At the Chinese Congregation we always share a light meal together before going home. Last week one of the brothers treated everyone to quite a feast. He wanted to honor someone who was returning to China and bless the rest of us. We were grateful and enjoyed the time together. Fortunately, someone was there who knew how to translate and it was such a fun evening with languages flying furiously between us.

This week we also shared a meal. It was a bit more interesting. The pastor’s wife served some kind of concoction made with rice, green beans, dates, and… whatever. But the interesting part was yet to come. Out came a pan of mashed potatoes, a jar of mayonnaise, and a loaf of bread. She cheerfully spread her bread with mayonnaise, added some potatoes, rolled it up and ate it, showing us all how to eat her Chinese version of… oh no, I’m not going to tell you—yet.

She turned to me and said, “It’s good, isn’t it?”

I said I preferred it without the bread and mayonnaise, but seeing others bravely give it a try, I went for some of the mayonnaise.

Interesting.

She sat back smiling, happy that everyone seemed to be enjoying the meal.

“I didn’t have time to go shopping,” she shared. “I had wanted to have Bourekas to go with the meal, but no time. So I thought, OK, bread, mayonnaise, potatoes. Just like Bourekas, good yes?”

What could I say? Sure, it works, I guess. And I remembered that time in college when I had wanted to make beef stroganoff. But when I got to the store I wasn’t thrilled with the price of the cut of meat needed so I’d substituted hamburger, and they were out of egg noodles so I’d used macaroni, and I forget what I used instead of sour cream. I followed the recipe exactly—except for my substitutions, and just couldn’t understand why no one would believe it was beef stroganoff.

And as I think about this I realize, there is nothing like the REAL thing… in food and in things of the spirit. How thankful I am that I belong to the REAL God of creation, and have hope in His real promises.

Oh, and I wouldn’t suggest bread with mayo and mashed potatoes, though it does give one perspective of what some people think Bourkas are made of…