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Africans don’t celebrate Thanksgiving like we do annually. However, African Christians have to celebrate Thanksgiving in their daily life. The poverty makes them thank God for giving them their daily ugali (the cheapest staple food in Kenya). The fatality from AIDS and other diseases make them thank God for another day of life because they probably don’t have a tomorrow. To most missionary kids, Thanksgiving is the time of the year where we all can realize how blessed we really are. Although we do not have as wide of a selection of fancy foods and as many big parties as the great America has (I mean, it’s Africa, right!?), the sweet simplicities of the season helps us all be grateful in many ways that some people may never even care or think about because they have taken it for granted.
In the mornings I am usually awaken by the incessant calls of the rooster next door. Although I admit that most of the time I am irritated by it, I am grateful that because of it, I do not have to depend on an alarm clock. When I get out of bed to have breakfast, I am thankful for the glass of water I am drinking that is clean enough so it will not give us any kind of disease (for the local people have to fetch the river water daily which is often dirtied with amoeba and bugs). Thank God for the toaster to warm up the bread and that the electricity is running so I am able to do so.
On my morning walks there are many things I am privileged to have, especially since we live in the countryside. First of all, thank God for the breathtaking scenery we have here - the green gardens, the plentiful trees, the bright flowers, butterflies, crickets, and many more. Thank God for our thriving garden that has been untouched by monkeys or baboons. Thank God for the tranquility uninterrupted by city sounds and that I can cross the road in no time since there are not many cars. Thank God for our small restaurant, Mama Chiku’s, cluttered and dusty but homey, for a change instead of McDonald’s. Thank God that I can inhale the air deeply without coughing since the air is so crisp and fresh. Thank God that I am not working outside like the donkey pulling the extremely heavy load up the hill is.
When we go to other missionaries’ houses for a Thanksgiving meal I thank God that they are friendly enough to share it especially with us - I thank them all for hosting us and ordering the pricey turkey a few months in advance for us! Thank God that when we drive to their houses there are no major traffic on the roads for crazy holiday rushes to the mall. Thank God for the cheerful fires inside houses instead of heaters, so we can save ourselves from the high electricity bill. Thank God that when we sit down at the table to eat that there are chairs and the floor is tiled or wooden (for some people only have worn down stools and a dirt floor!). Thank God that we can even have turkey and food items that are expensive and hard to get here in Kenya, like cranberry sauce. Finally, thank God for delicious homemade breads and pies instead of speedy store bought ones.
When I take a shower, thank God for the warm water that is available to us so that I do not have to fetch water from a spring and firewood as well like most local kids must do as a daily chore. When I go to bed, I thank God for the silence of the night undisturbed by noisy cars or stores. Thank God for the howling wind or pattering rain that lulls me to sleep every night. Thank God for the warmth of my bed and the blankets that I have, for some people only have a sack on the ground.
Of course, there are many more that I have not mentioned; this is just a short portion of the list. But I am sure that whatever is on the list, no matter how obvious or simple the thanks might be, we all owe them to God for.