Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Zambian Thanksgiving

The day that Louisa left to go back to the States, I had two friends come to spend Thanksgiving with me! It was perfect timing that just as I had to say goodbye to my kindred, Louisa, Kelsey and Katie arrived. Kelsey lived here with me for 9 months in 2009, so she was coming back to visit her old students and friends here. I was just the blessed recipient of her visit. This was Katie’s first visit to Africa, but she has so many friends who’ve been that she already felt like she knew this place.

They came bearing many gifts for the orphanage, but also Thanksgiving treats and Christmas presents for me from my family and friends. It was like Christmas morning!
Excited about the trunks arriving!
I wish my sweet niece Jenson would have made it all the way here in that trunk!
I’ve spent quite a few Thanksgivings here, but we’ve never had a turkey. I’ve never ever seen one for sale in a store, although other people have. I did, however, spot a turkey in a village about 20 kilometers away about a month ago. I asked my friend there if he would consider selling me his turkey for our American holiday. He laughed, but agreed he’d let me have it. Our night watchman, Patrick, stays in this same village, so the night before Thanksgiving he delivered our turkey at about 7 o'clock. It was live and on the back of his bicycle. It was a HUGE turkey.

About to get dirty
Showing off the turkey
Obviously, we had no idea what to do with a live turkey. Patrick walked me through killing it, but the process once it's dead is long and involved. I sawed the neck in half, and nearly gagged a number of times in the process. It was painful for me to see and hear all the sounds involved in killing something, but I made it through. Patrick stood on the wings of the turkey to keep it still so I could do the deed. He also provided incredible moral support when I didn’t think I could finish the job. 
Pinning down the wings

This was a mixture of shock, disgust, guilt, and a number of other emotions!

After it was killed, the hard work began. In the interest of full disclosure, I viewed most of this process from the comfort of Patrick's chair. I was still traumatized by the murder I'd just committed. Katie and Patrick pulled off the majority of feathers. I started assisting in the plucking once we realized just how long it was going to take. It was unreal. Patrick took charge of gutting the bird, and that was quite fascinating and disturbing as well. Kelsey was on germ patrol, trying to keep everything as clean as possible.

Pulling off all the feathers

Trying to boil him to get all the dirt off
Washing the tukey with soap and water
 It was a late night, but we finally managed to get the turkey ready to cook. If Patrick had not been with us, there is no way we could have had turkey on Thanskgiving day. He was our hero.

I took Thanksgiving day off, and we spent the day getting things ready to cook and playing games. By about noon, we had an apple pie and deviled eggs finished and the prep work done on quite a few things. The turkey, however was still pretty raw.

And then, as it always seems to do in important moments, the power went out. Zesco, our power company here, obviously didn't care that this was a major American holiday, and we didn't have power until about 10 o'clock that night. It was sad at first, but I was not surprised because we've had inconsistent power the last few weeks because of the rains.

So we set about making fires outside on braziers to cook the rest of our meal. Our neighbors had a brai, which is like a grill, so we ended up having grilled turkey. We cooked mashed potatoes, green beans, and stuffing over an open fire.

When it was all said and done, it was a great Thanksgiving with so many unexpected adventures. We went around and said all the things we were thankful for, and I could have gone all night. Eating by the light of candles, I was thankful that we usually have electricity and modern conveniences. I am grateful for friends that took time away from their families to bless me this holiday season. I am grateful for thoughtful family that sent Thanksgiving decorations to make it feel a little like home. I am grateful for sponsoring congregations that allow me to be here doing what I get to do and who think of everything, even writing in my contract that I should observe American holidays! I am grateful for the technology that allowed me to skype my family once the power came back on so I got to hear all the things they are thankful for, too. I'm grateful God had given me purpose and a job to do in this world. I am just so thankful.



  1. Meagan,
    Your Thanksgiving sounds like it was very exciting. Thank goodness for Patrick. I laughed out loud.
    I am thankful for you!