One thing I have learned that can make a trip to a far away impoverished land difficult is that I walk away with knowing the contrasts between how I live and how others live in this world. It is something we all wrestle with when we return home. How we spend our money and the amount of comforts we have is certainly a big contrast, but there are other cultural contrasts that I noticed this time.
One example of this is the status that animals have in our communities. On the main road to Lake Zeway there was a large animal that had died and the skin of the animal had been shredded off so just the rib meat was showing. Several street dogs (and all the dogs seem to be street dogs) were gnawing on the bones. Jokingly, Scott gave me a poke with his elbow and said, "Imagine Blueberry chowing down on that meat." (Blueberry is our very cute Springer Spaniel puppy). I chuckled and said, "Really? I went to 3 different stores looking for the perfect placemat to place Blueberry's food bowl on"
The contrast between street dogs eating rib meat and a rubber place mat for my dog's food struck both of us.
Another contrast I realized is when the Thackers, the Tuthills and I were talking with the social workers about ideas for children and youth ministry. We were talking about the choices that teens make and how to help them make good ones. In my head, I was preparing to talk about $5 choices verses $500 choices. The idea that some choices in this world have small consequences and how it is good to allow children to make poor choices when the consequences are small so that they learn from experiences and hopefully apply that knowledge when they are older and their choices have $500 consequences. I was trying to come up with a real life example of a $5 choice for a child in Ethiopia. I could think of none. The children there do not have the luxury of choices. They don't have choices in foods, choices in schooling, choices in what they use their money for (what money do they have?). How they dress for the weather or activities is not a choice when they have only 2 changes of clothes.
The choices these children have to make are all $500 choices. They all have big consequences. This is a contrast that makes me really want to pray and support these kids.