Soup is known to be a comfort food. A for that reminds you of home and all the sweet things in life. You eat soup when you are sick or not feeling well, it makes you feel better. When you away from home, soup can take you back. The minute you eat chicken soup you remember how your mom would make chicken soup for the holidays and when you were sick. Soup makes the heart warm!
As I find often time, needing a stronger relationship with God, I say a little prayer and I feel a little bit closer. And when I taste a little soup that I made, I get a little closer to home. It is funny how going home and doing all the things that I missed made me miss home even more. I miss home more during the holiday season, I miss all the smells and sounds of thanksgiving and the tasty food. We (my on boarding group and I) have been on board for one year. How time flies. It’s crazy to think that we all met for the first time 13 months ago. And now we are all closer than ever, like family. When I first came here I never thought that one year later I would still be here. I have learned a lot and my life is definitely not the same.
Since I got back from my vacation at home things have gotten back to normal. I have been participating in some on ship crew activities, going out with friends, and mercy ministries. I recently participated in the chopped competition onboard. Yes it is how it sounds. Just like seen on TV six teams of two go head to head to see who can make the best dish using secret ingredients found in the local market. If you have watched hoped on TV you know that three rounds, for our sake we have only two dinner and dessert, where we mush make a dish using all the ingredients given to us. Just like the real thing it is broadcasted on the ship from the crew galley for the audience to see what is going on in the kitchen. My partner (as seen in the picture) was Jon Heinrich. We both worked together in the galley for two months so we knew how to come up with a meal. Our secret ingredients were Cameroon shrimp, which look like a small lobster, Cameroonian chilis, and cassava. Though we never mad it to the second round, we still had a blast cooking. I had to work that day so I was pretty glad that we didn’t make it but I was a little disappointed because well I enjoyed it.
As Thanksgiving approaches us I am reminded of the first thanksgiving.
The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth by Brownscombe
“Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together.” Edward Winslow
In New England, the first Thanksgiving Day was celebrated in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621 by the Pilgrims together with 91 Indians. The Pilgrims first set foot at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. The first winter in Massachusetts was very harsh and 46 out of the original 102 Pilgrims died. It is believed that the Indians helped the Pilgrims through that difficult period and without them, the Pilgrims would not have survived.
In the following Spring of 1621, Samoset of the Wampanoag Tribe and Squanto of the Pawtuxet tribe, taught the survivors how to plant corn or maize and how to catch alewives, a kind of fish to be used as a fertilizer for growing pumpkins, beans, peas and other crops. These two braves also taught the Pilgrims the art of hunting and angling. Things got better in 1621 when the corn and pumpkin harvest was bountiful. Governor William Bradford made arrangements to celebrate the bountiful harvest and to recognize the help given to the colonists by the Indians with a feast. The Indians who had helped them survive were invited; among them the great king Massasoit, with some ninety Indian men. Governor William Bradford sent four men out “fowling” after ducks and geese but no one is sure if it included wild turkeys. The Pilgrims used to call any type of wild fowl “turkey”.
In 1623 a day of fasting and prayer during a period of drought was changed to one of thanksgiving because the rain came during the prayers. Gradually the custom prevailed in New England of annually celebrating thanksgiving after the harvest.
During the American Revolution a yearly day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress. In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom, and by the middle of the 19th century many other states had done the same. In 1863 President Abraham
Lincoln appointed a day of thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November, which he may have correlated it with the November 21, 1621, anchoring of the Mayflower at Cape Cod. Since then, each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation. President Franklin D. Roosevelt set the date for Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November in 1939 (approved by Congress in 1941).
Seven other nations also celebrate an official Thanksgiving Day, though on a different date: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Korea, Liberia and Switzerland.
The primary purpose of Thanksgiving Day is to express gratitude to God for his many gifts. Although sometimes this gets forgotten in our secular culture today, still most people realize that our thanksgiving should be directed most of all in God’s direction.
Though thanksgiving is an American holiday I like to think about what it means and being with friends and family, no matter who they are. Being here on the ship with many different cultures I think about that even more. I am reminded to be grateful for what I have. I am reminded of the words to the song “we gather together” it is a tradition to sing at the thanksgiving table.
“We Gather Together” is a Christian hymn of Dutch origin written in 1597 by Adrianus Valerius as “Wilt heden nu treden” to celebrate the Dutch victory over Spanish forces in the Battle of Turnhout. It was originally set to a Dutch folk tune. In the United States, it is popularly associated with Thanksgiving Day and is often sung at family meals and at religious services on that day.”-Wikipedia
We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.
Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!
We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!” Take the time to be thankful for what we have been given and spend Thanksgiving with someone!
Here is a patient story!
You can hear Christina’s contagious laugh from across the room and instinctively know that she’s a woman who never lets circumstances rob her of joy. But, her smile is interrupted with a facial tumor that has been slowly growing for over 30 years, with no hope of being removed.
Christina first noticed the tumor, which was then just a small growth on her left cheek, when she was only 23 years old. She was a young bride, raising a family with her whole future ahead of her. The tumor was painful, but surgery to remove it was not an option. She and her husband, Emmanuel, worked as farmers—their maize, yam and beans put food on the table, but didn’t provide enough money to cover hospital expenses. All Christina could do was take medicine to ease the pain, and resign herself to the reality that this would always be a part of her life.
As Christina’s children grew, so did her tumor, eventually stretching from her ear to her jaw. But, her exuberant spirit and love for those around her never faded. When asked about her positivity she simply said, “The spirit of God is touching me, giving me peace.”
When she first heard of Mercy Ships, she couldn’t believe her ears—a ship with surgeons that would remove her tumor for free? Her children barely saw her without it in the last three decades, let alone her grandchildren. She knew she had to take the chance. Leaving her family behind, she traveled to the ship in hopes of receiving surgery on board. Even when her appointments were postponed, Christina waited patiently, peacefully, with a twinkle in her eye. Change was coming. She just had to hold on.
Finally, her surgery date came. After several hours in the operating room, the tumor was gone! “Look at me!” she said after the operation, turning her face so you could see the graceful slope of her neck, now tumor-free. “My family will not believe it.”
Her bubbly laugh and genuine interest in those around her made Christina a favorite to patients and crew alike on the Africa Mercy. And after her surgery, she returned home without the burden she’d carried for 30 years, and with a new hope for the future.
Story by: Rose Talbot
Edited by: Karis Johnson
Photographer: Shawn Thompson
Christina’s tumor has been growing since she was 23 years old – without hope of ever having it removed.
Christina beams as she shows off her neck — tumor-free for the first time in over 30 years!