On Sunday, it will be two weeks since we returned to the States. The past two weeks have been spent getting back into the groove and routine of balancing work, babysitting, and student teaching. I envy my peers that have been able to stay at their original student teaching placements, and have found it really difficult to find the motivation to lesson plan and fulfill the remaining requirements needed for my degree. I like my class at my new placement, but I really miss all of my students at Renaissance. 😦
Since I’ve been back, I’ve wanted to write something that will help me debrief. In ten short days, I, and the rest of my team experienced a wide range of emotions, and then had to jump right back into “normal life.” It’s been difficult at times to come to terms with the fact that I can’t hop on a plane and go right back to South America. I still can’t do that, right?
In the past few days, I’ve had time to reflect, and want to share with you a few things that I’ve learned – post missions trip.
1. American bathrooms are beautiful and should never be taken for granted: I don’t know if I can describe to you the pain I felt when my body was consumed with the need to pee, and had to wait in a long line in the airport in Bogota because there were only four stalls, and that was the only bathroom remotely near our gate. Words cannot describe the feeling of entering a stall and realizing you forgot toilet paper … and it isn’t provided for you. Or how about the smell that builds as the mountain of used toilet paper grows higher and higher because you can’t flush it. Let’s not even talk about how much more accessible soap is here in the United States. I love my little blue apartment bathroom more than ever before.
2. Traffic in America is tame compared to traffic overseas: My life almost ended at least 5 times when we were in Iquitos. The moto taxis whiz through the streets, beeping at other drivers to get out of the way, and barely miss the countless number of open man holes that appear on every street. There are no doors on the taxis, and if you have a backpack, you better hold onto it, or someone might reach over and take it when you’re casually sitting at a red light.
3. Everything sounds better in Spanish: Does this even need to be said? My newest goal in life is to become fluent in Spanish. I’m actually quite close to achieving it, but just need more practice. Songs sound more beautiful in Spanish. Jokes are funnier in Spanish. Insults are more intense in Spanish. Fights are more passionate in Spanish. Ordering food is more exciting in Spanish. But I think you get my point.
5. Owning a car is overrated: Even though my life almost ended at least 5 times, I miss driving in the moto taxis, and how inexpensive it was to get around. In the past week, we’ve paid over $40 for gas. That would take care of transportation in Iquitos for about a month, maybe more. Not only is transportation cheap, but it’s reliable. We would walk out of our hotel, and four taxis would swarm around us. Caleb and I are looking forward to the day when we can sell our car, and move to South Korea where we don’t have to pay for insurance or gas. I’m ready for that day. 🙂
6. I’m spoiled. You’re spoiled. We’re all spoiled: Life in America is cushioned, and we don’t even realize it. Men and women who are on welfare and rely on food stamps are more blessed and well off than some of the people we met in Iquitos. We take for granted our freedoms, and the way that the government takes care of the American people. I don’t care what you have to say about our President, or the way our government is being run – we are blessed, and should spend less time complaining, and more time praying for our leaders. We have access to so many things (like reliable healthcare, running & clean water, electricity, and the ability to flush toilet paper), and although our country is not perfect by any standards, it’s important to try and find a new perspective every once in a while.
Because of how blessed we are as Americans, it is vital that each person discover how they can bless others in return. Whether it is volunteering your time, or simply giving a check to your local non-profit organization (like Alzamora International), we all have a purpose, and we all have something to offer the world. Discover what that is, and run with it.
Everyone wants to make a difference and feel important. However, change won’t be accomplished if we remain selfish and complacent. Loving others and making a change takes risk and a commitment to offer precious time and resources. It’s not easy, but it’s more than worth it.
Let’s teach the next generation about the value of generosity. We are consumed by our possessions, but in the end, that’s not what will bring us into Eternity, or provide us with true happiness.
So, what can you offer the world today?
If you have been on a missions trip recently or in the past, what are some things you learned after returning to the States?