Come thou fount of ev’ry blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace.
Streams of mercy never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise!
Happy Thanksgiving! Today we planned to meet with our teammates for a Thanksgiving celebration, but we canceled when we heard that one of their children was ill. We have had illness sweep through our family since the end of July, and it has been exhausting to have so few days of health. So we didn’t want to chance getting sick again. Here’s how we spent our Thanksgiving day on foreign soil.
I heard that there were turkeys at Woolworths, so Seth ran out and bought one. $18.50 for an almost 9-pounder. It was worth it! I spent the day cooking: made the turkey of course, a 3-layer “pumpkin” cake (I used butternut) with maple frosting (I didn’t have cream cheese for it, but the butter frosting was still very good!) using two cake pans and a pie pan since I don’t have three round cake pans (Caleb promptly dropped the pie pan and it shattered all over the floor during clean-up tonight–he’s my “accident boy” but also my best worker, so how can I complain?), mash and gravy, dinner rolls, cheesy broccoli, and sweet and sour cabbage. (I know that’s a weird item for Thanksgiving, but today was a study in improvisation!)
In the morning the kids watched a little story about the Pilgrims’ journey on the Mayflower, and we had a serious Candyland competition. In the afternoon, I cooked and cared for the baby, and Seth took the kids on a hike on a nearby forest plantation. They came back exhausted and hungry.
The electricity went off for an hour and a half while I was cooking. We planned to spend our evening playing the board game Settlers of Catan after a time of prayer and praise. But even though it’s an American holiday, life goes on as usual for all of the Africans. We’ve gotten two hospital calls today, and the latter ended up changing our plans.
The lady who stayed with us last year, who got married and is now expecting her second child, called me. She’s gone into early labor and needed advice to go to the hospital. I don’t think she’s too terribly early, though, but anyhow, please pray for her. And a former LBI student, whom we haven’t heard from in a few years, called saying that he was in a car accident and is at the hospital, and he asked for a visit and some food and clothing. The accident was terrible. We were reminded to be grateful for our safety on the roads here. So many accidents here end in fatalities because of slow emergency services and not enough medical services.
Tonight and last night around the dinner table, we shared things for which we were thankful. Last year at this time, we had no idea how much our lives would change in one week’s time and over the following year. Wow, so much has changed!
We’ve never worried about money in the past, but because of so many changes, this year we had some worried times. But God has met every need and many wants. He has given us physical blessings in abundance.
But even more importantly, I was thankful tonight for His “rod,” if I can call it that. I am not sure that He has been chastening us this year, but whatever you call it, I am thankful for the trials we have gone through. We have grown spiritually because of them.
Romans 8 tells us that He works all these things to our good so that we can be conformed into Christ’s image. Even a criminal attack or a severely broken arm or transplanting my family several times when they are already unstable–these things that we might naturally think are not good–are good if they make us more like Christ. We just need to see it through God’s eyes. He is doing good to us when He helps us to grow spiritually. He is showing great lovingkindness even in the bitter medicine He gives us to heal us from our ravaging diseases (sins). I am so thankful for His loving, teaching hand, even when it is heavy.
I read this poem by William Cowper the other day and was blessed by it, especially stanzas 3-5. This wonderful post at the Baptist Missionary Women blog explains so well how my gratitude has grown since becoming a missionary!
Seth and I were moved to tears of gratitude tonight at our dinner table at God’s incredible physical and spiritual blessings to us this year. We finished our time of prayer and praise by reading this poem by Isaac Watts, a paraphrased poem of Psalm 103:
1 The Lord, how wondrous are his ways!
How firm his truth! how large his grace!
He takes his mercy for his throne,
And thence he makes his glories known.
2 Not half so high his power hath spread
The starry heav’ns above our head,
As his rich love exceeds our praise,
Exceeds the highest hopes we raise.
3 Not half so far hath nature placed
The rising morning from the west,
As his forgiving grace removes
The daily guilt of those he loves.
4 How slowly doth his wrath arise!
On swifter wings salvation flies;
And if he lets his anger burn,
How soon his frowns to pity turn!
5 Amidst his wrath compassion shines;
His strokes are lighter than our sins;
And while his rod corrects his saints,
His ear indulges their complaints.
6 So fathers their young son chastise
With gentle hand and melting eyes;
The children weep beneath the smart,
And move the pity of their heart.
7 The mighty God, the wise and just,
Knows that our frame is feeble dust;
And will no heavy loads impose
Beyond the strength that he bestows.
8 He knows how soon our nature dies,
Blasted by ev’ry wind that flies;
Like grass we spring, and die as soon,
Or morning flowers that fade at noon.
9 But his eternal love is sure
To all the saints, and shall endure;
From age to age his truth shall reign,
Nor children’s children hope in vain.