Thanksgiving was quickly approaching and this year, I had actually thought ahead. In September when our son and son-in-law came to visit, I put in my request for canned pumpkin in their suitcases. There are pumpkins here in Malawi though it is not really the season, but that seemed like alot of work with no guarantee of successful results! So, with the delivery of cans of pumpkins, pumpkin pies were on the menu, as was cranberry sauce and even StoveTop dressing, courtesy of my thoughtful daughter-in-law Kara who "stuffed" it in the suitcase unbeknownst to me!
However, my big concern was what to do about a turkey! I hadn't seen them in the stores and when I asked at my local butcher, he looked sad and shook his head. Even if I had a turkey, I had one small oven and even more concerning - no reliable power source. We lose electricity almost every single day for 3-11 hours. Even though the electric company, ESCOM (whose mantra is "Towards Power All Day Every Day") uploads a "Loadshedding Schedule" at the beginning of each week indicating which neighborhoods will lose power and at what time, it is as reliable as the electricity - NOT!).
I really wanted to have the all of the Blantyre missionaries over for dinner that day. Yet at the zone meeting a few weeks earlier, I looked around and realized that we only had five Westerners of the seventeen missionaries - and two of them were Canadian! That's when it hit me - we could have a braii with Thanksgiving accompaniments (aren't the side dishes the best anyway?) We wouldn't have to worry about an oven, the group could flow outside into the yard, and especially, we could just have a great time since there had not been a zone activity in a very long time. The zone leaders, Elders Hinckley (Canadian but said he loved pumpkin pie!) and Elder Rugumayo were on board immediately!
We asked Elder Shai, who was days away from heading home to South Africa, to be in charge of the meat. A few days before the event, we took him shopping to three butchers where we picked up chicken, steaks, and big fat sausages, in addition to barbeque and peri-peri sauces. I could not believe how much meat we bought!
We borrowed a large barbeque from Brother and Sister Lungu in the Zingwangwa branch and the missionaries picked it up and delivered to our home a few days before. We put it under shelter immediately because the rainy season is creeping up on us and short downpours are not uncommon.
Everyone was excited for the special Thursday. There was a full day of missionary work and then the companionships began arriving at 5:00 PM.
I was getting the last preparations ready. I had two requests from some of the missionaries: pumpkin pie (you can see one in the background), and...
mashed potatoes and gravy! I had two big pots and filled them both with potatoes.
Elder Alexander (from Santa Clarita, CA) was all psyched to help his companion, Elder Shai, get the coals ready. Elder Kapalanga gave them some help.
Elder Shai loves to wear hats, not unusual for the elders from South Africa. Sure looks like he knows what he is doing on the braii! Elder Collins is recording the moment.
Yum! I had used various marinades on the meats.
Meanwhile, back in the kitchen...
Guess who is mashing those potatoes! Sister Thueson (from Salt Lake City).
Some things just can't be beat!
Sister Frimpong (from London), Sister Dlamini (from South Africa) and Sister Salamone (from Fiji) are just enjoying Sister Thueson's enthusiasm. Sister Dlamini will finish her mission in a matter of days. How we will miss her!
Looking from our house into the yard. It was a beautiful evening and it was one of the few times we could really enjoy the yard.
Davie, our guard and gardener, keeps everything looking so beautiful. We invited him to join us for the evening.
He was the only one not in a white shirt!
His twelve-year old nephew Tony was also happy to join us. Tony lives with Davie and was baptized into the church just the week before.
Elders Alexander, Mbufo, and Chawaguta.
Our zone leaders, Elders Rugumayo (from Uganda) and Hinckley (from Alberta) with Elder Chiliza in the middle.
The chef with Elder Hinckley.
Companions, Sister Salamone and Sister Thueson.
We sat on the hill and ate our full plates of braii, mashed potatoes and gravy, pasta salad, stuffing, marinated cucumbers, cranberry sauce, rolls and topped it all off with pumpkin pie and ice cream. What a great Thanksgiving! Before anyone left, we went around in a circle and each told something for which they were grateful.
So, I was feeling quite good about it all. However, a few days later when we were with President Matale, we happened to see a turkey running around on the road. Where was that turkey when I needed it a few days earlier?, I commented. When he found out that we didn't have turkey on Thanksgiving, he was horrified. "How could I reject the traditions of our fathers??" He had great memories of the two Thanksgivings on his mission when he was introduced to the American turkey tradition. So, he assured me that he could always get a turkey for the holiday so the missionaries could enjoy it in future years. Guess I will be leaving Thanksgiving instructions for the next senior couple...