Today we attended a Thanksgiving party at the American Embassy here in Bamako. We have a new embassy complex that is only about a year old. We'd been to the old Embassy in the past, but this was our first visit to the new compound. It was BEAUTIFUL. An Embassy is literally U.S. property despite being located on foreign soil. We really felt like we had left Mali and entered back into the States.
We had to go through quite a screening process to get into the Embassy. We had to pre-register, have copies of our passport made upon arrival, have all bags x-rayed, pass through a metal detector, and go through a separate hand search. All cameras, telephones, and electronics had to be left at the security desk. It's actually easier to enter the U.S. directly then get into the embassy.
The Thanksgiving Party was for the kids. They were the only ones officially invited, however they had to be accompanied by a parent. It was open to U.S. citizens only (parents of other nationalities could attend if their child held a U.S. passport.) The purpose of the party was to educate the kids (many of them Malians with U.S. citizenship that have never visited the States) and tell them about the origin and history of Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, they missed the entire point of the holiday as being a response and thanks to God for taking care of the Pilgrims and we should spend the day thanking God in our modern celebration. Instead, they presented: "Thanksgiving began in 1621 when early settlers of the Plymouth colony in Massachusetts organized a feast in honor of the Native Americans who taught them how to successfully farm in the United States. Today, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to show our appreciation to others and remember our past."
It's sad that our country cannot acknowledge God...especially on a national holiday that was created expressly to honor and thank Him for His provision. That helps renew our purpose for being here...not just for the Malians, but for the American community as well.