|M is thankful for...school, family, God, health and happiness.
On Friday, we did a Thanksgiving craft with the kiddos in the village. Obviously, they don't celebrate Thanksgiving here in Romania, but we try to use our holiday as an opportunity to have them think about what they're thankful for. And of course, we incorporated turkeys into it as well!
For this craft, they needed to write five things they are thankful for on the turkey's feathers. I had written a list of examples for them...to help with ideas, spelling, etc, but the little boy in the photo didn't need that list. After not attending school for a little while, he has recently returned and is, of course, learning to read and write. This meant that I needed to write on his feathers for him, and that he couldn't read the list of examples I had written down.
So I asked him what he is thankful for in his life...expecting to need to prompt him with ideas like I did for many of the other children...but I could tell that the wheels were turning and he was genuinely thinking about what he's thankful for.
After a second, he said that he is thankful that he gets to go to school, which again, is a recent change in his life. He went on to say, in full sentences and with such thoughtfulness, that he is thankful for his family. He is thankful for God. He is thankful that God has given him health. And he is thankful that God has given him happiness. As I wrote these words on his feathers, I could have wept.
This sweet child took this opportunity, through this simple craft, to practice gratitude and found five things that he is thankful for despite the many challenges he's endured in his short life. And let me tell you, he wanted to write a few more, but we ran out of time.
I am so thankful for this moment that I had with him. I've been thinking about it/him since the program ended on Friday afternoon, and I decided to use his five things as inspiration to practice gratitude myself...
I am thankful for...
- School - I am thankful for education. I am thankful to my parents who chose to send me to a private school from 1st to 8th grade. Of course, I'm thankful for the academic education I received there, but I'm also thankful for the spiritual education and the lifelong friendships that I made during that time. I'm also thankful for my college education. It's very easy for me to have a negative attitude about my college education due to the amount of student loan debt that came with it, but I am thankful. I am thankful for the social work education that I received, and I truly don't know if I'd be in Romania had I not chosen to go to Olivet. I probably would not have met the social work professor who connected me with Romania, and I definitely would not have met friends who I remain close with to this day.
- Family - I am thankful for my parents and my sister...and my niece, nephews and brother-in-law. I'm extremely thankful for the relationships I have with each of them, but these days I'm also so incredibly thankful for technology that allows us to stay so closely connected despite the fact that I'm halfway around the world. And, of course, I'm thankful that they continue to support me in my decision to live and serve in Romania.
- God - To put it simply, I am thankful for God and the personal relationship that I get to have with Him. Through the good times and the more challenging times, I am thankful for His constant presence. For his love, peace, grace, forgiveness, mercy, wisdom, etc.
- Health - I am beyond grateful for my health. I've had very few physical health issues in my life, and I think my health is something that I take for granted sometimes. Since living in Romania, for various reasons, I have become more and more aware of how fortunate I am to be physically healthy. People here are constantly thanking God for physical health, and it's something that I need to practice more often.
- Happiness - I am thankful to do work that bring me happiness. Whether it's doing a craft with children or playing ridiculous games with teenagers, I am so incredibly thankful for the work I get to do here in Romania. It's not always easy. In fact, this past week came with some really tough stuff, but there's still happiness to be found.
I could never have imagined that this is the life I'd be living, and yet I am SO. THANKFUL.