In talking to a friend from home this week I was told, “Wow. Your life is so cool.” At other times I’ve also heard, “You do such good work,” or “That’s so amazing.” Maybe. But mostly, not. I can tend towards the negative and so try to intentionally think through the positive when I write because I can force myself to slow down a bit and be grateful. But, maybe it’s time for the other side. Because it is part of the reality. The blog posts you don’t usually get. The pictures that nobody wants to see. Or the emails and messages that get deleted before I hit send. So, here is a look at a single week’s worth of the “uncool” or “not good work” or “less than amazing” stuff.
A member of our church with three young children passes away in an immense amount of pain. He has been denied any care for more than 12 hours. They say it is due to the fact that no payment has been received, so it is agreed that they there will be full payment by 10 AM the following morning. However, the hospital doesn’t follow through on their end. He is not even given a pillow. No meds. No check-ins. He is ignored entirely. Then he is kicked out and sent home. Even after they pay by 10 AM. The family takes him back to the hospital several hours later, knowing he is dying. He doesn’t receive care for hours and dies later that day. His wife is told to wait outside the hospital when she goes to collect his death certificate.
On our Saturday morning run, an eight-year-old boy holding his mother’s hand whistles at us, his eyes travelling up and down our bodies, and says in English, “Good morning, hot stuff.” His mother does nothing. It’s normal. Another truck of men honk, whistle, call sexual names, and wave appraisingly.
On my walk home from my weekly grocery trip, there is a dead dog lying in the middle of the dirt path, as well as a dead frog. Last week it was a rolled car on the way home from church.
One of our staff members’ brothers is hit by a car while on his motorbike and is in a coma. The family is struggling financially in a huge way because of it.
My students are involved in a massive, heartbreaking issue.
A close friend here is in the midst of a destructive relationship.
My classroom loses 5/10 lights and will be replaced “mañana” (tomorrow). Every day this week I’ve taught in a partially dark room and mañana never comes.
The kids at the centre (for kids from drug & prostitution involved families) cannot think of a single kind thing to say about themselves or their friends when prompted. They degrade one another and themselves in response to my question, instead. They argue over which is a better career: thief or drug dealer.
My legs are scarred with mosquito bites and the ants invaded my cereal. I roll my ankle on the cobblestones trying to avoid the sewage.
ALL of this is has occurred in the last EIGHT days. No lie. No exaggeration.
So, yes, after looking at that list, maybe it’s been an abnormally awful week, but there are definitely more days that are not fun, when I feel that I do little good. And that’s another side of reality here that I try to hide.
Now, I do want you to hear about and celebrate in the goodness of this place and this life and work. It is wonderful. There are great days. But there are also way more days here than there were in Canada that are really, really hard and life is anything but glamorously adventurous. A normal week is bursting with pain, death, sickness, and challenges in a way that life in Canada never has been for me. It’s a reality here. And in this I grow. And in this I learn. But I also cry and struggle and fight. So please, just remember that this life isn’t something to envy based on the volcano hikes and beach days and cheap travel plans. Those aren’t enough. If you envy this life, envy it for the walk that I get to have with my God because of it. Because that’s the beautiful part. I get to trust, pray, and walk so closely with Him through all of this. So, don’t pity me either. In this mess is where I find the best parts of a week – an intimacy with my God unlike any other.