The power of gratitude

Wionstong Eberth Arriaga Moran is an unlikely hero.

Besides having a rather strange, long name, he speaks with the slightest of a lisp. And he lives in the kind of poverty that only the Third World can truly know.

And he certainly has no super powers.

Wionstong was born, raised and still lives in a small Ecuadorian town, past the banana farms and rice fields, called Babahoyo. Literally translated, it means slobber pit - and it's true.

Each year, during the rainy season, the town fills with water. The houses, usually made of cane, are built on stilts up to eight feet high in anticipation of these floods.

Wionstong lives in one of these houses.

Yellow and orange washtubs sit outside, half full of dirty laundry soaking in the now-fizzled suds.

It looks deceptively similar to all the other houses there. But it isn't. This one is special. Wionstong saved for years to buy it for him and his young bride. It's where they're raising their 2-year-old son, Jeremias.

Each Sunday, Wionstong slicks back his black hair, which would be curly if it were longer, and pays 24 cents for his family's bus ride to church. His brightly polished shoes are outshone only by his eyes when he smiles.

They walk past drunk men playing cards in the mid-morning sun, past a gang of boys taunting a monkey tethered to a tree, until they get to the cinder-block church with the wooden pews.

He worships God there, thanking him for all he has: his little house, his pretty wife and the little boy who doesn't walk, but always runs, kicking an imaginary soccer ball.

Then again, maybe Wionstong does have a super power: Gratitude.

He understands that gratitude is not a calculated measure of goods; rather, it's a state of contentment. And it has the power to transform poverty to treasure and struggle into joy.


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