Learning to be thankful on the mission field
They call it the “six month low” on the cultural adaptation cycle, that time after being in a country for about six months, when the culture and the city is not as new and exciting as it was when you first arrived. When things that at first seemed fascinating are now just plain annoying and there are days when getting out of bed to engage with the world is just too much effort.
But as the Veggie Tales song reminds us, ”a thankful heart is a happy heart,” and when I can find little things to be thankful for, I really do have a happier heart. With little bits of thankfulness, I can get through the day.
So when I'm struggling with the smell of the used toilet paper overflowing in the public toilet bin because it can't be flushed down the loo, I'm thankful that I discovered the one Western toilet amongst all the squats and I don't need to practice my precarious balancing act I still haven't mastered.
When I'm digging through all the worm-infested apples to find some that are worthy to be bought, I'm thankful that they're probably all organic and much healthier to eat anyway.
When I'm feeling so foreign and out of place amongst the local people, I'm thankful that my son feels just as at home with his local neighbourhood friends as he does with his American and Korean school friends (despite the language differences), because as he says, ”the neighbours have brown skin too, Mom!"
When the dust and the litter on the streets gets too much, I simply need to lift my eyes from the ground and take in the glorious splendour of the snow-capped mountains, which can be seen from anywhere in the city, and be thankful for the beauty all around me.
And on the days when I really don't want to get out of bed, it helps to be thankful that this is where God wants me to be for this season, here on the far end of the world living amongst a people He dearly loves.
What a privilege to be here to see the things He is doing amongst His people and to witness the incredible ways in which He is calling the lost to himself.
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
1 Thess. 5:16-18