Nothing made me more homesick while serving as a volunteer missionary in Cameroon than being away from family on Thanksgiving Day. It’s one of my favorite holidays in the United States, but since it’s not observed in Cameroon, it was just another workday for me at the Adventist hospital.
I tried to preoccupy my mind by planning a traditional meal for later in the day. I’d have mashed potatoes, gravy, steamed green beans, and a can of meatless chicken (in place of turkey) that I’d received in a package from home. I’d even asked the wife of one of the doctors for permission to use her kitchen to make my dinner since her stove had four burners, while mine had only two.
The excitement of having some semblance of a Thanksgiving feast helped ease the pain, but I couldn’t help thinking of my family talking and laughing while relishing a slice of warm pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream.
I was torn from my mournful reverie with the news that someone wanted to see me in the waiting room. Who could it possibly be? I wondered. And what could they want? I set my project aside to go find out.
I was met by a giant of a man, whom I recognized from three weeks before. This American had brought his five-year-old boy to our clinic for malaria treatment. I had visited with them briefly, long enough to know that he and his family were also involved in mission work in Cameroon.
He robustly shook my hand and said, “Hey, as you know, today’s Thanksgiving, and we remembered that you were here from the U.S., so we wanted to invite you to join us for dinner.”
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I was shocked. What incredibly good news! I enthusiastically accepted the invitation and offered to bring something to drink. He laughed and said that sounded fine.
“We’re baking two turkeys,” he added, “and the other American family we work with is bringing rolls, green beans, and mashed potatoes. We’ve also made pumpkin and apple pie.” I nearly choked on the drool that was cascading down my chin at that point.
“Sounds great. I’ll be there!” I managed to piece together.
I joined the two families for dinner and ate a better feast than I could have ever imagined. Being a vegetarian worked out in my favor too because I wasn’t a threat to the coveted turkey drumsticks! The food was hundreds of times better than anything I could have cooked with my two pots and one pan on a four-burner stove.
After dinner, the younger kids watched a movie while the rest of us shared our different family traditions for Thanksgiving.
I was blessed by the burly man’s gracious invitation and the companionship I enjoyed in his home. His offer reminded me of God’s lavish invitation to me.
I tend to have my life all planned out and know what my next step will be. But God offers me something so much better than I could ever experience on my own: abundant life in the presence of His company forever. I’d be a fool to forgo His feast!
Cameroon Mission Facts
The Adventist work began in Nanga Eboko in 1926, followed by the first Adventist primary school in 1928.
A significant portion of the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering for third quarter 2007 helped complete the first phase of construction on the Buea Adventist Hospital in northwest Cameroon. A clinic there had served the community for years, but a hospital was urgently needed.
We currently have two missionary families serving in Cameroon: Manuel and Elma Bellosillo from the Philippines and Pierre and Mediatrice Mutarambirwa from Rwanda. Please remember them in your prayers.