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This weekend we didn’t have the chance to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving as many of you may have, but we have certainly taken the time to pause and be grateful. It’s amazing how just being in a different environment does so much to open up your eyes and give you an entirely different perspective on life.

Since being here I have noticed that we are less stressed, we take more time to have conversations, we are not rushing to get anywhere, we are more patient when things don’t go as planned, we waste less, we pause more to reflect and pray, we are more aware of the needs around us, we are more appreciative of what we have, and we are more at peace.

I’m not sure we understand fully yet why this is, but I believe it has a lot to do with being in a society driven by consumerism versus being in a society focused simply on living. It seems that there is more joy and gratitude in daily life here. Underlying everything is a gratefulness for having another day to be alive. That alone seems to make day-to-day activities something to be so grateful for rather than a chore to have to endure.

I know for me that one of the things that would frustrate me the most was constantly making meals. Some days I felt like I barely left the kitchen with 4 growing and hungry kids in the house.

Here, when I have the chance to go to the market and buy food, I walk home feeling thankful for every item in my bags. I know that each one came from someone who is working hard to make a living for their family and that my purchase has helped them. When my arms are sore from carrying the bags, I think of those who work so hard every day just to harvest this food.

When I put a meal on the table I am grateful for every ingredient because I know exactly where it came from. It’s more than simply a price tag in a grocery store, I know where it came from, I know who it came from.

These people-connections must also have something to do with the beautiful energy that is felt here. When what I do directly helps another and what they do directly helps me, there can’t be the same disconnect that is so easy to feel when we walk into a huge grocery store and not for a moment have the chance to even know where our food came from.

I am convinced that this web of connectivity brings us together and must somehow invite a life of greater joy and gratitude. As we continue to experience life here and open ourselves to so many more connections, I hope we can unpack and understand this even more.

We met some very special people when we were here on our last visit. The day after we arrived we got on a boat to go visit them and it was so wonderful to see them again. Gratefulness is something that they have shown me how to live out even in the most difficult of times.

The past couple of months have been difficult for some people as tourism slows down and those who rely on that for their work suffer. This couple and their little girl are so full of joy and gratitude regardless of their situation. When we arrived and asked them how they were, they said they were very good as their smiles lit up their faces.

Not long after in the conversation we learned they have had either no work or very little work in the past couple of months. That means that finding enough food to eat can be a challenge as well as other things in life. When I asked why there are so happy even when things are so hard, they said, “We have our health and we have each other, as long as we have that we are happy.”

I hate to think about how many times I have complained in my life. Complained aboutĀ things that were trivial and unimportant to the big picture of my life. I hope that I too can learn to be so thankful for life and for my loved ones that I don’t get caught up in the little annoyances that can get in the way of feeling and experiencing this deep sense of gratitude.

So today we are thankful for the chance to pause, reflect, see life from a different perspective and allow our hearts to be changed in the process. We are grateful for time together, shared memories, siblings playing together, quiet moments of rest and new opportunities each day.

We are truly grateful for this journey and for all of you who make our lives so much more wonderful!

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