Monday, July 3, 2017
You Went Where?! "Yes, Eastern Africa"
It has been a couple of weeks since I returned from my mission trip with Athletes in Action to Kenya and Ethiopia and every time I come back from abroad, it takes me time to wrap my mind around everything I experienced.
The first couple of times when I came home, I was not a very nice person to my family or to other people (others would argue I still am not nice, but that is another story) because of the guilt that I felt living in such a wonderful and bountiful place.
This time I have tried to not be that way.
Some of it is because even though I do feel guilt, as I have aged (I guess), I really enjoy many of the things we have here that do not exist over seas or even south of the border.
So I have tried to take time and ponder some of the many, many things that have gone around in my head.
First, we are blessed to live in this country. I'm not saying other people are not blessed to live in their countries, but I'm speaking for me. We are often so covered in blessings, we just figure this is how life is...it isn't. It's like a fish just assuming that everything else is wet until it isn't one time and then it really appreciates what it has the other 99% of the time (if fish can think or be appreciative).
I believe that you have to travel overseas or to some places here in the U.S. for many of us to truly appreciate what we have on a daily basis.
Ranging from quality healthcare at a moments notice to haagen-dazs ice cream, we are quite spoiled and yet, many of us are unaware of that. We complain about what we don't have instead of seeing what we do which is more than the average human being on this planet.
Think toilets and toilet paper; I don't think I have ever had to use a hole in the ground and been in a public bathroom with no toilet paper...but I digress...
Second, I realize that we get to see the best in people when we are traveling. You would have to stay somewhere longer than two weeks to see some of the "warts" of a country, but the people in Eastern Africa were so nice.
It is almost embarrassing, okay, it is embarrassing how much they tried to help us maintain our lifestyle in a country that doesn't allow that for a large amount of people.
It is embarrassing that when you go through security (there is security to enter anything there, think airport security then put that on entering church, the mall, a small grocery store, a cafe, etc.) they seem embarrassed that they have to do their job and search you, and many times they don't.
But the people...
We do have so many more luxurious things in this country, so much so that many people "over there" want to come "here", but those people "over there" have many things that we don't have here.
We've have often lost our way on what people living together should be.
The handshakes and hugs, the genuine faith, the giving of your best when you don't have much so you can help someone with less, the caring and giving of self for others that seems often missing from here, is visibly prevalent there.
Sure, they have issues between tribes and the upcoming election in Kenya could cause violence afterwards dependent on the result, but you ought to see how people where traffic laws are recommended and rarely enforced get along so that everyone can use the roads.
Again, I realize that if you stay somewhere longer than a couple of weeks, you will see more and more of the imperfections that seem to be so noticeable in this country, but I can't help to think that us thinking we know everything about the world, have forgotten some key and important points.
So what do I do?
How can I wrap my mind around what I have seen and experienced?
I don't know if I ever will.
But I know that there are loving, caring people "over there" on the front lines every...single....day fighting the good fight against some of the worst issues you can imagine.
I know that I can offer some financial assistance, but more often I can support spiritually, verbally, and physically to those who would grow weary.
I know that I can live a life of more gratitude for what I do have, and strive to work towards that which I don't have and cannot be bought by money.
I am so blessed to have gone to Eastern Africa and I am so blessed to be back.
I am so blessed to have experience and seen some of the things I did, and I am so blessed to live here.
I am so blessed to be shown my downfalls as I work to help others' in theirs.
I am blessed to leave the secure borders of my small town and see how much of the world is like us and different.
Where did I go?
And I cannot wait, Lord willing, to return again some day.