We always celebrate our Thanksgiving on the Friday after the traditional Thursday Thanksgiving. We have a tradition of going to our friends the Vervloet's home after the clinic and school on Thursday evening just to have a chance to spend some quality time talking and in general solving all the world's problems during that evening. Then on Friday we, along with about 20 missionary and embassy friends, do the turkey thing. We stuff ourselves sort of like our parents used to stuff the turkey then we stop and wait till we have enough room to ingest the great deserts. Following that it's back to more general talking and even a great football game, that is if you're not an LSU fan. But of course that went to three overtimes, which delayed our traditional time of sharing.
For about ten years now as our celebration winds down in the evening we always gather in a circle and each share those things for which each of us individually give thanks. Surprisingly, we have never had one person who wouldn't be part of this tradition. Although the Kleenex box is usually depleted by the time we finish it has always been a time of renewal and often even healing. I thank God for giving us this time. Although many would say that what we do is give thanks to people instead of God, I would say that if you actually do this in honesty and openness just the opposite happens. We end up giving thanks to God for all these things and people that he has brought into our lives. No, this is not a time to worship people and appreciate God; it is a time to appreciate and verbalize our dependence, appreciation, and love to people in the context of worshiping God. I believe that maybe we should be doing more of this kind of thing instead of sitting (or standing) in lines together, singing words that others write, and reading about and listening to someone talk about things that we believe we are doing in the way God would have us do anyway. I tend to believe what I have described is what is today referred to as worship. I believe that definition needs to be broadened to include more the speaking of good words and doing of good things to and for those we are called to love: our families, friends, the Church, the world, and God.
Now that my tirade is ended here is what I give God thanks for, especially today:
The job he has called me to do and the country he has called me to serve, Haiti. Not a lot of people get to do exactly what they want to do in life. I do. In that context I especially give thanks for the the little 6 month old babies who when I speak to them smile back at me knowing that they are loved.
I thank God for my wife Jodie who puts up with all my weirdness and loves me in spite of it.
My daughter Jacquie who is far too much like her father. One of these days that may haunt her with lost jobs, fewer friends, less money, and at times a tough life. But what she does give that makes her so special is truth and honesty. We never have to question where we stand with her. She tells us she loves us in no uncertain terms whenever we communicate and is never afraid to disagree with us when she knows she is right (and sometimes when she doesn't).
I thank God for Kevin Bonewitz who I really don't know well but upon Jacquie's recommendation (she married him) he must be a great guy and someone who is will be a large part of our family.
My daughter Jessica who is just one of the neatest kids around. She is now in process of a major life change in that she is starting to take her education seriously and finally all those things that she knew she couldn't do, she now can. She is unswerving in her beliefs and life style. Last year she started practicing a vegetarian diet and since then is yet to eat something that could smile back at her. She has been practicing the discipline of fasting one or more days a week. Although I bug her about not losing too much weight she just tells me to go away and goes about living her life certainly much better than I ever lived mine.
Our fellowship at CSI. For a little over a year we have been worshiping with a group of missionaries and an occasional government worker. It isn't all that I've ever dreamed of in the worship sense but it really fills a void in my life with something good.
My friends. As you can probably tell if you don't know me personally I'm not all that easy to live with. As a friend introduced me last week, “this is John. You don't have to worry when you talk with him. He'll tell you where you stand.” I trust it's not quite that bad but I do realize that occasionally my overemphasis on honesty does make it hard for those acquaintances to take me on as one of those people they would most like to hang around. So those of you who are left, I do love you and thank you for being a big part of my life.
I thank God for Steve Hersey, truly the finest high school teacher I have ever met and who could have taught in most any university in the States. Two years ago he stepped down from his teaching position at at Quisqueya Christian School and took over as the director. This was necessary because of some prior “stuff” in the leadership of the school that I won't go into. But Steve is doing such a great job and is helping to mold possibly the finest PK-12 school in this country.
I thank God for all our supporters that sacrifice to keep us here and let us do the things that we believe God is calling us to do. (Refer to #1) We have a number of churches and individuals who make it possible for us to live here and do what God calls us to do. We thank God for sending those supporters our way.
Lastly, You. Thanks for reading the blog. I hope it hasn't wasted your time and hope you don't leave here an enemy because you disagree with what you read. Remember, most all my friends disagree with me. They just love me in spite of it.
Part of the group at dinner
And So It Goes!