For the past 16 days, I have been all over Canada with my youth group on a mission trip. It was fantastic. I worked hard, slept little, sang a lot, and most importantly, grew way closer to the Lord. Though it was a priceless experience (and by "priceless", I don't mean literally. I did have to pay to go.), I am VERY glad to be home. I'm glad to be going back to work tomorrow and to sleep in my comfy bed and to be able to eat a cheeseburger just the way I like it (plain and dry).
On this trip, God taught me to look at things with a different perspective. I'm generally a negative person, and lately I've been working on that. This trip really challenged me to take something that would be so easy to complain about and see it in a more positive light. And through this process, I discovered so many things that most people, including myself, take for granted. Which not only helped me get through the trip, it also gave me a new perspective on things now that I'm home, as well.
And now, without further ado, a list of things I never thought I'd be thankful for:
1. Darkness. If you've never been to Canada, then you should know that in Canada, "nighttime" doesn't start until around 11 o'clock at night and ends at 4:30 am. That means about 5 hours of dark. So like, it could be 10 pm and you think it's only 8 because it's still light outside. And then you wake up at 4:30 thinking it's 7 because the sun is out. It totally throws you off and you completely lose sleep. Therefore, I am thankful for the 10ish hours of darkness we have here in Texas .
2. Cooking. This may sound really horrible, but on the hardest day of the entire mission trip (and by hard, I mean walking a mile through mud carrying heavy lumber back and forth and then helping build a campsite), I was chosen to help prepare lunch. Which meant I got to walk a mile back to where the food was and cook lunch for everyone instead of doing the hard labor. Cooking may be less stretching for me, but it's definitely more my preferred line of work. I am therefore thankful for cooking.
3. Music. This goes with the cooking. Because I was in the band, occasionally I was unable to participate in other projects because I had to practice or perform. Again, singing is definitely something I would prefer doing over some of the other projects, so I am also thankful for music. (Disclaimer: I also did have to sacrifice a lot for the band as well. I wasn't able to play with little kids, which I love, and I had to sacrifice a lot of time before and during the trip for practice. However, overall I am very glad I was on the band as I feel that that is exactly where God wanted me to serve on this team and that that was the best place for me. I enjoyed it more than I anticipated and would love to do it again.)
4. Fast food. I realize that we ate McDonald's three or four times on the trip. But even then I didn't get to order exactly what I wanted (and it was never what I wanted). For the most part, though, it was all cooking and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The first thing I did when I came home, I kid you not, was go through a drive through and get a huge bacon cheeseburger (plain and dry) and a chocolate milkshake. Best. Food. Ever.
5. My own washer and dryer. If you've ever been to a Laundromat, you understand. Not only does it cost a ridiculous amount of quarters just to wash your clothes, it takes forever and you're sitting around with nothing to do. And sometimes, you have friends who think they're helping you out by inserting two more quarters into your washer but are really just paying for you to receive the extended cycle which is 20 minutes longer. And then it takes even longer. (But hey, at least your clothes are extra clean, right?)
6. Bed. This is pretty self-explanatory. After camping for three nights and sleeping on floors for almost the entire trip (minus when we were in Calgary and had the fantastic privilege of sleeping in beds), your bed becomes that much more welcoming. I think I missed this the most.
7. Showers. You know you're deprived when you shout for joy at receiving a 5 minute shower every other day. Seriously, after being yelled at from the other side of the bathroom door that my two-minute shower was half over and I wasn't even in the shower yet, 5 minutes was like I had died and gone to heaven.
8. Earplugs. One night, I woke up around 2 am to someone snoring in the next tent over sooo loudly and obnoxiously that I seriously thought they were dying. (No offense to whoever it was; I really did feel bad for them as I'm sure they could not breathe at all). And when you have a clan of noisy seagulls screaming all night long on top of that, it's even worse. I would start crying because it was soooo noisy and I couldn't sleep. Whenever I was smart enough to remember to put in my earplugs, however, I heard nothing and slept the night through. I don't normally wear earplugs, but I now have a new appreciation for them.
(Those are my top 8. I'm sure there are way more, but those are the ones that immediately come to mind.)
"To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old."
~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.