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The Language of Thanks

Moscow, Russia was never on my list of “must-visit" destinations. Blistering cold temperatures

and depressingly overcast skies doesn't exactly characterize my ideal vacation spot. However, when the Oakwood University Aeolians were invited to sing at the Moscow International House of Music, I figured "Eh, why not!"

It turned out to be an amazing experience. From the captivating colors of St. Basil's Cathedral to the impressive infrastructure of the Kremlin, Moscow wasn't so bad after all. I learned that it is common to walk across the Moskva River in January (although I wasn't about to try it). One could even enjoy a bit of ice fishing along the way. I even discovered that the subzero temperatures were alright with two pairs of socks, top and bottom thermals, padded gloves, pocket warmers, a long-sleeved shirt, comfy hoodie, winter jacket, and fur-lined trapper hat. However, thanks to one little girl, my fondest Moscow memory is much warmer than these.

Dressed in our admiral blue university robes, the Aeolians took center stage at a local Seventh-day Adventist church, where multiple congregations were gathered. We were to minister in music as our university President, Dr. Leslie N. Pollard, shared a soul-stirring message on the inestimable sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In a moment of silence, one could hear dignified sobs echoing in the air, and tear-stained faces gave sufficient evidence that God had spoken through the cadenced rhythms of sermon and song.

As we moved to exit the sanctuary, I lingered, capturing one final glimpse of my Russian family in Christ. Walking away, I felt a slight tug on my robe. Her little eyes met mine as I turned my gaze downward. Our meeting would end almost as soon as it had begun, but not without her mission being realized. Shyly the words escaped..."Thank you"...then, she turned and walked away.

My heart was moved. A little girl left her seat, walked down the center aisle, received my attention just to say thanks. She had every right to say spasibo, since I was a guest in her country. But instead, she chose to express gratitude in the language I would best understand.

This Thanksgiving season, let's say thank you to our spouse, parents, children, siblings, and friends in their language. For some, thank you is flowers and a card or dinner at a favorite restaurant. For others, thank you is a family vacation or trip to the museum. Some hear it when you volunteer to cut the grass, wash the dishes, or empty the trash. Still others are satisfied with those two inexhaustible words: thank you. Whatever their language is, learn it and speak it. Something tells me, they’ll be thankful.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18

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