Friday, September 3, 2010

A Present from Australia

Last night was perfect. A dear friend of mine from across the world sent me a most lovely, thoughtful, and perfect gift for my birthday. I did not expect anything from her.

Sometime in February and March, I had to give up eating gluten and wheat. Karen sympathized and knew how much I was saddened by this. I had bought a $30 bread machine the previous springtime season and was in love with making breads and baking home made gifts.

Giving up gluten myself made it hard to enjoy baking when I wanted to taste it, make special breakfast breads for toast with our eggs, and rolls to accompany our dinners. I gradually stopped making it altogether to avoid eating bread and gluten. I had looked into getting a grain mill and making rice flour to make gluten free breads when I found how cheap it is to make rice flour. All I would need is a bag of rice!

My dreams of baking gluten free were dashed when I found that the mills were not conforming to our budget and too big for our lack of kitchen storage. My bread maker has stood sadly in the corner next to my KitchenAid stand mixer collecting dust together. I often would couple the two together and make four loaves at one time. I knew I was going to miss those days of baking.

Karen, bless her heart, really hurt for me that I had to give up my favorite kitchen art. In the meantime, She and everyone around me were plotting a birthday surprise. She told me I would receive a card instead of her previously planned care package she kept speaking of to me on aim. She had no money to send a gift like she had wanted to after all. I never wanted much from her to begin with and was eager to receive a card, handwritten all the way from my dear Australian friend!

For a week and a half, Nathan and I planned to have our friend Jake over for our favorite pot roast night. I wanted to make it very special. I meticulously, as always, set about planning the order of how I would make it all, set the table early (but not too early that the cats would have time to play all over the table), and even pulled out my handmade table runner. I had not suspected a thing at all.

Arriving merely seconds before Nathan did, Jake brought with him a package in blue, red, and yellow paper with "happy birthday!" block lettering all over it.
I asked him, "um, what is that?" I was unprepared for his (now obvious) thought through and careful answer with a broad smile to go with it,
"A late birthday present from Karen New."
I remember shouting a little unnecessarily loud, "WHAT?!? but HOW? You have got to be kidding me!? You knew?" I was quite taken aback and in complete disbelief.
He smiled. I may have screeched or squealed as I took it out of his hands, I can't quite remember. He never said "for you" so I still had doubt. Nathan's birthday after all is only four days before mine.
"For me?" I think he laughed and Nathan entered.

As I set it down on my kitchen table, I had a feeling I was supposed to wait for a special timing of hers to open it. I ran to my laptop to leave a message on her Facebook wall still in disbelief and shock.

For a moment it lay there forgotten while I finished preparing dinner, eventually transferring it to the dining rook while I mashed the potatoes and whisked the gravy some more.

Dinner was a hit, the package lay on the dining room table and, momentarily, I would look at it and wonder why Jake and Nathan did not give me a sign of some sort, motion me to the box at least, and ask me if I wanted to open it or why it was still wrapped. This box was perfectly square, wrapped very neatly (Jaker style), and beckoning my fingers.

For the moment, however, I enjoyed dinner with the boys. A meal meant for an entire family that lasted mere minutes for only a setting of three.

Sarah called me then. Apparently she had tried calling several times while we ate, likely a bit frustrated that I did not hear the phone ring nor answer it. I finally heard it ring and upon answering, received frantic tones of "Get on Skype, Karen wants you to open the present!"

Wait, WHAT?!? I hung up with her shortly after she accepted my apologies and love, pulled out my laptop, logged onto Skype, and had everything set up while Nathan brought out my camera. I was a bit nervous at this time. What was I supposed to do when I opened this gift? Cry? Look shocked? Would I look shocked? What if I already guessed what it was during my fits with the potato masher and gravy whisking? If my guess is right can I still sound believable? I think she would have liked it if I cried. I can't fake a cry though!

With the Skype successfully working and set up and with Karen and her babies watching me, I opened my package and saw the first words of "KitchenAid" and nearly died! I knew what it was. An attachment for my stand mixer that would grind away my multiple bags of rice I had put away when I found out I could not afford a mill. I am pretty sure my jaw dropped. I know I screamed/squealed/screeched a bit. I never expected anything from Australia for my birthday to begin with, but even though I wondered about a mill, when Jake showed up bearing the gift from Karen, I never guessed it would come in this form!

Nathan proceeded to film and take pictures of me, Jake, and Copper, who positioned himself in the "head-of-the-house" chair (which he quite looks like he belongs there, too). Words can simply not describe the gratitude and love for Karen that I feel now. She gave me a most delightful gift. Not just in the present, but in the thought and concept of what she knew meant a lot to me. She not only gave me a mill, she gave me bread and future gifts to those with whom I love and want to share my baking.

Here are some photos Nathan took during the surprise. I now know why he took them and why Karen wanted to see me open the "pressie."

setting up the Skype video call to Australia and glaring at Nathan a bit

"All set, Nathan?"

peals of enthusiasm

disbelief and shock that she did this.


Today, after taking care of my morning chores, I emptied all bags of brown rice I had pushed to the back of my shelves and ignored all these days. I cried while watching the rice trickle down into fine dust and collecting in mounds in a bucket under the mill. I cried not because of the process or the gift, but that God had arranged such a bizarre meeting that occurred nearly two years ago and a friendship that is lasting and forever!

As the tears rolled down my cheeks, I asked "why? Why Lord do you see fit to bless me?"
Without Karen's perfect planning, with Jake's, Sarah's, and Nathan's assistance, I would not have enjoyed fully that night I will remember. I wished I could have hugged Karen and Sarah while I did hug Jake and Nathan for the planning.

Thank you Karen! You gift and friendship mean so much to me! God has blessed me in knowing you and I look forward to meeting you in person one day. I only hope I do get a chance before I die, but I know I will be worshiping Christ side by side with you in heaven even if it is never possible to fellowship together on earth during our lifetime.

1 comment:

Karen New said...

I love you special girl! You are more than welcome! You are a wonderful friend and you deserve all the blessing in the world! xx k