Friday, November 28, 2008

My Heart is Full

My heart is SO full. We had such a blessed Thanksgiving celebration yesterday!! I wanted to share some photos with you, and a little of the story.

Mitch picked up "our" students at 10 am. They are all from Nepal. I was sooooo nervous. My first thought when I saw them approaching the door was "They are beautiful!" With dark hair and eyes, they do have a more "Indian" complexion. {For those of you whose geography skills are as poor as mine, Nepal is sandwiched between China and Northern India. Mt. Everest in is Nepal.} Names were exchanged rapidly and I figured I would never get them right! We handed out name tags (yay Mitch for thinking of that), and that helped. We asked the students to come early if they wanted to help with the meal preparation. So we got started with that right away. We made munchies first--homemade chex mix and muddy buddies. This was a big hit. We showed them around the house and tried to keep the kids from all talking at once. They loved the kids instantly. We explained EVERYTHING as we went along. They had expressed interest in learning about our culture, so we really took this angle and ran with it. We pulled out kids pictures depicting the Thanksgiving story and explained the tradition. A nervous question was asked, "It's not a religious holiday is it?" We were able to keep rolling right through and explained that religious freedom is one of the main reasons why settlers came to America in the first place, so yes, it is a religious holiday. But only for some. We continued with the history of the first thanksgiving, explaining how the settlers had been starving. The first feast was a true's all about eating AND giving thanks. A little while later I took the opportunity to share, in diluted form, a story Ann Voskamp recently posted on her blog. Giving Thanks without specifically saying WHO you are giving thanks to is like putting a letter in the mailbox but not putting an address on it. Then as the day went along we prayed before our meal with no trouble and Mitch had the opportunity on the drive home to once again say how thankful we are to God for all He has provided for us. It was seamless, and not uncomfortable (I worried that it might be). We just were US. We didn't put on airs. We didn't try to be who we were not. We were ourselves.

Mitch expertly carving the turkey. I should have gotten the whole "spread" in this pic.

After our dinner, we all cleaned up together and sat around and played games. There were no shortage of willing children to play games! One student is a music major, so I brought out my dad's mandolin. He had never seen one before, but he tuned it and gave it a try. He loved it and came back to playing it several times. He did very well for it being the first time he had ever picked it up! After we thought our food had settled enough, I brought out dessert. Right at this time (good timing!) Holly and her boyfriend Kyle came over. They brought some dessert too (a custard pie). For dessert I had made (both from scratch) a pumpkin pie and a turtle cheesecake. Not even the crusts were store bought (though the pumpkin was canned, lol). I don't like pumpkin pie, so I'll have to take Kyle's word for it that it "looked and tasted just like pumpkin pie!" LOL. We let the students sample each and their favorite was the cheesecake. I have to agree! It was so rich and delicious.

We had homemade wassail in the crockpot brewing all day. It was delicious also!

Boy, do those desserts look good, or what!

Not long after dessert was over we gathered for more pictures, and it was time to say goodbye (around 6 pm). This was the hardest. No one wanted to go. We have promised to keep in touch. One student is a computer science major, and I offered to help with studying for her calculus final. We offered to help them with rides or even just to have them over again any time they want. We would like to try to invite them over at least once a month just for games and food.

Holly took this excellent group photo. Kyle and Mitch are wearing hats the students brought as gifts for us.

I am SO glad we did this. It was a wonderful experience. Like I said at the beginning of the post, my heart is full. I could write more and more about the day. The students were so warm and gracious. My heart breaks to think of them here all alone in this strange country. They said we were the nicest people they had met so far. There are so many people in St. Cloud who are just as nice and even nicer than we are.

Today I'm just chillin'. The closest we went to shopping on black Friday was buying a newspaper to look through the ads. We saw quite a few things that we would "like to have" but nothing that could convince me to get up early or brave the cold even now at a modest 9:44 am. I think a nap sounds good. Doesn't it?


  1. Just stopping by to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Have a wonderful day!

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  3. What a fabulous post, Stephanie! That is so wonderful that you would share your private family Thanksgiving with strangers.

    I aspire to be like you, dear. I do have to ask if I missed something- were these visitors connected to you by your church?

    and... could you pretty please share your recipe for the cheesecake and the wassail? :)