Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thanksgiving In Africa: Part 1

About two week prior to Thanksgiving I had hope that we might make it home by the holiday. I was anxious to get home for several reasons. Besides the fact that this trip was dragging out way longer than I had intended a close friend was scheduled to give birth to twin sons the upcoming week. I dearly wanted to be home for this event, before leaving I didn’t imagine in my wildest dreams that I would still be in Africa when the Comstock boys were born. I also just wanted to be home on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is a big holiday for my family more emphasis is often placed on this family gathering than the one at Christmas. It serves as an annual family reunion for my family on my mother’s side. People come from several states and we all only see each other about once a year. It is quite the occasion. If you have ever been to a big southern family Thanksgiving you would know what I mean. If we made it this year there would have been a total of thirty two people. Everyone brings at least one dish making up of at least forty savory and sweet dishes to dig into. After making little pigs of ourselves at my families celebration Chad and I would then cart our crew over to his parent’s house. Their house is just a few miles away and there we would indulge once again in another too large meal with wonderful family. This one is a bit smaller but equally delicious.

A few weeks before the holiday Nancy and I were daydreaming about our favorite Thanksgiving treats. We had both agreed that a pecan pie would be amazing and had put in our order for there to be one present at the family gathering. Daydreaming about your favorite food is something that is difficult to avoid after three months in Africa. We are by no means starving. In fact we are eating quite well but there is something amazing about the food that you grew up with. Comfort food, sometimes you just need a taste of home.

While I still had hopes of making it home before Thanksgiving I committed myself to a day of prayer and fasting during the weekend. I knew that the following Monday could either be a great day or a hard day. The next day we were going to be going to the U.S. embassy to receive an update on our case. We expected to hear that we would either be going home or we would be hanging around a bit longer. I knew that this was an event that I had no control over. God was in control. I need to give my concerns about the upcoming day over to him and trust in his plan.

I joked to Nancy about needing to walk around the embassy seven times. Joshua walked around Jericho once a day for six days. On the seventh day he and his army walked around the city seven times. On the seventh time they blew their horns and the walls came tumbling down. After lightly joking about the idea we decided to prayer walk the embassy. Due to the design of the embassy and very tight security we were not able to walk around the entire compound. We were able to walk in front of the embassy and its gates. We prayer walked in front of the embassy several times over the weekend. We both spent the time praying out loud except for when we passed on of the guards. The guards at the embassy patrol with very large guns thrown over their shoulders. The last thing I wanted was for them to become suspicious of the crazy ladies walking by while talking to themselves.

Sunday night during my bubble bath quiet time I decided not to ask for anything. I had been doing a lot of that lately and thought I would try a different approach. Instead I choose to fill all my bubbles with thanks. I have heard my daughters say “Thank you Mommy.” I could not remember the last time I said “Thank you father.” Leave it to a three year old to put me in my place and teach me what I ought to do. Thank you Father for my precious daughters. Thank you for the food we have in our bellies and the roof we have over our heads. After a bit of time in Africa you realize just how grateful we should be for food and shelter. Thank you God for despite all of my shortcoming you choose me to do this. I know I am messing it up big time, but thank you.

My thank you’s continued from the bathtub to the bed. Sleep for once came quit easy, a rarity for me in Africa. I did not realize at the time but the Lord was changing my heart, drastically for the better. I found joy and peace unlike I had experienced before. I had hoped that the joy and comfort I felt was because I was going to go home. I wanted that so much. But yet once again God had different plans. Better plans that would teach me so much more than my own.

Monday Nancy and I pushed the girls in our two worn out umbrella strollers to the embassy. The walk was as memorable as walking down Gaba road always was. Walking down Gaba Road with two strollers is something that always requires a large amount of prayer. It is walking down a very busy road full of cars and bodas (motorcycle taxis). You walk within five feet of traffic. The cars come by you so close that you feel the wind blow pass you and you pray. This trip we prayed as usual but we also continued our prayer walk in front of the embassy.

When we had our meeting with the Consular at the embassy we did not get the good news I had hoped for. We were told that we should expect to remain in Africa a few more months. A few more months, Really God is that needed. Nancy and both cried before the consular and poured our hearts out to her. The Consular as always remained unshaken and indifferent. Disappointment was visible across our faces. I was grateful to be able to hide my tears behind my sunglasses for the long hot walk back to the house.

I was grateful for the walk back. It gave me some time with my Father. It is amazing how you can find yourself in the hustle and bustle of a big city and yet all be quiet while you have a conversation with the creator of the universe. Okay God, why am I here. What are you doing with me? Please help guide me through this emotional and difficult time. Why me? Why my family? Months, does it really have to take months?

What I realized was that the joy, peace, and comfort I had found did not diminish. It miraculously increased, unexpectedly, and warming my whole being. I was okay with staying in Africa a few more months. I know this sounds crazy and it still does to me. I don’t know how I could be okay, comfortable with the thought of being away from Chad, Sadie, and Nolen for a few more months. The only explanation I had was that it was a gift from above, a much needed gift. I had said yes, God I will do what you have asked me to and he had rewarded me with joy and peace.


  1. We miss you so much!

    Mom & Dad

  2. So sweet Holly praying for y'all.

  3. Holly, we're praying for the consular to change her mind and let all of you leave for the states as soon as possible. don't know what God has in store with this extended time in Africa, but we aren't expected to understand His ways. You, Chad and family have such faith and it is bound to show to everyone there which might be the reason for your extended stay. Keep the faith. May God always all of you. Jerry and Jeanette Lyons
    Emily's grandparents