It’s Thanksgiving Day. I am not feeling in a particularly thankful mood. Sure God has been good to me but I am not overflowing with gratefulness/ awe/ wonder as I should. There I go again, ‘shoulda-coulda-woulda-ing’ myself. When will I ever get that it’s ok to feel whatever I am feeling? That feelings have no morality it’s the actions that follow them that matter. So here I am consciously encouraging myself to remember how blessed and lucky I am. It’s hard to be sad and sulky when faced with a list of stuff that God has graciously worked out in my favor. It’s the 25th of the month, so let’s see if I can get to 25 things am grateful for right now.
1. Work that continues to challenge me in ways that I could never expect. Like right now it’s pretty late but this third world Internet won’t support my efforts to upload an embargoed press-something. Still, I am thankful that this does not happen every day and even more grateful for a super helpful intern.
2. A broken cup. I have 5 mugs in my house, 3 round-mouthed ones and 2 longish ones. I don’t plan on having more than 5 guests at once :-). This past weekend I felt sad about breaking one of the longish ones. Then I realized what a mighty long time it has been since I last had anything broken or needing fixing/replacement. Considering that I am a recovering klutz-oholic that is something to be incredibly thankful for 🙂
3. Unexpected expenses that make me grateful for all those months when the available rope equaled the number of days (I come from that culture where money talks are always in euphemisms. Lol.) A major unexpected expense right now is my super costly dermatological stuff that my health insurance apparently does not cover. So yeah, it has very nearly burst my budget, but it’s also made me quite grateful for the many months that I haven’t needed to take it. Instead of fretting or seeing the short end of the stick, I feel quite lucky to have seen God faithfully provide for unexpected needs, month after month.
4. Good working relationships, be it with the media, tailors, printers or my cleaning lady who is really God’s gift to me. I live alone but with the dust levels in Dakar, I couldn’t have made it without her. I don’t take for granted that she is also kind, reliable and goes out of her way to be a huge help.
5. Daily warm tropical weather. I am listening to Nairobians whine about unpredictable rain and cold weather and I smile because Dakar’s weather is as predictable as it gets. It rains only 3 months a year. In those 3 months, it’s unlikely that it shall rain more than 2 times a week. Though the rain is always a scary storm, bending trees and telephone poles, it hardly ever lasts more than 2 hours. The rain floods the streets, but clears up after a couple of hours and life gets back to normal.
Had an interesting experience when I first got here. I got up one rainy Saturday morning intending to visit my bank, a 15 minute walk away. I noticed it was raining, so I wore my closed shoes and took an umbrella with me, as any Nairobian would do. My neighbours chuckled as I walked past them but I paid them no attention. Shock on me, when I opened the front door and found a river flowing right outside my door. I kid you not. There was knee-high, brownish water mixed with sand and sewage rushing by. I quickly learned that when it rains, its best to stay put.
6. Experiencing Important family memories like my elder sister’s beautiful wedding. It was such a beautiful day and I am incredibly glad that I got to be there. Then of course there is the bonus -finally having a brother.
7. Facebook. I should write facebook a big-thank you note for I would never have survived Dakar without it. It has given me a wonderful community, kept me updated on Kenya’s happenings and even brought a few long-lost friends back into my life. Yani, from the deepest part of my heart, asante Facebook.
8.New Dreams. There is something about dreaming that adds a bounce to my step. Just the other day, a kenyan-senegalese couple invited us to their weekend country house about an hour’s drive out of Dakar. It’s the perfect get-away, a walking distance from the beach, with a small private pool and hammocks hanging between mature trees. We had such a lovely time, cooking-chatting-eating-swimming-playing. I am now praying that an out-of-town country-home becomes one of God’s wonderful plans for me.
9. Eating out. I honestly think foreigners get the best deals. Can’t even tell you how many wonderful meals and conversations I have shared with friends at restaurants with beautiful decor, yummy delicacies and superb ocean views. This is really one of my personal joys.
10.Christmas is here – I literally do a little jig every time I hear a Christmas song. This has got to be my absolutely favorite time of the year. It doesn’t hurt that it comes with spending two whole weeks in Nairobi. MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone!
° 。 ° ˛˚˛ * _Π____*。*˚
˚ ˛ •˛•˚ */________/~＼˚ ˚ ˛
˚ ˛ •˛• ˚ ｜ 田田 ｜門｜ •
11. Literacy. I love the world of words. Song-lyrics, speeches, TV-drama, books, blogs, online journals. As I have visited countries with literacy rates way south of 50%, I can’t help but be extremely grateful for the exciting world of ideas that simply knowing how to read and write has opened up to me.
12. Endorphin-releasing exercise. Jogging, Swimming, Walking and Aeorobic Dvds. Thankfully, my body has halted its sporadic uptake of more kilos, though it has not been so great at actually letting go of more than a few of its recent additions. Sigh. We win some, lose some and still working at it. I am grateful for every time I have won the battle towards wiser food-choices and a healthier lifestyle.
13. Hope. I am not where i want to be, but i am not where i used to be. I see the difference, I am growing, i am changing, i have lots of reasons to hope.
14. Things that make me feel alive. Like engaging conversations, beautiful scenery, a moment of inspiration that solves a challenging puzzle or music that lifts the soul.
15. Beginning to accept the things that I can change, the things I don’t wanna change and others that I cannot change. Like understanding that being lonely and away from home is temporary. I don’t know about other people’s experiences of living as foreigners but mine has pretty much been like the life of an only child. People come and go. Yes, there shall be play dates and conversations with older folk but much of the time, you shall be left to your own devices, alone with your toys and imaginary friends (read: the internet). Though I am still not comfortable with being alone (who is?), I have found that I am not desperately hating it either.
16. God’s relentless pursuit of me. I feel like God has been stripping me of all excuses and pretence till I can see myself for who I am, his beloved child who has so much more to learn and unlearn. I’ve been reading a book that quotes Watchman Nee. He talks of how God works to remove the debris in our lives that stop us from fully living in him. These obstacles may be things we didn’t know exist in us like pride, anger, security in one’s profession, etc. And resisting and arguing with every circumstance just makes the pruning process longer. So instead of whining and complaining, I am thanking God for the challenging work and environment, the loneliness, past hurts etc. I hold on to Job 23, “when he is done with me I will come out as pure gold.”
17.Embarrassing Moments. And boy have I had a few. Misunderstanding the French and responding to a totally different question in public. Or the huge faux-pas of stretching my hand out to shake the hand of a high-level Imam (they don’t touch women). Or once I mistakenly screened a shark rescue video involving bikini-clad women during Ramadan!!! Just remembering that makes me cringe. While of course I would prefer if those experiences were never repeated, it’s great to realize that they have no sting. Perhaps a lot of the discomfort I fear, is really not a big deal.
18. Saddening tragic happenings that remind me that this world is not my home. I am just passing through, so I better live each day as if it were my last, thanking God for this day that He has given to me.
19. My parents who continue to chart an incredibly consistent path of integrity and passionate Godly service. I am enjoying getting to know them as an adult, when things they have always said are finally beginning to make sense. And they hopefully get to come and visit me in Dakar very soon…. ma-excitos, can hardly wait.
20. New born babies. There are sooo many, it’s hard to remember their names or gender, but I am so looking forward to pinching and kissing the cheeks of Peanut, Waithera, Waithera-junior, Hakeem, Shiko…. What an incredible gift of joy they are and oh, what respect I have for their sleep-less parents.
21. This blog that has basically become my online journal that I thoroughly enjoy sharing with y’all. It’s a wonderful way to share life, really, everyone should have one.
22. Talk therapy. I am a talker, I don’t like to brood, I like to process externally. And what would I have done without the wonderful friends, in Dakar, Nairobi and other parts of the world that have listened to me and given me perspective when i have sorely needed it? A listening ear and a sharing heart have got to be some of God’s greatest gifts.
23. My gigantic king size bed that makes me look forward to coming home. I think it’s my favorite piece of furniture in this apartment. When one lives alone, it’s nice to have that one nice thing to look forward to. Oh the number of wonderful novels that have been read while laying on it, it will always hold some very wonderful memories.
24. Becoming an almost-morning person and for every day that I have not needed to force myself out of bed. For the longest time I have said that I am not a morning person. Nothing has changed though recently I begun to see how my reluctance to rise up early might be keeping me from the joys of singing birds, a spectacularly colorful dawn sky, rush-free living, peace that comes with presenting my day before God even before I start it etc. I am making more of an effort now.
25.My phat, fab and full of sunshine younger sister who is celebrating her birthday today. Well, she sort of kinda celebrates her birthday on the 25th of every month, but this one’s for real. As we grow older, we are actually becoming better friends. We talk everyday about everything. Isn’t it great to have someone who knows you since tene (forever) and still gets along with you like a house on fire? Can’t wait to get back to Nairobi and house-share (God-willing, someday soon). Ok, we shall likely fight and bicker a lot, but also have the most awesome fun times together. I wish her a super wonderful birthday today.
See how I am smiling now? What’s on your thanksgiving list this year?