Saturday, December 3, 2011

Giving Thanks

Our mission team in Tanzania has a tradition to celebrate Thanksgiving together each year.  We are all from America, and we are as much family as we're going to get out here.  This year, the Medinas hosted.  All 40 of us. 

Things that are the same as Thanksgiving in the States:

1.  Turkey
2.  Pumpkin pie
3.  Excessive and absurd amounts of food
4.  Lots of laughter and fun
5.  Very very grateful hearts

I think that's where the similarities stop.

Things that are different from Thanksgiving in the States:

1.  Finding a turkey was a major undertaking.  Finding one that wouldn't cost $1 per bite was even more of a challenge.  But we did it.

2.  The pumpkin pie, as well as absolutely everything else on the table, was completely from scratch.  Meaning, we cooked down pumpkins for the pies.  And dried out bread cubes for stuffing.  And peeled real potatoes and mashed them.  (Okay, I do know that this does occasionally happen in America as well.  Not trying to insult anyone.)  I did not do all the cooking.  It was a huge potluck, and my part was only baking the rolls and some pies.  We have amazing cooks on our mission kind of have to become that way if you want to eat anything more than scrambled eggs in this country.

3.  Oh, I was wrong.  The cranberry sauce did come from a can.  Which someone had brought with them from the States. 

4.  The fourth Thursday of November is not a holiday in this country.  We all had to work, and thus we held our meal on the fourth Saturday of November.

5.  The power went out right before the guests arrived.  We had been trying to cool down the room by blasting the air conditioning in the living room before they came (which we rarely use), and so we had to turn on the generator to keep it going.  The generator did not like all the power we were using, so we had to choose between the air conditioner and the lights.  The lights went off. 

6.  Having 40 people in the house in 90 degree weather, even with the A/C, still caused a profuse amount of sweating.  Lots of people ate outside. 

7.  The marshmallows on top of the sweet potatoes were pink.  Pink is the primary color of all marshmallows in Tanzania.

8.  I used pineapples and bougainvillea as part of my centerpieces.

9.  There was no football, no parade, and nothing, nowhere was on sale. 

But it still felt like Thanksgiving.

We started at 1:00, but many people stayed until 9, snacking on leftovers and playing games for hours. 

There are many things I am thankful for, but this team is a major one.  We are all so far from our families, but they fill us up with love and affection.  My kids call them all "Aunt" and "Uncle."  They are amazing people with amazing stories and are doing incredible things for God's kingdom....reaching the very development through health care, teaching English, building Tanzanians to be missionaries....equipping pastors. 

My first choice would be to be with my family on Thanksgiving.  But this is the next best thing. 
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