Grocery Store, Guatemala, and Gratitude
First published at http://www.1Corinthians13Parenting.com
My stomach was literally growling so loudly that others could hear it standing next to me. I awkwardly smiled and went about my business of picking out peaches. It was the 4th of July weekend and I was preparing to go on our annual camping trip. My list was rather long so that I could accommodate everyone in my family’s favorite holiday foods. Some of us like green apples, some Honey Crisp, and some just Red Delicious. Don’t forget the traditional summertime watermelon and of course the fixings for s’mores.
The grocery store was filled with an abundance of choices.
In the midst of all of this abundance my thoughts kept returning to a little village on the out-skirts of Guatemala City where the kids don’t have abundant choices. With the exception of its natural beauty and its warm, friendly people, this area of Guatemala has few resources. I had so many choices in front of me that could appease my grumbling stomach, knowing these little ones didn’t have that choice made my stomach ache in a different way.
Several months ago I had the privilege of traveling to the beautiful country of Guatemala. I was part of the first Latin American MOPS conference and while I was there our team traveled with a team of local Guatemalan moms to an area where there is great need. I was speaking to the moms who live in this village on the importance of being a mom, that what they do to take care of their children really matters. We met in an old abandoned school house. I was standing in the front of the room watching their beautiful brown eyes looking at me and soaking up every word I was telling them. Several with tears in their eyes, being told God loves them was overwhelming. I too was feeling overwhelmed.
Oh, how much I take for granted.
In addition to meeting with the moms we had the opportunity to help feed the kids of this village. ADORABLE! Even though they don’t have much in terms of material things or even food for that matter, they are joyful, loving, and kind children. They were patiently waiting for the food to finish cooking and being entertained by all of us taking “ selfies” with my camera phone. When mealtime came around they were all so grateful and I was smiling from ear to ear as one after another said, “ Gracias, gracias, gracias !” The food was simple – beans, rice and a corn tamale with lemonade to drink. Not one child complained. I watched as several of them put the lid on their reusable dish and I was told they would take this home and share it with other family members. On our drive back to the city my thoughts wondered to a few weeks prior when I was serving cupcakes to my daughter’s elementary school class and several of the kids were complaining about the choice they had, “ I don’t want chocolate”.
Sometimes an abundance of choice can leave us with a complaining heart.
I started to think about how often I complain, how I grumble about carrying all my groceries into the house. How I don’t like to unload the dishwasher or how annoyed I can become over the piles of laundry. Those complaints I have come to realize, require an attitude change. I am thankful I have food to eat and laundry to wash. I realize I take many of my modern day conveniences for granted along with my abundance of choices. Just today I stopped to get a coffee and thought, “Wow, so much to choose from.”
So what do I do with that knowledge moving forward? My heart that hurts for others in need. I know we cannot solve the world’s wrongs all by ourselves, but each of us can do something. My family will continue to serve and give to others but with a new found attitude of gratitude. Many times we have heard “To whom much is given, much is required,” this is true. I believe “without a grumbling heart” should be added to that.
The gift I received from those beautiful children is to live in joy despite any circumstances.
I am reminding myself of how important it is not only to observe all God has done for us but to take that and pass it along to others. The gift I received from those beautiful children is to live in joy despite any circumstances I perceive as being difficult, there are many others whose circumstances are harder, yet they still have a joyful disposition. When you have next to nothing, you take nothing for granted. God, help me to remember.
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
How do you encourage your kids to have an attitude of gratitude?