We went Wednesday evening to the residence of the U.S. Ambassador here for a special celebration. All U.S. citizens were invited, and it was a unique chance to gather with people from our nation but on the other side of the world! Plus, we got little mini turkey sandwiches and pies. Turkey is unbelievably expensive here, so it was fun to watch everyone get so excited about some little bites of a traditional treat. A new friend of ours was invited to give a blessing at the short program, which was also a real treat for us because John and I have become very used to everyone completing avoiding anything Christian at any sort of government or secular function in LA. There was no preaching or anything, but it was nice to have some recognition of the source of all that we have to be grateful for! Without God, what or who are we even thanking? Anyway, it was nice.
I came home and started in on some baking. We have two Miracle Ovens now but still no regular oven, so we had planned some shifts to cover all the food we were hoping to make. I couldn't really picture any way to pull off pie in the Miracle Oven, so I went for pumpkin brownies and pumpkin cake. Yesterday we all spent the day preparing for a late afternoon meal here with some friends. I have to admit that I'm pretty impressed with what we pulled off with no oven and limited pots, pans, and bowls! I braised some chickens, which was an adventure for several reasons. I have never braised a chicken before. Also, I have never had to actually remove the internal organs from a chicken before. Usually when you buy them in the States, the little guts and stuff and tucked neatly into a little bag inside. It is surprisingly difficult to pull them off of the body of the bird! And, I had to cut up the chicken myself into pieces, which I have also never done, and despite the pieces being rather awkwardly cut, the meat turned out quite well. We also had mashed potatoes (made by our dear sweet Muna), dressing, cheesy hash brown casserole, rolls (purchased), gravy, hot autumn punch, and some yummy dishes brought by our friends.
One funny advantage of Thanksgiving here is that nothing is closed that day, so you can still get any ingredients you need that morning!
Some friends came over then for dinner, and we had a really nice evening together! It was so much fun to share our home with people God has brought into our lives and to feast together and celebrate and give thanks to God. We all hit a food coma pretty quickly after dinner, as none of us are used to the quantity of food or nearly the level of starches and heaviness in our food here! What fun to be able to all share together, though, some treats that remind us all of traditions and comforts of "home."
I was reminded yesterday of so many Thanksgiving celebrations growing up. My grandma has been gone now for 15 years, but I still miss her and spending Thanksgiving at her home, watching the Macy's Thanksgiving parade. Then, I think of the year that I actually got to go to the Macy's parade and spend Thanksgiving with my college choir in New York and have my dad and grandpa come to see us there! And, I think of the years now spent in LA, serving at the Santa Monica Civic Center for an amazing celebration put on there for many who wouldn't have a celebration otherwise and sharing a meal and fellowship with adopted "family" there. So, I am thankful for many things, but I feel particularly thankful for memories, both past and new ones being created in the present, of life shared with family and friends and resting with great joy in the arms of our Father who makes a place for us wherever we are and blesses us with glimpses of "home" until we are in our true home forever with Him.