This week I am excited about Thanksgiving. Last Thanksgiving we were in Nigeria, but we were so busy getting ready to leave for the States for Nigeria’s elections, we did not do anything different or special, we just kept on working. Well, this year we get to have Thanksgiving with American friends who are also missionaries in Nigeria! I am so excited! It is fun and encouraging to get together with others who are in the same boat as you and not in your home country. I will miss our family so much, but am thankful for the expanded family God has given us here in Nigeria and the chance to celebrate His goodness, protection, and care as we gather and share stories about what God is doing in our respective home states in Nigeria.
Thursday when you gather with friends and family, remember this does not need to be the only time you display “Thankfulness”. Something I have tried for years is to display an “attitude of gratitude”. I know this sounds Oprahish, but it is so true. Truly being grateful and content in your spirit for all life has for you and the provisions God has given us is a lifestyle. A simple choice and then a lifestyle, that’s all it takes!
My thought for today is this: This Thanksgiving START living with an attitude of gratitude. Start that day out being thankful for the electricity or gas to cook your turkey, the ability to gather as a family, the sister that always annoys you, or the cousin who is too obnoxious for words. Draw a line in the sand and say, “from this day forward I will live in gratitude”.
I have been puzzling on this the past couple of weeks and I want to share it with you.
How is it that when you have lived most of your life in Minnesota, half of the time in the Pine River area, and half in Brooklyn Park area, besides the cultural differences in just moving from country to city, you feel this is home. That is how we still feel, that both Pine River and Brooklyn Park are our home.
THEN…. God leads you to move to Nigeria, a people you do not know, a culture you do not know, so many things you do not know. We have never had a heart particularly for the Nigerian people, as many missionaries do before they are called to go, they love and relate to their called people group. I have always felt drawn to ANYONE who is hurting and hated the injustices in this World, we knew just the normal things that most Americans know about HIV/AIDS – basic information to us. A seemingly random match, leaving God out of the picture.
How does God build additional family in your heart? In about a year, God has implanted the people we work with, the people we serve, and the work here in Nigeria in our hearts so much that when we were back in the States for Dan’s fathers home-going celebration, although grieving and busy helping Dan’s mom with things and getting some things done, we also missed our Nigerian co-workers and work (although Dan did much work over the phone and internet).
How can it be when you are away from one family you miss the other, and then when you are away from the other family you miss the first? I finally realized this week while I was teaching a Bible Study on Fruits of the Spirit, that it is the Holy Spirit that has made this change in our hearts. It is not humanly possible.
Kind of like before I had our second child, I wondered how I could ever love someone as much as I loved our first child. Then I had that child and I loved him the moment I saw his little, tiny face. Although the two children are different, you love them the same amount.
It helps me realize that we think this “home” is here on Earth. God is just preparing us for our next home. “I’m just a passing through”, words to a song we have sung so many times now makes more sense to me now. God is preparing us for our next home.
Thought for Today: Are there opportunities in your life to “build your family”, areas to serve, people to reach out to that you are missing because you are stuck in a mindset that, “my life is full, it’s just how I want it”. To quote Rick Warren, “It’s not all about you”. Even though YOU are the one that benefits.
Earlier this week I had a day when I was sad, disappointed, over-whelmed, and mad!
The thing that happened was ANOTHER baby was diagnosed HIV+. This is not a rare occurrence around here unfortunately. It happens at least 5 times weekly. You see, Mother to Child Transmission (MTCT) is the number one way new cases of HIV/AIDS are transferred now. There has been much information and testing, and sensitization, BUT these poor innocents, through no fault of their own, have to deal with this for their whole life, however long that may be (remember 1 in 2 does not make it to the age of 5 in our part of Nigeria). The mother found out she is Positive as well. This is typically how we get to test the babies. After the mother gives birth, she may get or stay sick for a while, THEN they come in to see what the problem is. After the mother is diagnosed, we test the baby, and the spouse if they will accept being tested.
You see, it makes me sad and angry that women do not have easy access to quality health care. Treating a HIV+ woman while she is pregnant, and then right after the baby is born, treating the baby reduces the risk of the baby being HIV+ to only 1%. It makes me angry that this is not a priority in such remote places all over the world. Such an easy fix, right?
Well, pray with me friends, that during the time we are here, we at GECHAAN can truly help people understand the importance of pre-natal care. That we can show Jesus, to these hurting families, and disciple true followers of Christ. If the woman would have been tested while pregnant, her baby had a 99% better chance of not dealing with this for life.
The challenges are so many, but as Dan reminds me frequently, “We can only touch those that God puts in our path”. You see, friends, when you see so much need and such a different culture, you want to “fix” it all. We can’t. I need to remind myself daily, Pray like it depends on God, and work like it depends on us.
I know God has a plan, I need to wait on his time-table and schedule. Being American, I am not a good waiter!
My point for today is this:
Rather than being overwhelmed, bring it to Your Heavenly Father. He is the only one who can truly “fix” any situation.