I have heard the many reasons people enjoy traveling. There are some people who travel to see the world…to get stamps in their passports, others who enjoy food and wine in different places, still others who enjoy traveling for reasons unknown to them. As many reasons as there are for people enjoying travel, there are just as many people who would prefer to stay put where they are. If given the choice and the option, they would still stay put.
I grew up privileged enough to travel pretty early on in my life. I remember when I was in middle school, telling my parents I was moving clear across the country, to San Diego. I have always enjoyed learning about others, their cultures, their land…I feel honored that I have been to so many places in the past few years.
Being married to someone who moved around so much as a child has made it difficult for me to keep up. He wakes up in a totally different culture and is seemingly from there. Speaking in an accent, using their hand gestures, valuing what they have to say. It’s quite interesting to watch…my husband the Haitian, my husband the Tanzanian, my husband the redneck ;).
We’ve been in the Dominican Republic for about three weeks now. While it has certainly been a blast to be here, to feel and see the needs for something you can actually offer, it has also been challenging. I think, for maybe the first time, my eyes are opened to the reality of our western world. My western, busy heart. And, it hurts. Bad.
This is not a post about how I hate the western world, the culture, the people…not at all. I actually love it. I love the beautiful people I know and have met all over the Americas (and even those I know in Europe). This is about how I have been so caught up in my own stuff that there are parts of me which would have preferred to stay in the west, in Kona…in Alabama…somewhere busy. Someplace safe. Someplace where I wouldn’t have to see the faith of people who have absolutely nothing. Someplace where I could spend what little money I have and not feel like I was throwing it into the wind. Someplace where I could spend hours reading and talking with friends and…talking about ideals without having to sincerely walk the walk. Someplace where I could feel good about myself without having to sacrifice much.
Someplace where I could fool my wary heart.
At times, I wish I could avoid this Caribbean wind blowing in, reminding me of all that God still has to fix within my heart. Though this place is beautiful, and the people amazing, I feel so much coming in at once like the waves on the shore.
I have had the overwhelming feeling of being lost lately. When I look at the beauty of these people, I have to wonder who I am that I get to experience this. I think its then that it hits me, God really does want to do beautiful things with us. When we experience another culture, or even other stories outside of our own, we see a bigger glimpse of who God really is. The Haitian people expose the goodness of God amidst broken circumstances. They, though messy at times, expose hope in a place deemed hopeless. Its something I can’t seem to learn enough. Our friends, Michael and Erin from Kentucky, who we were fortunate enough to see this week, bring stories of using our everyday for good, for viewing the day in and day out, the coming and going and making it extraordinary.
Stories can change and challenge us if we let them.
I am excited for the story that is being written with the lives of Stephanie and Ryan Robinson. Though sometimes I get lost in comparison, I am reminded that my story is as unique as any other you can find on the shelf. It’s with purpose, vision and hope. It’s not without heartache or struggle. But, I believe it is beautiful. And, because of this I must continue to ready my heart for change- both externally and internally. It is the latter that I still need help with.
It’s no longer a challenge to sleep in weird situations, eat strange foods or be sweaty and hot. But, I still find it challenging to be real with myself. It is for this reason I am glad I am here. I am glad that I have the opportunity to yield myself to the One who transforms lives and doesn’t leave us. I am glad I can learn from stories I don’t know and could never imagine. I am thankful for the promise of this summer, though I know it will be difficult at times.
As Donald Miller states in his book “Through Painted Deserts”,
The seasons remind me that I must keep changing, and I want to change because it is God’s way. All my life I have been changing…. Everybody has to change, or they expire. Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons.
I want to keep my soul fertile for the changes, so things keep getting born in me, so things keep dying when it is time for things to die. I want to keep walking away from the person I was a moment ago, because a mind was made to figure things out, not to read the same page recurrently.
For this reason, I am thankful for the stories of the 13 Haitians that I do life with currently, for the Dominicans and Americans I am working alongside and for my many friends at home, all with amazing and changing stories. My prayer is that we would all be strong enough to move forward in this story…because I think that’s the only way we can really live this beautiful adventure this life has to offer.