Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thoughts on Thanksgiving Eve

It is less than an hour away from Thanksgiving here in China time. I think most Americans feel like holidays "sneak up" on us, which seems a little funny since most major holidays have a build-up of at least several weeks. But there's no build-up here -- I haven't yet seen any harvest decorations, Thanksgiving sales, or turkeys in the grocery stores -- so the "sneaking up" didn't really begin until just a few minutes ago when I realized that Thanksgiving is tomorrow. My teammates and I are planning a short trip to Yantai to feast with other American teacher friends.

This helpful tourist map shows a few destinations you might recognize: Qufu, where I live; TaiShan, where I climbed a mountain a couple weeks ago; Jinan, where I buy my cheese; Qingdao, where I visited a student last year, and Yantai, where I'm going for Thanksgiving!

Some of you might have heard about the stampede in Cambodia yesterday. I read some of the stories today and was horrified at the abrupt, scary, painful way that so many young lives were ended. Please be lifting up my organization's team in Phnom Penh as they help their city process this tragedy. One of them writes on her blog:
This year our Thanksgiving celebration will be juxtaposed with a National Day of Mourning here in Cambodia. As the country mourns for those lost, there are still many unanswered questions about how this could happen. Our friends and students have been unable to sleep for the last couple of nights, many scared by the thought of ghosts wandering the city and other superstitions. Even our house helper, who is a Sister, said today that she is afraid of the ghosts because she lives near the hospitals where many victims were brought. She said that 20 people in her own neighborhood died in the stampede, including a family of five. For us and our teammates, this is a time to listen to our Khmer friends and to speak truth and love.
Finally, thanks for the words of sympathy regarding my grandma's death. Losing a family member while abroad is exactly as you might imagine: hard, and a little surreal. As I sit here and think about it in light of this post ("Thoughts on Thanksgiving Eve"), I think the death of both of my grandmas this year has reminded me of how good the Good News actually is. They both had put their faith in Jesus and could approach their deaths with their eyes confidently fixed on heaven. It's a lot better than reaching the end of 8 or 9 decades of life and having the sudden panicky feeling that you lived for the wrong things or you never made your peace with God. So I'm thankful first for God's Good News, and second for my grandmothers' good examples.

And I'm also thankful for all the good food I plan to eat in the next three days. Happy Thanksgiving!

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