“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.”- Psalms 136:1,26 I stop and think of all the happy Thanksgiving Days that our family has shared and I smile with the memory. There is one special Thanksgiving Day, 1960,the year our family moved from Daisy, Tennessee. We left with all our belongings in one little U Haul trailer pulled by a 1960 Impala Chevrolet. Off we went, the five of us in one car and my Uncle’s family in another car, also pulling a U Haul and six passengers. We left thinking of going to California to start a church, not knowing where, just knowing we would. In Los Angeles my dad and Uncle held some services at the Armenian Pentecostal church, we were there for a few days and then back to Phoenix, Arizona where a group of people wanted to build a church but had no pastor. It was a beautiful little church and there were warm and friendly people there, but it wasn’t home. We Southerners were homesick for the South. They ministered at that church every night for ten weeks and it really began to grow. As natural leadership began to emerge, they knew it would be safe to leave it in the hands of another pastor, one whose home was Phoenix, and he really had a desire to do it.
While my dad and Uncles were seeking the will and a Word from the Lord, someone in Atlanta died and the family wanted my Uncle to come and preach the funeral. My dad and he left going east and by the time they came back, they had made plans for the family to go home, back to Atlanta! We got here towing our belongings, but there was no place for us to stay. We needed housing for twelve people with little money. Six of that twelve were children and we needed to be near a school and we had to get enrolled before much time went by.
It was Thanksgiving, what to do? My Aunt Ernestine and her husband, Wallace, invited us ALL to come and stay in their home until we found lodging for our group and we all piled into that one little ranch style home…the Swilleys, with their two sons, and the twelve of us! There were two preschoolers in our crowd, one eight months and one five, one six, two eleven and one fifteen! We were quite a noisy crowd, but the Swilleys took us in and on Thanksgiving Day we had quite a feast! We were all so happy to be back home that we didn’t mind the crowded conditions…we laughed and prayed and a house was found that next week on Euclid Avenue, Little Five Points, Atlanta, Georgia! There was a grammar school and a high school in the same block, and the church they rented to have services in was only about three blocks away!
God was so good to supply our needs that year; we had so much to be thankful for. A lot of years have gone by since then, but I still remember to be thankful for the part of our family that had faith in our mission and offered a helping hand to this family when we needed it! Thanks go out to Reverend Wallace and Ernestine Swilley for all their help in a time of need! Who do you want to thank for being the hand of God on this earth for you? Who can thank YOU for being the hand of God on this earth? Have a blessed Thanksgiving!