As we approach the uniquely American holiday of Thanksgiving, it seems out of place for us to be here, where it is still warm and we are surrounded by palm trees and birds of paradise. How do we celebrate Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce, turkey, and family? At first I could hardly bring myself to even think of celebrating. “I’ll just pretend it isn’t a special holiday” I told myself.
Later, I found myself explaining to Logan how Thanksgiving Day came about in the United States. While describing the arrival of foreigners in a foreign land, the desperation of trying to figure out how to make “life” work there, and finding native people who came around them and helped them, I realized how appropriate the Thanksgiving holiday really is to us.
We have been reflecting on the first year of life in the Dominican Republic. We remember how we were overcome with feelings of helplessness so many times. We could not do simple things like go to the hardware store, repair our house, or communicate with doctors. Countless times, our Dominican friends came alongside us and served us. They went to the hardware store and helped us find what we needed to get our clothes off the flooding floors. They sat for hours with us as we waited in dirty clinics with sick kids so they could translate what the doctor would say. They showed us how to cook and clean. Often they shook their heads at how helpless we were but they always stepped up to serve us. I’m not sure we would have survived here in the DR for 4 years if they had not reached out to help us. I begin to understand how thankful the pilgrim people were as I look back over my own pilgrimage in a strange land. In this season of mangos and eternal spring, I find myself very thankful after all.