Friday, November 25, 2016

Thankful

James and Ellie Carr
November 2016, especially Thanksgiving, has taught me so much.

On November 3, James, Riley, and I touched back down in Guatemala City after a time of furlough in  the States in October.  I think this has been one of our hardest departures from the States yet.  With all the comforts of "home," sights and smells of fall, the warmth of family constantly surrounding us, and no return trip to the States in sight, coming back was just hard.  The contrast of life in the States and life in Guatemala was exaggerated.  One thing was certain, however, our work was not done yet in Guatemala.
James leading a game of whiffle ball over Christmas break

Our first week and a half was spent getting over an outbreak of hand, foot, & mouth disease that struck all of the toddlers and most of the kids under 10 here at Fundaniños.  Up until last week, there were still kids complaining of symptoms.  Riley was a trooper though, and didn't let the open sores on all of her extremities and in her mouth slow her down at all.  I, on the other hand, thought it was the worst disease know to man, and wondered why I couldn't spend the week in bed.Apparently it is rare for adults to get the disease, but I drew the short stick and was the only one here at Funda to get it.  It was miserable, but we managed to survive.


A week and a half after arriving, was Orphan Sunday- a day promoted by Christians to raise awareness of issues such as adoption, foster care, and the needs of orphanages and orphans worldwide.  I had heard of Orphan Sunday in the past.  I applauded the short films shown in church in previous years and looked up to those who made decisions to help orphans, but his year it meant more to me.  I was secretly in anticipation to see how the day would unfold here at Fundaniños, waiting for something magical to happen- a team of missionaries to come visit form the U.S., gifts to arrive for the kids, or better yet, a phone call that one of the kids here had a prospective family.  Nothing of that sort happened however.  It was a Sunday like any other here, without so much as a single visitor other than the regular staff onsite that day.  My heart sank a little.  Why did I get my hopes up?

The next weekend was marked by National Adoption Day.  I knew better than to get my hopes up on that day for anything out of the ordinary to happen.  Adoptions just don't seem to happen here in Guatemala.  They just don't.  But my mind still wandered.  What if all of the kids here who are "adoptable" found loving homes?  Why is that so out of the question?  They deserve it so badly, but in the end I was left with no more of a conclusion than this-

The childhood reality of the kids here is the reality of Orphan Sunday rather than the hope of National Adoption Day.

The majority of them will live their their childhood without parents, a nuclear family, and a home.  It may be a bleak outlook, but it is unrealistic to think that any of the eligible children here will be adopted into families before they age out of the system at eighteen years old.

Thanksgiving dinner at Fundaniños

Thanksgiving dinner at Fundaniños
Then Thanksgiving came.  In the week leading up to Thanksgiving, James was intentional about teaching the children about gratefulness.  He spent time before meals discussing with the kids why we thank God for our food each day, and even had some of the older girls create a chart where kids could share what they were truly thankful for.  I imagined it would take a good bit of prodding to get some of the chart filled in, but I was wrong.  Before Thanksgiving even arrived, the chart was completely full!  Each space was filled by the kids and staff, who from any outsider's perspective, have so little, but they were so grateful.  I was astounded and a bit convicted.

The completed chart of what the kids are thankful for
While I had seemed to lose hope of these kids having a future that I felt like they deserved, they were busy leaning to be thankful for what they did have.  My declining attitude had sank passing the improving attitudes of the kids on its way down.  How could those with so little have such better perspectives than me?  It was a sobering thought, one that I am still processing.  My attitude could use a change, not because of how much I have or to set a precedent for anyone else, but because I have been created to love God and am unconditionally loved by Him.  I was created to sing His praises, not lose hope and complain.  It is His will for me and life is always more fulfilling and worthwhile when we are in His will.
"Thank you [God] for my friends and the family
that I have at Fundaniños."
I thank Him for the chance to grow, change, and serve, and for the opportunity to learn each and everyday from the kids we work with.

~Ellie

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

James and Ellie Carr / Author & Editor

James and Ellie Carr have been missionaries in Gautemala since 2014 and write to share their feelings and how they have experienced God's goodness and mercy on the mission field.

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