We have one grocery store on base. It's not teeny, but it's not a Super Walmart either. And all of our groceries are flown in from the USA or Germany. It's a very interesting situation. We have organic wheat bread from Boulder, Colorado and BBQ potato chips from Pennsylvania. Usually this system works out pretty well, but every once in awhile there is a glitch...a holiday or a delayed shipment...and you realize how much you are at the mercy of the airplanes that deliver your groceries every week.
Last week, when I rounded the corner at the grocery store to pick up some cartons of milk I discovered a sign on taped to the rows of empty shelves. The sign read: "The milk shipment has been delayed. It will arrive on Wednesday. Sorry for the inconvenience." I quickly counted in my head "Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday...that's five days without milk."
(I then picked up some yogurt for an alternate source of calcium, only to find that all the yogurt was expired.)
That evening, my stomach sank a bit when I poured the last drop of milk into Peter's cup. We're out of milk. It was such a foreign feeling to be out of something as basic as milk and not being able to hop in the car and pick it up somewhere. We have such an instant gratification society in America. If one grocery store is out of something, there are 8 other stores down the road. 10:30 at night? Not a problem. Super Walmart is always open.
It reminded me of the Turkish language and culture class I took on base. The teacher told us that in many Turkish families, the youngest child always drinks the milk first because they need it the most. That way, if they don't have enough, at least the little ones will have had some.
I then realized that this minor inconvenience was good for me. I think God has a lot He is going to teach me here in Turkey. One of those lessons is gratitude.
We survived the five days without milk and I eagerly walked to the grocery store first thing Wednesday morning. This time, I rounded the corner to find shelves full of milk cartons. I eagerly dove for a carton and couldn't help but smile when I held that simple blessing in my hands. I noticed several others equally excited to load their carts with milk as well. I actually had a couple of conversations with people that day about how excited we were about having milk again.
At a very stressful time in my life several years ago, a wise friend gave me a Thankfulness Journal and told me to spend 5 minutes a day before bed writing down all of the little blessings that I received throughout the day. I learned to count the little things (not having to scrape the ice off my car windows before work, a hot cup of coffee, an email from an Air Force Academy crush named Dan : ) ) and it helped my whole perspective change.
As I walked home from the grocery store with my carton of milk on the day before Thanksgiving, I began to count all of the little, sometimes unrecognized blessings since arriving in Turkey:
*showering after a long overseas plane ride*sleeping in a bed after weeks of air mattresses after our furniture was shipped*Stauffer's lasagna with new friends on one of our first nights here*Peter getting over jet lag*every syllable of the first phone conversation with my parents*driving our car (once it arrived) to the store after over a month of walking*eating a cheeseburger at a Turkish McDonald's (it felt so comforting and familiar)*
Dear God, thank You for all of the big and little blessings in our lives!