Thanksgiving has always been a fun holiday for me, though perhaps celebrated differently in my childhood home than in a typical American household. Growing up outside of the US, my family would often celebrate Thanksgiving with people from all over the world. My mom would invite friends from all over the place to share Thanksgiving with us in our apartment in Amman, Jordan or Nicosia, Cyprus. These memories of giving thanks with people from a variety of countries and cultures are special to me, and serve as a reminder to me of the original reason for the holiday.
Sometimes traditional American fare like turkeys or cranberry sauce were difficult to find, but my mom would make do with whatever was available. Occasionally, a friend might bring cans of cranberry sauce to Jordan all the way from the US. I always found this to be particularly amusing since I didn’t really like cranberry sauce. I didn’t think it was worth all the effort, especially since world class hummus or kebabs were available a couple of doors down the street from us. Why did it have to be cranberry sauce?
A Season of Thanks
What better way to usher in the season than with a Thanks-Giving? At Ciudad Nueva we have so much to be thankful for this year. Most of all, we are thankful for being connected with each of you who have unique connections and interactions with our work in El Paso. Thank you for being a part of what we do!
Here are some things we are thankful for in 2016…
We are thankful to God for the many blessings in our life.
We are thankful for people.
At our heart, Ciudad Nueva is all about community, and our community is made up of so many people for whom we are grateful. Neighbors, whose energy and ideas keep us moving toward new goals, keep us energized for the future. Our staff members work tirelessly to keep us on track toward our goals. Most of our staff members live in the neighborhood and make significant sacrifices because they love our presence and work in the community. Border Fellows move to El Paso for the year and invest themselves in relationships in our neighborhood and learning about the border. And of course our volunteers provide much of the fuel that runs our day to day tasks, and the beautiful long-lasting relationships that so often emerge. We are so thankful for all the people God has brought into our neighborhood this year!
Here are some highlights:
- Working closely with many churches around El Paso for the health and wholeness of our downtown community.
- Seeing young leaders giving back to their community by volunteering, interning, or coming on staff to invest in younger kids.
- Working with an amazing team of staff, border fellows, and interns passionate about our community, seeking creative ways to walk alongside our neighbors.
- Our amazing volunteers sacrificing their time and resources to love kids, youth, and young adults in our community, desiring to pour into their lives that they may have a hope-filled future.
- Watching the kids grow deeper in their faith as they commit their lives to following God.
Click here to read our post about a few of the volunteers who have blessed us this year.
We are thankful for our programs.
All of our programs have grown this year in scope as well as size. We are so thankful for all the work represented in each of programs and for all the participants who join with us in ministry. There are so many stories woven into the lives of our friends and staff through our programs.
- In 2016, we completed our first year of Catalyst, a job readiness program for high school students, which was a great success. We are now expanding it to include “how to buy your first car,” financial management skills, and college preparedness.
- Personally, one of my favorite times this year was meeting with a small group of college guys who I have known for the last 6-12 years, since some of them were in 3rd grade! We share our lives, our faith, our struggles and triumphs, and our dreams about the future. We recently returned from a great weekend camping trip to the Gila Wilderness.
We hope you have enjoyed reading stories like Sofia’s and Gustavo’s and we look forward to sharing more stories through the next year.
We are thankful for donors.
None of this could happen without our generous donors: both in time and resources. The generosity shown to Ciudad Nueva ripples beyond our little neighborhood, blessing many people who come into contact with us and our neighbors. We are beyond grateful for our hundreds of supporters—individuals, churches, businesses, and foundations—who give sacrificially with a heart to love God and love their neighbors, particularly neighbors who are hurting and on the margins. Our donors bless us time and time again, and we are so grateful to be partnering with you.
A special thanks goes to our monthly donors who quietly give on the sidelines month in and month out, serving as the backbone of the work we’re doing. I am humbled and so grateful for your consistent generosity.
We are so grateful for those who are excited about the work at Ciudad Nueva and recruit others to join the cause, volunteering their time or resources.
A Thanks-Giving Blessing
So whether your table at Thanksgiving this year is loaded with turkey, tamales, or tabbouleh, we pray that you feel the presence of the Savior there with you and the many blessings that he has brought into your life this year.
Thank you for being a part of the Ciudad Nueva familia. We couldn’t do it without you! A very blessed Thanksgiving to you!