I want to begin with a story which happened to me about nine months ago. I was serving as a missionary in the small town known as Middletown. Fits its name right, really small.
The start of a long road had accompanied me and further training was needed. I was currently on an exchange, or a training guideline with a older, more experienced missionary. To detail the story somewhat more, we were on this exchange north of Middletown, in the city of Clearlake. To all those who know Clearlake they can tell you somewhat more of the surroundings of this wrecked and rusty little town. People are poor and the roads have three foot pot holes every ten feet. Half of the town is paved with dirt and ditches, where if you don't have a four wheeled vehicle, you wouldn't make it to your destination. As you can imagine, old buildings with dark and dreary bars, streets covered by those who infest the late hours of the night. "Depressed city" would be a good name for this sad little town.
I want to tell a story which evolves a family of five boys, one little girl and a single grandmother.
As I was on this exchange with an missionary named Elder Wilkerson, he told me about a humble and loving family, who the missionaries called "The Boys".
The day swiftly went by, as we taught the Gospel of Christ to all those who would receive it. Around 7:30 in the evening we drove our truck down a small dirt road, heading towards a trailer park on the edge of the Clearlake. We pulled up, put the truck into park and discussed what our lesson would be. As we were conversing, I peered around to see our surroundings. The trailer we had pulled in front of was old and the paint had faded to a degree of red, the molded, cracked deck was falling into pieces. The overhang of the deck was made out of fiberglass and was beginning to come apart.
We jumped out of the truck, stepped onto the wobbling wood steps and knocked at the sliding door. With hand prints and smudges on the glass, an older woman drug the door open. She grimaced with a overwhelming smile and said, "Elders, come on in." The first thing she did was yell, "BOYS!! the missionaries are here to teach!"
She was so happy we had taken the time to come over to her house.
Our next movement was welcomed into the small 15 ft x 30 ft trailer. I felt as if I was dungeoned into a small cave and given no oxygen to breathe. The midst of the home was covered in cigarette smoke and only a two seat couch, which was taken by an older man in his 70's. The floor was a smashed down carpet, leaving a person to think it was tile. The couch was ripped, kitchen floor was cut, and the mold from the wet winter had seeped in the ceiling. From my encounter, these people were very poor, and had little money to spare.
Surprisingly, in the corner of my eye I noticed some "Boys" walk down a shoulder to shoulder hall way. One at a time they filed into the room to meet the missionaries. Each of these boys (not to mention a small girl about 6 years of age) were holding a set of scriptures and were cleaning up for dinner. The oldest boy was in his mid teens, I would say 15, and the youngest of the 6 was a six year old girl.
The grandmother of the boys led the children into the small kitchen, where stood a round table, with a red cloth laying over it. Around we gathered with six dinner bowls, and a pot filled with a watered down roast beef soup. The grandmother handed me a large spoon and said, serve the children. I did as I was told, and served one by one till all the bowls were filled with scanty portions of the supper.
After every bowl was filled, Grandma expressed gratitude for us being in their home, and mentioned a prayer would be necessary before they began their meals.
The oldest began with a humble prayer of gratitude. As the silence filled the room, everyone bowed their heads and he began his prayer, thanking Heavenly Father for everything he had in his life: his shoes, shirt, socks, baseball, food, school, and his grandmother, etc. He told Heavenly Father he loved him, and he was so thankful for all the blessing he had in his life. He asked if he could have an opportunity to play a sport in high school. He asked God for safety, to watch over his little brothers and sister; to watch over his mother who was, unfortunately, in jail for drug abuse; to be with him throughout his day and night.
After a close of his humble prayer, I looked at my companion with tears in my eyes, and couldn't hold back. He was so thankful for all the blessings he had in his life and what seemed to me as nothing. This family's possessions were of no worth--they had no vehicle, owned nothing of any worth, yet this boy was so thankful for what he did have.
When the first was over, the next child had a turn to pray over the food to thank our Heavenly Father for all the blessings they have had received. One after another, they all gave thanks for the blessings in their lives. My companion and I were in drowning tears. I couldn't hold back the water from my eyes. My heart was touched by the love of God for His children. He cared for each and everyone of these kids, and they knew it. They knew God! They understood Him far more than I did at that point in my life.
I was greatly humbled this day. I really know why we need to be grateful. We have so much. Our Heavenly Father loves us and knows what blessings we receive in our lives.
This led me to become more grateful and to write a post about my experience.
One of our Latter-day Apostles gave a wonderful talk concerning the Christlike Attribute of Gratitude. Gratitude is thankfulness, or appreciation of a positive emotion or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive. Being grateful for someone or about something, is a great characteristic one can achieve by love and caring.
The attribute of Gratitude has been on my mind for quite some time. I keep reflecting my life at home, seeing the things I could have done better. My family is my support, and I somewhat took advantage of their love and kindness. I need to be more GRATEFUL!!
I can't name all the wonderful blessings in my own life. I thank my Heavenly Father for all the things I have in my own life. Sometimes when we get down on ourselves, we don't realize or remember our wonderful blessings.
President Monson Quotes:
"We can lift ourselves, and others as well, when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude".
I would like to thank my mother for carrying me for nine months of her life, waking up sick, wanting to eat but her body rejecting any piece of food she struggled to inhale, then putting up with me for 20 years. Thanks Mom.
I am grateful for my father who would push me and push me to do my chores, waking me up for work everyday, giving me the gift of carpentry, and showing me love when I made unwise decisions.
I'm thankful for my grandparents that tuned into the foundation of righteousness, and setting good examples for generations to come.
We truly have been given so much. I cannot wait until the day I can give my grandpa a big hug and tell him I love him. I would tell him so much. Fortunately someday I will see him and I will give him a big hug. I will thank him. We need to be grateful for what we have now!!
We all have different stories but we can still find something, anything we are thankful for. God loves us. He wants us to be thankful for everything we have. When we have nothing, we have God, and he truly is all we need.
"ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE" As we have a Grateful heart, we will see Heavenly Fathers blessings in our life. He sincerely does care about Everyone!!
Elder Cameron Wright