Saturday, 10 October 2015

Gratitude and Canadian Thanksgiving.

Seeing as Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend, I think a little blurb on gratitude is entirely appropriate. If there's one really big thing that I've learned about gratitude over the past several years, it's this: gratitude is a decision, not an emotion. Thanksgiving is not something that should be the sole result of a particularly amazing day, or even a season of life with few difficulties and struggles. When it comes down to it, thanksgiving is a daily, conscious choice.

"In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." -1 Thessalonians 5:18

This verse makes it uncomfortably difficult to ignore the times when life is hard, when we face temptations, or when the trials seem never-ending... which sometimes make it so hard to feel grateful. In times when I can't bring myself to be thankful for a trial itself, I am learning that there are dozens of things I can be thankful for while I am walking through the trial. Often though, my eyes are so blinded to everything else around me because my focus is so glued to my problems.

Especially in a place like Haiti when life itself can sometimes just be plain difficult, where our focus is can literally be life or death to our spirits. The highs can be really high, and the lows can be really low. Discouragement is probably one of our biggest enemies here, and the one reason why gratitude is so important. I think it's one of the commands in the Bible too, because it forces us to recognize God's faithfulness every single day; there is always, always something that God has put in your day to be thankful for. The amazing thing is that once you make gratitude a habit, it starts to become a lifestyle. A life of gratitude is a life of recognizing God's faithful companionship everyday of your life, even when the "feeling" of God's presence might not be there.

September was so busy with school that we took a break from Creole classes, but we started up again last week. This week, our teacher taught us a Haitian proverb: "Deye mon gen mon." Literally it means: Behind mountains there are mountains." It's supposed to mean that there are always going to be troubles and trials in life; once you solve one, another one will always pop up. Behind one trouble there is always another trouble. It was so fitting to learn this proverb this week because this week wasn't the easiest. Trouble after trouble seemed to pop up- some related to school, some not. Often when I would pray about them throughout the day, my answer would simply be to find- to literally actively search out- the little moment I could be grateful for; to recognize the blessings, however small, that are continuously being poured out on me to help me through each day.

On Friday, Krist and I had a real treat. We had been talking for a while about how Canadian Thanksgiving was coming up and how this would be the very first Thanksgiving with our family we've ever missed. So Bethany, bless her dear heart, concocted a plan to give us a Thanksgiving feast. She our cook Kenold slaved all day while we were at school, making turkey, real mashed potatoes, corn, macaroni casserole, beet salad (which is a Haitian thing), bread, and dessert made with canned apple filling (which is as close to apple pie as we're ever going to get here). They cooked enough food for an army, and we got to share Thanksgiving with all of the youth guys that make up our Haitian family here. What a blessing to have a little taste of our Canadian home here in our new Haitian home.

In other news, life here is moving along as usual. We are starting to form deeper relationships with our students as they come to trust us more and more. On Thursday, we had a parent meeting at the school in the afternoon. We had seen many parents before school started, but it was so neat to be able to associate parents with their kids now that we know them so well. We had many parents tell us that their kids are speaking English at home that they are learning at school, and are even trying to teach their parents some words.

The weather has been brutally hot this week. Last week was super overcast and rainy, and was a lovely little break from the heat. This week has been relentless and scorching and sweaty, and makes us wish for fall all over again. Once winter hits and you all are sitting in 3 feet of snow, I know I'll be grateful for the sun.

On a completely different note, I think our village has become accustomed to our presence. If you come to Haiti and you're White, you're called "blan" (pronounced blah but with a nasal vowel sound). When we first got here, that's all we heard when we left the compound. Now, we can walk to school or to the ministry center, and only hear an occasional "blan" from a little kid. It's a weird thing to be excited about, I know. I don't think we really think about being an extreme minority anymore either. We feel so home here with these people. But the one thing that is sometimes hard is the gender imbalance on the compound. There are really no girls that come to hang out here (which is something I don't really understand so I'm not going to attempt to explain), and so there will be days where there are 15 youth guys here with just Kristen, Bethany and I... it can get a little overwhelming if you know what I mean. Nonetheless, we love them all the same.

To our Canadian friends and family, we love and miss you, and hope you have such a blessed Thanksgiving. We are thankful for you all!
Sending love from Haiti!

Ps. Sometimes we're not sure what to write about, so if you have any burning curiosities, let us know and we'll share what we can. :)