Picture the Clubhouse room in the RBC Children’s Ministry area with crowds of people all speaking different languages. Women wearing head scarves. Buddhist monks in their orange flowing robes. Children of all colors racing around. The smell of Thai noodles and Iranian pilaf. This was the scene of the annual International Connection Thanksgiving Dinner on Tues. Nov. 15th.
International Connection is the English as a second language program at RBC. We have classes on Tuesday nights and Wednesday mornings. Last year’s enrollment of adult students was a little anemic as local internationals had a hard time finding our new church facility. This year is an entirely different story! Student registration has been extremely robust. We finally had to cut it off when class sizes started to outgrow their effectiveness due to their growing sizes.
Every November, we put on a Thanksgiving Dinner for the students and their families. This year, the Bereans adult fellowship group provided the traditional Thanksgiving food (turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pies, etc.) and students brought dishes from their home countries. It was an outstanding buffet! Homemade spring rolls, pupusas, taquitos, rice pilaf and more! To make matters more complicated, we had the greatest number of participants ever – 160 bodies! The Clubhouse was set up for 150, but we stretched the limit and were forced to make a classroom the buffet room.
Before dinner, one of the teachers, Marca Fritzemeier, explained the 5 corn kernel story concerning the plight of the first Pilgrims to Plymouth Rock. Each place setting had a small cup of 5 candy corn kernels to illustrate the story.
After dinner, the children were dismissed to their childcare workers and we enjoyed a post-dinner program. A short video was shown on the history of the Thanksgiving holiday. This was followed by student speeches. A couple of representatives were selected from each class to tell what they were most thankful for. A surprising number of students mentioned their thanks to God and Jesus – totally unprompted by their teachers! Some expressed their thanks for our program, for their jobs, for their families and their health. One young man expressed his hope that someday soon his young daughter would be able to join him here from El Salvador. These were heartfelt words, and I was reminded of the
many everyday blessings that I take for granted.
Erik Palmer ended the evening with some well-chosen “Thanksgiving “songs that we all joined in on, thanks to the words on the screen. Appropriately, he also presented the gospel in a simple but thorough way and invited anyone who had questions to talk to him or I.C. staff later. It was a meaningful ending to a memorable evening. May God use our words, our relationships and our lives to reflect His goodness and love to these wonderful people.
Tags: Susan Morinaga - Director of International Connection