57 Things To Be Thankful For After 8 Years in 4 Countries

We lived for a year in Nicaragua, two years in China, and three and a half in South Africa, with side trips to Thailand, Guatemala, Mexico, Poland, Germany, France, Spain, Kenya, and probably places I’m forgetting.

It’s been four years since I lived overseas, though we were back in South Africa for a long stay this summer. It seems a good time for me to reflect on what I’m thankful for here as a result of my time there.

Considering life in other parts of the world, here are 57 things to be thankful for. (Click to tweet this.)

1. Enough food.

2. A variety of food.

3. Running water.

4. Hot running water.

5. A shower. A tiny room where hot water shoots out of the wall. This sure beats bathing in my boxers in the open air with cold, muddy rain water. I am still thankful every time I take a shower, 12 years since we lived a year without one.

6. Electricity.

7. Refrigeration.

8. Ice cream.

9. Breakfast cereal. (After living overseas, we consider this a luxury item.)

10. A warm home in the winter. Our furnaces are way easier than the kang we once slept on in rural China—it’s a brick bed with a fire underneath it to keep you warm.

11. Upholstery. It’s amazing how many people around the world have cheap plastic “lawn furniture” as their only furniture.

12. A bed.

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13. An oven in our home.

14. Fresh bread.

15. Coffee.

16. Quality vegetables shipped from around the world to a mile from my home. (I guess I’m even thankful for Walmart. It’s a Thanksgiving miracle.)

17. That said, rising awareness about fair trade issues and a chance to spend our money accordingly at least some of the time.

18. Meat in at least a few meals each week.

19. A wife who I love even more than the day I married her 14 ½ years ago.

20. Kids who are growing into delightful people.

21. Fascinating friends around the world.

22. Technology to stay connected to those friends.

23. A car that runs.

24. Plentiful, cheap, quality clothing at a number of thrift shops within a couple miles of home, often cheaper than used clothing in other countries.

25. Shoes. A friend just reminded me that when he visited us in Nicaragua, we were down from our village in the city. A kid asked me for a peso. I said, “I’m not going to give you a peso. You have shoes. My friends up the mountain don’t have shoes. I’m going to give them a peso.”

I am very thankful that I have shoes. (Click to tweet this.)

26. Excellent health care, if I need it. This beats having to travel two hours by tractor to get to an under-staffed, under-supplied clinic that might be closed in the middle of the day on a Tuesday.

27. Good education, for free.

28. A distinct lack of crime compared to other places I’ve lived and visited.

29. Vibrant public discourse on important matters. (Notice I didn’t say “civil.”)

30. Choices. (Ron Sider once described poverty as “stuckness.” Amen to that.)

31. Libraries.

32. Access to all the knowledge of the world in my pocket.

33. Music always being near at hand. (Imagine how little music would have been in our lives 200 years ago.)

34. The best films in the world ready to stream at any time.

35. Naps.

36. Board games.

37. Parks.

38. Bike paths.

39. A garbage collection service. I’m happy there are not cans, bottles, and plastic bags lining our roads and fields.

40. The ability to work.

41. Work that is worthwhile and interesting.

42. The ability to give gifts.

43. A church of people who know I’m a sinner and who love me anyway, because they are in the same boat.

44. Freedom.

45. Occasional days off.

46. The mix of cultures in the U.S.

47. Helpful neighbors.

48. The chance to cook over a fire but not having to.

49. General health.

50. The ability to walk.

51. Sight.

52. Hearing.

53. Unpolluted air to breath. (When we lived in Lanzhou, China, Time magazine called it “the most polluted city in the world.”)

54. Last night’s sunset.

55. This morning’s sunrise.

56. Laughter.

57. The God who loves us whether we like it or not.

What about you?

Which of these 57 things are you most thankful for? (Click to tweet this.)

Leave a comment below, and please share this with people who would appreciate it.

  • http://www.dareyou2move.com Kevin Keiter

    That’s a great and thought-provoking list!

    As we’ve travelled the US this year, I have been reminded time and time again of how creative our God is. He made this amazingly beautiful and diverse world of mountains, beaches, wildlife, star and galaxies, sunrises and sunsets. Our friend John MacMurray once said that this amazing world is God’s love letter to us.

    Moreover, I am amazed that He built us to appreciate them and to explore and create. I imagine if we didn’t have taste buds, eyes that see better than any camera, ears to listen to the birds and glaciers calving off into the ocean, fingers and lips with great sensitivity to touch. Minds to consider. Hearts to FEEL.

    We truly have so much to be grateful for… Happy Thanksgiving! May we celebrate each day…