You may ask: what is there to be thankful for? In a world filled with uncertainties, suffering, poverty, and all kinds of injustice, it may seem like there isn’t much to be thankful for. When our hearts are broken and the days are bleak, our blessings are easily unseen. But what if we looked again. Thanksgiving is an invitation to look closer so that we might see the gifts we have may have passed over in the busyness of life.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.  Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.” (Psalm 107: 1-3)

Could it be that what we have in our hands today are the things we once raised as prayer requests or whispered through tears as our heads hit our pillows at night? Could it be that, even now, we are living answered prayers?

This is what Compassion children around the world keep learning in the face of unimaginable circumstances. That every knock on their door is a prayer answered. Every basket of food delivered, every letter slipped in their palm every invitation to be known, loved and connected is a prayer answered. This year, as many families were pushed deeper into poverty due to the COVID-19 crisis, they were able to cling to hope thanks to the presence and response of Compassion’s local church partners.

Our local church partners are intimately familiar with suffering. It’s all around them in the communities where Compassion serves—often some of the most dangerous, unreachable and impoverished communities in the world. But our local church partners also have living hope because of Jesus Christ. As a result, they’re able to respond with hope, love and compassion.

So, when we asked five Compassion children why they are thankful, their faces lit up as they began to count their blessings.  Rest assured, this will make you smile today and ignite your thanksgiving too.

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Thankful for clean water

Brittany is an 8-year-old girl who lives in the Cangahua community in Ecuador. For a long time, she felt very sick with stomach aches. The water that Brittany and the other children drink comes from the mountains where animals contaminate it, and other people wash their dirty clothes.

Thankfully, the church and Compassion centre implemented a cleanwater distribution system where they brought in bottled water for the children to use at the centre and at home. At the church, the children now have access to purified water that is not harmful to their health. Brittany is grateful to the church and the center as she is now able to drink purified water that does not cause her more illness. The church is bringing clean water to all homes in the community.

 

Brittany is holding a glass of clean water.

“My stomach hurt a lot. I couldn’t go to school because I felt terrible. Thanks to the church and the sponsors, my friends and I don’t get sick anymore.” —Brittany

Brittany is laying down on a wooden table, surrounded by flowers and bottles of water.

Brittany no longer skips her school classes, and today she is the best student in her class.

Brittany holds a sign that reads “thank you” in her language, Quichua.

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Thankful for God

Iarley is laying on the floor, surrounded by Bibles.

9-year-old Iarley lives with his father, mother, brother and sister on the coast of Brazil. He is thankful for God. His dream is to become a pastor when he grows up. He loves spending time thinking about God, the world, and the future. He is thankful that God created the entire universe and all things that exist.

Iarley is holding a Bible in front of his face.

“Without God, I wouldn’t be so happy. I’m grateful to Him because He’s my friend, but He also gave me my family.” —Iarley

Iarley is laying in the grass, surrounded by Bibles.

“When I was in the hospital due to appendicitis surgery, I prayed to God and He answered my prayers. I still have many prayers that God hasn’t responded to, but I’m still waiting.” – Iarley

Iarley is holding a sign that says “thank you” in his language, Portuguese.

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Thankful for good food

Sheyla is laying down and is surrounded by food.

When the pandemic struck and they could not work, Sheyla and her family began growing their own food. They began growing vegetables in a small garden at home to have more to eat. They also bred guinea pigs to sell for a little bit of extra income. Thankfully, Sheyla is registered with the local Compassion centre at Los Olivos Church. As part of the program, families have been receiving food baskets to support their needs. So, each time a centre staff knocks on their door with a food basket for the family, they are thankful. Each month, they receive new supplies, which always helps them when they don’t have anything to eat.

Sheyla is holding a food basket with bread, eggs, and other nutritious food she receives in the food basket the church gives her. She is wearing traditional clothing.

“My mom makes food with what the centre brings. My favorite food is peanut soup or squash soup. I like the milk. It’s delicious. I like strawberry yogurt and cookies. I like rice, and my mom prepares it with an egg and a hot dog. I also like it when I make fritters with my mom. I say thank you for this help.” – Sheyla.

Sheyla is laying on colorful blankets and is surrounded by food.

Sheyla dresses in the typical clothes of the Bolivian Indigenous women, known as cholitas. Her mother is a cholita, and Sheyla proudly says she also likes to be one, too. Her mother works sewing polleras, the traditional skirts of her people. Sheyla has several that her mom made for her, which she loves to show off.

 

Sheyla is holding a sign that says “thank you” in her language, Aymara.

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Thankful for letters

Anllelo is wearing a black shirt. He is standing in a grass field in his neighborhood and is holding up a letter.

Anllelo holds up a letter from his sponsor.

As 8-year-old Anllelo and his family wait out a rainstorm in their family home in the Peruvian jungle, they reflect on the ways life has been changed by the pandemic. Though they have been through months of sadness and distress, they say they have many reasons to be thankful. One is the joy and encouragement they have found in reading Anllelo’s sponsor letters.

Anllelo is wearing a gray shirt. He is laying down in the grass with his hands behind his head. On one side of him are some of his sponsor's letters. On the other side are colored pencils.

Reading my son’s sponsor letters encourages our family to draw closer to God and to trust Him. It’s a joy for us, and we feel excited.” Orieta, Anllelo’s mother.

Anllelo is wearing a black shirt and jeans. He is holding several of his sponsor's letters close to his chest. Behind him is a stream.

“I really like receiving letters from my sponsor. I’m thankful, and I’m happy when she writes me. She wished me a happy birthday in January, and I also like drawing for her. If she comes to see us, we’ll make her a yummy meal.” — Anllelo, 8 years old

Anllelo is wearing a blue shirt and jeans. He is standing in front of a bamboo fence and is holding a sign that says, "Thanks."

Anllelo holds a sign that says “thanks” in his language, Quechua.

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Thankful for my farm

Maira is wearing an orange shirt with jeans. She is holding a basket full of vegetables and standing in a garden.

Maira holds a basket of vegetables that she grew in her family’s garden.

Maira is 8 years old. She lives with her parents in a rural area on the Colombian Caribbean coast. Several families in Pueblecito, including Maira’s, were facing hard times because of the lack of jobs and the pandemic. Maira’s family had a backyard at home but not the resources to sow in there. The centre’s support allowed them to have their small farm and provided a job for Maira’s father. The centre provided seeds, elements for sowing, and training to Maira’s parents to start their farm at home. They have fresh vegetables at home to eat and to sell to earn money and provide for their needs. In addition, her father is working at home, close to his family. Now Maira’s favorite place is the home farm—and her family is grateful.

Maira is wearing an orange shirt with jeans. She is holding a basket full of vegetables in a garden.

“I feel grateful to God and the centre because they have improved our quality of life. Now we grow our vegetables. We can eat and sell cucumber, tomato, chili, cabbage, banana, beans, green beans, and eggplants. I no longer buy vegetables at the store because I go to my house’s backyard and pick them up. There are days when I don’t have money to buy meat, so I sell some vegetables, and then with the earnings, I purchase protein for my family.” – Enaida, Maira’s mother

Maira is wearing an orange shirt with jeans. She is at home surrounded by some of the vegetables she and her family grow.

Maira proudly displays some of the vegetables that she grows in her garden.

Thanks to the centre for all its support,” said Enaida with a big smile. “Without this, it would not be possible to have our farm at home. Thank God for what the centre has given to our family and many families in our community!”

Maira is wearing an orange shirt with jeans. She is sitting on a fence around her family's garden and is holding a sign that says “thank you”.

Maira holds a sign that says “thank you” in her language, Spanish.

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Thanksgiving magnifies every gift.

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Written by: Rayo Adegoke

Rayo Adegoke is a Content Specialist at Compassion Canada. She is deeply passionate about telling stories that testify of God's goodness. Between read alouds, sing alouds, cutting crusts off sandwiches and playing hide and seek with her daughter, she loves to bake with her husband.