We ate no turkey, no pumpkin pie, and no stuffing. We did not watch any football nor stuff our faces until we were forced to wear “comfy pants.” We did not scope out any sales nor get up at the crack of dawn to snag any great buys.
But we are very thankful and isn’t that what it is about.

Our first Thanksgiving outside the U.S. was unusual but memorable. First off, it is still hoovering at around a cool 91 degrees and 75% humidity so even if we had access to all those fabulous comfort foods from home I would not be able to eat them let alone stand in a hot kitchen all day cooking them. Second, we had language school all morning followed by 2 hours of homework. Alas, it was just another day. No one here, local or other ex-pats really understand what Thanksgiving is since only us Americans celebrate it but we did our best to inform everyone of what a fabulous holiday it is stateside. We knew we had to mark the day with at least a special meal for dinner so I made pasta, salad, and brushcetta with fresh basil we grow outside. For dessert we even had an instant cheesecake that Beck sent in a package (Thanks girl!!). After tasting the cheesecake Jason and I discussed how one taste of home is indeed “life affirming.”

our thanksgiving meal
I also was able to make a batch of pumpkin scones because our generous renter back in Chicago sent us some canned pumpkin. Sifting the flour is always an adventure in insect identification. But the results made Jason a happy man indeed. We also got to share the scones with some of our team and some locals who agreed with our assessment that they rock!
the bugs and bug larvae that is in 1/2 cup of flour…
Mmmm extra protein
As I was cooking a friend from the neighborhood stopped over with her son to visit after a month long trip to another island. We visited and she helped me cook a bit. She definitely feels more at home now in my kitchen as she goes through everything to help and starts doing the dishes as we talk. It is awesome to begin to feel like we have real friends here.
a friend and her adorable son that stopped over
In the midst of everything we also got to talk to some family and friends and even had a webcam tour of the cooking marathon in process and the snow on the ground outside. We thought maybe this would make us homesick but the opposite was true. Instead, we felt apart of everything even though we are so far away. Thinking through what I am thankful for I realize the list includes many people, many “seemingly small” things that I took for granted before living here, health, opportunities, His abundant gifts to our family.
Yes, I am giving thanks for many things…like our refrigerator working, new friends that want to get to know us, old friends that are far away but make the effort to keep in touch, a new family member who joined the Engstrom clan last week, talking with a friend for an hour all in Kiswahili, an Internet webcam that allow us to see family we dearly miss half way across the world, a healthy daughter and husband, the sunshine, small comforts that refresh us, the things our family is learning being so far from home, the opportunity I have to trust in the face of uncertainty, and the privilege to serve Him wherever we are.
A Psalm for Thanksgiving.
Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His loving kindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.
  1. Anonymous says:

    I am thankful for your joyful outlook, and that at least for the time being you are all well. Glad you enjoyed the web cam tour. Our visit with you by Skype was the highlight of our day. It was like having you here, only I had more leftovers. We are all so thankful for all of you.

  2. Anonymous says:

    fresh basil in November – that’s something to be thankful for! Ok, so I tried to send this little tiny (like an inch and half tall pot) grow your own Christmas tree kit with belated b-day card (I know way late) but customs denied me – like I was sending you a huge spruce tree or something. so I will send b-day card with Christmas card. When you guys come back we’ll have you over for a make-up Thanksgiving at any time you want!

  3. Anonymous says:

    It sounds like you had a great Thanksgiving, Rox! We miss you all and think of you often. Please let us know if you need anything. The McGowans are thankful for you!!