In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought I would share something I learned while over in Nepal a few weeks ago.
If you’ve never been to a 3rd world country, you might not have seen the true heartbreak of poverty. I know before my first trip to Africa with World Vision, I was living in what I call the US bubble. I know there are varying degrees of poverty whereever you go but I had never seen it. Sure, I’d seen destruction and poverty on the news but never witnessed it myself.
It’s shocking when you first see it. Babies wailing b/c they are starving, Kids with no shoes, Mom’s begging for $$ for formula on the streets so they can feed there children. Shocking. And very uncomfortable. At least for me.
But in the midst of all the uncomfortable pain, there is a phenomena i’ve witnessed each and every time. Hope. And Thanks.
Here are some pictures of the children of Nepal.
This little girl we met in a small mountain town. Beta, my new friend from IceLand had wittingly brought balloons to hand out. Not sure this angle shows it, but she is grinning from ear to ear. She must have played with this balloon for 30 minutes.
I just kept thinking “How amazing is it that a balloon, a BALLOON, is making this little girls day?”
Her entire family came over and thanked us repeatedly for our generous gift. Frankly, it was embarrassing to know such a little gift caused such great joy.
Annie brought stickers. HOLY COW. She might as well have brought gold. Stickers are a VERY BIG HIT with these NEpalese children. Specifically the Jasmine stickers. IT was funny to see them request and point for specific stickers. I mean they don’t have TV, how do they know Jasmine? Anyway, another example of a very small gesture meaning the world to these kids.
Here’s a little girl we met on the streets of Kathmandu. All she wanted was for us to take her picture and then show her. And then take it again and show her again. She followed us for about 5 blocks and I just took her picture again and again.
One of the most shocking realizations i had in Africa was that most of these kids have never seen what they look like. There are no mirrors for them. It made me want to cry.
While you are reading this you may be shocked, you may be sad. I know initially, i felt a wide array of emotions. But this blog is supposed to be a story of hope. Of joy. Because, I got to tell you, i have thought more than once that these people know true joy. True happiness. They have nothing yet they are some of the most humble, appreciative people you have ever met.
I don’t have kids, but i have a niece and nephew and I often wonder if a balloon and some stickers would make them happy on Christmas or their birthdays. Some how I doubt it. But i will tell you something that makes them happy every time. Spending time with me. I’m not saying that b/c it’s me, i’m saying that b/c in general i think the best gift you can give anyone is your time and attention.
Isn’t that what makes Thanksgiving the best holiday. The gift of time. Time with family. Time with friends. Time to give thanks for what we all have. Which let’s face it, we all have something to be thankful for. That’s one thing I learned in Nepal. Give thanks for the small things.
I know that some of you may not have family to be with on Thanksgiving. I’m hopeful you all have a place to go. If not, know this. I’m thankful for you. Whoever you are. Because, you are here on this earth for a reason.
Happy Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for today?