"Allen, wouldn't it be fun to invite our Japanese friends to an American Thanksgiving dinner?" He agreed so I sent out invites.
It really is quite interesting how many Japanese I have run into, some at a store while I was shopping. Or at church. The newest friend I met was at my niece's jazz concert earlier this month. In this photo, my niece is singing a solo and Miki is playing the guitar. I went up to her afterwards and spoke Japanese to her. And I invited her to our Japanese Thanksgiving get-together. And she and her family came!!
Of course we had to do our traditional Norman Rockwell turkey carving!
After dinner, we took the leaf cut-out at our place setting and wrote on the back what we wanted to thank God for. Then each person added it to the tree branch.
I still have the leaf that my parents filled out their very last Thanksgiving with us. Mom passed away just 3 weeks after this. Hard to believe. And Dad died on Nov. 2015, before the next one.
(Pictures from Thanksgiving 2014.)
After dinner, I gave a kamishibai (paper storytelling) that told the story of the original Thanksgiving. Something that got to my attention this year is the story of Squanto and how God used this man in the story.
In the 1600's, the Wampanoag Indians covered the coast of New England. In 1614 Captain Thomas Hunt captured several Native Americans, along with a Patuxet named Squanto. He was sold into slavery in Spain. A Spanish monk purchased Squanto's freedom and he taught him English and introduced him to Jesus Christ. In 1619, Squanto was able to return to his native land. He found out his tribe had been wiped out by an epidemic and so he made his home with the Wampanoag.
In 1608, a British group who called themselves Separatists fled to Leyden, Holland where they found religious freedom not offered in Britain. However in Holland, they experienced poverty, grueling work hours and also a secular culture that undermined the values they were trying to instill into their children. So they sold all their things and indentured themselves for seven years so they could finance their trip to new land called America. They left in 1620.
On the Mayflower, another group called the Strangers joined their group, also seeking the new land. These two groups numbering 102, were called the Pilgrims.
The trip lasted 9 weeks and by "accident" the ship lost its course and ended up far north of their original destination, at Cape Cod, Massachusetts. They began their new life at what they named Plymouth. What a difficult winter. Half the Pilgrims died. But despite this, they clung to their faith
When Spring came, they chose to remain in this land, rather than return to England with the Mayflower. And then here came Squanto - a brother in Christ. I can only see God's hand in this. It reminds me of Joseph in the Bible. His brothers sold him into slavery but after many years, Joseph, who ended up 2nd in command to the Pharoah, became the instrument of saving his family and many others.
"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive." Gen 50:20
William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth wrote that Squanto was "a special instrument sent of God for good beyond their expectation."
Slavery is evil, and what happened to Squanto was awful. But God used it for good to help these new people in this new land. He is a Redeemer! Squanto taught them how to live in this land; how to grow corn, use fertilizer, fish and stalk deer.
Their first harvest was good and so Governor Bradford proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving to God. The Pilgrims invited their new Indian friends. Chief Massasoit and his tribe came, along with Squanto. They brought venison and wild turkeys and the Pilgrims and Indians feasted, played games, ran races and had a feast for 3 whole days!