In my life, I have never truly celebrated Thanksgiving more than once. My parents’ families live in two different states. We never had to divide our holiday between two different groups of people. So, I find it humorous that I have celebrated Thanksgiving 3 times this year, in Germany of all places.
This series of events began with dorm Thanksgiving, two weeks ago. For one night, the students took a break from the traditional school made food for a nice turkey meal with beautiful, home-made side dishes. The dorm staff dressed up the dining room tables and served a delicious meal to the students and dorm subs, like myself.
Thanksgiving is an interesting holiday at BFA. Everybody celebrates the holiday in their own way, if at all. For Canadians, Thanksgiving was celebrated in October. Koreans celebrate the season even earlier with an autumn holiday called Chuseok. I had not considered how foreign MY culture was until I celebrated this holiday in Storch dorm.
When I first arrived at Storch, I changed into a fall sweater, put my hair up, and did my makeup. It was “Thanksgiving” after all. So, I wanted to look nice. Although, when I looked around, I found myself in the minority. All of the other dorm subs and staff had dressed the part, but most of the students came down stairs in sweats. I couldn’t believe it. I began asking students if they were really going to come to dinner in a hoodie and shorts. A couple of them shrugged and asked why they shouldn’t. I didn’t really have a good answer for them. It wasn’t until I began asking my table about their Thanksgiving traditions that I realized that they didn’t really celebrate Thanksgiving. All but one student at my table was Korean. The only time they had celebrated Thanksgiving was at BFA. One student, from England, had NEVER had a Thanksgiving meal before. This was her first.
Overall, the evening wasn’t about how we were dressed, or even about the food. We didn’t even spend time doing traditional Thanksgiving things. Instead, I listened as the girls told me more about their culture and their families. While we scarfed down our delicious Thanksgiving meal, the girls told me about the sacrifices that their missionary families had made and the special treats they eat on their own holidays. By the end of the night, I found myself praising God for the relationships that I had with each of these girls.
This year, Thanksgiving fell on small group night. Rather than cancel small group, we decided to celebrate the holiday together. Quite honestly, I had never made a Thanksgiving meal before, but I wasn’t afraid of the challenge. I was convinced that I could make this meal work, even if we had to settle for chicken.
So, on Tuesday, I set out for the required ingredients. I found most things pretty easily, but I was met with the typical challenges of being in a country that does not value processed, or ready made, food. Luckily, I was able to find a turkey pretty easily. Fun fact: my turkey was French. Go figure.
On Thursday, I ran home from school as early as I could to get my turkey in the oven and to begin the long process of making everything from scratch. I was soon joined by two of my small group girls, who came over to help with the process. Together we successfully destroyed my kitchen and produced a tasty meal.
One thing that I was certainly thankful for this year was technology and the interent. As my girls arrived, they were able to enjoy a live camera feed of the Macy’s day parade. The sound of their laughter filled my apartment, while I put the finishing touches on dinner. Thankfully, the turkey was a success! Everything was wonderful. We prayed, we ate, we told stories, we ate, we laughed, we ate, and we ate. After dinner, the girls cuddled up to watch Charlie brown Thanksgiving. We wrote cards of thankfulness to our friends and then we ate some more. Altogether, it was a perfect evening.
(Grace and Hannah tried to make a wish, but I don’t think either of their wishes came true. The wishbone was not dry, so it would not break. Ooops!)
THE LAST THANKSGIVING
On Friday night, a large group of single ladies met together to celebrate Thanksgiving one last time. Everyone brought a dish and we shared a meal, family style. After dinner, we each took a turn reading Psalms of praise, which naturally lead into a time of singing. Our hosts had a beautiful arrangement of worship songs prepared. We sang them together and moved into a time of prayer. We thanked God for who He was and what He had done in our lives.
After our time of praise, we returned to the table for desert and conversation. I believe we stayed at that table for two or more hours, laughing and carrying on. My favorite part of the evening, however, was engaging in conversation with a new friend; a German friend. Two girls that I had just begun to get to know this year joined us for dinner. They are German, but they speak english very well. We talked about all sorts of things, but most of our conversation centered on the German perspective of Americans and the American perspective of Germans. It was quite interesting, to say the least. In the end, we did find common ground. We were all followers of Christ and part of one family.
This lovely evening concluded my week of Thanksgiving celebration.
TO SUPPORTERS (in prayer and finance)
Thank you for pouring your time and money into ministry. I may say this too much but, I really could not be here without you. You are part of this ministry too. May God bless you as you have blessed me with your love and support.
CONCLUSION (finally, I know)
Above all else, I am most thankful that God has poured out His love so abundantly upon me. He continues to do so daily. I may not always feel it, but I know it to be true. I stand firm on this passage of scripture, which I have experienced in my life: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us” (Ephesians 1:7-8a).