Our last Thanksgiving/Christmas we celebrated in Haiti was in 2009. After the earthquake in January 2010 – we felt like God called us to minister to a new group of people who haven’t had the chance to really hear about Jesus. We had to rent a place until we were able to build on the property.
Four years later and we were SO READY to celebrate Thanksgiving in our home with our closest friends. We set the table for 26 Haitians plus our family. While many of our staff from St. Louis remember our past Thanksgivings, those from the Mole did not really know what it was about.
Last week during our staff devotions – I explained that Thanksgiving is a time to remember all the blessings God has bestowed on us. Even during our times of great need – there are blessings that surround us. There are things to be grateful for each and every day.
So we went around the table and each of us said the things we were thankful for. Many of us shed tears at God’s sheer goodness…..
Bena told us that even though he didn’t come from my mom’s belly – she took him in at 3 years old and loved him more than anyone else ever has. Even though he makes mistakes and he is not perfect, we have never turned our back on him. He said NWHCM is the only reason he is still alive today. He said he would give his life for each person at this table.
Mme Certisse (our cook) has a cyst and desperately needs an operation. But we can’t find anyone to operate on her. She thanked God that she was still alive. She also broke down and cried and said that we are a real family. There are brothers and sisters who she no longer talks to but she prays that this family right here will never become that way. She is thankful that she has a table full of brothers and sisters.
Many praised God that this year they still have a healthy family. Many praised God that they were still alive. They praised Him because they still have a job. They thanked Him because even though they are not worthy of Him – He never leaves them. They thanked Him for never giving up on them. They thanked Jesus that they could even be invited to such a beautiful dinner like this. They thanked Jesus that the mission has set such a good example for this town. They thanked Jesus that the Americans come every year just to show the love of Jesus. They thanked Jesus that they were chosen to come to the Mole as missionaries in their own country. Their thankfulness was overwhelming.
I had our children participate too. Miss Beth said every day this month each child was asked what they were thankful for. But the boys’ answers today were unlike any answers they have given before.
Mikela: Thankful for our home. Thankful for family. Thankful for her hair!
Rosie: Thankful for sharing her room with Mikela. Thankful for school. Thankful for her family.
Malaya: Thankful for having her own room. Thankful for each person who is sitting around this table today.
Gabriel: Thankful for school. Thankful for homework. Thankful for God. Thankful for this house. Thankful for family.
Asher: Thankful for God. Thankful for family. Thankful for his brothers. Thankful for the Christmas tree.
Levi: Thankful for “THE LIVING GOD”. Thankful for every person who is here. Thankful for his brothers and sisters. Thankful for food. Thankful he can walk. Thankful for his house. Thankful for church. (I actually had to cut him off because he just kept going – and everyone was hungry!)
And for those of you who know me well – I actually cooked corn pudding and sweet potatoes in carmel sauce and EVERYONE ate it and LOVED it! It’s another Thanksgiving miracle!
A Time to Think of Others….
I also thought of a little game we could play. We don’t really have the funds to exchange gifts with each other but there’s still a way to give that’s not costly! At the end of our Thanksgiving meal, I had us all draw names. We can’t tell anyone the name we drew.
From Thanksgiving until Christmas we will have to do 4 random acts of kindness WITHOUT BEING CAUGHT! We can trick each other, we can make them think the person they have is someone else, we can do whatever we need to do (within reason) to keep our identity a secret.
Than at Christmas everyone will write down who they think their secret kindness partner is. If they correctly guess it, then they win a prize. If they don’t guess it right than their kindness partner gets a prize!
It took us forever to explain how to play the game. But after giving many examples and explaining they would be secret agents – everyone finally understood and then they got REALLY excited.
After we passed around the basket of names – I went around to write down who each one had. They would barely open the paper for me to see because they didn’t want anyone to know. I have no idea how this will play out – but I do know at the very least – we will spend the rest of this year putting others above ourselves!