Gratitude, by Doug Grady

Recently I went on my second trip to Wellington, AL. My church organized the trip to help out those whose lives were devastated by the storms that ravaged the southeast earlier this year. It is unlikely it would have been on my radar without my first ever mission trip. Today I reflected on the ripple effect from Ironmen in Ecuador.

Gratitude can turn a meal into a feast.” -Melody Beattie

In June of 2010 I went to Ecuador for 8 days with 11 other men from my church. We built 9 homes in the slums of Guayaquil. One of the things that impressed me most about the homeless families that we met was the sheer joy they exuded. Especially the children. They were happy, truly happy- just running around laughing and kicking a half-deflated soccer ball. I had more money in my pocket than most of these families would see in months. How could they be so happy with so little? How could I be so frustrated and stressed with so much? When things are tough for me I may wonder where my next speaking engagement is coming from. On a good day they may wonder where their next meal is coming from.

Boli Alfaro was one of our leaders. He also happens to be the great grandson of Eloy Alfaro, President of Ecuador from 1895 to 1901 and 1906 to 1911. He posed a couple of questions before giving thanks for our evening meal. Why were we born with so many advantages? Why were they born into such severe poverty with so little chance of ever getting out?

“Why them and not me?” -Boli Alfaro

Why them and not me? How did I get so lucky? It certainly was through no power of my own. Everything I am or ever hope to be was given to me. The country I live in, the family I was born into, the education I received, my strengths, talents and potential... these are God-given gifts. Of course I have the power to choose, but this too is a gift. The sheer magnitude of choices I have simply does not exist for the people we served in Ecuador.

We have been given talents and complain about our faults. We make progress, and remain cynical. We have breakthroughs and continue to be bitter. OK, maybe it's just me.

"Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God." -Leo Buscaglia

Another man shared with me his initial reluctance to participate in this mission trip. His reasoning was that with so many problems in our own country, why go to another to serve? I could relate to his logic. Then I looked at my life. I never did much of anything to serve in my own back yard. It took a mission trip in another country for me to become grateful for what I have at home. It took going to Ecuador to get me to Wellington, AL.

Author's Bio: 

Doug Grady is a professional speaker, musician, and President of High Achievers Network. He has been studying and teaching the pathways to personal potential for over 20 years. He is the author of the forthcoming book, The Ripple Effect.