Choosing Gratitude: 1st Thanksgiving Away

Spending our first Thanksgiving outside of the U.S., away from all of our family, is a weird experience.  It’s natural that we feel a bit sad and miss home, but in the spirit of the holiday we are choosing to take some time to intentionally focus on what we are grateful for. Cliche Thanksgiving post?  Sure, but cultivating a spirit of gratitude is serious, life changing stuff.  Check out some of these amazing articles from the Greater Good Science Center out of Berkley if you don’t believe me.

This Peace Corps couple is thankful for 10 specific things today:

  1. Experience. Not everyone gets to do Peace Corps.  Through all the ups and downs we experience over the next two years, we are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to live it all.  Keeping our sense of curiosity & openness to new experiences is something we are focusing on.
  2. Generosity. Throughout our 3+ months in Nicaragua we have been privileged to experience a wealth of generosity from so many people. From host families, counterparts, neighbors, or PC staff the spirit of sharing and giving has been incredibly comforting. For example, we’re spending Thanksgiving at the PC Nicaragua’s Director of Programming and Training’s (2nd in command) house. He’s treating ten of us volunteers to delicious, home-cooked food, NFL football, swimming in their pool, and a place to spend the night.  Thank you Miguel!  You rock 🙂
  3. Framily.  Although we’re thousands of miles away, Emily and I feel the love and support from our friends and family in the states every day.  We are here, in no small part, due to your encouragement, love, and support.
  4. Partner.  Serving in Nicaragua with our best friend is quite the blessing.  Having someone who we feel completely comfortable with enough to share honestly about what we’re going through, process on a deep level, and share hugs and mugs of tea with is incredible.  We’re so happy to be adding to our treasure trove of memories, and growing closer as we spend the next two years adventuring together.
  5. Technology.  It’s hard to imagine what serving in the Peace Corps even 10 years ago would have been like!  It has been so incredible to have cell phones where we can text the states, internet to Skype, and the blog to track and share our experiences.  It helps us feel close to home, and we are so thankful for the blog comments & Facebook messages that help us stay connected.
  6. Basics.  We’ve never known what’s it’s like to go without food, clothing, shelter, or love.  Sadly, that’s not the case for many people here in Nicaragua, or in the States for that matter.  We’ve got plenty and then some and hope that our actions can help others meet their basic needs.
  7. Challenges.  Life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies.  We’ve learned that it is actually in these times of life when the greatest potential for learning and growth can come.  We feel grateful for the challenges that have helped become the people we are now, and for the fact that we have the resources in us and around us to help us through future challenges/learning opportunities.
  8. Passions.  Sports. Tea. Cooking.  Eating. Visiting.  Sharing.  Teaching. Music. Playing. Learning.  We feel thankful to have the experience to engage in these life-giving passions, and for the opportunity to share them with the people we are meeting here in Nicaragua.  It is pretty incredible the kinds of relationships that can form from sharing about what we care about.
  9. Budgets.  If you know us well, you know that we are kind of budgeting nerds.  One of the stresses we had this first month in site what figuring out how to live on our stipend of ~$300 a month each, without knowing how much we should be spending on our necessities.  Sure, we have money in the states that we can pull from if we need to, but that’s not what we want from our PC service. We want to try our best to live on these local wages.  Last night we stayed up late and set up a budget for December, and we’re pretty stoked about it 🙂
  10. Hope.  Even with all of the depressing, sad, imperfect things that are happening in our world right now, we give thanks for the hope.  With all of the events happening back in the U.S. this week I can’t help but think of the quote “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”  Here in Nicaragua there are certainly many problems as well, but we are emboldened by the resilience of the people here to continue on, determined to make a better life for their country, their family, and themselves.

What are you thankful for?  Please comment below to share with us, and keep these good feelings going!

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4 thoughts on “Choosing Gratitude: 1st Thanksgiving Away”

  1. I am thankful for many of the same things you are! Today I’m very glad that Skype brought me the faces of 3 of my kids-you two and Bryn. It helps me miss you less! I’m thankful for laughter – you can imagine there was plenty of that today at our gathering. I’m thankful for all the extra young adults that were at our table today-talk about hope! I’m thankful, so thankful for all my family, but especially for my wonderful love, Erik! Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Awe, yay! Thank you for sharing Mamma! I love all of yours, too. It’s so heart-warming and inspiring to see the love that you and Pappa share. Love you so much 🙂

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