The only reason that I know it’s Thanksgiving in Canada this weekend is because of all the posts on Facebook. Apparently the pilgrims didn’t make it to Africa, thus no family get-togethers with a feast of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, pumpkin pie…I’m drooling on my keyboard.
I get up early every day in order to have time alone before the day starts and I spend that time reading my Bible, praying and drinking instant coffee. The first thing I do is thank God that I am in Africa for another day. I’m thankful that I get to be here. It has been a long path to Eden and I am so thankful that God asked us to come and that we said ‘Yes.’ It is so awesome that God gets us all involved in what he wants to do here on earth. He wants all of us to bring his love to people, to do our part, whatever it is. I’m thankful that he chose me to work with the Shona people in Zimbabwe. He knows just how flawed I am. He knows what state my heart is in from one moment to the next. He knows what I’ve done and what I’m going to do, and he still wants me to be part of his kingdom, doing stuff for him. He knows the mistakes I’ve made, all that I’ve said or thought, the hurtful and stupid things I’ve done, the offense I have caused and he still wants me to be part of his kingdom work. I can’t express just how thankful I am for that.
I’m thankful for the schooling that Lia and Naomi are getting, that they are really learning their material and also for the life education they are getting from living in rural Africa. I can’t say how thankful I am for Carole. I am so thankful that she loves me in spite of me and has been so amazing throughout our almost 20 years of marriage. Her faith and trust in God helps keep me steady. I’m thankful for the house I have to live in and for the generator that gives us light and keeps our food from spoiling and for those who donated it to us. I’m thankful that the generator has a pull start now that the starter has broken again. I’m thankful that I don’t have to walk to get water and that the water doesn’t make me sick. I’m thankful that there is always someone around to help when someone yells ‘nyoka!’ (snake) I’m thankful for bed nets and braiis in the bush. I could go on and on.
Community is very important to Carole and me. It isn’t easy to live in community but I think we all need to. Community is in the very blood and bones of Shona people, especially out in the rural areas. They live and share together, cook and eat together, work and worship together, sing and grieve together. Sometimes I will tell visitors to Eden to try not to look at what the Shona people don’t have, rather try to see them for who they are. It is natural for us to feel sorry for them when we see ‘how little’ they have. No flat screen tvs in every room, they usually only have one or two rooms for a family of 8. They don’t have microwave ovens and huge refrigerators, they cook over an open fire in a little thatch mud hut. They don’t have cars and pickup trucks, they have banged up old bicycles that usually don’t have brakes. They don’t have unlimited internet, they usually have run out of airtime on their cell phones. But they know each other. They help each other. They pray for each other. They know their neighbors. They care for each other’s children. I am thankful that they have shown me how important community is.
Today I am thankful for all my family and friends. We are so far away and have to communicate through technology, but I am thankful that we can at least do that. I am thankful for all the people that pray for us every day and support us. We would not survive here without your prayers and support. Our time here has been the most wonderful and the most stressful time of my life. We couldn’t do it without you. Thank you.
This morning I was thinking about Thanksgiving dinners and then I thought about a meal I had with my good friend Wilfred Mashayamombe, the master thatcher at Eden. I invited myself to his house for supper, intending to bring a chicken, but he insisted that I not bring anything. We ate the most delicious roadrunner chicken ever, they only eat meat twice a month, and sadza and relish of course. His wife Alice is a great cook, remember that she cooks over an open fire every day. Wilfred and I sat in his house, eating at his table and we shared life together. We had chicken grease dripping from our fingers, because Shona people don’t use utensils to eat with, and I burned my fingers on the hot sadza, and we talked and laughed together. I am thankful for the friend I have in Wilfred, and others at Eden and it will be awesome to be back there with them soon.
I hope you all enjoy your Thanksgiving feasts today and tomorrow. Know that we love and are thankful for all of you.