Re-enacting a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner was no easy task for TEAM missionaries Paul and Karan Davis in Pontcharra, France. The first challenge was finding and cooking turkeys for 50 people. One cannot just go to the grocery store and find turkeys in France at any time of the year except Christmas, and they needed two good size turkeys in November!
One day as they were passing by the local bakery, the baker and his wife were out greeting customers. As the baker chatted with Paul and Karan, he was delighted to learn that they were from America as he had visited the US and had many fond memories. Paul asked if the baker knew about Thanksgiving, to which he delightfully responded "yes!" The baker and his were thrilled when Paul and Karan invited them to the dinner. A few days later, the baker asked them where they would get the turkeys and then offered to get them two farm fresh turkeys from a farmer he knew personally. He asked how they were planning to cook the turkeys, knowing that ovens in French homes are small, and then offered to roast them in his big ovens in his bakery. He did a great job, and Paul and Karan were thankful that the Lord provided the main course for the dinner from one of the invitees.
The menu was another challenge, and Karan directed the meal preparation by giving recipes and instructions on making all the elements for a typical American Thanksgiving feast. It was fun to see reactions to proposals like sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie (pumpkins are used in soups in France!). She and other ladies also worked on decorating the community room with the autumn colors and decor that are typical of Thanksgiving.
At the beginning of the outreach event, Paul spoke about the history and meaning of Thanksgiving, closing with a reminder that they all had much for which they can be thankful, and testifying to their thankfulness to their Creator and God who provides all things. Paul then offered a prayer of thanks, and the feast began. What a joy to see people, believers and non-believers, having a delightful evening together. Karan had hidden envelopes in the table decorations next to each plate with a fun question or thoughtful quote that everyone took turns to read. Before they knew it, the food was (almost) gone, and it was time to say goodbye and clean up the room. Everyone stayed around, mingling and talking. All of the invitees said that they were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the meal, the decorations, and above all by the welcome they felt. It was obvious that everyone had a good time, and Paul and Karan are thankful for the friendships that started that night, especially with the baker and his wife.
-Written by Paul Davis, TEAM missionary in France
-Photography by Paul Davis