Monthly Archives: July 2016
I love living in the USA; and amidst all the political and ideological clashes we face in this nation, I am still thankful that I live in a country where people are clambering to get in, not out.
While I don’t claim to be a world traveler, I have visited several other countries for both ministry opportunities and pleasure. With each foray beyond the borders of the United States, I have been glad to come back “home”. I realize that some of my discomfort in other countries has sometimes been due to not knowing the local language – having to work through an interpreter – but it’s more than that.
Each culture, even those countries where English is the primary language, has necessitated adjustments for me; for instance using different English words for the same item – a sweater is a “jumper” in Aussie land, for instance.
But there are many other challenges, such as:
- Differences in monetary units, dollar exchange, and sales taxes that required constant mental calculations as to what a meal, service, or item actually costs
- Different expectations as to what is polite, or humorous, or taboo
- Hot weather with no air-conditioning
- Hard beds – no, make that very hard beds – on one of our trips we slept on a thin mattress on a bed made of cement – it was actually more comfortable sleeping on the floor.
- Strange food – I once ordered a “regular hamburger” at a MacDonald’s in Australia and it was served with sliced beets on it; also once had tropical fruit pizza (I was expecting cheese and tomato sauce).
- Dangerous roadways and unusual public conveyances – once on a trip in Haiti I rode with a missionary friend in a “tap-tap” (a truck with bench seats in the back) which wound up the mountain on a major “highway” that offered a scenic view, accompanied by a drop-off ledge with no guard-rails and a very narrow shoulder.
- A lack of driving laws – or a lack of enforcement; in our travels we often don’t know which – more than once we felt our lives endangered from what we considered reckless driving on roads in much need of repair or safety features.
In any event, whether the differences made a visit to foreign soil either challenging or enjoyable, I have always been glad to get back to the USA.
We have so much here in the United States to be thankful for: adequate food supplies, cheap gasoline (compared to other advanced nations – though the prices have crept up a lot in the past couple years), clean water, the best health care system anywhere, freedom of religion (so far), freedom of speech (so far – though there are many instances where this right is being challenged by the thought/speech control fanatics), the rule of law without military enforcement, the lowest jobless rate anywhere in the world (even with our present high unemployment rate); a volunteer military; and the most affable, generous people in the world.
There is something about the way Americans care about others who are facing disaster – both natural and man-made – and how they seek to alleviate suffering wherever they find it, that I admire. My fellow citizens are extremely generous and give more of themselves and their substance to others in need than do those from most other countries around the world. Americans are rescuers, often even to their own harm.
I love being able to travel from state to state, town to town, on highways and back-roads and to encounter folks who speak the same language, share the same feelings about living free, follow the same sports teams, root for the underdog, are quick to stop and help a stranded highway traveler with a flat tire, advise you on the best restaurant in town, or suggest the motel with the cleanest rooms.
I love football games, homecomings, 4th of July fireworks, parades with marching bands, summers at the beach, pizza, backyard barbecues, and baseball games.
I love the political process and the freedom to run for an office if you want to help change things in our nation. I love the debates – (however, I do wish that each side would take a minute to listen to the other viewpoint before jumping in with negatives). Though we need to learn to compromise on minor points in order to find common ground on the major ones, still we are free to disagree without fearing reprisal or imprisonment for holding a minority view in government.
I could go on and on, but I won’t. I just want to say that I love living in America. I think it is very important to protect the freedoms we have of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
I do not live in a war-torn nation.. I’ve never had my life threatened in any of the places I’ve visited, or feared for my life in any travel situation. I have not faced famine. I’ve not been persecution for my faith. I’ve not been imprisoned for having a “variant faith” or of seeking to win others to Christ. I am so thankful for every freedom we have.
I thank God for those individuals who have given and are now giving their very lives to preserve the freedoms we so often take for granted.
There is a slow erosion of many of the values we have held, which are woven into the fabric of our society – too much pulling on those threads and society as we know it will come unraveled.
So I continually lift our nation in prayer to God. I pray not just for God’s blessing, but also for His mercy and grace to allow us to continue in the religious and personal freedoms we have come to enjoy and often take for granted.
Happy 4th of July to you!!
©2012, Marcy Alves (edited, 2014)