I’ve always enjoyed Thanksgiving. Although rarely spent with my parents or brothers, God has always provided families that were family for me to spend Thanksgiving with over the years. Since 2007, every year (except for one) that I was in Bolivia during Thanksgiving (which was more often than not) I spent Thanksgiving in Cochabamba with missionaries there. I have great memories of those years and always looked forward to them. Pilar’s first trip outside of Sucre and on a plane was for Thanksgiving in Cochabamba.
To be honest, I was not looking forward to this year. Our dear friends Butch and Trish Sandoval, missionaries in Cochabamba and Pilar’s grandparents in Bolivia, had moved to the States. We were happy for them to have finally made it after being in limbo for over a year because of the pandemic and embassies being shut down and were happy for their kids and grandkids, but it was hard for Pilar and I to think of Thanksgiving without them.
(Pilar and Trish making paper turkeys, Pilar having whipped cream for the first time and her "helping" Butch make his coffee during Pilar's first Thanksgiving.)
I had talked with my team about celebrating the day here and they were excited since they had heard my stories but never celebrated Thanksgiving themselves and hen our singing teacher asked me about Thanksgiving. After that I thought it might be a good way to meet more people and spend time with people we’ve met so the team decided to throw a Thanksgiving lunch and invite everyone we could think of to come. We trusted God that there would be enough food and asked people to bring something they could share. The Cabrera and Torres family cooked chicken and rice and made a salad and I made the more traditional foods of green bean and sweet potato casserole, corn muffins (I wasn’t about to try and make that many rolls!), pumpkin pies and apple crisp. We had over 30 people at the table and food left over to send home with people. It was hectic but great and people really enjoyed it. At one moment we went around the table and everyone shared something they were thankful for.
It wasn’t my normal Thanksgiving and I still missed the Sandoval’s a lot and the way we would celebrate Thanksgiving in Cochabamba, but God provided a way to celebrate here that was special. He reminded me that He will provide family for us wherever we are and that change is hard but with change newness begins. We are new here and still learning and relationships are slow to grow as is usual, but God always provides family and community. We just have to trust and be family and offer community and God will provide. He’s done it before after every new change and will do it again. I'm exceedingly thankful for that.
I look forward to seeing how the next Thanksgivings will look like as people become our family and community here.
We probably will not post anymore blogs until next year. We look forward to sharing what God does in the coming year. Happy holidays and may we focus on God's presence and remember Emmanuel- God is with us.