Recently, a “gratefulness” challenge which was put out on social media, reached my Facebook page. It took the form of a friend nominating me to express 3 things which I am grateful for, on my Facebook page, over a period of 7 days. In turn, I had to nominate some people during this time to express their gratitude on Facebook for the same length of time. This was a wonderful exercise in shifting my focus from the ‘daily grind’, to being intentional about my awareness of that which I am grateful for. For the most part it was relatively easy to express things that I was grateful for, which also included some fun things that enrich my life (e.g. free doughnuts from a colleague!).
Then one morning we were summoned to a meeting in our boardroom, with no details on what the meeting was about. After everyone had gathered, a Grade 1 teacher and her class walked into the boardroom, and proceeded to thank us for the work that we were doing. The children sang a song that they had prepared for us, and then surprised us with handmade cards. To top it all, they gave all of the staff some candy which they had bought themselves, with hard-earned merits from the Primary School’s Merit Shop. Needless to say this touched our hearts deeply, and every single person in that boardroom walked out with a renewed sense of motivation and encouragement for the day.
Less than a week later, the staff in our building were called to the Childcare offices, where we were greeted by candy, snacks and other goodies – even filter coffee! These were left by a team, who visits Bulembu every year, and their aim was expressing the appreciation towards what we were doing
Upon consideration of these beautifully selfless acts, I realised anew the power of appreciation as an extended expression of gratefulness. Gratefulness is something which we experience within ourselves for something or someone. It is a predominantly internal emotion which we can verbalise to others, or even write in a card. However, it remains ‘ours’, until we choose to express it.
Appreciation is the external and intentional expression of gratefulness towards someone for something they’ve done or for who they are to us. It can be in the form of a ‘Thank you’ note, a gift, a hug, or basically anything which in some way or form shows the gratitude which we are experiencing. It may be challenging to measure appreciation, or to express it in a way worthy of that which we are expressing it for in the first place. However, an important realisation is that appreciation is not ours, but an intentional, external act of giving.
What does this mean, and why am I expounding on this matter so much? Well, this is where the context of where we find ourselves in Bulembu, comes in. We have an amazing team of people who give constantly. They give of their time, talents, skills, abilities, gifts and ideas to support our vision, which is ultimately aimed at caring for and loving the children of this beautiful nation. However, it can be challenging to remain motivated when one gets tired, or when the going gets a bit tougher than usual – regardless of how dedicated a person may be. This is exactly where appreciation goes such a long way in refreshing a weary heart or mind, and to realign our perspectives to the greater goal of why we are here in the first place. Appreciation also serves as an affirmation to those who receive it, of their role and their part in an organisation like Bulembu.
That said, we are not likely to find an appropriate and sufficient way in which to express our appreciation for your support, prayers, donations, gifts and love which you have given so freely – and which you continue to give. We would nonetheless like to express our sincere gratitude – and appreciation – to you by means of our prayer for you, as written in the book of Ruth in the Old Testament:
“May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have
come to take refuge, reward you fully for
what you have done.”
– Ruth 2:12 (NLT)
Know that we carry you in our hearts each day, and that we praise the Lord for you! Also, be encouraged in the knowledge that your contribution will bear fruit and others will reap the benefits thereof in years to come. As Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians –
“Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves,
men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your
confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity
in sharing with them and with everyone else.
And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you,
because of the surpassing grace God has given you.”
– 2 Corinthians 9:13-14 (NIV)
Your confession of the “gospel of Christ” may have taken many different forms in our context. But men will praise God for your obedience, and for your hearts towards the vision & the people of this beautiful town.
by Michelle le Roux