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“Go ahead, buy it!” said my husband.

I stood with Larry at the book table in a local warehouse store, a popular new cookbook in my hands. The cheerful red and white cover design appealed to me. I had read some rave reviews, and a quick glance through the pages confirmed my interest.

“But it’s so heavy, and it’s expensive, even here. I’m just not sure,” I replied, hesitating.

“It’s up to you,” he said, “but I think you should put it in the cart.”

The Shopping Trip

We were filling two carts with supplies intended to last a family of five for two years on the mission field. Uganda was now relatively peaceful, but shop shelves were still bare, and we needed to ship everything we might need for our assignment there. A special offering at our church had provided the funds; our shopping expedition was both exciting and overwhelming.

We piled the carts with life’s miscellany: shampoo, toothpaste, underwear, razors, towels, pens, pencils and markers for our school-age children. For the joy of living, we added a ten-pound bag of chocolate chips. With the basics selected, we browsed at the book table, wistfully eying the many tempting choices for a reading family. My practical side won out, and I put the cookbook back on the stack.

Mysterious Encounter

A week after our shopping trip, Larry was walking to a local cafe with David, a neighbor. A man approached them, carrying a cardboard box. Without introducing himself, he looked directly at Larry.  Handed him the box, he said “Take this home to your wife.” As he walked away, Larry and David looked at each other in bewilderment.

When Larry came home, he handed me the unopened package. While he related the bizarre encounter, I opened the box to find the red and white cookbook. We looked at each other in awe and amazement; tears prickling in my eyes. I had told no one else, but my Heavenly Father knew of my interest in that particular cookbook.

In the following days cardboard cartons crowded our dining room. We removed every tube of toothpaste, razor and pen from its packaging and sealed them in zippered plastic bags. The cookbook went in a box with a giant Tupperware® bowl nearly filled to the brim with chocolate chips. A few days later, the boxes were on their way to an Africa-bound freighter.

Life in Uganda was challenging, with frequent threats to our health and safety. When I battled discouragement and homesickness, the cookbook was a reminder of God’s personal involvement in our lives. When I took it off my brick-and-board shelf, its message was, “God knows me!”

Twenty years later, the red and white cookbook occupies a prominent place in my kitchen. The pages are discolored and fly-specked, the dust jacket worn. A favorite recipe still shows penciled adjustments for Ugandan ingredients.

It’s an enduring reminder that God cares about the details of our life.