Amidst the craziness of a new country and lifestyle, my most prominent feeling now is thankfulness. It may seem strange. I was certainly surprised. My first word to learn in Khmer was “Ahr-khun” or thankyou, and I use it about 100 times a day, partly because I don't know what else to say, but also because I am just full of thankfulness for the blessings around me.
I am thankful for the little random things that were too little to be thankful for before, and I am thankful for the big, central things, that may have been to big to be thankful for before. The strap on my backpack that I never noticed before is now a necessity to make it stay on as I ride on the back of motorcycles every day. My camera, my education, a family that would never reject me or try to sell me. I'm so thankful for these things.
My host family lives a simplistic lifestyle, but we are all thankful for every mouthful of food, every restful night of sleep. I'm thankful for clean, cold water. If I give my host mother a compliment, she often responds “because of Jesus.” It can be kind of funny if I say, “nice nails,” or “Your English is very good,” and she says “Because of Jesus,” but I love that attitude. Jesus is so good to me. Even my fingernails and my language learning capabilities come from Him. Every good gift comes from above. The fact that I am here in this beautiful country, meeting amazing people, and spending each moment having my eyes and ears opened to new things, is only by the grace of God. So maybe it's my honeymoon phase or something, but I want to hold on to this thankfulness, even when things inevitably start getting hard, because that's what faith is about.