By Anna McShane — Standing in the shower at the end of a very hot, sweaty day in China, with water cascading over me, I take stock of the simple pleasure of a shower. And then it hits me – it’s not just a pleasure, it’s a TREASURE.
When I am in my home country, I take many simple pleasures for granted: running water, transportation, heat, air conditioning, washing machines – the list goes on and on. These are normal; everyone has them. I suspect most of us don’t even think of these commodities as anything other than our basic right.
Then I think of life in many other parts of the world, and I am struck with what global workers treasure.
Running water: Any global worker who has hauled water, or even stored water in large containers because it is only available a few hours a day, understands that unlimited, always-available running water is a treasure.
Drinkable running water: For many global workers, a ritual upon arriving back in their passport country includes taking a glass and putting it under the faucet, filling it, and drinking it. No boiling, no filtering, no buying bottled water by the gallons or liters. Clean water is a treasure.
Hot water: My apartment in China has hot water in the shower, but nowhere else. That means washing dishes in the kitchen requires heating water. Even washing up with hot water in the bathroom sink requires jerry-rigging the shower hose out to the basin. And washing clothes in hot water? Dream on.
Washing machines: Even the simplest, most-modest, cold-water washing machine is a treasure beyond price compared to either washing everything by hand or with an old-fashioned wringer/tub arrangement. (Bet you didn’t know they still existed.) A global worker told me that last year, though she was quite capable of washing with a wringer washer, she decided to ask the Lord in faith for an automatic washing machine for her family of six. God found her one she could afford. A treasure. Another friend of mine who immigrated to the United States confessed that at times she would go to the laundry room and peek inside her washing machine while it was running. “My children think I am nuts,” she said. “But until we came here when I was 25, I hand-washed all our clothes on a rock at the river.”
Heat: Central heat is a novelty even in many sophisticated, modern cities of the world. What if you have to chop wood to heat, or huddle around little space heaters most of the winter? And what about the many places in the world where heat is only turned on during certain months of the year – say November 1 to March 1. It is lovely when it’s ON, but what if the temps dip below freezing in October or forget to warm up in March? Heat … a treasure.
Air conditioning: Another treasure to any global worker who has lived without it in the tropics. Fans only do so much, and fans, by the way, require electricity. Ah, another treasure.
Internet: Our friends and family often assume that Internet is a global phenomenon, and it is – but that doesn’t mean it is available everywhere. Or that it works. Conversations with friends or family on Facetime that would be clear and consistent at home may be a challenge of constant drops, interruptions, reconnections, and sheer frustration. If good, working Internet is a treasure, uncensored Internet is the pearl of great price.
A car: My city in China has a thousand times better public transportation than my home city back in the States. I use it all the time and thank God for it, but sometimes I hunger for a car. A car to haul more groceries than I can carry in two hands, a car to take a spontaneous trip, a car that would erase that extra hour tacked on to every appointment because of how far I walk to get to the bus or train, how long I wait for the next one, how long it takes to get to my destination, and then how long it takes to repeat the process to get back home.
The list could continue to include clothes dryers, dishwashers, comfortable beds, space, clean air – all treasures. Don’t get me wrong. Most global workers aren’t feeling deprived or pining for these simple pleasures. Amazingly, people in ministry adapt to living in the most difficult places, and find it becomes home. Often they are gloriously happy living where God has put them despite limitations.
But next time you turn on the tap, or hop in the car to run to the supermarket with a million choices, or take a hot shower, or Facetime your sister or son across the country, lift up your hands and thank the Lord for the treasures he’s given you. And use it as an opportunity to lift up in prayer your global worker friends who don’t have some of those simple pleasures.
More prayer resources
- Guided prayers: From Spiritual Life Sunday to Physical Needs Saturday, these themes can guide your prayers for the cross-cultural workers.
- Each month, we publish Intercede & SEND, a global prayer calendar with requests from all over the world. You can view the prayer requests on our website or sign up to receive it by email.
Banner image: Igor Ovsyannykov
Fork image: Catt Liu