Almost, but not quite.
|Friendsgiving #1 with med school classmates|
|Friendsgiving #2 with our mentor couple and med school friends|
(not pictured: MAK's School-wide Thanksgiving Feast)
This year I've decided that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. As much as it is a sentimental holiday, it's not nearly as fraught with emotional nostalgia as Christmas can be. Thanksgiving is all about gathering with loved ones over meal and giving thanks. That's it. It's not nearly as overwrought of a holiday as Christmas is, with all its trappings and trimmings. (Don't get me wrong. As complicated as my relationship with Christmas is, I do love it taken in its pure form... Perhaps I will appreciate Christmas more one day when I'm not in charge of putting on a Christmas concert every year.) Thanksgiving is an act of worship to the generous Giver of all Good--as we fill our stomachs, we feel our hearts and souls fill with the goodness and grace of God Himself.
All that to say, there are so many things I am thankful for this past year. First and foremost, I am thankful for the opportunity to be here in Taiwan. I am thankful for being in Taiwan. Coming from where I was several months ago, this says a lot. I was struggling with depression and paralyzing discouragement as to my purpose and place in being here. I was fighting wanting to stay in America with my family and friends. Through it all God has been unfolding an awe-inspiring Master plan that I still don't understand quite yet, but I know it's pretty big and it fits me just right. All I know now is that the little pieces He has given me have been like shining tokens indicating another step in the right direction:
- Life Transformation Group: My accountability group with two amazing sisters. We read through the Bible together, share our struggles and victories, and pray with each other. What I appreciate most about these sisters is that even though we are all in different stages of our walk with God, we can all encourage and walk with each other in our journey together. It is through our meetings that God taught me the discipline of listening prayer, which became the turning point of my depression.
- Redemptive Gifts: We went through the characteristics of the different redemptive gifts in a couple staff meetings at school. God made it very clear the gifting He has given me and prompted me to delve deeper...there's still a lot I have to grow in, but I am so thankful for the crack in the door God opened for me to slowly inch through.
- Mentor couple friends: An American missionary couple has joined us at our church. The husband lectures for KMU's dentistry school and the wife is a teacher, so we find several things in common. They have been wonderful friends and mentors to us as they share their lives and experiences with us, knowing especially how to relate to us in our current life stage.
- Experiencing community in a new way: Working at MAK gives me a taste of a real sense of supportive, life-giving community. Being able to be part of celebrations, worship circles, and testimony nights have been good for my heart, as well as taking the time to share life together. It gives me a real sense of hope for restoration where once there has been brokenness.
- Taiwan Xi En: Precious babies. As helpless as they are, they bring such a heart-and-soul restoration and rejuvenation whenever I spend time with them.
- God at work: Through various opportunities, B and I have had the chance to be a small part of God working in the lives and hearts of people we've been privileged to come to know. While Taiwan is very dark and spiritually bound, the Spirit still moves and breathes in and through us, and I'm beginning to see that even though it takes much time and patience for His labors to come to full fruition, it is such a joy and honor to join Him in part of that labor.
- Living cross-culturally: Sometimes hearing about happenings back in the States remind me that living abroad has its good points. (Ex: I forgot all about Black Friday until someone's FB status reminded me why I forgot about it. How can we be truly thankful for what we have one day and then recklessly indulge in uninhibited consumerism the next?) Learning about national and global issues (social, spiritual, moral) is different when one lives overseas. There's just a different perspective that comes from being on the outside. I'm beginning to appreciate that now.
In addition, I am super thankful for the new addition to our family, my beautiful and smart niece! She brings me so much joy and happiness even if I can only look at photos and watch videos of her latest antics. Still, she smiles at me when we video chat, so I am happy!
These are the top things I am thankful for this year! I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving where God has shown you His blessings abundantly overflowing to you all! <3