I never woulda thought…
**I apologize ahead of time for this blog entry, but it is the truth about life in Kenya.
For those of you who don’t know the details of my growing up years, I grew up on a farm. My family raised beef cattle and a number of other animals that we used for meat, including chickens. I know that many of you will not have had the distinct privilege of slaughtering an animal for food and will probably find this blog post hard to stomach, but bear with me. This was just part of my childhood. I knew hardly any other kids whose families did this, but strangely enough they thought it was pretty cool that we did. For clarification, the word butchering means cutting up the animal into manageable sizes and shapes (your local butcher shop). Slaughtering is the actual killing and preparing of an animal (slaughter house). Thankfully, I rarely had to participate in the slaughtering part, but I was ALWAYS included in the butchering. Before you get too grossed out, just remember it was part of life on the farm. We didn’t really think anything of it. We didn’t love it; it just needed to be done. It is the same with many people across our world and those who came before us.
In order of my preference if I have to participate in the preparing of the meat, I would choose a beef first, next pork and at the very bottom of the list the chicken.
Slaughtering chickens is gross. That is about all I can say about it. I actually have a lot more to say about it. It is stinky, there are wet feathers everywhere, and like I said before, just plain gross. My brothers and I always complained to my mom about the smell. Her response was always, “Here, chew a piece of gum and breathe through your mouth.” Thanks mom.
As I was growing up I swore I would never inflict this grossness on my children, nor would I choose to raise my own chickens and slaughter them. I would instead go to my local grocery store and buy skinless, boneless chicken breasts in a nice neat package. I didn’t want to know how to slaughter a chicken, and I really didn’t want to ever have to use the skill that somehow my upbringing gave me.
For the first ten or so years of my adult life, my carefully laid out anti-chicken plan worked just fine. I bought my chicken at the grocery store and all was perfect! Then I moved to Kenya.
I found myself faced with the choice to buy extremely expensive and comes from who knows where chicken from the store or raise my own. I am raising my own.
Today we slaughtered our chickens, all 30 of them. Everyone helped, even our brave visitor who is just visiting for a month before returning to Australia. We have done it once before here but never with the girls. Boy, was it an experience. I continue to shake my head in wonder that I know anything about the process at all and the Kenyans are amazed that I can do it. It is almost worth it just to see the look on their faces. I never would have guessed that all those years ago God was preparing me to be in Kenya today. As my 10-year-old self complained to my parents, God must have been chuckling and thinking, “Just you wait Carol, one day you will be thanking me for this experience. I waste nothing.”
My job was gutting the chickens. Yes, gross. To be honest, I had to watch a quick YouTube video and make a call to my dad to make sure I really knew how to do it. As I was proceeding with my job the girls were intently watching me. At first I thought it was because they wanted to see if I could really do it. They are all well versed in slaughtering chickens. To my surprise they were watching to make sure I didn’t waste anything. I was planning on keeping the livers and gizzards because that is somewhat normal though not on my eating plan. The girls wanted to save the feet (I offered to paint the toenails), the intestines, the heart and the pieces I had already separated out. I tried not to look horrified and told them they could do it but I, wasn’t going to eat it. They just laughed, and were probably thinking that if I didn’t eat it there would be more for them.
In my American culture I have enough excess to be picky about what I eat. I don’t have to survive or even barely get by, I waste. If I want meat I can go to a store and purchase whatever I want with no mess. Even with such a privilege sometimes I complain about it. These girls have lived a life where meat is a treat and something to be celebrated. Nothing goes to waste; they need the protein. They can’t afford to waste anything. What I realized is I am spoiled. The girls are much better stewards of the resources God has provided for us.
The girls were awesome today. They worked for 5 hours without a word of complaint. Mid-way through the process the city turned off the water and power went out, but still we continued. Thankfully we had reserve water and you would be amazed what you can do in semi-darkness. As soon as we were done (and thankfully I was in town) the girls fried up the intestines and boiled the chicken feet.
Every night at dinner each person shares their high and low for the day. Those intestines and feet made most of the girls high for the day.
On days like today I love living in Kenya. The work was hard and very stinky, but we worked as a family and got a big job done. God once again showed his faithfulness, his provision and his sense of humor. I continue to shake my head as I marvel that God has prepared me for this life. This is where he called me, and he did not call me to something he did not equip me for.
This verse has taken on new meaning:
Now may the God of peace—who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you,through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21
For the record, I may be called, but I did not eat the chicken feet or the intestines. Not quite there yet.