When I worked in sales, we had a saying: “Decisions are made at the kitchen table.” So much of life happens in the intimate (and sometimes cramped) space of the kitchen. In many homes, it becomes a place for families to gather, for packages to be placed on the counter, for planning sessions to happen and for the ordinary and often mundane things of life to be shared. In recent decades, builders have designed homes with larger kitchen spaces to accommodate this reality. Much of life happens in the kitchen.
Even Jesus chose to connect with His disciples after His resurrection over a meal on the shore. In John 21 we read, “When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead” (John 21:9-14).
It would have been astonishing to be invited to that breakfast on the lakeshore! At Hope Haven Rwanda, we have a variety of kitchens. We began with an animal stall turned into a kitchen and that kitchen served us well for several years. I loved watching the steam rise above open charcoal stoves as giant pots of porridge and vegetables were prepared. That building was demolished a few weeks ago, and it was hard for some of our staff to see it go. Many memories, and many meals, were made in that kitchen!
By God’s grace, this year we opened a new kitchen where we are serving more than 110,000 meals per year! This kitchen is staffed by four amazing cooks: Jerome, Joyeuse, Eugene and Lea. When we tried to pitch in to help serve lunch there recently, a few of us discovered how difficult their job is every single school day. Their job requires a solid grasp of logistics, portion sizes, meal planning and keeping the students in line. It’s not easy, but they do it well.
Finally, we have a kitchen which many of you may recognize as the central gathering space in our lodging area. This kitchen stays especially busy during the summer hosting guests from around the world and is managed by Chef David, our Finnish-trained Chef and Hope Haven’s director of Agriculture and Hospitality. Trust me, if you think that you will lose weight by serving a few weeks in Africa this summer, it is unlikely with Chef David at the stove!
As we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States this week, many of us will gather in the kitchen. May we cherish the relationships that God has placed in our lives, may we use our words to build up each other and may we have an attitude of gratitude for the bounty that God has given so many of us this season!