Gratitude: A Simple Word, A Deeper Meaning

Gratitude is one of those words that gets thrown around so often that I think it has lost some of its significance. We may thank God, our friends, or our parents, maybe out of obligation or habit, maybe out of a place of love, but how often do we stop and truly give a deep rooted thanks? For the miracle of being alive, for the gifts of love and laughter, for the song of the birds or the smell of a fresh rain. Up until relatively recently in my life, I can say that it was not very often. Being down here in Honduras, however, makes it a lot harder to ignore just how fortunate I have been in my life and how many things I have to be grateful for. From growing up in a stable home with a loving family, to having the privilege of attending a university, to never worrying about where my next meal would come from, little things that I had alway taken for granted take on such a greater meaning knowing not everybody had these blessings.

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Reflecting on my attitude when I arrived almost 20 months ago, it is embarrassing because all that I could focus on were the things that I was missing and how hard life was for “me.” Rather than give thanks for the fact that I had food, I could only complain that the tortillas were too bland; rather than appreciate the fact that I had a bed to crawl into every night, I focused on the fact that there was gecko poop on it; rather than realize how lucky I was to have drinkable water at all, I constantly complained that we had to carry it too far…. I think you get the idea. In the past year and a half though, I have felt a drastic shift in my perspective and I truly feel lucky for every blessing that I have been given.

I think it would be impossible to live at Amigos for so long and not go through a similar transformation. Living here with these amazing kids, paired with so many loving and hard-working adults, you truly begin to appreciate the little things in life. I don’t know what it is about being here, but even the sunrise in the morning has taken on an entirely new meaning.

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Just the other day, I was sitting on a 'busito' and as we were driving through the mountains I was once again blown away by the beauty of this country and the gift of simply being alive. Out of nowhere, I was overcome with this sense of awe and amazement as I thought about how many amazing people I have had the privilege of knowing, both in Honduras and at home. I could not stop smiling as tears streaked down my cheeks (and the busito driver gave me a VERY strange look), just thinking about how truly beautiful it is that there are so many people full of love, grace, and compassion in this world.

Whether it is my best friend from home, who continues to amaze me with her insight, willingness to listen and grace when I miss our weekly phone call for the tenth time due to a power outage. Or my family at home who provided me with a stable childhood, offers endless love from afar, and accepts that I am living thousands of miles away. Or my roommates who cook for me when I am sick, love the kids so well, and deal with me and my craziness. Or Amy and Wilson, who have millions of things going on and yet still take the time to make sure each and every volunteer feels supported. To my Honduran friends who willingly listen to me struggle through Spanish, teach me cultural differences, and give me grace when I am having a hard time down here. To finally and most importantly, the kids, who I am oh, so grateful for.

I am grateful for the way they love so hard and openly, despite watching volunteers come and go every year. For the way that they take care of one another, especially the siblings that live here. For their resilience and positivity, keeping in mind the trauma and unimaginable things that some of them have experienced. Most of all though, I am grateful for their unique personalities. As I have gotten to know each and every one of them throughout my time, I have come to appreciate them as individuals that are so incredibly smart, capable, loving, silly, stubborn, curious, and beautiful. Being welcomed with open arms by these kiddos has been the privilege of a lifetime and I will forever be grateful for the love that they so willingly give.

- Laura Montes, BECA Volunteer 2016-2018