Posted by: សារ៉ា(Sarah) | December 4, 2013

Thanksgiving Year

One week ago tomorrow was Thanksgiving Day.  One year and one week ago Mama and I landed in Portland – after the longest flight I’ve ever experienced.  Sure, I’d made the approximately thirty-three hour journey before; but I wasn’t sick then.  Wheelchair escorts through Seoul and Seattle relieved stress and helped us make the trip.  Papa met Mama and me at the airport and drove us directly to the hospital.  I entered – a patient for the first time.  Endless paperwork.  Hours of waiting rooms.  X-rays.  Blood work.  Only God could give endurance when none remained.  Finally my doctor gave us permission to go home.  After another hour’s drive, I walked into my bedroom, too exhausted and hungry to do anything but collapse on my bed and cry.  Mama made me some pasta with her homemade sauce.  I sank into my chair and blinked at the clock.  I squeezed my eyes shut, then opened them again – straining – but couldn’t see the clock.  “What time is it?”  “Nearly 10:00 pm.”  Mama handed me a bowl.  I’m sure I didn’t eat much, but it tasted good.  And I ate more than I’d eaten in a couple weeks (due to severe nausea).  Hunger pains relieved, I finally slept.

I wanted to make this post a week ago, as a Thanksgiving post, but my thoughts were so jumbled I needed an extra week to sort them out.  This week I discovered (once again) that although I might try to count God’s blessings, there will always be more.  But for now, these are the things I’m thankful for during this past year:

~ My parents.  I have always loved my parents very much, but this year I saw just how much they are willing to sacrifice for me.  I love, miss, and treasure them more than ever.

My huckleberry birthday pie that Mama made me.

My huckleberry birthday pie that Mama made me.

~ Friends.  I am so thankful for praying friends.  The messages of encouragement I received during my recovery meant more to me than you can know – unless you’ve been in a situation similar to mine.  Also, when completely isolated from all my friends for months on end, I learned to value my friends as never before.  The few times I was able to visit with people were highlights indeed.

~ Quiet time.  Being alone – even for days or weeks at a time – isn’t a bad thing.  Once my ability to focus and concentrate returned to some extent, I found time to read books again.  Also, the voice of the Holy Spirit became more distinct and clear.  Having time to just think things through helped me recognize many weaknesses I’d never noticed before.

The intricacies of God's creation never cease to amaze me.

The intricacies of God’s creation never cease to amaze me.  This spider was one back in the US.  Copper-gold stripes on its sides sparkled in afternoon sunlight.

Quite time means nature time.

Quite time means nature time.

~ Trials.  Trials refine character.  When accepted in the right spirit, they produce personal growth.  Sometimes it is easier to be more thankful for growth than trials, but I’m realizing that my connection with Jesus is often stronger during trials.  This year I’ve been learning to give thanks even when I don’t feel like it.

~ Fellow missionaries.  There is nothing quite like spending time with another missionary to cheer a lonely day in the home country.  There’s a level of understanding between missionaries that only missionaries can share.

~ Health and strength.  I realized how true it is that we don’t really value what we have until we lose it.  I am so thankful to be healthy and strong and able to work again.

~ AFM training.  I wrote a post about this earlier, but decided it was worth mentioning again!

~ I’m very thankful to be back in Cambodia.  Back in a place where I have work to do that will last for eternity.

Cambodia has its own beauties.

Cambodia has its own beauties – our neighbors’ emerald rice fields below an ever-glorious sky.

A funny sign for my northwestern friends.

A funny sign for my northwestern friends.

Just love the kids...

Just love the kids…

Special music with some volunteers and friends: Gemma, Thomas, Donna, Hym, Sarah, Emily, and Jive.

Special music with some volunteers and friends: Gemma, Thomas, Donna, Francis, Hym, Sarah, Emily, and Jive.  Oh, the joy of singing after months of being too weak and short of breath!

~ Hair grows.  All my hair that fell out is growing back and about four inches long now.

~ Official Khmer lessons with Teacher Kheng.  Teacher Kheng taught me a few times after I first arrived in Cambodia.  Unfortunately he had to stop due to university studies.  But now he has graduated and has free time in the evenings to teach again.  I’m also thankful for a study-buddy – Andrew.  After three lessons, we’re almost able to struggle through the vowels together.  Where one of us forgets, the other often remembers.  We’re looking forward to building vocabulary and actually attempting to read soon.

~ My Jesus.  I am so thankful for His unfailing mercy, love, strength, and continual presence.  He loves me even when I make mistakes, and I can tell Him all about it, and He always forgives me and helps me do better next time.  He has been so close to me through all the struggles and uncertainties of this past year, giving me encouragement just when I needed it most, assuring me He had a plan for my life when I felt like I’d never be well again.

I’ve needed an extra week just to take these thoughts and express them in words.  My list could continue, probably indefinitely, if I were to even attempt to include everything I’m thankful for from this year.  But I don’t need to consolidate everything into one post.  Each day of the year can, and should, be a day of thanksgiving to our heavenly Father.  Will you join me in making these next 365 days Thanksgiving Year?


  1. Thanks be to God for Sarah and all those who are missionaries anywhere. Your writing is so personal, touching, and clear. God does “grow” us when we allow Him to rule our lives. Praises to Him who sustains us when we follow His lead. Courage and blessings to you! Love and prayers, UB and aj.

  2. Thanks for posting, Sarah, especially for the part about how you’re close to Jesus during trials. God bless you.

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