November - Share your turkey
Share your Turkey, Change the World
Out of all of the holidays, Thanksgiving is by far my favorite. I could have said Christmas, but that is too easy. Of course Christmas is great, because it celebrates the birth of our Savior. And, without Christmas, I would not have all the useful gifts my parents give me, like the tool set I use all the time. However, I like Thanksgiving for a number of reasons. First of all, it kicks off the Christmas season. Secondly, it is not too cold outside yet. Thirdly, it is a joyous holiday with plenty of food eating, reflection, parade watching and game playing in my family, and no underwear to return that you got from your Aunt Betty.
But more than anything, I think it is a good holiday through which we as Americans can really show others what we are about. Since it is a very specific holiday to the United States, I think we have the opportunity to blow the socks off of other countries. When I was in college, I worked with an International Ministry. I loved meeting people from different countries. As Thanksgiving was rolling around, I often thought about how many International Students were on the campus, and even though we only had a weekend off from school, I still thought how many International Students did not have a family, or even a host family, to go home with for Thanksgiving.
I loved that within the International Ministry I worked in; we had a Thanksgiving dinner the Saturday before Thanksgiving Day. It was so much fun! Anywhere from 50-100 of us, International and Americans, would gather at a local house, and share our American holiday with them. A lot of the International Students had never eaten turkey before, let alone experienced Thanksgiving. We would always share the reasons why we celebrated the holiday, both personal and traditional. As Christians, we shared the history of the Thanksgiving holiday, and how it was a time to thank God for the blessings we had received throughout the year. We shared how this holiday was just a small way that we could give back to Him and praise Him for everything He provides for us.
One year, for Thanksgiving, I could not go home because of the job I had at the time. I was so sad, because I did not want to be away from my family at that time, and it was the first Thanksgiving I had ever spent away from family. But it made me realize something. Even though many international students do not celebrate Thanksgiving, what better way to share the love of Christ with them than to invite them over for Thanksgiving dinner? A family that attended the church I went to invited me over for dinner that year, and it was so great to actually spend the day with someone, rather than sitting at home by myself.
So, I made a resolution. Even though it was later in my college career, I wanted to make sure that I was intentional about spending time with International Students on holidays. That Christmas, a friend and I spent part of our Christmas Eve with two international students, and then drove them to a train station so they could fly down to Puerto Rico and enjoy their vacation. I could have stuck to just hanging out with my own family, but I realized how grateful they were after we drove them to the station. It was one of my favorite memories of Christmas Eve, because I had the opportunity to share part of my holiday.
Now, for these upcoming holidays, I give you a challenge. What international students do you have contact with? Are they in your class, down the hall in your dorm, or just hanging out at the same coffee shop you always go to? Take a minute, and introduce yourself! I guarantee that almost every international student wants to meet you, too! Do you remember what it was like to be new at your school, either when you were a freshman, or if you transferred to a different school? That’s how they might be feeling. Now, picture yourself going overseas, where you have no family, not a lot of friends, and not many people even speak English. Who are you going to spend Christmas with?
By: Rebecca Wells