Thursday, June 9, 2011

Another Angle About Our Return Home

We have returned home.  The return trip home was not without a delayed flight, a cancelled flight, the beloved airlines losing ¾ of our checked baggage, and the bus breaking down between Chicago and home.  “Other than that. . . how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”

It is quite an adjustment to life back home.  There is so much sensory stimulation here in contrast to rural Honduras.  Noise, movement, traffic, bombardment by TV, schedule deadlines.  I forgot how difficult it is to relax here due to the constant stimulation of all our senses.  Another difference is the pace.  I’ll put it in driving terminology.   Here I feel I’m always in 5th gear—hurry, you’re running late,  ya snooze ya lose.  In Honduras life is done in 2nd or 3rd gear.  As the director of the Mercy International, our mission base, said about a scheduled hike into the mountains, “We would like to leave at 9:00; we will leave when we are ready.”  People tend to take priority over projects.  In Honduras, time is to be enjoyed, not monitored.  As a friend put it,  “You have the watch; we have the time.”   If only I could learn to down-shift. . .  I can already  feel myself tensing up now that we’re back.

I’ll share a realization or two with you.  We take the ordinary for granted.  We assume the routine and the people in our lives are a given.  In going to Honduras we left EVERYTHING and EVERYONE that had been familiar to us.  We were transported to a culture where we knew less than 10 people in the entire country.  We know very little Spanish and the vast majority of Hondurans knew absolutely no English.  We uprooted from our entire support system—family, friends, community of faith—and I wasn’t prepared for the gaping hole that created.  Being home now and being able to call anyone anytime, being able to laugh together and embrace and hold and hug—all that I had taken for granted—I now regard as a gift to be cherished.  The ordinary is a gift.  Cherish it.  On one of our walks through the Honduras countryside Les took a picture that I regarded at the time as a waste of time and camera space.  My thoughts were, it's a stupid cow.  What's the big deal?

 Now I get it.

I also realize how spoiled and fortunate and blessed I am even when life is at its worst.  I knew about the poverty there but living in it for 3 months moved it from my head to my heart.  I’ll give just one example.  One of Mercy International’s missions is to build houses/shelter for the poorest of the poor who reside In the mountains.  These people are the furthest removed from accessing resources, medical care, and supplies.  We took a U. S. team up to a mountain village, requiring a 2 hour fifteen minute drive over an unpaved mountain road and then a 3 hour hike to get to this area. Each evening our team would fire up the Coleman gas stoves and cook dinner.  During every meal the Honduran children are standing around us watching us eat.  We can’t give our food away because we need the carbs/energy for the difficult physical labor we’re engaging in.  So, you learn to eat, in spite of these kids staring at you and your plate of food.  One night, we had food left over—rice, actually.  So we asked the kids if they would like the remaining rice.  It broke my heart as they grabbed rice by the fistful.

 I knew these children don’t have much, but had no idea they were “grab it by the handfuls” hungry.

There is much more to share at another time.  We wanted let you know we’re back and we thank you for your support, your encouragement, your friendship.

We now face a most significant decision—do we return/relocate to Honduras and serve full-time, or do we consider other avenues of serving??  Honestly, we do not have a clear sense of direction at this point.  We have allotted two months in which to make that decision.  Any insight or direction you might offer will be appreciated.  We will appreciate your prayers, as well, regarding this decision.
I’ll end with several reasons we loved the people we served.

Be thankful for what and who you have.

Grace and Peace, Steve and Leslie


Mary said...

It is so easy to get caught up in the every day hustle and bustle of American life. Too much gets taken for granted here and unfortunately, you never realize it until it is gone and by then it is too late to do anything about it, in most cases.
We visited the Bitter Root Mountains in Montana several years back. Everyone there was so friendly and accepting. I remember them telling me that 'if you were too busy to stop and say HI to a friend or neighbor, then you were too busy!'. Even after all these years, I still remember that. Hmmm, makes me stop and think sometimes :)

Steve said...

Mary, I'm becoming convinced that "being too busy" is a state of mind, not an objective reality. It's a choice I make, not a plight in which I find myself. Thanks for your feedback.

Tim said...

What a decision, there are strong points for both, staying and returning to Honduras. I have been working on mindfulness and stopping the frenetic pace of my life. As you said, my life is what I make it. If I am too busy, I choose to be. When you wrote how you were feeling stress already from the pace here, I could feel it. I am working very hard on the "journey" and not the destination. The cow was part of your journey. We may have different destinations but I recommend doing what makes your life better during your journey. If you know your true goals, you will know what you need to do.
My best,