Remembering to be thankful

<br /> A couple of things for which I’m thankful:

#1  A little over two years ago I agreed to help out with the Lucitas en el Camino kids group.  Wednesday was the graduation celebration [the photo is of a couple of them preparing for a dance presentation], so for an afternoon I got to be a teacher on the last day of school, and got all those wonderful hugs from kids who I won’t see for another month and half.  It both made me envy teachers and admire them all the more.  People who teach all day long, especially those who teach primary school aged kids, deserve medals, or at least to have the rest of us let them in the front of whatever lines we’re standing in, because while it’s rewarding work, it’s also exhausting.  As I said to a friend just afterward, it was like I could feel the energy draining out of me and into them.

#2  The world has gotten smaller, or at least better connected, in the last 10 years. … Thanksgiving is far and away my favorite holiday, but I’ve only been able to celebrate it with my family one time since I finished grad school in November 1998.   The following week Hurricane Mitch pummeled Central America and a bit afterward I headed south to volunteer on a reconstruction project.  On Thanksgiving 1999 I didn’t have a phone to call home on, and as a volunteer with a pile of student loans to pay off I couldn’t really have afforded it if I had.  Things change.  I not only have a phone now, but because of the miracle of Skype I didn’t even have to use it.  On Thanksgiving this year I had a free, 3-way conference call over the Internet with my family, and the quality was so good we could tease each other as if we were all really there together.  Due to daylight savings time we are even all on the same time zone, so there came a point when both sister’s houses needed to get going on the final stages of the dinner preparation.  I almost felt like I was there, except there weren’t any great aromas coming from the kitchen.

#2 ½  This month I made the last payment on the above-mentioned student loans.  With the economy the way it is [the downside of the smaller, better connected world] I’m glad that’s over with. … and Sallie Mae is probably glad to have one less loan on the books.

#3  Tomorrow we will celebrate Thanksgiving here at Common Hope, with all the traditional dishes and over-eating.  There’s usually about 30 or more people that come together to celebrate, and everyone pitches in to create an enormous, delicious feast.  Even better, afterwards they do the dishes as well.  Steve Humbert, who’s lead Vision Teams here for Thanksgiving before, is back with a group of young dentists who have been cleaning, drilling, filling, and extracting teeth all week, both here in Antigua and San Rafael, with long lines of people happy to see them.  It’s the first time we’ve had such a team at San Rafael, a rural village well off the beaten path.  On the first day there was an equipment problem that delayed them for two hours, but the people just waited patiently for it to be fixed and have their turn, which is something when you consider that some of them were waiting to have a tooth pulled.   And a pretty good sign that they were thankful for the dentists coming to spend Thanksgiving here this year.

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One Response to Remembering to be thankful

  1. Sally Thomas December 2, 2008 at 10:16 pm #

    Hi, Jeff–

    It’s always so great to hear about what you are doing. You are a good writer, which makes your good work seem all the more immediate for the rest of us. Zach and I will be down with a Vision Team from our church almost exactly a year from now. Hope to see you then.


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