The Cookbook

“Go ahead, buy it!” said my husband Larry. I stood at the book table in a local warehouse store, a heavy 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.”

We were actually pushing two carts through the store, filling them with supplies intended to last a family of five for two years on the mission field. Uganda was currently experiencing relative peace, but shops were still empty, and we were told to ship everything we thought we would need for our assignment there. A special offering at church provided the funds; our shopping expedition was both exciting and overwhelming.

We had piled the carts with all the miscellany of life: 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 were at the book table, wistfully eyeing the many tempting choices. My practical side won out, and I put the cookbook back on the stack. Once home, we started preparing our purchases for shipment. We removed every tube of toothpaste, razor and pen from its packaging and sealed in a zippered plastic bag. The chocolate chips nearly filled a giant Tupperware® bowl. In the following days, preparations for our overseas move and for our eldest daughter’s wedding, scheduled just two weeks before our departure, filled my mind.

A week or so 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, and said, “Take this home to your wife.” Larry and David looked at each other in bewilderment as they watched the man walk away.

When Larry came home, he handed me the package. As he related the bizarre story, I opened the box to find the red and white cookbook. We looked at each other in awe and amazement; tears prickled in my eyes. No one else was aware of my interest in that particular cookbook—but God knew.

Our life in Uganda was challenging. Living conditions were difficult, with frequent threats to our safety and health. I battled homesickness and discouragement, but the cookbook was a daily testimony that God was personally involved in our lives. When I took it off my brick-and-board shelf, I would think, “God knows me!”

Twenty years later, the red and white cookbook occupies a prominent place in my kitchen. The dust jacket is worn, the edges discolored and fly-specked. A thank-you note from friends who stayed in our thatch-roofed house marks a favorite recipe. It’s an enduring reminder that God cared enough about the details of our life to send a special messenger with tangible proof of His loving, personal provision.

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