Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
While relatives and loved ones back in America were tucked in their comfortable beds with full bellies and happy hearts after celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday, we were just getting started with our celebration of this special day. For our team, it had been a long few days of travel from Japan, and then to Thailand, and back to South Korea, we celebrated with a delicious meal prepared by our colleague and team leader Jason Tyner. We also celebrated with friends and neighbors who joined us for the festivity.
Our guests included Americans, a Puerto Rican, two half Puerto Ricans, and several Koreans. We also had believers, unbelievers, old friends, new friends, an artist (painter), a dentist, an architect/developer, a teacher, and a tourism farmer, among others. Our little Abante family who was jet lagged, tired, and still trying to decompress from a month of ministry in Japan, and ten days of ministry in Thailand, engaged our guests and each other with bright smiles and plenty of sincere love. Homesickness is always present during the holidays when you travel abroad, but today, we pushed that aside to be present with our guests and exchange stories while answering questions about this American holiday.
If you were to ask any of us what we were grateful for, on this specific day, each would have responded, "we are grateful for our little family.” After several months of community life, travel, cooking teams, cleaning teams, plenty of ministry and personal struggles, and fighting over who is our youngest member’s favorite person, we have come to that special time in the journey where we get to think ahead realizing that our journey will soon come to an end. Nostalgia is setting in, and we are beginning to re-visit memories of places visited, people we have met who have become like family, photos that confirm how much we have changed, a baby that will soon take his first few steps, and in the midst of all that God has been revealing his purpose for this season to each of us, as only He can do.
Thanksgiving is about expressing gratefulness for what we have, and how God’s providence has blessed us abundantly. Today, we are grateful for the experiences we have shared in the past months; the times we have extended buckets of grace to each other, and the overflowing love that continues to propel us to reach higher heights and a deeper relationship with our Heavenly Father that continues to grow. We are also grateful that God chose each of us to be together for such a time as this. Today, we celebrate unity. Today, family!