Martha and I are wrapping up our cross-cultural training here at Mission Training International (MTI) in Colorado. The past three weeks have been a huge blessing. God has given us many new friends and has challenged us to consider how grow as we get ready to enter a new culture. We have learned many things; however one that stands out is the importance of being thankful and having a grateful heart. One of our assignments has been to list joys and thanksgivings at the end of each day. What a cool exercise. I have missed some days but all in all it has been a really refreshing experience.
There is an old prayer that says something like, “O God, you have given me so much. I ask for one more thing: a grateful heart.”
Why is a grateful heart so important to our spiritual health? The MTI notebook, which has guided us on our journey these three weeks, puts it this way:
“Remembering your joys, helps you cultivate a hopeful attitude; expecting God’s goodness and faithfulness to be manifest whether in the best of times or the worst of times…as well as a great coping mechanism in managing daily stress.”
An excellent reminder for all of us as we continue to pursue a healthy relationship with our Creator. I especially want to carry on this habit of remembering my joys as we prepare to move to Haiti. In a new culture, with a new language, and new stresses, it will be important to lean on God more and more. This is one practical discipline that will help me to endure even when it gets hard.
It would be a shame if I did all this talking about joys and thanksgivings but did not share with you some of mine from the past three weeks! So here are some of the things I have been thankful for recently…
- Affirmation from other men
- Reading in the sun
- Reconnecting with old friends
- The MOUNTAINS!
- Generous partners who care just as much about Haiti as we do
- Long conversations over morning coffee
- Fun and laughing really hard and joy
- Family who is behind our decision to serve in Haiti 100%
- Time with just Martha
- Basketball and lighted outdoor courts
- Grace and reconciliation
- New ‘surprise’ ministry partners
- Opportunity to live in community for a short time
- New friends!
I could go on and on. Martha and I face many challenges and uncertainties during this season. We rarely doubt our call to serve in Haiti, however the support raising process and transition to life in a new culture can be overwhelming. It is precisely because of these difficulties that it is so important for us to remain joyful! I am learning how to have a grateful heart.
Here are some verses from scripture that have been helpful for me to meditate on as I learn more about what it means to have a grateful heart. I hope they serve as an encouragement to you as well.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20
“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1
“Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” Daniel 6:10