"At the center of the universe is a loving heart that continues to beat and that wants the best for every person. Anything we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings, that is our job. Those of us who have this particular vision must continue against all odds. Life is for service." ~Mr. Fred Rogers

Monday, November 28, 2011

Giving Thanks

Celebrated my favorite American holiday in style this week.

First, I started with English Club where we had a fun Thanksgiving Party. We watched a little Charlie Brown, made some crafts and hand turkeys (gotta do the hand turkeys), said what we are thankful for, and feasted on fruit, cookies, candy, homemade treats, and punch.

Making a "What We're Thankful For" Collage

Helping out with the collage


Finishing Touches

Hand Turkeys!

The feast awaiting to be eaten.

Way too much sugar...

The Thanksgiving Group

Having lots of fun with my favorite little pup Via this week as well. She's missing her partner in crime Scout, who was given to my neighbors, but they see each other sometimes when Via wonders off. She's sleeping in my hallway at night because it's pretty cold, but she LOVES exploring and bugging the students when they are having recess.


Ms. Via prancing

Also I was invited to attend a neighboring village school's English Week Concert entitled "We Love Our Dear Ukraine". Ukrainian dances, singing of traditional songs, speeches about Ukraine's history, people, cities, and culture...all of the above in English! I was even invited to tell about my time in Ukraine, my impressions, what I do, etc. Their English was great and they did a terrific job performing. Makes me wonder why they all wanted my autograph...

Dancing the "Hopak"

"My Ukraine"

Dancing the Kyiv Waltz

The final act with a Ukrainian Flag Balloon

Squished in the middle

Then on Saturday, I celebrated with 16 other American's at my friend Valarie's place. People traveled long and far to make the great feast (I only had to travel 45 minutes) so it was really special. My entire training link (10 of us) were together again for the first time since Swearing-In. The food was fantastic, but catching up and laughing was my favorite part.

Dessert...missing 2 apple pies.

My shirt says, "Stuff the Turkey, Where's the Booze"
Perfect shirt for Turkey Day? I THINK SO!

The feast! So much food :)

The dishes included: Roasted Chicken, Deviled Eggs, 2 types of mashed potatoes, green been casserole, cabbage casserole, Veggie Lasagna, Jello Surprise, Homemade Stuffing (ME!), Carrot & Apple Salad, and Baked Mac & Cheese. For dessert we had pumpkin and apple pies, caramel corn, and dried apples. It was everything Thanksgiving should be and more.

My plate. (It was a small plate so I had to stack!)

Of course Thanksgiving was missing my family from back home, but they called on Thursday to send me love. It's making me that much more excited to head home for a short vacation over Christmas and the New Year to celebrate with them. 

This holiday has always meant a lot to me, but this year especially I came to the realization that I am incredibly blessed just to be able to give thanks. I'll conclude with the prayer I said at the table on Saturday.

Good and Gracious God,

We gather together today with thanksgiving:
For the blessings of abundance that this meal represents;
For the adventure we continue on, that we take each new turn as an opportunity given;
For health and wholeness of mind, body and soul, empower us to do our best in the toughest of times; 
For support and love, both near and far, from those seen and unseen;
And for this opportunity, to celebrate and come together as family,
May we never forget to give thanks for gifts we receive, from each other and from You.
With humble hearts and hungry stomachs, we say thanks.

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