I’ll let you in on a little secret… I long for Africa at least once a day. Funny I know since some of what I remember about Ethiopia was the devastation, the loss, the hunger and the hardship I saw during my visits. What I saw in Ethiopia was such a contrast to what I live and see daily here in my home and in my community. That contrast is hard and causes me to wrestle with the demons of want and entitlement. My home is warm and comfortable yet cluttered and often in need of one of us to constantly be shifting stuff from one shelf to the next or one room to the next for all the kids to play. No I am not anti-toys but I can honestly say that after processing our trips to Ethiopia I think so much stuff is not OK. I am only speaking for myself here but it is an interesting theory. Travel to a land where everyone has less and frankly you may see that less is wanted. Less is expected and often less is more. What does that crazy statement mean… When you enter the home of someone in Ethiopia you have far fewer choices when it comes to where to sit and you certainly do not enter with the mindset of comparision which if we are honest with oursleves happens all the time in our culture. I know I do it without even realizing it sometimes. In Ethiopia you sit and you begin immediately to build real connections through gestures and big smiles. You dig in to tough topics of daily life and survival. There is little to get in the way of an immediate bond when you are sometimes squinting to see in the darkness or crouched down on a dirt floor. They do not greet with big meals and extravangant decor but instead are completely honored to share only coffee that they roast right on front of you as the smoke fills their meager hut.
For me I am learning that perhaps there is beauty in having less. I came from a great deal less and often wish our culture could some how go backward in time to the era where choices were far fewer. I am all for capitalism and growing the economy but I have to wonder at what cost will the madness continue. Perhaps it is just me but enter a Bed Bath and Beyond this month for one or two specific items and see how you do. I was grateful this week to not need a cart during my quick trip in as I simply could not believe how chock full that store was. The sheer number of choices in the humidifier aisle alone were shocking. Whew! I am a work in progress and realize I need to take baby steps to go through my entire house to find ways to do withand long for less. Yes six people live here but good grief… I grew up in a home half this size and do not remember feeling so squeezed for space. It is Ethiopia and places like it that motivate me. You see if most of the world can survive on far less on a daily basis, then perhpas we should try and gain just a wee bit of control over our addiction to stuff Believe me when I say that is not a judgement statement and like I said… I am a work in progress but the big purge has been underway around here and it feels quite good. I even enjoyed my 11 year old’s company down in the storage room of our basement this afternoon as we sorted extra stuff into various donation bins. He loves the big purge too and I smiled as I thought of the importance of raising children to understand having less in an age where everyone thinks he or she deserves it all.
Thanks for listening to my rant. As I said the contrast causes such a wrestling in my heart but it alos causes me to long for Ethiopia daily. I know that is exactly what God wants is for me. He is calling me to wrestle no matter how hard it is and I am thinking that it’s just another in a long list of reasons why you should consider a mission trip to a land where people seek to survive on so much less. Often what is lacking in materialism can more than be made up for in their faith, hope and joy. They smile and walk on in spite of the many miles that lie ahead to find water. They grind their last coffee beans in your honor and rely on God for what might be next. As a matter of fact one big epiphany that came from visiting Ethiopia was that not everyone is living in plan ahead mode as we do here in the USA. They do not always have such a luxury. Instead many live knowing today is a gift and tomorrow is not a guarantee. How cool is that … living for today and being in the moment. Seek HIM more, living for today and living in the moment in this time of Advent. These are the days…
This afternoon we have one of our crew at a friend’s little bday bash, one out playing bball with his Dad, one at friend’s working on homework and one sweet baby taking her nap. Guess I will keep up with the work of clearing out. Now to find the best places for some of the treasures someone else might truly need.
Peace and Grace,
Here is a peek into our last few days…