You might wonder about the title of this blog cause I bet you're thinking..Kristen..Thanksgiving is NOT a Roman holiday. My friends, you are correct! However, I will explain :)
Being in Rome for Thanksgiving definitely caused for some mixed emotions on my part. On Thursday, my ISA program put on a dinner for us..it was a fair attempt but it wasn't anything to be excited about. However, while people around me complained about the bland mashed potatoes, lack of gravy, and overall mediocre dinner, I was thankful. I was thankful for an Italian attempt to make ME feel home in a country that is obviously not celebrating Thanksgiving. However, I was also thankful to be able to have Thanksgiving Take Two-Roma style. Two dear friends and missionaries, Tim and Janet Hall, who live here in Rome invited me and Emily to celebrate Thanksgiving with them and a few of their colleagues. I cannot begin to explain how thankful I was to be able to be there with them, have gravy, a homemade pumpkin pie, and simply be in the comfort of a home with people who love and celebrate the grace of Jesus!
Being in Rome for Thanksgiving got me thinking a lot about Thanksgiving. First, it was difficult for me to not be at home for this holiday however I was THANKFUL for skype. After our ISA dinner I was able to come back to my flat and skype with my family and the Dobsons and I was thankful to see them. After baking a pumpkin pie for the ISA dinner, I was THANKFUL for my mom and sister always making the pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving dinner because a stove with no thermostat and two girls with not much cooking talent doesn't result in such a great pie :). Spending Friday night with the Halls for dinner I was THANKFUL for God blessing me with two people that have shown me love and help beyond anything I could ask for during my time in Rome. And those are just a few things I was thankful for...in a few days!
I will not bore ya'll with an extensive list of things I am thankful for, many of which I have taken for granted, but I do want to share a few of top ones with everyone.
-I am thankful for DU making it easy to study abroad and I am thankful that I never experienced culture shock. I am thankful for DU financing a lot of my time here in Rome but I am even more thankful for my parents being willing to fund the majority of my experience here.
-I am thankful for adventure! I am thankful that Jesus has taught me how to put one foot in the water and trust Him enough to walk on it!
-I am thankful for books. I am thankful for having the time and leisure to read novel after novel while I am in Rome. You may think that's an odd way to spend time while I am in a foreign country but I never have time to do this at DU, so I am thankful to be able to read so much here.
-I am thankful for people... a few of whom I want to specifically write about
-Antonio-I mention him a lot but I am SO thankful to have met an Italian who literally beams with happiness when we come into his cafe. I am thankful for our minimal Italian conversations and for his excitement at always seeing us.
-Casey Chelf-thank you for keeping in touch with me so much. I hope you know how much our conversations mean to me and I thank you for always having time to talk to me. Always.
-Luke Caudill-thank you for remaining in my life and showing me exactly what it means to love without an agenda.
-Mom and Dad-thanks for being my parents! Seriously.. I don't thank you enough for all the support-emotional, physical, monetary, etc, that you give me. I would not be in Rome if it weren't for both of you and thank you for getting a 13 foot Christmas tree for me!
-Becca-thanks for showing me the ropes on travel! Thanks for sharing in Greece with me and being my adventurous partner in crime. You've taught me the importance of 1-minute friends and you got me addicted to travel!
-Katie, Mark, and Abbie-thanks for being able to talk to me about things and offering me sound, Godly advice. And thanks for being born, Abbie :)
-Ben McElroy-thank you for The Wild Good Chase. You're right...it's a great book. And thank you, in a roundabout way, for not being a part of my life anymore. Without you I have become enamored with Jesus and I have become the adventurous woman I am meant to be.
-To my friends back home-thanks for keeping in touch and I seriously miss you all like crazy
-To my new friends here-thanks for sharing in this experience with me! It's something we will never forget and through it we have bonded in a way that I will never bond with anyone else in my life
-Tim and Janet Hall-thank you for your love and support, help and guidance during my time in Rome. Thank you for welcoming me into your home and family.
Anways..I could go on and on for the things and the people that I am thankful for but I want to end with this except from the Wild Goose Chase:
From The Wild Goose Chase Pages 60-62
"After your sermon at Union Station, I decided to approach your challenge to thank God for the daily miracles we generally expect from Him or even forget about. instead of waiting for the evening, I decided to start right then on my walk back to the Metro. Knowing the list of thanks could be infinitely long, I decided to focus my prayer of thanksgiving only on miracles I was receiving at the moment of my prayer. Thank you, God, for aerobic respiration. Thank You for mitochondria, which right now are creating ATP. Thank you for ATP. Thank You for glycolysis. Thank you for pyruvate.
With a biology degree, I ended up having a lot of things on the list. By the time I got back to my place in Arlington, I was thanking God for each of the amino acids. Thank you, God for glycine. Thank you for leucine. And isoleucine. And tryptophan. By the time I was thanking God for the fact that all organisms that form amino acids have the same chirality so that my body can reuse the nutrients and cellular building blocks of the food I break down, I found myself in absolute awe of His creation.
I prayed while I took a walk outside, thanking Him for bones and ligaments and tendons. I also thanked Him that I somehow never took an anatomy course in college, because otherwise I would have felt compelled to thank Him for each bone by name, which would have definitely set me back even more in my quest to get through most of the miracles I receiving at that moment.
I spent the day praying without ceasing! I literally didn't stop and just consciously kept listing things I was thankful for. I listened to music and thanked Him for my ears' cochleae. while I made dinner, I thanked Him for zylem in the plants I was preparing. I spent a lot of time thanking Him for the molecular properties of water. I thanked Him for the bacteria in my colon that help me digest food. I thanked Him for genetic recombination, which made developing and cultivating cotton plants possible for the jeans I was wearing.
By the time the sun set and it was dark at 9 o'clock, I think God was amused with the futility of me trying to thank Him for everything.The Spirit finally hushed me, saying "You can stop now."
So just remember to always be thankful. Seriously. No matter what country or language you are in.
So everyone Thank You, Grazie, Danke, Gracias