Thanksgiving week has officially begun and you know what that means…turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, family, friends and maybe travelling depending on where you are spending the day. My church, Hope Chapel Waikiki, starts the week off every year with giving back to our community by feeding the hungry. Not just the homeless, but anyone who might need a meal can come and gather around a thanksgiving plate. My pastor, Dennis Sallas, always jokes that’s him, because he is usually hungry after two services, LOL.
Here in Hawaii, we do the turkeys a little bit different…shredded turkey imu style, which means a whole weekend of service and fun. It starts off Friday morning at our friend, James’ house in Palolo, where he has a permanent hole dug in the ground always ready for food to go in for a party. The boys stack the rock and wood and gather the banana stumps and leaves needed for the “oven”. By noon, the fire is lit…after a call to the fire department to let them know what we are up to, cuz the smoke can be seen through out the valley. Around 2 Pastor shows up with all the donated turkeys and then it’s a little bit of a wait, while the boys stand around the imu checking to make sure its burning correctly and the rocks are piled the right way…you know…the usual guy thing.
Then it’s time to pan the turkeys and the assembly line jumps into action. We have a usual crew of people every year so, we basically have it down to a science. Unwrap, pan, salt, double pan, tinfoil and placed on the table ready to go. The imu process is amazing with the rocks, banana stumps, leaves, wet burlap sacks and a plastic cover to seal it all in so it slowly cooks over night. After it’s all set then we relax, eat, always a guitar and ukulele comes out and we talk and sing songs into the night; not too late cuz we have to be back early the next morning.
As the sun is starting to rise, armed with plenty of caffeine, the imu is opened and pans placed on the table to cool. Then, the shredding process begins. Turkeys are difficult, because of all the tiny little bones and gristle that need to be taken out and thrown away. James’ sister Daune’s rule is if you won’t eat it yourself, throw it away. So we pick through several times with several different eyes on it to make sure we got it all. Then the turkey is bagged, the place cleaned up and we go home to rest.
While all this is taking place, Donna, the pastor’s wife, has her own crew of people at home cooking stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, picking up pumpkin pies and all the other stuff needed to make this dinner happen. It all runs smooth because of her.
Sunday morning…after service the food is being warmed up, the plates are being assembled, servers are tying on their aprons ready to go. People are lining up and ready to dig in. Usually, we have tables all set up, so they can come in, sit and be served. There is usually live music up on the stage and it’s a nice afternoon. I usually wander around, directing people to open seats and just “talking story” with them. These last 2 years had to be a little different…its been a grab and go line. It doesn’t hit the same way, but it’s been great that we were able to shift and still make it happen.
This was my 10th. year helping with this meal and I have loved it. When I was in youth group, we always did service projects and went down to soup kitchens to help out, but to actually be in your own backyard, giving back to people you may know or see on the streets…that’s a little more special in my eyes.
I have to admit…I am selfish in a lot of ways, and in the past, I didn’t always want to help the needy. I don’t know why, maybe because I was always in my little suburban bubble and didn’t see it up close and personal. But here, in Hawaii, I see it every day and my eyes have been opened and my heart has expanded and I am grateful I have the opportunity to help. Not just at Thanksgiving, but in little ways all year long.
Let’s remember to always give thanks for what we have been blessed to receive and always look for small ways we can lend a helping hand to someone else.
****Question for the comments–what are some things, big or small, that we can do to help others?
****Please, subscribe, like, comment, share and tell a friend. Thanks for being here.