Invitations to a traditional American Thanksgiving meal were sent to friends from the neighborhood, and we eagerly awaited their arrival. My wife Jann and I, along with co-workers Ralph and Ellen Shepard, were hosting the event for the third year in a row.
Our living and dining rooms were transformed into one large dining area, large enough to accommodate 20 people. The standard American feast was ready – turkey, potatoes, dressing, gravy, green bean casserole, and even pumpkin and pecan pie. Now all we needed were the guests!
We greeted our friends with appetizers and played Thanksgiving-related word games together. Once everyone gathered around the table, Ralph read Psalm 100 and said a prayer of thanksgiving as we held hands around the table. In addition to our traditional Thanksgiving food dishes, some of the neighbors brought food and Coca Cola, so the dinner was American with a bit of Mexican flavor.
Most of our guests, dear friends we know from English classes, coffee time, Bible studies, game nights, and the local park, were not believers. So after dinner, we took the opportunity to share the importance of thanksgiving to God in our lives. We handed out colored paper leaves to everyone and asked them to write down at least one thing they were thankful to God for. What followed was a special time of sharing our thanksgiving lists with the group, with some people even getting teary as they spoke. One couple emotionally talked about how they were thankful to God for us, saying that we are the only true friends they have had for years.
Next I played some thanksgiving-related hymns on my horn accompanied by Jann at the keyboard. Dessert and coffee were served as people enjoyed hanging around, chatting and spending time together. At the end of the evening, some of the women pitched in by doing the dishes while some of the men helped take down the extra tables and chairs.
A wonderful time was had by all, and we prayed that this event would help deepen our relationships with our friends and that the Lord would draw them closer to Him. We were thankful to the Lord for having the opportunity to show love and hospitality to our friends.
-Written by Paul Vander Mey, TEAM missionary in Mexico
-Photos provided by Paul Vander Mey