Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Far Away Thanksgiving Memory

    Special days are often full, not only their present joy and celebration, but the memories of other such days. As we give thanks today my thoughts turn back to other Thanksgiving days; this one was most unusual. It was the year 2000 and seven friends and I were in Kathmandu, Nepal seeking to share our lives and the Good News of Jesus with western travelers. We were staying in a dark guesthouse with hard beds and cold rooms. Fall is Kathmandu is beautiful; the air is cool and clear and the majestic Himalayan foothills loom in the distance. For days before Thanksgiving we made our plans and invited people whom we had met and gotten to know; we ended up with twelve guests- twenty of us altogether. There were a few North Americans, and others from Israel, Denmark, France, And Nepal.

    Our "kitchen" consisted of a small room on the ground floor of our guesthouse. What made it a kitchen were the two low tables, a kerosine burner (the scary kind), and a few containers of water. With two more borrowed stoves we were ready to cook! Here's what I wrote in my journal:

    "We don't have a steamer basket so I inverted a bowl in the pot, rested a plate on that, and placed the chunks of pumpkin on it. I had to do two batches as only half would fit in the pot. I've only made pumpkin pie from canned pumpkin so this is a little different! It was really watery so I put it in some cheesecloth and hung it with clothesline overnight. Early this morning I mixed up the pie. Of course we don't have a pie plate so I poured it into a pot to bake and put a crumble topping instead of a crust. (No rolling pin and no clean surfaces to roll dough on.) I walked over to Shiva's Restaurant, where I often eat breakfast, and they allowed be to bake it in their toaster oven, since we don't have an oven either. While it baked I ate my usual breakfast of hash brown potatoes and hot lemon with honey. When I returned we gathered in one of our rooms for a time of giving thanks and praise to God. After that four of us headed downstairs to begin cooking. It was quite a scene, and although we were crowded it was a lot of fun. A Nepali friend also came to help with the cooking. Christyana made fried tofu and stuffing in the wok, John made steamed vegetables, Joy made fruit salad and mashed potatoes, and I made mushroom gravy and cucumber tomato salad. Dan and Mick, two travelers from the U.S. brought rolls and drinks. They even brought drinking glasses that they were able to borrow from a restaurant! Joy and Christyana transformed their room into the "dining room". They took the mattress off the bed exposing the wood platform and spread a tapestry on it. This was our table and as the guests arrived we all took our places on the floor around it. We filled the room and spilled out into the hallway. One of our fellow American guests suggested that we all share something we were thankful for and so we did. Most of the others had probably never celebrated Thanksgiving before and I was really glad to be able to share it with them. After the meal people hung out and talked and played music together and later we had pie. It was a beautiful day. I'm thankful for every good and perfect gift, for being alive and loved and able to love. For being here. For these friends who are like a family to me. For my family at home, and all my friends who love and pray for me."

    I'm still thankful for all of those things and so many more- a wonderful husband and children I could never have imagined. For the life God has given me now and for all the memories of the other places I have been. They are part of today, part of who I am, and for that I am thankful.

    (And Rachel and Chinua, John, Christyana, Joy, Rebekah, Christy- I love and miss you all!)

Happy Thanksgiving to each and all.
May your hearts overflow with a good theme as you give thanks!

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