Monday, July 17, 2017

Reconciling what I have experienced

Having lived on the foreign mission field for the last 10 years of my life, living in and among the severe poverty of two different countries, and I now find myself moving back to a 1st world nation, I find that I'm having to reconcile myself to what that means. 

I was talking to my daughter who just had an AMAZING time on an Alaskan cruise that her sweet grandparents got for her for her 21st birthday.  She absolutely loved the trip - because she made it HER kind of trip - she didn't go on the cruise excursions, go into the touristy shops...she went out of her way to get WAY out of town, and find the mom and pop shops.  She connected with an Alaskan trapper and spent most of her day with him just getting to know him, his love for Alaska, and his way of life.  She skipped all the tourist shops, by-passed the "normal" places to go and sought out the true heart of Alaskans.  While she was on her trip, she sent me such an "MK" response about a situation on board ship.  They had gone to the line for lunch, and were there at 11:30 for a 12:00 opening.  Within 15 minutes, she told me that people around her were complaining and upset that it wasn't open yet (although it wasn't supposed to open for another 15 minutes).  She was so irritated at their response, because she knows what it's in a severe state of poverty...seeing the effects of malnutrition, poverty, disease, despair, with little to no food to eat - and here they were - getting ready to gorge themselves with as much food as they wanted.  And it bothered her...their response.  I reminded her that most people she is going to encounter don't have her same frame of reference, and they only know what they know.  

So here I find the same situation.  Having lived 10 years in and among those who have been living day by day.  Collecting my own rain water so I don't have to drink contaminated well water.  Living under mosquito netting, fearful on a daily basis of getting deadly malaria.  Visiting with people who have an average life expectancy of 54.  I take those experiences with me as I return to a 1st world nation.  As I return to a life that doesn't experience the hardships of the rest of the world.  I admit it - going back to a nation of "whatever I want" I find that I need to give grace to those around me.  Having my husband haul water from the well, filter it, bleach it, and prepare it before we can even use it is our daily life.  Now I can turn on the tap water and just let it flow.  I need to reconcile what I've lived and experienced the last 10 years of my life with what my life will look like in California.  I NEVER want to forget what I've lived through - what I've experienced - I want to use that to be a better person, to love people deeply, and to continue to try and make a difference.


Adelle said...

Erin How quickly we forget how blessed we are. Living here in the USA we tend to forget the many blessings we have every day. Thank you my friend for the reminder. With Howard being in the military for many years and now retired I needed this reminder of just how blessed we are. God bless you and Mike and keep you in His care.

ChosenClay said...

I know that our missionary experiences are piddly squat compared to yours, but I do know that I have felt the same need for reconciliation and immense gratitude after trips where I couldn't just turn on a tap, or use a facility that flushed, or have hot water at the touch of a handle. I've felt awe, and then guilt, when I was able to turn that knob, or flush that toilet, or pick up cold milk by the gallon from the store. I've felt an even greater awe recalling that those I was "ministering to" often exhibited a greater sense of contentment and joy than I've ever had. May God continue his unique sanctifying work in each of us, every day, as we live the adventures He has planned for us. May we be ever grateful! Love you Erin!! Annette