Thursday, January 3, 2008

Reflections on our first 3 weeks back

Happy 2008, everyone! I hope that you all had an exciting New Year's Eve. We spent ours (and hours and hours :)) in Times Square (actually about 15 blocks from Times Square ;), and it was surprisingly quiet, and not nearly as overwhelming as I've heard. It was nice. I guess we just haven't had enough once-in-a-lifetime experiences lately. ;)

It's been an exciting time for us, getting to spend time with our families and now our friends in New York, though there have been a few shaky feelings in our re-adjustment.

For instance, on the last day of 2007, we had a layover in St. Louis. As we were waiting for our flight, just a few seats down from the American Airlines rocking chair (seriously!), we saw a group of U.S. marine/army/some type of military men come to our gate. A little confused but not too concerned, we didn't really think much of it. Then they were gone, but a group of people began to gather together to look out the window, toward the plane we were about to board. We joined, just like any good rubber-necker would, and sure enough the group had moved outside & were in a little formation next to a mini luggage carrier with American flag flaps hanging over the sides. At the same time that their hands met their heads in a salute, a ~6-ft. long rectangular white box descended from the airplane on the luggage belt. We guessed that this person was being returned from Iraq, but are not positive. We watched for a few minutes. It was really sombering (that really is the best word to describe it), especially as we boarded that same plane.

Also, while we were still in Kansas, we made a little trip to Sam's Club, a store that I have always loved....I mean, massive amounts of clothes, jewelry, tv's, and blow-pops all within 10 cash registers of each other, come on!?! This time, though, we both were taken aback a bit. Considering the lack of resources in the places we've been in the past few months, it was just hard to take in, much less justify, 67 candy bars being sold in one package, not one but TWO loaves of bread in a country where most families have 3 children rather than 8, and free "samples" of food (something that's supposed to be a basic substance that most people don't choose but just take what's available) being passed out. So many choices and so many luxuries that our new friends cannot fathom...I think I'm glad for them in that sense; I'm not sure if we're any better for all the excess. (read Jared Diamond's recent NYT op-ed about consumerism in America)

And finally, of course, the unimaginable, heartbreaking situation in Kenya right now. I think it is really hard in general to hear about what newspapers are saying could be the beginning of a disaster (as if it's not already), but my heart hurts exponentially more thinking about the friends we've made and the streets we've walked on in this more developed of developing countries. I feel so helpless in my "I guess we can only pray" response, but until I know of something more tangible, I plan to do that a lot. Please please join me in that. We cannot have another Rwanda.

I think these are examples to add to the "this world hurts, is joyful" philosophy, because with all this pain that happens and is intrinsically a part of love and us and the world, a growing amount of hope, peace, and joy joins in. I want to be a part of that in new, creative ways every day.


d said...

I am praying with you for sure...I will add Sudan to the list as well.
Glad you are back, and glad you are not having the culture shock that was expected! I love hearing how you notice the things like Sam's club's consumerism because I am going through the same thing repeatedly!!

Janet said...

thank you for the new year greeting. mmmmm...have you given any thought to being a writer?
Just one more idea to add to your "things to do list" !!
it was wonderful reading.
love to both of