Thanksgiving weekend was so good. So much rest and so many good conversations had with family and friends while back at home for the weekend.
It was so nice to just be for a little while. Be with God, be with family and be in my own bed.
It was a little weird to be home though, I must admit. It was a weirdness that I can’t really explain. Somewhat the same feeling as coming home from camp on the weekends but a lot more intense; especially since it had been three weeks instead of only one.
The transition made it very easy to find things to be thankful for at home; big fluffy towels, a quiet room, my own bed and such good food.
So coming back and going straight into two intense weeks of experiences made me begin a lesson of intentional thankfulness.
What is intentional thankfulness?
Well I know for myself I find it easy to not even be thankful for things at home since so much is just taken for granted. But I’ve been realizing how important that sort of thing is, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.
God continually reminds me of how much He’s done for me and how even just living in this country I already have so much to be thankful for.
At first entering into a week where we’d be sleeping on the floor and constantly with each other, I found myself really just not wanting to be there.
This first week that I’m talking about was our ‘Winnipeg Urban Plunge’ week.
This meant we spent our time working with MB Mission mostly in the North End of Winnipeg while spending our nights at One88 Princess, a couple of blocks down from Siloam Mission.
We had the opportunity to do a walking tour of the area and spend time learning about some different ministries in the North End. Ministries that I had no idea even existed yet I live so close by.
I found this quite shocking.
I know that as someone from outside of Winnipeg I never have bothered venturing into the North End because of all the stereotypes and misconceptions of it.
Some of which are true, but most of which were finally broken for me.
I got to witness the beauty in the brokenness (which seems to be quite the theme this year) and see all the amazing things that God is doing among the ‘least of these’.
Both these organizations provide low income housing for people at risk of homelessness, and in turn create a very diverse intentional community.
But at both these places I was put to work either moving furniture or doing yard work.
At first, I wasn’t very pleased with this.
I questioned God as to why He would put me in places where I don’t get to work with people as much because that has seemed to be a passion that He’s placed inside of me.
“Be thankful for these opportunities to serve,” He said. “You’re still building my Kingdom even if it doesn’t feel like it.”
And again I was challenged to be intentionally thankful for where I was placed and that God still had a plan to use me there.
And He did.
Instead of being handed the opportunity to work with people, I was forced to step out even more than ever and make an effort to have conversations with the new people I met at these places.
I was forced to be intentionally thankful right where God had placed me and to choose His love and His joy as my strength to be able to still serve Him the best that I could.
And because of this I was then able to be bold and loving and talk with some of the people living there who I got to see were just normal people trying to figure out their lives just as much as I am right now.
And even more surprisingly, I got to hear the stories of these people who knew Jesus and had experienced His love and provision even more than I ever have.
“You’ll find the friendliest people in the North End,” said one lady on the street named Mary to one of the girls in my group.
And wow was that ever true.
The community that the people and organizations have created there is amazing.
I got to see these people that were living with next to nothing still be as happy and friendly as ever.
I saw Jesus in the unexpected; in these people that society isolates and in the work of the ministries that I didn’t even know existed. Ministries with people that were truly working as the hands of feet of Jesus and truly loving the ‘least of these’ as He did.
Seeing this also made me realize how much I really have to be thankful for always.
And every night, as I went back to one88 where we slept on the floor; I still had a warm building to be in with a roof over my head and bathrooms to use, food to eat and most of all a community, a family, to be with and to love.