I didn't really celebrate Thanksgiving in the States.
Oh, sure... our family got together. We ate turkey and banana pudding and pumpkin pies until we could barely move. On a few occasions we even took a few minutes to say we were thankful for things. Once we even made a "thankful tree," and hung leaves with words written on them of what we were thankful for.
But in the comfort of America... in the luxuries and abundance... I never really understood true thankfulness for little things. Our "thankful tree" would look very different if we made it today.
Coming to the field has been such a blessing in my spiritual growth. I am sad that the Lord had to take me to the other side of the world to teach me true, heartfelt, deep gratitude.
And I am not alone. Several BMWs took the time to share with us things that seemed so insignificant to them in their passport country, but now on the field they are true treasures.
If the BMWs got together and made a "thankful tree," what would their leaves say?
Have you every gotten on your knees and thanked the Lord for your turkey... with tears in your eyes? When 12 pound turkeys cost $70-$120, It's a tough thing to swallow. Yes, many BMWs substitute chicken. So when that turkey unexpectedly goes on sale... or someone sends a check specifically for a turkey??? I promise you will fall to your knees and thank the Lord.
Sending an email, using Skype, and Facebook posts? Have you ever poured your heart out to the Lord about how precious these things are? When your child or grand babies are thousands of miles away on Thanksgiving, your gratitude for these modern conveniences will flourish.
Creative Skype with Grandparents
Do you take birthday gatherings for granted? BMWs have learned to treasure getting together with friends for a birthday cake.
Have you spent time in prayer thanking the Lord you got at least one thing done today? I can promise some BMWs have.
Have you ever turned on the shower and broke out in praise and thanksgiving because there was hot water? Or even that there was water at all?
If you have ever seen a woman holding a box of cranberries and crying? Or maybe it was cream cheese or blueberries or butterscotch morsels or chocolate chips or Pepsi Cola or CHEDDAR CHEESE... To many people, these things are nothing. They walk into a store, grab a bag of brown sugar, pay, and leave. But a BMW? She realizes just how precious these items are. You are likely to find her praying over a pumpkin... thanking the Lord for loving her that much. And if she gets a CAN of pumpkin, she may just have a running spell. Do I need to even explain what happens when butter goes on sale?
Have you ever put clothes in your washing machine, pressed the button to start it up, and started singing a song of God's grace? If you ever have to wash your clothes by hand for a lengthy period of time, it will put a song in your heart and thanksgiving in your mouth to have such a wonderful contraption. And for a BMW, having a dryer can bring you to singing three part harmony all by yourself. Yes, we are thankful for appliances.
By the way, did I mention gratitude for OXY Clean? It's real.
Have you ever been humbled in prayer over thirty minutes of quiet time? If you ever have to take care of a children's home with twenty children, you will find yourself shedding tears of gratitude to the Lord.
We have all walked into a doctor's office, seen the wait, and grumbled. If you are a BMW, you are more likely to walk in, see the line, find a place to sit or stand... and then praise the Lord for affordable, quality care. It is rare on many fields.
And lines??? There is something precious about learning to give thanks because you are in the top 150 for the petrol line. When your children sit around the dinner table and pray, thanking the Lord for diesel fuel and bacon... you realize the Lord has truly done a work in the hearts of the whole family.
Are you a Sunday school teacher or women's ministry leader? When is the last time you have praised the Lord for your Sunday school curriculum or Bible study helps? There are BMWs all over the world on their knees regularly thanking the Lord for materials like that. They have learned their value because many of them have had to labor for a long time to translate materials, write materials... or even just collect the materials over time.
Peanut butter... I could have added it to the grocery store scene above, but peanut butter deserves a section all to itself. I am convinced more prayers of thanksgiving have gone up for the gift of peanut butter than for any other grocery item.
Easy access to clean public toilets? Yes, you learn to appreciate those things. How many times have you thanked the Lord for them?
Encouraging emails, letters, and packages? It was sweet to get those things in the States, but they never gripped my heart the way they do on the field.
Smooth roads... Oh, I could park on this topic for hours! (Excuse the pun... I couldn't resist.) When a road gets paved here, my whole family bursts into praises!
I remember complaining in the States when it rained. It ruined my plans. But on the field? Water is life. It fills the cisterns. It keeps the electricity on for extra hours. Rain? Yes, BMWs have spent many hours thanking God for rain.
Speaking of electricity... You will never understand true gratitude for electricity until you begin thanking the Lord for an extra hour of electricity.
So many BMWs do not get to experience the changing of the leaves in Fall. They long for it and have learned how to spot the slightest change of color from a great distance. Oh, they truly have learned to appreciate the autumn leaves.
Have you thanked the Lord lately for your past? BMWs do it regularly. They have seen the Lord's fingerprints in their past preparing them for what they are doing now... and they are truly thankful.
Have you praised the Lord today for Pinterest and for "from scratch" recipes? When you don't have access to marshmallows and saltines... you will grow in gratitude for these things.
How thankful are you for your warm clothes and your heater and your boots in winter? These things have produced mountains of praise on many fields... and for other fields, a cold spell of 70 degrees makes choruses of thanksgiving gush forth.
Have you ever sat in a church service and thanked the Lord that it was in your own language? Have you ever sat in a Christmas cantata/Easter pageant/teen singspiration/Awana or Masters Club meeting/ladies meeting and couldn't control your praise that you even have access to these things? What about church fellowships like simple hay rides and camping trips? Go without those for a while... your gratitude will swell like the tide. It does for us.
Do you want to see thankfulness ooze from every pore of a BMW? Hoist the Stars and Stripes high and start playing the national anthem.
You see, Thanksgiving isn't the turkey and dressing. It isn't getting together with family (though we sure do love the rare opportunity!) It isn't football games and parades. If it were these things, many BMWs couldn't celebrate. But the heart of Thanksgiving is... well... giving thanks!
We may be spending Thanksgiving thousands of miles away from our families. We may be eating giblets and refried beans with nationals or other missionaries. We may have to substitute a chicken for the turkey. But praise the Lord that He is teaching us the true meaning of Thanksgiving! We BMWs are blessed beyond measure. His grace is sufficient today... and every day.
And for that... we give thanks.
Happy Thanksgiving from
Baptist Missionary Women
around the world!
(Thank you, ladies, for sharing your hearts and thanking the Lord for His goodness... even in the little things.)