So often the only way we can teach our kids to be grateful and "eat the food on their plates" is to tell them that there are some kids across the globe who don't even have food to eat. Or to "be grateful for ALL their toys" and "picking them up is showing thankfulness and being good stewards" when other children only have balls made out of wrapped-up corn husks and baby dolls made from sticks. We can even pull up pictures and stories on the internet to give them a visual.
It wasn't too long ago, that we were THERE! As a matter of fact, this day, two years ago, we were at the babies home as a whole family, joining Alethia to ours. For the next 3 months our hearts and home were in Jinja. When you are in that culture it is much easier to be reminded of the lack of abundance we had in America. When the cold water is trickling out of the "shower" you REMEMBER the big, clean bathtub filled with hot water from America. When you have Chapatti for lunch AGAIN, you most definitely remember driving up to a window with already prepared food in a big bag just waiting to pass it out. You are faced first-hand with the depravity of stuff and food and shelter. And you see, first-hand, those "other kids" who don't have food, toys and clothes.
It wasn't long ago that Alethia was one of those kids. She didn't have shoes to wear, a soggy rag wrapped around her bottom for a diaper, playing with the broken toys contained within one basket to be shared with over 50 other kids. She had been known to sleep in a bed filled with diarrhea, had Malaria more times than could be counted, had had a quinine overdose and ate the same meals every day. She was that kid!
And yet, when our church began gathering shoes this past month to take over to a babies home, ALETHIA's BABIES HOME, she wanted none of it. It was difficult for her to let go of a single pair of shoes that no longer fit her. She cried when I mentioned donating them. OH she cried!
I lovingly sat down with her and reminded her of her friends at the babies home who did not have ANY shoes. We reminisced about her time there and how little she had and then reminded her that God takes care of us. Here she has a mommy and daddy who can buy her shoes that fit at any given time, but in Uganda, God provides shoes for those kids through US! It wasn't long before she got an excited look on her face and proudly picked up her shoes to take to church for her friends at the babies home. In fact, she is the one who kept reminding me to grab them as we walked out the door so we wouldn't forget.
Teaching gratefulness looks a lot different in America where options are endless and possessions are abundant, and where seeking out the needy must be intentional. But we are DETERMINED to keep reminding our kids that everything we have is a gift from God no matter where we live, that He ALWAYS provides for His children and that we can be the source of that gift, if only we will allow it.