I had asked 3 women from our church, all of whom had lived and ministered internationally, to speak to us on the concept of mission in our daily lives and asked them to try and give us a global point of view on the topic. It was wonderful and they were all wonderful and I came home having been ministered to as I shared my burdens with other women and recieved the prayer and encouragement I needed to continue the ministry God has given me right here as I live my life.
One of the women who spoke was my friend Mwende whose family lives in Kenya and organized our trip to Kenya in 2009 and the ministry work we did while we were there. She shared in her talk about how someone from our team (If it wasn't me it could have been so I will say it was me) said that I got so much out of the trip and didn't feel like I gave to the people of Kitui, the village we were in, nearly as much as I got out of the trip. Mwende then shared a wonderful story that I just knew I had to share with all of you.
This past week a pastor from Massachsetts had been in Kenya and spoken at the church in Kitui. The next day, early in the morning, there was a knock on her parents door and there stood 4 elderly women holding chickens under their arms with their feet tied. When you are traveling in Kenya you may want to bring a chicken with you to give The feet are tied in order for you to bring the chicken on the bus when you travel. A chicken is an important gift because it can mean a way for you to feed yourself. These women announced that they knew this pastor had been from the U. S. and they wanted him to bring these chickens back to the visitors that had come to the village to thank us because they didn't feel they had gotten a chance to do so.
Here we are coming up on 2 years later and they are still grateful for what we did and I am still feeling like I didn't really do anything.
What I am struck by is that my first thought is how I can send something there and do more for them. I feel guilty that they want to express their gratitude to me and so respond by wanting to do something more. Something to actually deserve this experssion of gratitude because I am sure I do not.
Why can't I just accept this expression of thanks?
As I have thought a lot about gratitude and being grateful this past year linking up with Ann's blog occasionally on Mondays I was struck this weekend by the other side of gratitude, recieving it. I must admit that as woman after woman thanked me for putting the retreat together this weekend my continual response was to deny my role and tell them I did nothing and didn't deserve the thanks.
Why couldn't I just accept their thanks?
I am honored by the opportunities I have had to serve God in smalls ways over the years and am humbled by the thanks I have receieve from the people I have served. Lord, give me the grace to recieve their thanks.
And I continue to give thanks to God:
- a community of women to share my life with.
- a fellowship of wise women to learn and grow from.
- the opportunities to share my burdons and share the burdons of others so that we may all lighten our loads.
- Beautiful spring weather.
- A gentle wind and chirping birds as we do morning prayer together.
- blue nail polish.
- time to create a work of art and a process that doesn't require me to be an artist to do so.
- New friends and deeper relationships.
- Complements and grateful women.