Being in Nicaragua makes for an untraditional Thanksgiving but I can't say I would change much about it.
Thanksgiving Eve (if you will) was spent with my Vida Joven family. All of the team leaders from the 3 areas of Managuan YL get together every year to give thanks for the year that is ending and share vision for what's to come. We talked about the clubs that are that maybe weren't around this time last year and dreamed big for what's to come in 2015.
As I was sitting at the table this year, the thing I was the most thankful for was remembering how it felt last year at the same dinner. I felt lost in the crowd, knowing I was right where I was supposed to be but not really sure of the fit. This year, still knowing I'm right where I'm supposed to be and grateful for the way Managua Vida Joven has made a Boliche size hole for me to settle into. (Boliche is a nickname that is some how easier than Jen.)
My actual Thanksgiving was spent cooking a few of my favorite things (pretzels, green beans and cinnamon rolls - not traditional but still delicious!) to share that evening with my gringo family in Nicaragua. Unlike the night before that was typical Nicaraguan food, we dined on the traditional American food, including turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, rolls, and stuffing. I don't even have the words to explain to you what these people mean to me. Life would be much harder without them and a whole heck of a lot more boring.
Both families are necessary to my life here in Nicaragua. I could never choose one over the other. I am so grateful that I got to celebrate this sweet holiday with so many people that are dear to me.
Thanksgiving::the act of giving thanks, as opposed to the holiday:: isn't always a natural tendency of my heart. It's easy for me to see the things to be thankful for or the people but not always the circumstances. Finding reasons to be thankful for the tough stuff is, well, tough. In a recent Bible study, one quote struck me that keeps echoing in my head:
Peace is the companion of thanksgiving.
So even in hard times, in sticky circumstances if we can tune our hearts to sing the praises of thanksgiving to the Father who cares for us, peace will soon follow and, truthfully, in turn make the crumby situation a little more bearable.
I have much to be thankful for and through that, I can be hopeful for the new year that is just around the corner.