I must be honest; I have not been looking forward to this day. With the heat, the lack of traditions and the absence of family, I anticipated this day to be one of those homesick days where the contrast in familiarity and life here would just be a little too much.
As I sit here now at 8 PM and reflect on the day however; I find I was quite mistaken. Yes, I was right about the heat and the lack of traditions as well as family, but I was wrong about the way I would feel. It was quite the opposite actually. I found myself well aware of the beauty that surrounds me and just how much I have to be thankful for. Yes, I’m thankful for things like family and friends. These are the staples that always seem to amaze me and that which I will never stop thanking the Lord for. However; this Thanksgiving, I was thankful for other things which I have never been thankful for before. We have not had much water here lately and I was so thankful when I was able to take a shower this morning. I was also thankful when a friend brought a pumpkin spice coffee to my doorstep as I was getting ready. I have always been thankful for coffee, but this actually brought a few tears to my eyes as I smelled the coffee and took that first sip. I had a student with a fever who looked absolutely miserable yesterday. His mother emailed me today to thank me for looking out for him and for calling her. They had been to the doctor and he has malaria. He is now being treated and his fever is coming down. This isn’t something I would be thankful for in the states, but here, people die of malaria and so I am incredibly thankful that he caught it early enough to receive treatment. I was thankful for things like laughter and dancing. Today I stood outside with some of the cleaners after school and we danced to a Malawian song. There is something about dance and laughter that breaks all cultural barriers. I had so much fun, even though I was sweating! This was followed with a trip to the crisis nursery with three of the college girls. We played with the little ones and fed them porridge. As I held one of the little orphans in my arms, I was thankful that they were there, being loved and cared for. I do not know what their life holds, but I do know that it had the chance to end early on and by God’s grace, it hasn’t. These are among a few of the many moments today where I felt thankful. I know that in having these moments and these new things to be thankful for, I am growing. I know I keep saying this, but I truly feel it. I won’t leave Africa the same; I have no doubt about that.
Thanksgivings down the road when I am once again cold, surrounded by wonderful food and the company of family and friends, I will continue to be thankful for all that I am thankful for this day. I’m thankful for the pain and the hurt that surrounds me, I am thankful for the beauty I see, I am thankful for the love I feel. In this my perspective is being changed. My lenses are expanding and I am humbled. Yes, it was not a typical Thanksgiving for me. However; it was an extremely meaningful one and I wouldn’t change it for all the turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pies that I am missing!
I ended my day today with the chance to Skype with my sister and my mom. This was the perfect way to end my day. I truly am thankful for the people in my life who are not here with me in Africa, but whom I know are with me in spirit. I feel so incredibly loved. Thank you for being a part of my life and for supporting me in so many ways. I honestly know I am not on this journey alone and the mere fact that you are reading this reinforces this and makes me so incredibly thankful.