Thanksgiving Away

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Thursday marked my second Thanksgiving away from home and my immediate family.

Up until these two years, Thanksgiving and family were synonymous. I don’t know right now where I’ll be next Thanksgiving or if I’ll be with my family. For now, that’s ok, because I know I’m where I need to be on this journey.

Last year, I enjoyed 3 turkey dinners in Hanoi and then hopped on a night train to stunning Sapa for a culminating weekend of adventure with Martha and Elizabeth.

This year, I descended on my pastor’s house with a group of other 2o-somethings for dinner, football (I’m not sure I’ll ever understand this American phenomenon.), and games.

Both weren’t typical but wonderful in their own ways. Both involved Skype calls home marked with tinges of joy and sadness. Both included wonderful conversation and laughter. Both were spent with people who’ve become family in a way, because they’re without family too.

“Give thanks in all circumstances” we’re told.

And so I give thanks, because no matter where I might celebrate or who I am with blessings abound.

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It’s been 146 days, 7 hours, 22 minutes, and coming up on 5 months since I first arrived in Hawaii. In some ways, it seems like ages ago, and in other ways, it seems like just yesterday. Time is a funny thing.

After a day off, spent mostly talking on the phone or chatting with friends over Google Hangout, I’m sitting at one of my local Starbucks thinking about the past 5 days and the past 5 months leading up to them.

In the past 5 months, I’ve moved, started a new life, hiked and seen places I never imagined I’d visit, and found a place in the Our Savior ohana.

In the past 5 days, I’ve camped with an awesome group of 5th graders, greeted trick ‘r treaters, watched the pieces of Fall Festival planning fall into place, and talked a lot about life.

When I arrived here in June, 5th Grade Camp and Fall Festival seemed like events far into the future of internship. Now, they’ve passed and are memories of ocean air, egg drop victory, campfire songs, youth dressed as security guards, bounce house joy, and root beer floats.

The coming weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas are certain to be filled with preparations and anticipation. I asked myself questions like “How will Christmas away from home and family be?” and “Where will I be in a year?”

I seem to say, “Time will tell,” “God only knows,” and “just pray,” on repeat. This I know: that no matter what I face is His hands.