As the holiday season comes and goes, the word that I’ve had on my heart more than thankful, is grateful. I spent much time around Thanksgiving explaining to the Guatemalans what this holiday means to us…. And then in personal reflection over things that I was thankful for this month.
There are many changes that living in a third world country has brought about to me – in changing my perspective. When you grow up surrounded by safe, or relatively safe, there are many things that we often do not consider. But as I see suffering all around me. As I spend time questioning customs or beliefs or ways of doing things… I realize that I have been beyond blessed. I have suffered minimally. I do not know injustice. I have not had to truly live without. In everything that I have done I have had a banquet before me – I have had options. What activities do I want to participate in? Where do I want to go to college? What do I want to study? Where do I want to live? What kind of house do I want? What car will I drive? What will I eat today?
And so grateful is the word that I focus on. It is easy here as there are few things to compare to. Few things to actually want. And the life in the states is shut off in your mind. Then there are those days that are hard. There are those days when what should have taken an hour took the entire morning. There are those days where the sun is setting and you think, I was just beginning. I often find myself wondering, why is it so hard here. It is emotionally draining. It is spiritually draining. It is time draining. If I didn’t have a clock here, I would think that the days were 18 hour days here and not 24 hour days. But in the midst of living through the hard, I think about the people around me – often. They do not know the difference. They do not think about a life that could be different. Because they do not know different. They do not know that not everyone in the world prepares all of their food from scratch , or that to me it is odd to eat the same thing, every day. They have never seen a closet stocked with clothes arranged by color or seen a grocery store where you can buy food already prepared for you. They do not know what it is like to travel on a super highway to multitask. Likewise though, they do not know what it is like to not be cold, to have plenty of food and more clothes than you can imagine. They do not know what it is to have a house large enough that each person has their own room and can make it whatever temperature they want. Or to be able to choose whether they want ham, turkey, bacon or chicken on their sub sandwich. Or that hot water is an expectation along with carpet on floors. And so I am grateful. I am grateful to know the difference and to have lived with conveniences most of my life. I am grateful to have another perspective and to have seen beyond this tiny town here. Yes it is hard to be stripped of the conveniences that we often as Americans think are our rights…. But there is freedom as well in having little, living on what you have and not having to make choices – because there is not other option.
Grateful. That is what I am this holiday season. Even though I live simpler than I lived while I was in the states. Even if my skirt has a hole in it or my sweatshirt is faded. I am grateful. When I am slowed down by this culture. When something takes all day that in the states would have taken a minute. I remind myself to be grateful. I have come into a different culture. And I need to live by the cultural guidelines that are here…. And I am grateful to have known something different.
Yes…. I tell myself all of these things today because I am about to do a cultural hop again and be in the states for Christmas… and so I mentally prepare for the culture shock of convenience.
Heading to work….. and the most “convenient” way to get good beef around here….