As we experienced Thanksgiving week, we were reminded daily to be thankful for everything we have in our lives. My wife and I try to live this way year-round. If you’re like most people, having a grateful attitude is something you must be intentional about.
Having a grateful heart shouldn’t be based on our circumstances or our material positions. Having spent time in many third world nations, I have witnessed those who have the least, being the most grateful. As Americans, we are very fortunate. Even those whom we would consider to be in poverty, have much more than most others in the world.
I just got back from a mission’s trip to Guatemala a couple of weeks ago. We did some children’s ministry and helped with a few projects at three different churches. One of the more fulfilling and memorable projects we did was to build two homes while we were there. We were only in the country for about 10 days so you may be wondering what kind of houses we were able to build. Our team had already paid to get the cement foundation (otherwise known as the floor) and posts put up before we arrived. First, getting to the building site was a challenge. Guatemala is a very mountainous country, at least where we were. Chichicastenango is a 2-3 hours drive from the capitol of Guatemala City.
When we loaded our little bus with our 11-member team, our interpreter and driver, we didn’t know what to expect. We climbed, sputtered and slowly made our way up the switchbacks to this tiny village outside of town. We barely had room to pull the bus over to the side of this dirt road on top of the mountain. We were greeted by the women of this community and a few beautiful, brown eyed, smiling children. They led us up a steep dirt walkway to a cornfield in the middle of nowhere.
The house we built was about 200 sq ft. This tiny structure would be home to a 92 year old woman and her two daughters. They were living in a shack with dirt floors. The rough-cut pine boards and tin for the roof were already on site when we arrived. Our team quickly built the house and cut one small window and a door. We also brought a stove and food for the family to bless this new home. It was a bit overwhelming to pray over this sweet old lady as she wiped the tears from her eyes. I couldn’t help but wonder how many times she had prayed and asked God for a safer shelter for her and her daughters. As our team surrounded her to pray over her and this gift from God, she was diligently praying for each of us. She was raising her hand as if pronouncing a blessing over each team member. No water, no electricity, just a roof over their heads and cement instead of mud.
I would encourage you to sit down and write out all the things you have to be thankful for. Being grateful is a mindset. Set your mind to be grateful in all things. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:18).