Thursday, August 25, 2011

Serving the First Lady of Namibia

On August 3rd the Garden Cafe hosedt a private luncheon for the First Lady of Namibia. It was all God's doing. I should begin by giving you some details about how it all came about.
First Lady Pohamba Arriving
Welcoming First Lady and V.I.P.'s
It was around the 12th of July when we received a request from the Ministry of Health in Okahandja for a quotation on how much we would charge to host a private buffet lunch for 70 - 80 people on the 3rd of August. Each of the restaurants in Okahandja was asked to submit a quotation. At the time we submitted our quotation we did not know that it was to host the First Lady.
After we submitted our proposal a representative of the Ministry of Health, Mr. Robert Horeb, visited us to discuss the menu options we had detailed in the quotation.  It was during our discussions that we found out that the private lunch was for First Lady Penehupifo Pohamba and several other dignataries of Nambia. He then told us that we would hear something by the 29th of July if we got the bid.
Around the 25th Mr. Horeb returned with the First Lady's advance team. The team was looking at each location that submitted a bid to see which restaurant would be the best for the event. There were about 8-10 people and they looked around and then left without asking any questions. I thought they did not like what they saw. It was about an hour later that they returned and they asked a lot of questions and discussed the menu again, spoke about security and did a thorough inspection of the Cafe.
Well I'll  try to keep this from getting to long.  Mr. Horeb returned and told us we had been chosen to host the luncheon. We were so excited but secretlyI was thinking,  "What in the world did I get us into?" Remember that my lovely, brilliant, hostess wife was still in the States. I did what I normally do not do. I asked for help from our friends and our church.
When we found out we were hosting the First Lady we had less than a week to prepare. We had several more visits from various local officials, presidential security teams and the local police to begin preparing for the big event.
I will not tell you every detail we had to go through to get ready but I can tell you that I looked reasonably calm on the outside but I was franticly trying to figure out how to do everything and how we were going to pull it off. We got everything we needed and closed the Cafe the day before to begin preparing the food and to clean and set up the Cafe.
On the 2nd of August we began preparing the food and the President's personal chef was in our kitchen observing how we prepared the food and giving us tips along the way. On the 3rd, the day of the event, the President's chef rolled up his sleaves and helped us cook the whole morning. He was such a blessing and we were honored to have him help us in our tiny kitchen.
On the 3rd we were busy finishing the cooking and setting up the cafe to seat 80 people. Eric and Faye Garnie our dear friends were such a blessing to us in helping get everything set up. They stayed the whole day to help.
That morning we had the local police taking up position around the Cafe for security reasons. This started to draw the attention of the local residents. About 10am we had the advance presidental security teams here looking over the area and taking up their positions. At about noon we had a sniffer dog come through looking for bombs and to ensure the Cafe was secure.
At 12:30 everything was in place and we were ready to recieve First Lady Pohamba and her guests. Just before her arrival the route to the Cafe was secured and we waited for our guests to arrive. It was a sight to see the First Lady and her security detail pull into our Cafe parking lot. I was honored to get to personally greet and welcome First Lady Pohamba to our little Cafe.
The next hours were a blur as everyone, especially our wonderful staff, worked to make sure every guest was served and taken care of. I was everywhere and smiling and greeting people. I was so proud of our staff. They had come so far and had worked so hard to get through the program and now they were serving the First Lady and many dignataries.
As people were coming I noticed that there were more than 80 people. This brought about a whole new challange and we quickly sat up another table and were able to accomodate the extra guests. The final number of guests was 125 people. That is 45 more than we expected and it was a miracle that we had enough food to feed every single person.  Remember the loaves and fishes?
At the end of the event we had people from the Ministry of Health, the First Lady's team, the U.S. Embassy and others that complimented us on the service, the food and the restuarant. To hear all the praises was greatly appreciated we were so happy to have been able to make the First Lady's visit a pleasant experience.


Anonymous said...


That's an amazing story. I'll be sure to share it with the LifeBridge Church staff at our next meeting. Who knows what doors may have been opened by the choice of the Garden Cafe? I'll be excited to hear how God uses this.

Kevin Clark

Mara Mattia said...

Wow! I've been following your blog since the beginning. How far you've come, such resourcefulness, how God's blessed and taught you & your team! What an impact for God on those kids you've worked with and trained! :o) -Mara