As I sit and write this blog post I am in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The day I arrived I contracted a bacterial strain of pink eye that I am quite confident is one part sickness and three parts pure evil.
The strain is an intense one that is accompanied by flu-like symptoms and that spreads rapidly. The pink eye moved from one eye into the other in less than 24 hours and left a popped blood vessel and a black eye in its wake. Since that time the bacteria has also moved into my right ear, causing an ear infection and temporary loss of hearing.
I’ve been bed-ridden for most of my trip thus far due to the illness and, as a result, have had ample time to sit and reflect. In my reflection I realized…I live quite the pampered life here.
For starters, I have the ability to travel and see first-hand things that many only read about . . . or never even learn of. I’ve been to five countries in the last four weeks and have the blessing of being reunited with friends that live on the other side of the world.
Additionally, I am staying in a safe home, protected by a locked gate. The walls are thick and sturdy, unlike the sticks that many of the homes in the Cambodian provinces are constructed from. The floors are also finished, offering a cleaner living environment than the traditional dirt floor allows.
As I lay here (on a hard, but clean mattress), a fan is blowing on me to provide relief from the sweltering heat. That’s right . . . I also have the blessing of electricity . . . a luxury that many in third world countries have never experienced in their homes.
I am able to wash dishes and brush my teeth from the sink in the kitchen because it has a built-in double water filtration system that makes the water safe. Yes, this may be the only sink in the house where that is the case, but still, in the kitchen there is no need to boil my water and manually filter it before cooking or washing.
And speaking of cooking . . . I have the blessing of a stove here! The gas burners may only offer two settings (high and higher . . . no low or medium setting exists) but the convenience of having multiple burners that turn on with the flip of a switch far outweighs the challenges of cooking over a small fire outside.
Not only can I cook indoors, but I also have the ability to shower indoors. Sure, there is no hot water or actual bathtub so the water is like ice and gets the entire bathroom floor wet, but at least there is a drain in my fully finished floor!
And, when I need to go to the local market the tuk-tuk driver comes directly to my door so that I don’t have to walk the muddy street out to the main road. He even helps me carry my purchases. Such service!
As I prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving halfway around the world from my family this year, some of these blessings that would otherwise be easily overlooked are at the forefront of my mind. I am learning what it means to live with a heart of thankfulness and praise. (I’m even learning to be thankful for sickness that forces me to slow down and that helps to remind me of the many blessings that God has given me.)
I pray that this holiday season (and every day) you will learn to do the same . . . minus the pink eye, because, let’s be honest, I would never wish that on anyone! 🙂
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness: come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” –Psalm 100