After Doug and I arrived in Saudi Arabia in 1979, I was prone to complain about things I missed. The longer I stayed, the more I could think of things I liked about America.

In Dhahran, I could drive inside the compound where we lived, but I could not drive anywhere else. In Arabia and all the other thirty-plus countries I visited around the world, I had to have my pass-port, visa, and important papers. Though I saw some spectacular sights, I was always happy to see America the Beautiful each year when I came home for a visit.

It may sound silly, but in Arabia, I missed the little things that I had taken for granted here in America. I missed Velveeta when I tried to make a macaroni and cheese casserole. No miniature marshmallows were available to decorate my congealed salads. When I mentioned this to a neighbor, she gave me a recipe to make my own!  No way.

On our “repat” each year, I was reassured of the wonders and the bounty of this land. I thanked God that I was an American, and that I benefited from all that this country had to offer.

Sometimes it is good to be reminded of just how good America is, despite all the current problems. If I only complain about my country, it will do no good. What I must do is pray for it, and then try to find some solutions.

That is just what some local ministers decided to do when crime went out of control in our small town, causing fear and anger. Within a few years, seven girls were murdered, drugs were used openly, and robbery was on the rise.

The ministers met, advised by police and sheriff, who prescribed some solutions, and the town got busy. J. C. Bailey, minister of Cutting Avenue Church of Christ, attended the meetings. He began a prayer vigil, inviting anyone to join. Even after several months, he continues to have special prayer time each week.

In addition, Bro. Bailey ordered yard signs that say “Praying for Jennings, 2 Chronicles 7:14,” and made them available to anyone.  I have one, and I have seen more all over town. Churches have donated money to buy bulletproof light bulbs for street lamps in the sections of town where darkness reigned. Several other ideas have been put into action, including council meetings, new park equipment, fun days, and tip lines.

We believe God is answering our prayers. Changes have occurred. There have been no murders since the prayer vigils began. Crime is down. Drug dealers have been arrested.

Am I still proud to be an American? Yes! Do I wish things could get better? Yes. But, instead of grumbling all the time, I want to seek solutions and get active. That means I have to begin with me, get out of my comfort zone, and get a good attitude. I want to lament less and rejoice more. I want to quit whining and start applauding.

Just as I had to change my disposition while in Arabia — or be miserable — now I have to keep a good attitude and encourage others also. With praise replacing protest, I look forward to enjoying an upgrade in our country, one community at a time.