had all been men, so it was a particular delight to Kate to have some American women there to serve with her on a special project to bless the hardest working women on the earth, according to the United Nations last year. Yes, Guinea Bissau was rated the worst country in the world to be a mother! So Monday morning, after Wade chopped off Silver's head, Rosa got to work making lunch. When I passed by the kitchen an hour later she was standing at the sink cutting apart the bird with a large bowl of feathers on the counter next to her. I suppose that's a common enough sight in some parts of the world, or maybe even in some parts of our own country, but my eyes had never seen such a spectacle and so I had to run for my camera to document this experience for the sake of my own memory.
While Rosa was cooking lunch and cleaning the house, our little team of ladies was busy setting up the salon to be ready for opening day just a few hours later. Kate had told everyone we would be providing our pampering services from 4-7 p.m., and had been specific about which day each person was to come, in an effort to spread out the traffic and keep us from being overwhelmed on any given day. We arranged all the tools and supplies on a long, cloth covered table, carried over a mirror borrowed from my bedroom wall, and taped colorful photos cut from my old Birds & Blooms magazines to the walls along with the gorgeous wreath we had made the day before. Tonya had brought a supply of scented candles to add to the ambience, as well as an ipod and ihome speaker that provided us with hours of peaceful, uplifting music, and before long everything was in place and we were ready to go. We prayed over our Jesus Spa, asking the Lord to make it a place of healing and comfort for every woman who walked through the door. We asked that our hands would be the hands of Jesus on their bodies, that our voices would be the voice of Jesus in their ears, and that we would be given the grace to love them with the unconditional love of Jesus. We knew that every woman who walked through that door would be coming with pains, fears, burdens, guilt, and unmet physical and emotional needs that only God Himself could satisfy. Our desire was that the service we were offering would minister deeply to these needs by pointing them to the Savior who knows them and loves them and wants to wrap His arms around them and let them know that they can be His beloved daughters if they choose to follow Him and turn away from the demons who have no plan for their lives except to steal, kill and destroy. We had done all we could do to prepare, and now it was time to just watch what God would do, and be ready for whatever opportunities He provided.
The aromas of lunch cooking were as tempting as any I have ever known. The meals we had eaten up to that time had been American both in menu and in manner, and I was more than ready to experience some authentic African cooking served in authentic African style - the family bowl. Rosa served up two very large bowls of rice with chicken and vegetables over the top, and tucked just the right number of spoons into the edges of the bowls and set them on a mat on the floor of the back porch. Lunch was served. With Asher the dog politely taking his place off the edge of the mat, Mittens the cat staying put on a chair nearby, and the stray chicken or two shooed off the porch for the moment, the nine of us gathered around those two bowls on the floor and offered thanks to the Lord for His bounteous provision. Never has a spoonful of food been more flavorful and satisfying than what we enjoyed that day, unless perhaps it was the other African meals we took pleasure in each of the next several days in like manner.
And then, with bellies full and the temperature hovering around 100 degrees, it was time for the mid-day rest. In two short hours we would be welcoming our first group of salon clients.