Thanksgiving, turkey, dressing, family, friends would not be possible this year, not in Okinawa, Japan. American holidays aren’t celebrated in the Orient in the public realm. As residents and teachers on the island, we had to adjust to life there. We would either have to forget about the delectable feast of Thanksgivings past, or really splurge and buy a turkey for our table.
One day, a check came in the mail – a gift of $20 from a friend. Excited for the taste for turkey, we decided to go to the store, use the money to buy a bird to make our Thanksgiving special. Maybe that would help us not be so homesick, I reasoned. We found turkeys to be quite scarce – only three scrawny turkeys on the whole island each costing an outrageous 7000-8000 yen (almost $50). Trimmings for the bird such as dressing, cranberries, and yams were almost non-existent, at least unreachable with our teacher’s income. I conceded that a turkey really wasn’t necessary for Thanksgiving , but I will admit that I was disappointed. We could be thankful without a bird, but it just would not seem like Thanksgiving.
I thought of praying for a turkey, but then chided myself. What’s God going to do, drop one out of heaven just for me? I felt silly. Still, I was confident that God enjoys granting the smallest desires of a pure heart, sometimes even if it’s a want instead of a need. He always provided in the past; He knew my desires, and perhaps He would even provide for a small silly desire that I had. Feeling foolish, I bowed my head and asked.
The week before Thanksgiving, we were approached after church and given a sealed blender box, unopened, and looked new. Although I was grateful for the gift, I really didn’t need another blender. I shoved the box into the trunk and we proceeded for home. Retrieving the box from the trunk at home, it felt damp. Once inside, I opened the box to see what caused it to leak. To my surprise, there was a 6-lb. frozen turkey complete with canned yams, two boxes of stuffing mix, cranberries, pecans, and canned pumpkin for pie! I cried. How lavish God was! Not only did He answer my desire for a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, but even met my husband Tom’s unspoken wish for his favorite pecan pie!
Two days before Thanksgiving, we received another sack of groceries from a military couple we didn’t even know. This one had a 17-lb. turkey, more canned cranberries and dressing mix. It also included a roasting pan in which to bake the bird. God even provided the pan I didn’t have in order to make the dinner. I was awe-struck. God was so good.
Two turkeys and all the trimmings! It was amazing. What a wonderful Thanksgiving we had – and Christmas too! We were able share our bountiful holiday feasts and bless our American friends living on the island. Doubly blessed. Doubly thankful. Doubly amazed – thousands of miles from home.
“He shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) …and sometimes our ‘wants’ too!
This is a true story as told by Judy Holzaepfel. Tom and Judy Holzaepfel were missionary/teachers on the island of Okinawa, Japan for four years. They taught English and Art in the Christian school. They now pastor Lighthouse Assembly in Huron, Ohio and manage a food pantry ministry to the Huron-Berlin Heights area.