I guess first I should start off by telling the story of our most recent packages. Last Tuesday, Stefan and I had planned to take some clandos to Kelo so that we could pick up packages since we knew we had some with Thanksgiving food in them. He had asked off of work from Andre, the CEO, and I had off because I had just worked the night shift, so it was perfect. Unfortunately, the morning of, James talked to Stefan and pretty much told him he couldn't go because he was here to work and he shouldn't be taking off of work. Needless to say, we were really bummed, and immediately began making plans to see who could go on Wednesday since we were determined to get our packages before Thanksgiving.
Ansley and Emily decided that they would go since they wouldn't be working on Wednesday morning. I ended up talking to James later that day (Tuesday still), and I told him the plans. It was really odd; he began really discouraging us from going and giving me all kinds of reasons that we shouldn't go. He told me that he was going to N'Djamena early next week and he could get them then, and it didn't really matter which day we celebrated Thanksgiving on, and all kinds of things. And he kept saying, "Man, I wish you guys had reminded me when I went to Moundou the other day; I could have picked them up in the car on the way back."
That evening, Ansley and I were sitting in the middle house, and James came over and started trying to discourage Ansley from going again, but we were unbudging. Finally, he said, "You guys really shouldn't go because all of the packages are sitting in a pile on my living room floor."
We were stunned. "You're kidding me, right?" was my first response. He assured us that no, he wasn't kidding, and he had been lying through his teeth to me to try to get us not to go. He told us that he had planned to put all of the packages on a stack in the middle house on Thanksgiving morning along with a note that said, "Merry Thanksgiving!" He wanted so badly to surprise us. So he told Ansley to come up with some kind of excuse as to why she couldn't go with Emily. She did, although, she said she couldn't lie to Emily, so she told her what had happened. When they told everyone that we weren't going to be able to get the packages before Thanksgiving, everyone was pretty let-down.
But it was worth it. Thanksgiving morning, James stacked all the packages in the middle house (there were something like 14 packages total) with a note that said, "Ho, ho, ho, Merry Thanksgiving! I tried to get them down the chimney, but it was a tight fit. Might try cleaning it out." It was pretty fun.
So we got our packages! One of mine was a birthday package from home, which was amazing! And I got a birthday package from some friends back at Southern too (thanks guys, you totally made my day). And someone that knows Jacob's family had their school send packages with a whole Thanksgiving meal in it! It was totally amazing. So we made plans to have a huge Thanksgiving meal at James and Sarah's house that evening along with some of the other volunteers-- Gary and Wendy Roberts (pilot and wife), Steve Rose (cool guy who's working with Gary for 3 months), and Jeremy and Annie Smith (two nurses working with Gary and at the hospital).
We had so much fun making all the food, which all turned out to be absolutely amazing! It was the best meal I've had since leaving home. And we had SO much food! We ended up with leftovers. Here's what the menu was: Mixed nuts and craisins for appetizers, antipasta (which was amazing!), corn, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes with gravy, salad, cranberry sauce, bread with seasoned oil dip, two kinds of stuffing, and fri-chik. For drinks, we had cold apple cider and fresh limeade (we have that a lot here since limes are easy to get), and for dessert we had chocolate meringues and ginger snap cookies with this amazing pumpkin-spice whipped cream dip. We even had table decorations-- a huge pumpkin/squash thing (thanks to James), acorns and leaves (Jacob's mom sent them), and little corn kernels. Oh, and the pumpkin spice candle that my mom had sent me earlier.
Before we ate, we each took five kernels of corn and participated in a variation on a family tradition of Jacob's. We went around the table, and each of us got to say five things we were thankful for, one for each kernel of corn, and as we said them, we would throw our corn kernel into the pumpkin squash thing in the middle of the table (there was a slice missing because we cut it out to eat it).
Luckily, I had just taken my last dose of Quinine Thanksgiving morning, so my hearing and appetite were starting to come back. I ate so much food!!! Which was especially amazing because for the last week I had been so nauseas from malaria that I could only eat like five bites of food at each meal. God is good.
After we ate, we sat around and talked for a while and listened to music. Then we started cleaning up (I can't remember the last time I've washed that many dishes!). Finally, we decided that we would end our Thanksgiving with a nice round of games till midnight. We played Settlers of Catan (one of our favorite games here) for a long time while we drank hot chocolate (yes, we like hot drinks even in Africa), and when midnight struck, we turned on the Christmas music! Once we finished our game (which, by all means, I was set up to win, but James won out of sheer luck because 3s were rolled like 7 times), we decided to play a game of Citadels, which is another of our favorite games. We ended up staying at James's house until 2 am! And I had to work the next morning. But it was definitely worth it.
Oh! I almost forgot... While we were eating, Ansley read us Lincoln's speech that he gave when he made Thanksgiving an official holiday. I had never read it before, but it was so very fitting and inspiring. It really made me think about what Thanksgiving is supposed to be about; it's more than good food and a good time with friends and family, it's a time to really focus on giving thanks to God for his guidance and providence in our lives.
So here's to Thanksgiving in Chad-- one of the best, most blessed times I've had in Chad yet.