Thursday, November 25, 2010

November 25, 2010 - Thankful

Thanksgiving is a North American holiday, and while North Americans all over the world will go out of their way to find ways to celebrate today, the people of our host countries understandably don't get it or don't really care (note: the Pilgrims didn't exactly come to Kenya).

In many ways, this makes me sad. Kristoffer would be at work if he were even in the country (that said, he is definitely at work outside of the country) and so it is not like we would be gathered around a large table with my family or hunkered down in front of the TV to watch (or, in my case, pretend to watch) football. But in another way, because I am not caught up in the hustle and bustle of the day I am forced to really think about for what it is that I am thankful. This year, that is a pretty easy blank to fill in.

You see, I had lunch with one of my (few) good friends in Nairobi today. She is five weeks more pregnant than me and we had a nice chance to catch up with each other before she soon flies off to her home country to have her third baby. We talked about our kids and pregnancies and husbands and careers and living abroad and we let out our emotions and venting and it was wonderful - just what I needed after weeks of essentially being a social hermit. But she also told me a heartbreaking story that she had just heard which immediately put my life into perspective.

A lovely woman who used to live in Nairobi that we both know, her intimately and me casually, just had her third baby. He was delivered 7 weeks early because she has terminal cancer and her doctors want to start chemotherapy as soon as possible to give her the greatest amount of time possible. It is not the first time she has had cancer, and she found out that she was no longer in remission shortly after becoming pregnant with #3. So now she and her husband are in their home country with three children under the age of 4, and she is dying.

When my friend told me this story, we stared at each with tear-filled eyes. We were silent for a few minutes. We were devastated. And then we were both really, really grateful.

I complain about a lot of things: some scares in my pregnancy and about some hospital stays and about infections and about being on partial bed-rest and about my husband being out of the country and about being far away from my family and friends and about being exhausted and homesick and about my annoying neighbors who only talk in shouts and about all the things that drive me crazy about Kenya and about the fact that Grace wakes up way too early and about about about about. But...

I am generally healthy and Rocky, on the inside, is healthy. I am not wondering who will help my husband raise my children or if they will remember me. I am not dying. And also...I don't live in fear of violence or persecution for any reason. I don't wonder when my next meal will be or how I will manage to provide it for my family. I don't live without shelter or clothing or sanitation. I have not been a victim of a terrible disaster or war or domestic violence. I am well educated. My child is healthy and beautiful and smart and safe and loved. With a loving and supportive husband, a close family, and many wonderful friends, I am not alone in this world.

So this year I am thankful for all of my complaints, because in the big picture they are so small. In the big picture my life is so good. Today I say one prayer of thanksgiving for all that God has blessed me with and another prayer for those who have not been so fortunate.

I am, simply, thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

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