It’s hard to know where to begin this post. We celebrated our Thanksgiving a day ahead of the United States, so in many ways it has been a two day holiday which is fitting because we have MUCH to be thankful for. We spent Thanksgiving morning as a team worshipping and praying together prayers of praise and gratitude for all the Lord has allowed us to experience of His love, provision and abundance in Ambon. It was a sweet time of fellowship and communion for the team as we prepared our hearts for the day and petitioned the Lord for a fruitful outreach later in the day.
We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon cooking an adapted version of a Thanksgiving meal to share with our new friends from the University. The team worked together to make green bean casserole, sandwiches with smoked beef (it turns out there are no turkeys in Ambon) and cranberry sauce, and an Indonesian version of pumpkin pie made with Agar Agar (a gelatin). Most people do not have ovens here, so our American delicacies had to be made using only a gas stove top and a combination of the ingredients we were able to carry with us from the US with some Indonesian substitutes.
We carried our make-shift Thanksgiving meal across the island to the Free’s former home near the University and set up tables with decorations we had brought from the US…and then we waited. We waited, and we prayed that some of the students we had met at the University a couple of days before would be brave enough to accept our invitation to an off campus, unusual meal to celebrate a foreign holiday with strangers… And then, they started to trickle in! The first few were a group of three girls who showed up about 30 minutes early and brought with them a traditional local dish to share with our team. Their bright smiles and laughter as the team tried the ‘papeda’ (which looks a little like glue with fish on it) lifted our spirits quickly. Not long after, more began to arrive and before we knew it we had 14 university students packed into a small living room with no air conditioning and big, expectant smiles.
We blessed the food, thanked them for coming and shared a little bit about the history of our American holiday. We shared the story and told them that during a dark time in the very beginning of our country the Lord brought two very different people groups together and that the compassion showed between the two touched the hearts of all and a day was set aside to give thanks to God for His provision and grace. We ate and laughed through the struggle to overcome language and cultural barriers and all had a good time. We even bobbed for apples and went around the group to say what we were all thankful for. Most of our guests graciously said they were thankful that we had come and we said prayers of thanks for them as well. There was singing and laughing and so much joy. They stayed several hours and were not anxious to leave as they continued to ask questions and tell stories. We ended our day praising the Lord for all He had done and the seeds that were planted. Plans were made for some of the team to return who will be here for a longer period and students were eager and excited to meet again.
As we end our holiday here we are also praising and thanking the Lord for all of you at home who are praying for and supporting this team. We know that many of you are lifting us up in prayer and we can see and feel the Lord answering those prayers as he opens doors and supplies energy and enthusiasm on long, hot days. Trimakassi, Tuhan berkati mu! Thank you, and God bless you!