Thanksgiving or Christmas?

Did I miss a season again? Candles glow on the white tablecloth; soft snow falls outside. Beat, who joined us and the Koeman family for Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, said: “It feels like Christmas to me.” Snow at Thanksgiving isn’t new to us Canadians. But for a Swiss it would definitely be a novelty!

The temperature has been near zero or below for a week now. Robert is doing anhydrous ammonia for Iman Koeman. He’s struggling with dirt clumps freezing on the cultivator shanks and 20% slippage and more from the tractor due to freezing soil and snow.

A quick snow storm blows through as the nurse tank fills Robert's tank with anhydrous ammonia. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

A quick snow storm blows through as the nurse tank fills Robert's tank with anhydrous ammonia. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

My Facebook page was full of people saying ‘thanks’ today. Most were thankful for the special people in their lives. Last night, before we tried the pumpkin pie, we went around the table and shared what we were thankful for. Overwhelmingly it was our family and friends.

I’m also very thankful for the rights I enjoy as a woman in Canada. I read ‘Three Cups of Tea’ and ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ over the Thanksgiving weekend. Both books deal with the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan. A long commentary on a Swiss online newspaper reports on how little has changed concerning the actual rights of women in Afghanistan. Young girls are still married off to older men, women are not allowed out in public, and are often tortured at the hands of husbands.

In Zambia, Africa, women especially in the urban areas have much more freedom. But even in highly educated circles, men still pay a bride price for their wives. In rural areas such as Mpongwe where we work, few women read well or at all. Many of them are still seen as property, with little rights of their own.

We know from reading and experience that education is one of the mightiest tools to improve the status of women. Educated women have fewer and healthier children and will send their children to school. Being able to read a contract or a newspaper gives a woman the power to negotiate.

Robert knocks off ice buildup on the cultivator while waiting for a fill of anhydrous ammonia. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

Robert knocks off ice buildup on the cultivator while waiting for a fill of anhydrous ammonia. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

There is little we can do to help our sisters in Afghanistan, where the Taliban is increasing their war on girl’s schools and women’s rights. We can pray, and support those who are fighting on the front lines for women there, like Greg Mortenson and the CAI group who build girl’s schools. (check www.ikat.org)

But in Zambia, we can stand personally alongside people like Pastor Jessy, Eva Sanderson and many like them. They are passionate about helping their people move forward out of poverty, especially women. And so I am ready to think about going back.

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