I was reading the Livesay’s blog yesterday and Tara had a great post that included an article that struck something.
I really like what the article says about becoming and expat. After my first visit to Haiti I started to think that everyone should at least visit a developing country, just to realize that living in North America is not what the rest of the world lives in – it is the exception, no matter what we try to tell ourselves. Most people in the world do not live in big houses (heck, even the smallest houses in North America are mansions for most people in the developing world), they do not have 2 cars to drive (most don’t even have one) and the government is corrupt or non-functioning by our standards.
I loved what Tara said about being blessed to live here because living here does give us the opportunity to learn about ourselves in ways that living in cushy Canada wouldn’t allow us. I think of all the times that I’ve been an emotional mess since I first got on that plane and I feel grateful for them because I know that those have been the moments where God is turning me inside out and showing me things about myself and the person that he’s made me to be in ways that I would never get to see if I was living in Canada. And trust me, there have been many.
I feel blessed when I get past the frustrations of working and living in the same place and realize that Chris and I have been given a gift that most married couples never get – the opportunity to see and work and love each other through the day. We get to work side by side and learn how to do that well, because some days that’s really hard to do. We get time together that most people only dream about, and after almost a year of being in each others faces 24/7 we still like each other and look forward to that. I often wonder what our marriage will be like 10, 20, 30, 40 years from now. We have had an opportunity right from day one to build a foundation that will be strong enough to get through the toughest times. That’s nothing to scoff at.
I think about what it will be like to raise a family here if this is still where God has us when that time comes. I know that it will be incredibly challenging because I already see things that I wish my future kids would have an opportunity to do, but won’t because of where we are. At the same time I realize all of the things that will make their lives rich because of where we are and feel grateful for those. I already look forward to all the time we’ll have together as a family living here. We’ll get to be so much more involved in their lives here than we would back in North America where we would probably both be working just to keep food on the table. A friend of mine paid us a huge compliment last night in an email when he said, “I’m looking forward to the day when you two start a family because I think that if anyone could raise kids well living in what you’re living in it’s the two of you.” Wow about that.
Yesterday we had a missionary meeting and talked about our calling to be here. It was great to hear how God specifically called our group here. Each way was personal and so completely different from the next, but we are all here because this is where He wanted us. We are the people that he has chosen for today to be here to do His work in this place. Sometimes how that is done is very clear and others it is not. Some days are frustrating and others are not. Some days we are here to reach the people, and others we are here for God to reach us. We are learning constantly what it means to be shaped. Some days that whole process makes sense and others make me want to run and hide.
I also liked what the article said about realizing that you can’t become native. I believe that’s true. I am not Haitian, and never will be. I was born and raised in Canadian culture and that can’t and shouldn’t be removed from who I am. I can’t ever be Haitian, but I can learn how to be a Canadian living in Haiti. I think living in another country has given me more tolerance for people and an understanding of just how difficult it is to pick up your life, everything that you have ever known, and to try and make that work in a completely different place. A person must essentially start all over again, while still trying to hold on to who they are. I have felt racism here in a way that I never have before. There are times where people are excited to meet us because we’re Canadians, and others where all we hear is, “White! Go back to your country!” Learning to let stuff roll of when needed is a gift.
“Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of the this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are…”
When I wonder why God picked people like us to be here He reminds me that it’s not because we’ve got it all figured out and that we have the ability to be super missionaries. It’s because we have nothing figured out and aren’t what most people think missionaries should be – we are the foolish learning how to be wise. The best we can do everyday is be willing and realize that we really are blessed to be chosen and trusted with the work He has for us, with the things He wants to teach us. We don’t have the same distractions around us that make it harder to find Him in the day to day stuff that we would back in North America. For that I’m truly grateful.
The King James translation for “foolish” is to be a block head. So here we are, just a bunch of block heads for Jesus.