Yesterday John and I hosted a BBQ for our Karen friends. That’s Ka RIN- not Karen or Korean. Google KarenKonnection and you’ll get the full story.
The first guests to arrive were new to the states-only having been here a month, poor guys. I greeted them with my newly practiced “Tha coo la tee bah na” (“It is good to meet/see you”). No response.
So I tried again with a broader smile, “Na ah may wee lee ah” (Have you eaten?) No response-only blank stares. “Oh no” I think, “My Karen is soo bad!” Just when I’m chiding myself over my ineptness, in walks the Karen Pastor who is staying at our house for a few days. He says a few things I don’t understand to our guests and gets the same response (none). Then someone speaks to him and he turns to me and says, “these people only speak Karenni, a separate dialect.” I was so relieved, I could have kissed them all, but was quickly reminded how difficult things must be for them. It’s hard enough speaking only Karen in an English speaking country, but to be part of a lesser dialect is beyond challenging.
John and I never know exactly how many will show up at these barbeques. Anywhere between 20 and 200. This time we prepare for 200. So early in the day, John drives to Costco and gets 264 chicken thighs. Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out what container I have for marinading it all. John picks up a coffin-size ice chest from the church and we dump the chicken in that. Well, I wish we could’ve just dumped it in, but I had to cut each chicken part out of a sealed plastic security wrap. UGH! It took me longer than buying live chickens and slaughtering them myself. The plastic was wrapped as close to the thighs as some girls wear their jeans. I did cut myself easily enough and, because I hate band-aids (those curling edges that turn dark gray), I used my favorite first-aid item: mailing tape. I can watch myself bleed, pinching if necessary, yet keep it all contained in a little marine-life museum.
I left the big chest of chicken in the kitchen and went outside to set up tables and chairs. An hour later, I step into the kitchen and slip in a puddle of pink chicken juice. The ice chest has a leak.
After driving back to the church for a leak-free ice chest, getting the chicken nicely settled in their soy-ginger bath, John fires up the grill. When I say “fires up” I mean flames licking the roof of our house. We decide based on the quantity of chicken on the grill, the skin is just too flammable. Right about now, my attitude turns about as sallow as the pile of skins I’m yanking off this jerk chicken. John and I are both at the very end of our energy and we haven’t even started. We pause to say a quick prayer, “Lord, HELP”. And return to our prep.
In the end, the night was a huge success. Everyone (about 100 including us) had an awesome time, especially John and I as we always love the worship-fest at every Karen gathering. I even had enough energy to disinfect the chicken floor (thanks to friends, I didn’t have pots and pans to wash). I mean kitchen floor.
Last night we drained our ice maker of every chip. But today, I held my glass up and it filled to the brim with crushed ice and I thought, our lives should be like this ice-maker: Filled to overflowing, poured out for the refreshment of others, then overnight our emptiness is refilled and ready for the next thirsty souls. “He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed”. Thank you, Lord for all those who refresh me. Thank you for being the Pause that Refreshes.