I will take a little break today from regular scrapbooking and other such things to talk about something on a more serious note, something that I hope will be on my mind more than just today. **ok, long-winded post ahead, and if you want to tune out now you can.
I was introduced to this blog by my friend, Jen, someone who is always helping me to remember that the little things are what count, that some of the "big deals" in my life right now really aren't all that big and today, and as I ventured over to her blog I was again reminded of something that I knew but was lost in the shuffle of the everyday.
We get so caught up in living our comfortable lives, going to the store to get what we need and then going home to our warm houses and we forget that there are so many people so much less fortunate than we are.
So, after reading the post on Jen's blog I went over to Katie's blog and couldn't stop reading. I still can't stop reading. I am so impressed with the maturity with which she speaks of her experiences in Africa, amazed at her faith and her dedication and a bit ashamed of myself as I've become a bit too comfortable in my life. I take for granted the clean, filtered water that I can get from the sink, how with ease I can pull food from my large pantry or from the refrigerator and my children don't have to go to bed hungry. We live in a relatively large home, do not want for anything as we have way more than we need, we have warm blankets, our health and a good job even though changes and cutbacks are taking place at my husband's workplace. The biggest thing on our minds right now is what to get each other for Christmas when others are thinking about where they will find their next meal. We are so very blessed, and while I do know that I have forgotten what it is like to be without, or at least I had. I feel so humbled right now.
I grew up in a family of 6 girls, we didn't have a lot but we really didn't know it. We had to have help from our church to have enough food to eat. My favorite Christmas is still the year that we had an unexpected knock at our door only to open it to find a box of food and a box of toys- a teddy bear for each of us kids. I still have that bear as a reminder of the kindness shown to us that night, a reminder that I need to be grateful for the abundance I have. Each year my family tries to choose someone we can give to who might not have a very happy Christmas.
I spent a year and a half in Bolivia doing missionary work for my church, teaching and helping and serving. There I learned that it's not important to have STUFF, not important to have the newest toy or the fanciest clothes. I was there to serve and I did so with a great love for those little people. They lived in one room houses with dirt floors and tin roofs, walls made of mud and water. They went to the bathroom in a hole in the ground, worked as hard as they could for each meal each day and as I think about the kids scrounging up what they could I am again grateful. This morning I took a shower and was slightly frustrated that it wasn't hot enough and was reminded of the everyday cold showers in Bolivia and the times when our shower didn't work and I had to fill basins with water to take a bath. I've become so spoiled.
I am reminded of a Christmas that I spent while in Bolivia. This particular Christmas my companion and I were in a tiny village outside of the area where we were serving in Sucre and all of the sudden we heard police sirens and turned to see what was happening. I was excited to see the men handing out gifts to the children. These weren't HUGE gifts, no Nintendo systems or bikes or anything of the sort, but the children's faces lit up nonetheless. It made me sad when the men ran out of presents and some of the chilren received nothing. And yet we often spoil our children with way too much. And again I am reminded. I am feeling the need to do major reducing in my life, to simplify the way we live and to give to others who are in need a little more than I do right now.
I remember having to wash clothes by hand in Bolivia and how my hands would be raw from the scrubbing, how I'd get so frustrated to finish washing and hanging only to have it get really windy and have it all fall down in the dirt and I'd have to start over again what would take hours to complete and now have the comfort of a washing machine and dryer. My kids don't have to go without clothing to wear unless they choose to, which they quite often do. I remember having to haul water from a well and then boil it in order to cook anything or to have a little drink.
We don't have to go to some obscure corner of Africa, to the jungles of Bolivia or anywhere else for that matter. There is so much that one person- each of us- can do from where we are. We just have to forget ourselves a little bit and do a little something for someone else. There are things we can do where we live, even, and perhaps most importantly, in our own homes. I shouldn't be concerned with what I can give my kids for Christmas. They have more than enough right now and don't need anything else. I think that sometimes we as parents feel like we are doing a better job if we give them things. I don't think the material things- the toys, the bikes, the dress-up clothes, the books, etc.- are what in the long run will be what matters. Giving them our time and our love and our all is what matters most.
And, I think it would do my kids some good to have a meal of just beans and rice every now and then.
ok, I'm off of my high horse now. This is more of a message to myself than to anyone else but today, I am grateful for what I have. For my home, warm clothes to wear, my happy family (even Sarah, who cut her hair yet AGAIN yesterday- that's twice in a couple of months time, but that is nothing compared to starving kids).
I wish I could find my Bolivia pictures on my computer right now. Perhaps I can find and add them later.