Thanksgiving is an iconic and thoroughly American holiday―one that we missionaries look forward to celebrating together. We all enjoy the overindulgent feast of the turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie every year. But missionaries so far from home absolutely cherish a each and every bite. Cranberry sauce and green beans are scouted and then hoarded like valuable treasures for weeks in anticipation of that little taste of "normal". Thanksgiving is one of very few days where we allow our hearts and minds to be carried back to the familiarity and comfort of what we've left behind.
Nevertheless, I was shocked at my reaction when the girl in the checkout lane wished me a Happy Thanksgiving (in English!). I smiled politely, but inside I was raging with emotion. "That's ours! It's not your holiday!" I thought. "After everything I've sacrificed for Honduras, you can't have Thanksgiving too!" my heart screamed. Uh-oh. There it was. The ugly, raw truth from the depth of my soul.
Instead of being thrilled to see fellow human beings recognize the need for gratitude in this increasingly greedy world, I was wrapped up in my own martyrdom. It was time for some serious prayer. It was an anxious and painful conversation. I began by whining about all things I'd "given up" for His sake in Honduras. I reasoned that I deserved one day to be American. Really? Who am I to lecture GOD about sacrifice? And do I really want Him to give me what I deserve? The terrible truth is that sometimes this missionary brings a selfish, ungrateful and broken heart to minister to a selfish, ungrateful and broken world.
This year I'm thankful that God is infinitely merciful in His forgiveness. I confessed my arrogance and grumbling and asked Him to give me a spirit of grateful humility. I'm still a work in progress. In the meantime, the Holy Spirit is comforting the longing and homesick heart I didn't even know I had. A few deviled eggs, some green bean casserole and a family of missionaries to emulate didn't hurt either!