Friday, November 28, 2014

thanks and giving

Talk about synchronicity.

For the past two weeks our Bible study at church has centered around re-thinking our place in our community.  Specifically, we have been discussing whether our charitable activities match up with the needs of our neighbors.

Earlier in the year, some of us read When Helping Hurts: Alleviating the Poverty Without Hurting The Poor ... And Yourself  by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert.  The authors, who have worked in Christian charitable organizations, point out that the church has an obligation to help the poor -- no matter where they are located.

But they also discuss how a large portion of charity not only fails to help the poor.  In some instances, it leaves the poor in a worse position.  Rather than have churches abandon a core part of its mission, the authors provide
strategies that have succeeded in different parts of the world -- strategies the church can use to assist the poor in empowering themselves.

OK.  I know that sounds like something out of a United Nations brochure.  That is because I am trying to reduce some very complex ideas to a few sentences.  I have really been impressed with how our study group has taken the strategies to heart.

But I am not surprised.  Like most people involved in charity, their hearts are almost always in the right place -- wanting to share God's love with others.  But, we are not quite certain what our role should be.

What we do know is that relationships are far more important than handing out material goods.  And that is what we are going to be discussing in the next two weeks.

I thought about relationships in the community as I left the church yesterday evening.  As you know, I was scheduled to have dinner in a local restaurant -- Rooster's.  That turns out not to be exactly true. 

The owners of Rooster's -- Gary and Joyce Pittman -- took an incredibly brave step.  They opened a new place on the beach (just yards from their current place that will keep its current format).  And they opened it on Thanksgiving evening.

They gambled wisely.  Even though some of the details of the opening came together only on late Wednesday night, they have a hit.

The tables were sold out.  The turkey dinner was as good as any turkey dinner can be.  (Please remember I am not a turkey fan.  Lamb and prime rib are my preferred Thanksgiving meals.)

The new place is Papa Gallo's.  The idea was to have a menu a bit different than Rooster's tried and true menu.  The idea intrigues me.  I am always up for new concepts in food and dining.

One of the best aspects of the arrival of the northern tourists is a proliferation of new restaurants.  Places that are closed in the summer months start opening in transitional steps.  By December, almost everything is in full swing.

For their small size, Melaque and Barra de Navidad (as well as La Manzanilla) offer up an amazing variety of cuisine.  And Papa Gallo's, with its French chef, will undoubtedly offer up some great treats.

I told you yesterday that I am not big on making lists of thanks.  But this was certainly a day where I felt thankful.


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