Thursday, September 29, 2011
Gratitude and Joy
I learned a lot about these two words from the people in Peru. From the Compassion Peru office to the Child Development Center Directors/Pastors to the volunteer teachers to the parents to the children, joy and gratitude were on every face and in every action, probably in every word, too, but I didn't understand them all!
I did not understand the depth of the importance of our visit until our first center visit on Monday afternoon. The forty of us sponsors and our translators arrived on two big buses. We arrived in front of a white stucco church with a beautiful iron gate to all of the children of the center standing outside, lining the path and entrance to the church, many holding balloons, some in native costumes, and ALL were cheering like we were the most famous person you can think of. They were cheering because sponsors, not even their sponsors, had come from America to visit them, to play with them, to learn from them, to love on them. What joy! And, yes, tears were falling as we got off the buses. We wanted to be cheering for them, to tell them that THEY are our heroes. All we could do was let the tears flow as we smiled and greeted the children, staff, and pastor.
As we toured the center and learned about what the children learn and do there, we were greeted with gratitude for our part in ministering to children. It is humbling to be thanked by a volunteer teacher who spends her time teaching children about health, relationships, and God when all you do is send a little money each month and sometimes write a letter.
As we visited homes of families who benefit from Compassion's ministry, more times than I can count, I heard "Thanks be to God for..." Our economic situations are much different, but I was reminded what it means to give thanks in all situations.
This mother touched my heart. She is a single mother and volunteer teacher. She spends three afternoons a week volunteering at the child development center, teaching children, because she is grateful for the way God has worked in her life. She wants a different life for her daughters. She knows that God must be part of that life. She is grateful.
I saw pure joy on this little boy's face as we played with this little yellow car. He loved rolling it back and forth and didn't even mind when the girl next to him snatched it before he could. His laughter was contagious. Like so many of the other children, he taught me about joy, completely enjoying the moment we are experiencing, while we are experiencing it.
I wish the words I am using could truly express what is in my heart. I cannot get on the screen what I am feeling in my heart. I am continuing to learn from these wonderful people and experiences what true gratitude and joy are. Maybe if the words form I will share them.