While writing about the members of Special Gathering who are grateful for their lives even though they are mentally challenged and often have serious disabilities, I received an e-mail from a young missionary working China. She just returned back to China from her home in Arkansas. (Yes, Arkansas produces things other than presidential candidates and chickens.)
I’d like to share part of her e-mail with you.
I got off the plane craving those little flat sweet bread things that a man and lady sell on the corner of the street outside my apartment building. I looked for the big metal barrel that they use to cook the bread, but didn’t see it for the first two days that I was here. Then after school yesterday, I spotted it.
Sure enough, there they were with the big ball of dough, seasoning, and the big barrel with the fire that they stick the flattened dough inside. By inside, I really mean “to the side”…to the side of the inside. I wish I could mail them home, but they wouldn’t be warm and some of the yumminess is in the coldness in which you receive them. Coldness being the weather, not the service. Not at all. The people are so sweet and have huge smiles.
But yesterday, I noticed something different. The man’s hands are so red and almost swollen. He spends his whole life rolling dough to make “wu mai,” five mao or the equivalent of six cents in US dollars for one little bread. His hands are red because this is his livelihood. He stands out in the cold and then sticks his hands inside the very hot barrel to take the bread out.
And so, my thought is this…What makes me so blessed that I have what I have? I really can’t explain how seeing hard-working men like this man messes me up. Seriously, it’s not justice. I don’t work that hard and I don’t have to worry about having the things I need.
I am warm and well fed. I have clothes for my body and shoes for my feet. I hope that my life is a picture of gratefulness and more than that I hope I never take what I have for granted. “Lord, let me not get so wrapped up in comparing with those who have more than me that I forget how rich I really am. Forgive me when I thank so backwards. Help me to notice those around me and teach me how to love and give.”
How perfectly this explains the way I feel each day because I have been honored to know a group of people at Special Gathering who experience deep gratitude because of their deep needs and wounds.
Are there some people you know who have touched your life because of their generous and grateful spirist in the middle of deep needs?