Spirituality from the Colonel …

…My digestive system hasn’t been quite right since the wedding last weekend. To be honest, I am incredibly surprised I made it this far (seven weeks) completely healthy. Fortunately, the most aggravating symptoms have just been fatigue, lethargy, and a lack of hunger. The weather has also been uncomfortably cold and gloomy which have further contributed to my drowsiness. Moreover, I was beginning to feel quite lonesome because the last of my close friends and roommates had departed for home over the weekend. While sleeping off my sickness yesterday afternoon, I was surprised by the arrival of three new volunteers, including two fourth-year medical students from the United States. With the house full again and plenty of new questions to ask, my spirit was starting to rekindle.

Today, however, my vitality was completely revived in the unlikeliest of locations. Hunger finally hit me in the hospital this afternoon and I wanted nothing more than to have a simple taste of home. On our ride home from the hospital, I requested to get out of the car near a KFC I had spotted a few weeks ago.

What began as a desperate maneuver to refuel quickly developed into a festive and heartwarming occasion. As I entered the KFC, I could see the staff already gaining excitement to serve a foreigner. The two male cashiers both vied enthusiastically to take my order and the staff behind them waited eagerly to prepare what I ordered. However, I don’t think they were as excited as I was to see them. I ordered the 3 piece chicken meal with a large 7 Up and felt like a big kid in a candy store. The staff found out I was from America and the smiles spread like Hollywood gossip throughout the kitchen.

I found a seat near the sunny window and, with my friend Colonel Sanders glaring at me from every wall and package with his big happy American smile, bit into my first heavenly drumstick. Having not had meat in nearly two weeks, I said a short prayer of thanks to the little birds who now tasted so delicious. After savoring every bite, I went back for another order of drumsticks and fries. And, after that, I went back for a Mochachino that looked awesome on the other tables. It was!

Just as I was beginning to get very introspective over my Mochachino in what was now a full-blown spiritual revival, the perfect twangy country song, ideally called “Chicken Fried” by the Zac Brown Band, came through the restaurant’s speaker system. The lyrics (below), fried chicken, Mochachino, sunshine coming through the window, and KFC staff smiling at me with thumbs up as I sang along were just what the doctor ordered!

“I thank God for my life
And for the stars and stripes
May freedom forever fly, let it ring
Salute the ones who died
And the ones that give their lives, so we don’t have to sacrifice
All the things we love

Like our chicken fried
Cold beer on a Friday night
A pair of jeans that fit just right
And the radio up

Well I’ve seen the sunrise
See the love in my woman’s eyes
Feel the touch of a precious child
And know a mother’s love…

…And it’s funny how it’s the little things in life that mean the most
Not where you live, what you drive, or the price tag on your clothes
There’s no dollar sign on a piece of mind this I’ve come to know
So if you agree have a drink with me
Raise your glasses for a toast.”

Here here Mr. Brown!! Here here!

My new friends asked if they could have pictures with me and be my Facebook friends. Duh! Then, they wanted to send me on a tour of the kitchen and meet the rest of the staff. Obviously! The manager came out and introduced me to the head chef, who gave me a special tour of the immaculate kitchen, freezers, and cooking process. I asked if he would give me the secret original recipe, but apparently we weren’t that tight yet.

I left KFC with a new hop in my step and about ten new friends whom I will see at least twice a month. Thanks Colonel!

Some touching photos from the day:

–Waiting to see a doctor–

–Holding hands to hold on–

–Unknown child born on the street to a mother who can’t even remember her name–