Living outside the US brings a whole new set of challenges that raise our awareness of basics (at least what we call basic). Here’s a small list of collected points of gratitude from various friends who travel away from the comforts of home:
1. Electricity. Electricity available all of the time.
2. Refrigerators. Refrigerators that keep things cold and freezers that make ice for cold drinks.
3. Running water to wash hands and do dishes. Water from the tap that is really safe to drink.
4. Hot water. Showers with hot water.
5. Toilets. Toilets that flush. (needing to get a bucket of water to flush the toilet gets old after awhile.)
6. Transportation. Cars to get us from place to place, easily and relatively cheaply. Not having to walk or bike miles every day.
7. Homes. Homes with beds to sleep in. (many of the orphans we meet sleep on a mat on the floor.)
8. Safe and secure neighborhoods. No need to have a night watchman at our house.
9. Education. Free education available for all kids. All kids can go to school starting at age 5. All kids have opportunity to learn to read and write. (of the children’s homes we visit, only the best child from hill tribes are chosen for school in the valley, the rest of the tribal children do not go to school)
10. Banks. Relatively stable prices and a currency that maintains its value. Safe & accessible banking services, not an all cash society.
11. Air conditioning (it gets hot in the jungle).
12. Washing machines and dryers – versus hand washing and line drying and time consuming ironing – imagine drying clothes in rainy season most things sour quickly and that’s normal.
13. Medical Care. Medications always available – over the counter and prescription. Doctors available within minutes.
14. Health Insurance. Where would we be if we had to pay for all of our own medical expenses?
15. Food. Enough food to eat. Food is readily available and we don’t suffer from malnutrition. We have much variety and choice of food. We don’t have to eat the same thing every day.
16. Stores. We can buy just about anything we need locally (and much that we don’t need).
17. Airport security. (We travel into areas where no one has thought about security except to protect their ideology from Western influence)
18. Airlines with daily flights – not weekly. Flights that are (relatively) dependable – you know at least approximately when a flight will arrive and when one will leave (I’ve gotten to the airport in Laos and sat waiting for the ticket counter to open only to discover 2 hours later that the flight had been canceled)
19. Road construction. Roads that are repaired. Roads that are paved and relatively smooth. (despite the annoying traffic back-ups – it is worth it!)
20. Government. Stable government with checks and balances. A government that does seek to serve and help the people (despite its problems.)
21. Postal system that is safe, dependable and works.
22. Jobs – we have work and get paid regularly for that work.
23. Computers. Internet. And the knowledge of how to use them. (Most of the villages outside the larger cities just do not have any government info on computers)
24. Having one good pair of shoes. Having more than 2 or 3 changes of clothing.
25. Resources. We have so much in terms of family, friends, time, money and material resources.
While the U.S. economy has not been good and the stock market has been decreasing rather than rising, God has truly blessed us with much.