Word of the Week

What Americans Can Learn from Not Being in America: Part 2

IMG_0023My mind has been dragging and my heart has lingered in this week and half that I've been home from Kenya. Thus, the reason the part 2 of this series has taken me so long to write.

When the faces of such precious people are fixated in your mind, like these to the right, you just stay put for a while. The joy washes over you and you don't want to leave the moment. 

What can I say in response to a place that captures my heart so much? How can I adequately describe such an experience? Inadequately of course.

I left Kenya this time, the same way I leave Africa every time: full.

Full of new ways to articulate my own story.

Full of new discipline for my daily routines.

Full of new drive to do everything I can to support the mission of Feed the Children.

And most of all, full of love for the people for whom we serve and serve alongside. God gave so many saints to the ministry of Feed the Children and I couldn't be more grateful to know them.

So what can Americans learn from not being in America?

with member of parlimentHere are just some of my additional thoughts:

  • We waste so much. We think that everything is a resource without end. Water. Food. Gas. Even the opportunities we have to advance ourselves through education. Though we live in towns with free government services such as libraries, job placement services, and recreation facilities, we moan and groan about the limitations of our lives as if we were the ultimate step-children of the world (which we are far from!). We don't even treasure what we already have!
  • We  so easily believe the lie that material goods = happiness. The newest shampoo in pretty packaging. The car with a more powerful engine. A kitchen with an island. We can so spend all our free time chasing after such things, even if we aren't intentionally making such a choice. Our children tuck themselves in their beds at night. Our friends don't hear from us in weeks. Our resume is robust but our loved ones suffer. In the end, we're not as really happy as we think.
  • We so quick to unconsciously judge outsiders as the other, sometimes into the category of less than human. For example, we think that Africans don't shop at malls, eat ice cream or that their little girls don't love getting a manicure just as ours do. We think that African mothers and fathers don't also worry about their boy's grades in school, their girls' friend making choices or their babies' ability to walk and crawl at just the right time. We so easily take the dignity away from those far away from us. We forget we all came from the same Divine Parent anyway.
I've come home with these convictions on my mind asking might there be a better way to be a citizen of this world?
Might there be a way of living, even in the land of plenty, where I do not waste so much food and opportunities for life  enrichment?
Might there be a way of living that values relationships over that next overpriced vacation or that new light fixture for the dinning room or that new car that we really don't need?
greeting guestsMight there be a way of living that sees Africans (or insert a cultural group other than my own) as completely equal partners in this work of learning how to be a human being, even with the differences? 
I want to find more of this way of living-- the eyes wide open kind-- even as I am at home now. 
Knowing that there are prejudices in me still waiting to be uncovered, judgments of my eyes that need to be brought to light and misconceptions I have about other colors of skin that need to be called out. 
Being an American has given me (and maybe you too) so many gifts.  Freedom to be is a beautiful part of our citizenship.  
But, may we all not forget that we're not the only ones with blessings.We may be materially rich but we are oh so spiritually poor. 
Our African, Asian and European brothers and sisters have much to teach us out of their blessings too.