My name is Autumn Buzzell and I live and work in Ghana, West Africa with City of Refuge Ministries. Here, I run our school, Faith Roots International Academy, and get to be a part in rescuing and the healing of children who have been trafficked into the fishing trade, orphaned, abandoned, and those who just need a little extra loving. What an amazing gift this life is!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011


All around the USA, families are coming together for their Thanksgiving Celebration. I LOVE Thanksgiving...I just love warm, family gatherings! If you know me, you know I'm a quality time person and Thanksgiving is a day that is just made for me. You gather around a table with all your loved ones, and you thank God for the things that he has done for you that year. You laugh and you eat and you play games.

Some of my favorite memories of Thanksgiving dinners were set up in our garage growing up. Our entire extended family would come for the big day. We would have ham and turkey and all the fixings and we'd have to borrow tables and chairs from our church to fit us all at one looooong table in our garage. It was so fun! Afterwards, there was the inevitable "I ate too much" walk, where we'd all bundle up and stroll down the street with our pants unbuttoned. And then, we'd have a rousing game of Trivial Pursuit. I always like to be on my Uncle Ed's team. He knew ALL the answers! And as we grew older, my brother Chris would bring out his guitar and we'd gather around and sing sings until our voice was tired and our fingers sore.

When I went away to college, money was tight and I could only afford the trip home at Christmas, so Thanksgiving often meant following one of my friends home for Thanksgiving. There was a couple Thanksgivings with Katty's family in Arizona, and one with T's family where Joanna and I both went (I remember that my arms were sore from carrying all of HER bags after the Black Friday sales!).

And when I got a job and my own place to stay...well, money was still tight, so Thanksgiving kept on being a holiday where I didn't stray too far from where I lived. I spent two Thanksgivings at Yona and Eric's. We went to Eric's firestation and enjoyed a yummy meal there. And then then the typical family affair with Yona and Eric's families both coming together and the Roberts siblings hanging up Christmas lights after everyone else had left.

But now, Thanksgiving is very different. I mean, first of all, most people here don't even know what a turkey is. They're imported birds over here, so they're kinda few and far between! But one things that Ghanaians do understand...it's the term "Thanksgiving". Today, I went class to class to talk about giving thanks and what it means. We talked about what we were thankful for and sometimes I'm still amazed at what we, in the Western World, continually take advantage for. Today, our list of items that we should be thankful for included: water (we only get running water every other week, so we're thankful the times that we do have it!), food (some of our kids only eat the lunch that we provide at school for their only meal of the day, so they're pretty thankful!), clothes (most of our kids have their school uniforms to wear each day at school), shoes (even just the flip flops on their feet are enough to be thankful for), their parents (and the ones without parents were grateful for their grandparents, aunties, and uncles who care for them), our school (without electricity, windows, or doors, but is bringing a quality education to 121 students on a daily basis), and most of all, we were thankful to God (who has brought us this far and will continue to guide us for the year to come).

So, Friday, we'll celebrate our own version of Thanksgiving. All the kids and their families are invited. We'll all bring food to share and dance and celebrate, because for these families, we really do have a lot to celebrate!

And this weekend, we'll be moving into the houses at the Children's Village, with or without electricity. But, we're just thankful that we have a house to move to and that God has provided for us in more ways than we can even understand. God is good, so we'll praise his name.

Thanksgiving Ghana-style...here we come!

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