21 July 2010

A STORY OF HOPE



In the Summer of 2002, just after college graduation, I flew to Jamaica with a church group from Raleigh, NC to work for a week on a church, do some bible school stuff, and have fellowship. It was an amazing trip that really touched my life in ways I am probably still now realizing. 

I grew up rather well off. I would probably consider my life upper middle class, but what do I know. To this day I have no idea what my father makes for a living, but I do know that I was never in need. I might have wanted things, but that was just my parents doing an excellent job at teaching me values and work ethic and that i can't be handed everything.

I'm supposed to be going to bed right now and rightfully so i should, but i am just now inspired to write, and so I shall. Aside from farm life where the houses had huge yards, nice gardens, and no cable TV, and the one trip i made into Mexico as a kid, I had no idea how the rest of the world lived. We, as Americans, are quite naive as to our socioeconomic status. We have everything in super size, bulk size, and enough for months and months, but yet we live in want. We want more and more. We are plagued by ourselves and our greed. The rest of the world, they want food in their stomachs, a roof over their head, and clothes over their bodies, and maybe will rest assured that they will get the same thing the next day. They count every single blessing and remain positive and optimistic through all trials.

In May of 2002, it was quite a rainy time in Saint Annes Bay, Jamaica. Days and days it rained as we built this fellowship hall for the church.  One of the young women, who had recently had a baby, was living in a tiny home, and i'll describe in detail. It had a double mattress and a single mattress, and just enough room to walk through. That was it. And on top of that, inside the home lived, her mother, her grandmother, her 2 brothers, her 2 nephews, oh, and a new baby probably about 6 months old.

Because of all the rain, the home was absolutely flooded so they had to put everything on top of the beds to keep them dry. The dirt behind their home, where they typically cooked their dinner, was too flooded and wet to eat, and they shared among them, a granola bar that i had in my bag. Trying to get a little nourishment, while thinking of the other. But they were full of so much Joy and Love and Hope and Faith. I think had a typical American been in that position, we would complain and gripe, we would expect our handout. I don't know really. I'm so blessed and fortunate that I was born here in the US, and not in a mostly third world nation.

I never understood why my soccer coach, a former member of the Jamaican National Team always told me, "Sloan, don't go to Jamaica there are much better places to go" At that moment, as my heart broke for this family that was getting by with shelter and clothes and very little food, just then, i realized why he said this.

My life was never the same after that. I go in spurts. I can easily get caught up in being an American and living the Big Life. I have way too many things and I honestly have been trying to give my things away.  When i left Jamaica to come back to the states, I left a large amount of things behind. I kept my favorite worn out clothes, but i left things i knew i didn't need and that i knew would bless someone elses life.
One of my favorite parts of that trip was waking up early every morning, playing my WOW Gospel CD and working in the kitchen with the women that prepared breakfast for us every day. I think it meant a lot to them too, that i wanted to help and just be in their presence. You see, i believe you can't really go to another country and really experience it, until you experience the people. The things that really count. I left that CD with them and often think about the songs, and hope that they are still being blessed by the gifts that God has given them. Such great examples of happy faithful people who have so little but possess so much. I could very well give it all away and walk away and be happy. You just never know, that might just happen one of these days.

And i think its time for me to do it again, at least in spurts. I hesistate to donate to Goodwill. They "sell" their clothes and give you a tax writeoff. I want to give my clothes to someone who really needs them, Who cannot even afford to buy them and who really would allow me to be a blessing to them. Because I was so fortunate to be born on American soil. I realize why the Filipina woman that gave me a bath in Bahrain asked me to bring her back to the US (and she was NOT kidding at all). We really have it so good. Air conditioning in our stores, our public places, stores, malls, bus stations, airports, homes. A land of plenty, even if right now we have less than before, we still certainly have plenty.


Lorraine aka Hope and I made a great connection, and then i lost touch with her. I moved and didn't have her number. Several times i went online to find her, but never succeeded. tonight was different. I found her. And I am thrilled to reconnect.

That's all for tonight. i'm really in trouble now, its way past my bedtime.

Tonight, I was moved by my memories and the realization that I am so incredibly blessed, and i do want to make a difference in the world, even if just to one person. Remembering that by reconnecting is a great start. God uses people to reach others. To remind us of who we really are, and not who the world has told us we are, but the true person that God has made us to be. I need to hold onto this with all my might. To give away the greed and desire to have more and more.... and just be. Its almost time to make that move. Its time to get ready, that is for sure.

Ricky is still in Cali and i'll be joining him soon. Everyone I talked to was so excited to tell me about their day and they are looking forward to my arrival, even planning out our time. I sent them a package that they will receive tomorrow. I absolutely LOVE my new family, they are all so wonderful and I'm very excited to see where God will lead us next. God has been faithful, even when i wasn't. Isn't it time to give back?

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