Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wonderful! Sad. Great! Depressing.

Things I don't miss about Ethiopia:
  • Toilets that can't handle toilet paper
  • Peanut Butter Crackers being my main source of nutrition
  • Inability to wear flip flops (without getting cold, wet and muddy toes)
  • No water pressure in the shower
  • Sharing one bathroom with 15 other women
  • Smog
  • Daily headache as a result of the smog
  • The indescribable smell
  • Being scared of swallowing the water, by accident or otherwise
  • Squatty potties (for those of you who've never experienced this....that would be equal to a hole in the ground)
  • Carrying my HEAVY backpack
  • Flies on faces
  • Children in ratty, torn, ill-fitting and dirty clothes, with bare feet and bare bottoms
And, so, with a list such as this WHY, I ask myself, am I already wondering when I can go back? I mean, seriously, I just got home.

It's weird being torn between the blessings of home. My home, my family, my life. And the people of Ethiopia who I've just met.

So many things in this world seem different now. I look at everything and try to process the discrepancies. The water runs while I brush my teeth and I'm ashamed at how much I just waste without even giving it a second thought. (For that matter, I brush my teeth. With a toothbrush and toothpaste; not a stick.) I go to fix a bowl of cereal and that last know, the part that's all tiny little crumbs that just turns to mush in your bowl? I would normally just toss that in the trash but now, after Ethiopia, I can't. I fill my watering cans to water my geraniums and I consider just letting them die. I break a sweat outdoors and think I'm miserable. How dare me. I fill the car with gas and imagine what that amount of money could do for a family or a street child in Ethiopia.

The faces of the children are etched into my memory. I hope that they will remain that way. People ask, "how was your trip?" and I find the answer stuck there. Somewhere between "wonderful, amazing, life-changing, fabulous" and "sad, depressing, awful and did I mention sad?".

It is so hard to put into words but God reminds me of my own words to Jordan (as he returned home, broken at what he'd seen in Mexico)......"God knew what He was doing when He blessed us one way and them another. He didn't make a mistake when He made us Americans and them Ethiopians (or Mexicans)". And, again, I go back to some words that I wrote in my Bible many, many years ago (probably 20 years ago), "He blesses us so that we may bless others".
And my focus must be on HOW He wants me to use my blessings to bless them.

And that should keep me busy.....until I get to go back. : )


Becca said...

Love this post. Reverse culture shock is real. And I think it is good. There isn't a day that I stand at my kitchen sink and don't think about Africa and how the ladies fixing dinner there would not waste one sliver of any food!

I haven't talked to Ashley much about your trip yet, but look forward to hearing about it! Something about that continent took hold of my heart years ago, and I agree with your thought about going back! I feel that way every time I come home!

The Hulshofs - Chris, Valerie and the Kids said...

I wish you had a "Love" button on this. Thanks for sharing. Having your eyes opened to the truth is both the agony and the ecstasy. What soothes me though is that we know it won't always be this way. "One day He's coming, O Glorious Day" and what a diverse and multi-colored, multi-cultural, choir it will be singing His praises.

Donna Miller said...

Love, Love, Love this post! This is exactly the way I felt after returning from Moldova. It's so difficult to explain to someone that it really is a life-changing experience because when you return you look at everything in your life differently but "life-changing" sounds so cliche'. It is truly something that has to be experienced and once you've experienced it, you never forget it. Uncle Bill told me before I left for my first trip, "Don't go over there thinking you have to bring them all home. God put you here for a reason and them there for a reason. Instead, think about what you can do to help them and their country from where you are with what you have." He told me stories of people he went to Russia with leaving host families hundreds of American dollars. He talked about how that was dangerous to the host family and the terrible impression it creates of Americans (i.e. rich, throwing money around, etc.). It's so much better to "pace yourself" with a sponsorship or something similar. I know so many people that are doing that and have been now for 7-10 years and they're beginning to see a real turn in Moldova and the kids turned young adults my church has worked with. I know you guys will see the same. =)