Thursday, July 24, 2008

A New Level of Gratitude

I had heard to stories but until I saw it with my own eyes I could not understand how difficult the circumstances in Africa really are. I still can't make any sense of it. If nothing else, it has helped me to see how incredibly blessed we are in America and that we have an obligation to help others. Where much is given, much is required. Here are a few of the things that I have seen that help me understand this. I have seen children caring for children as they watch their parents die. I have seen schools with nothing more than a chalkboard. No books, no desks, nothing. I have seen hundrends of homes that are smaller than my children's bedrooms. I have seen and loved children and adults who are sick from AIDS. I have seen many children who are covered in dirt, have no shoes and only the clothes on their backs. Everyone I have talked to has lost a parent or a child. Yesterday I talked to a woman who had lost 9 of her 12 children. It is all so hard to see.

I have also seen how the power of love and faith can heal these people. As I talked with a child who is sick from AIDS, I asked her how she continues to smile. With an even bigger smile, she turned to me and said, "Because God loves me". They turn to God to heal their broken hearts and He takes care of the pain. I have learned so much from these people in the short time I have been here. I am excited to share all the stories when I return home. For now I am savoring the chance to be in Africa and to realize how very blessed I am, how much I have to be grateful for and how much good I can do.

(I tried to post pictures but it wouldn't work. I'll add them when I can!)

6 comments:

Stacie Raddatz said...

Good to finally hear from you. Hope you are surviving! Give all those sweet kids a hug for me.

Dave Raddatz said...

"Man is that he might have joy." Not health, wealth, or power. We look at people here in America, and they most certainly look at themselves, as highly blessed if they have been blessed with riches, or power. When they have these things, however, they often feel little gratitude and live constantly with a desire for more or hoard what they have been given unwilling to reach out and bless the lives of other or even themselves. So, the question is, and I have thought a lot about this in the past week, who is the most blessed? If children caring for children whose parents are dying of AIDS can have pure joy and feel the love of God in their hearts, is anyone on earth more blessed? If you see joy in their eyes and feel it in their hearts, is this not the greatest gift of God. Wives and husbands in this country, and even this church, refuse to love each other with all their hearts, minds, and souls because of raging selfishness, and the people you are with love unconditionally. Who is the more blessed. None of us are strong enough to want to bring those difficult conditions into our lives, nor do I believe God wants us to, but the test is, how do we have that same joy, that same unconditional love, that same gratitude to God, with all that we have been given and/or acquired? I think perhaps you have been given this wonderful opportunity to spend these few weeks with these beautiful people to learn what it means to truly be blessed of God and to understand what it means to have joy and gratitude in spite of our afflictions, and more importantly, in spite of our worldly accumulations. I am so glad you are there. I wish I were there with you. Love you.

Elisabeth said...

I've been checking your blog almost everyday to see when you would post. My heart and prayers are with you and those whom you are able to be with in Africa. I can't wait to read about you experiences.

Breezy said...

I love the lessons that we can learn from a society that we tend to think is so far 'behind' america. The reality is they understand the basic truth that God can heal anything and that yes he truly loves us. I have so enjoyed the comments from you and Heather, they are helping Ben and I to savor each moment and keep perspective in our little world. Love you guys and look forward to more stories.

Stephanie said...

I never know what to say after dad leaves comments like that. I guess I just can't wait to hear the life changing experiences you have had so that I can feel a part of that new level of gratitude. I love you!

Tonya said...

What amazing stories you will bring home to share with us all. I can't even begin to imagine the things you have witnessed first hand. I am so touched by your story of asking the little girl how she continues to smile and her simple but very profound response of,"because God loves me". I love your Dad's comment and couldn't agree more.