The day started out as usual, because the 4th Thursday in November is just a regular ole day in PNG. Good for me that Thursday is my usual afternoon off, so after rounds I headed home to bake some pies for our holiday dinner. The pie crust was made from scratch using Aunt Naomi's recipe with a few adjustments because of a limited supply of shortening (you cannot buy shortening except at another mission station 5 hours down the road). Taste tested and approved, it turned out well despite the substitutions. The pumpkin filling was also from scratch with pumpkin that had been previously cooked, pureed, and then stored in the freezer. Oh how I love the smell of Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving evening I joined the Bennett and Schmelzenbach families at the Myers' home. Jeff carved the turkey which he discovered was actually a very large chicken. Susan finished making the gravy and set her corn casserole on the table. There was stuffing and mashed potatoes and green beans and veggies and rolls and cranberry sauce and all sorts of wonderful dishes. The kids helped me with one of
my Hoke family traditions... little paper cups of candies and nuts that set at each place and
serve as an appetizer for the meal to come. Candy cup fixins came in a care package from my parents. For dessert we
had pecan and pumpkin pies with a spoon full of Dream Whip. Eleven of us sat around the table and gave thanks by singing the Doxology. We shared Thanksgiving stories and traditions, talked about where our families back home would be celebrating the holiday. It was a wonderful time of feasting and fellowship!
Thanksgiving part 2 was the following day. The Radcliffes invited me and the Riggins family and Jordan and Rachel Thompson to join them for dinner. The main course was chicken and potatoes and gravy and stuffing. Kathy made sweet potato casserole using "carrot kaukau" or carrot sweet potatoes. Most of the kaukau grown in the highlands are more of a yellow color, but you can find the
orange ones at the market if you look. My contribution was green bean casserole, topped with french fried onions which were also from Mom and Dad's care package. What a treat! There were a variety of pies to choose from for dessert. Jill's birthday is on Sunday, so we added candles to the pumpkin pie and sang her the 5 Kudjip birthday songs. It was another wonderful meal!
A few days before the holiday, Kathy had given each family pieces of construction paper. We wrote some of our thanksgivings on strips of paper. The papers were placed in a "Blessing Bag." We passed the bag around the circle and took turns reading what was written and adding links to the chain. Looking at the finished product stretched across the room, it is obvious that we are so blessed!
And finally, Thanksgiving really would not be complete without a game of football. Jordan is from Illinois and is a big Bears fan. His dad recently mailed the Bears vs. the Browns, so we all watched a few quarters before heading home to crash.
So what am I thankful for on this special day? There are not enough strips of construction paper to hold all of my thanksgivings, but here are a few of them...
- my family back home, their love and support from so far away
- a new niece or nephew on the way and that I will get to meet her or him next summer
- Skype and email and cell phones that allow me to keep in touch
- the prayers of supporters, for supporting churches
- forever friends
- my Kudjip family, nieces and nephews
- a great roomie who will be back soon
- my boys Brutus and Pete, that they keep me company when my roomie is gone
- for Becky 2 and Erin, it is nice to have some other 10 toea girls about my age
- the pivilege of serving in PNG
- volunteers who give of themselves in service
- the nurses, CHWs, clerks, and other wonderful PNG colleagues
- the beautiful new hospital
- PNG friends: Meti, Robert and Kauantz, Tua, and others
- God's love, His faithfulness, His promises
- for Jesus and the gift of His life
- salvation by grace and not by works
- and so many more!
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
~ Psalm 100