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Feeling a Little Foreign at Thanksgiving - Jeff

Beth in pumpkin

It is very interesting celebrating Thanksgiving in a foreign country. Basically it comes down to the fact that South Africa , like most other countries, does not celebrate this great day.  It gets complicated trying to explain the day to our friends, as we use words like Pilgrims (who?), Mayflower (a flower that blooms in May?), Indians (from India?), football (soccer?), and stuffing (stuff what?). I pretty much have shortened my explanation to "It is a day when we get together with family and friends and remember what God has done in the past year and celebrate by eating a lot of food". This seems to satisfy their interest and keep from any confusion.

Even though it is not a holiday here we still celebrate by getting together with other American missionaries to fellowship and eat a lot of food. It is always a great time that is highlighted by great food, swimming, and hanging out with friends who get the tradition of this holiday.

Celebrating the holiday may feel a little foreign, but there are so many things that I am thankful for from the past year that I would like to share with you:

Family…I have spent the last year loving, caring for, and just being with my wife, Abby, and our daughter, Beth. I am so blessed that I get to do life with them. They are amazing and I am a better man because of them. Abby, Beth, and I are also blessed with an awesome extended family who do life and ministry with us. Their support is invaluable to us and Engage Africa. A better support system we could not have picked.

Friends…Our path has crossed with so many people who have enhanced our lives and hopefully we have done the same. God has blessed us with such great friends back in the USA and here in South Africa. To name you would be futile (I am sure I would miss someone). To our American friends, we wish we could see you more often but it is amazing how we just click when see each other in our once a year visit. But I believe that our connection is strengthened as we lift each other up daily in prayer. To our South African friends, we may not have the history, but you are such a blessing to us. We love just being with you and sharing your lives.

Ministry…We are so blessed to be able to work a "job" that we love. I put it in quotes because it is not like a job to me…it is a way of life and I absolutely love it. Now there are parts that at times are frustrating (cross-cultural understanding, being away from family and friends, not having a Wal-Mart, and crazy taxi drivers). But those frustrations pale in the light of seeing God move in and through our ministry. We are undeserving of such blessing and we thank the Lord daily for bringing us to this place.

So, as you reflect on your past year, we pray that your hearts fill with gratefulness with the place that God has led you into. We pray that your day will be filled with family, friends, good food, and Gods presence. Blessings to you on this Thanksgiving Holiday.

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