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Smiles, Laughter and Connection: International Friendsgiving

On Sunday, Dec. 1, community members representing China, Kenya, Ghana, the U.S. and multiple middle eastern countries gathered together for a traditional Thanksgiving feast to celebrate International Friendsgiving, a collaborative event between Houston NW Church and the YMCA.

Jennie Stephens, District Vice President for the YMCA of Greater Houston, said, “I am so incredibly grateful to have attended the Friendsgiving event. As I looked at the last day of my Thanksgiving vacation, I had almost convinced myself not to attend. However, I decided to drop by to show my support, and I planned to leave once the event got started. I met two new friends right off the bat: Z and Mohammed from the mosque. They introduced themselves and I learned all about them and their lives. I looked around the room and saw smiles, laughter and connection between people with such diverse backgrounds. It’s a wonder we all ended up in a room together to celebrate giving thanks and our diverse community. This event reminds me why I work for the YMCA and why the YMCA needs to be connected with churches like Houston Northwest. We are so proud of you for putting on an event like this one and we are honored to be your partner.”

Long-time HNW members Joe and Lorraine Craigen attended the event. Joe said, “We had a great time sharing a meal and getting to know our neighbors. We learned about multiple things we have in common and care about. One of the couples we met had their young son with them. It was fun to talk about the challenges of raising a family in such a diverse society.”

Lorraine added, “Even though we don’t agree on our religion, we are common in our pursuit for unity across much diversity.”

Lauren Williams, a young woman with a heart for missions said, “I was able to share a meal with women from my community who followed the Muslim faith. We talked about food, work and family. We asked questions and discussed the similarities and differences in the Christian and Muslim faiths. I was reminded that while Houston is the most diverse city in the United States I must be intentional to seek out and engage those from different racial, cultural and religious backgrounds. I am so thankful for a church that provided the opportunity to do that!”

Houston is the most diverse city in the United States. International Friendsgiving was presented as a way to both serve and get to know our diverse community whether they be citizens, first/second generation, refugees or somewhere in between.

Learn more about missions and community outreach opportunities at HNW.org/serve.

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