Monday, November 29, 2010

Giving Thanks

Our church supports Empowering Lives International (ELI), an organization that helps poverty-stricken families in Africa. ELI has shared with the congregation the great need of the people they work with, as well as the small ways that we can help. For example, the church helped build a school, which provides one meal a day for the students. Most days the children eat porridge; however, Tuesdays and Fridays are special, because on those days the children get a meal of rice and beans instead of porridge. Those are the days they look forward to in anticipation.

How many of us can say we would look forward to a meal of rice and beans?

To gain some small understanding and empathy for the situation, the pastor invited us to eat rice and beans for the three days leading to Thanksgiving. Rice, beans, and water. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. My family was understandably apprehensive. Rather than set ourselves up for inevitable failure (sorry, Pastor), we decided that we would eat only rice and beans on Wednesday.

We started our day well with both a breakfast and a lunch of white rice and pinto beans. We added some salt and pepper, and we all drank water. By 2 p.m. the kids were hungry. I gave them a snack of rice with a little margarine added. By 5 p.m. we were cranky, had headaches, and were beginning to experience some impaired functioning. (My son, who is only 8, had to eat a granola bar to bolster his courage and commitment.) For dinner, I made a plentiful amount of rice and beans, and the children drank milk instead of water. We had mixed emotions about the meal—we were hungry and yet the food seemed bland, monotonous, and unappetizing.

Our conversation that evening was not. We discussed what we thought life must be like for the African children and their families. We wondered what that kind of life does to the body, mind, and spirit. We discussed how truly fortunate we are and how we take so many blessings for granted. We discussed hope for those families and ourselves.

On Thursday, we prayed, we gave thanks, and we feasted. Everything tasted richer. Was this because we deprived ourselves? No. It was because we embraced the meaning of giving thanks—thanks to a Father who has so fully blessed us.

If you’d like to find out more about sharing your blessings with others, visit Empowering Lives International.

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