My friend Bethany, who does not have a blog to link to, agreed to guest post for me about her Thanksgiving growing up in Africa and how grateful her experiences have made her. She was also kind enough to include pictures!
A few weeks ago, Megg asked me if I would be willing to guest post during Thanksgiving, and I said, “Sure!” but since I’ve never been asked to guest post, this may not sound very guest posterly to you. If that is the case, please heed this caveat and leave the pitchforks and torches at home. Asante sana.
“What is that foreign language?” you probably just wondered it. Heck, you might even be googling it right now, in which case, I’ll wait for you to come back so I can just tell you.
“Asante sana” means “thank you very much” in Swahili. Now, let me be honest, I do not speak Swahili or any other African languages. However, I did spend my childhood and adolescence in Africa, so I know bits and pieces of several languages spoken in Africa, and—what’s that? Oh, you want to hear more about growing up in Africa? Funny you should ask…Megg thought that would be fun for me to me to talk about how I grew up and how we celebrated Thanksgiving in Africa—since this is a Thanksgiving-ish post and all—so hey, let’s talk about that. (Btw, we usually had chicken instead of turkey.)
To begin with, my parents are missionaries, which is why, at the age of one and a half, I was whisked halfway around the world and raised as a minority of sorts. A lot of Americans ask me what it was like growing up in Africa, but I usually end up asking them, “What was it like growing up in the US?” because I don’t really know how to describe my childhood. Growing up in Africa was just growing up for me.
Now, before we continue, let me clarify a few misconceptions people may have. First of all, we did not live in round mud huts. We did not ride elephants to school. (We were homeschooled!) I never met Tarzan. I don’t speak “African” because that is a language that does not exist. I did not live in a state in the country of Africa. Africa is a continent, and we lived in the countries of Ghana and Chad. (We went to boarding school in Kenya.) We didn’t own pet monkeys. Also, saying “chai tea” is redundant as chai means tea. And why the heck do you people put spices in chai? Bleck.
So far, this post probably sounds like a rant, but I needed to say all of that to lay the groundwork for what I’m going to say next. See, I didn’t have some of the exotic experiences listed above, but I did grow up overseas and have traveled extensively. For that, I am grateful.
I am thankful that not only did I have the opportunity to swim with dolphins off the coast of Zanzibar, but that I also had the opportunity to share life stories with a Buddhist monk in Thailand. I am thankful that I was able to visit the Vatican in Rome, but I am more thankful that I got to play tag with Gypsy children in Romania. I am thankful that I was able to climb to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, but I am also more than blessed to have prayed alongside my Indian brothers and sisters in the Mumbai ghettos.
I am thankful for a broad worldview. I am thankful for an incredibly supportive family that made home exist no matter where we lived, even if we were living out of suitcases for half a year. I am thankful for a roof over my head, a job that pays the bills, and a loving husband who is as big of a geek as I am. I am thankful for friends like Megg who can make me laugh and can share even the little things like a trip to Target or a love of sushi. I am thankful for the hellspawn that we also refer to as “cats” because occasionally their furry cuddles make up for the insanity they otherwise cause.
Most importantly, I am thankful for a relationship with a Savior who has been with me through all of the ups and downs in life, who is constant when I am wandering far, and who has carried me through some very dark times and brought about the blessings for which I am currently grateful.