February 19, 2013

A Little Perspective

Living here in a developing country has surely been an eye-opening experience for us. In more ways than one.

Coming to a developing country was more than nerve-wracking for me. I love my car, central air, lush bedding and Starbucks on every corner just like you. So when we started looking at exactly what we were getting ourselves into, I was less than excited. Sure, Dominica is known as the Nature Island, but I'm not necessarily an outdoorsy person. Ok I'm not outdoorsy at all. I don't like to hike as my foot has never really recuperated fully from the last break, and my allergies to trees, grass, dust, mold and weeds make being outside a little less than fun. I know, I know. I sound like a major nerd, and I'm fine with that.

Sure, it takes getting used to, but we are acclimating. Open minds and invention are key. And you know what? We're surviving. Quite happily actually. Except for the lack of scolding hot showers. I could really go for a scolding hot shower.

We are constantly reminded of the amenities and luxurious things we have in the states, and how frivolous they can be. Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely just as guilty of loving Chick-Fil-A, enjoying a lazy Sunday shopping at a plethora of superstores, reveling in my purse collection and more. These things make our lives easier and more enjoyable, so of course we value them. But living here, puts it all in perspective a little bit.

I was inspired to write this post from reading the blog of another spouse here, Elise. She shared this video, talking about the severe case of FWP or First World Problems.

Yes, its mocking many of the 'problems' we face. And when you hear them like this, it sounds just a little petty, right? Right. I'm not shaming anyone here. I've been known to complain that the AC was making me too cold. It happens.

Now, watch this video.

Feel even worse about complaining that your remote is on the table but your bed is too comfortable to leave and grab it? Or that your iPad isn't syncing to your iTunes fast enough? Yea, so do I. Any of these scenes from this video could be taken from Dominica. It's truly shocking to see some of the living conditions that we are surrounded by. But they are. And the people that live in them are happy. They find their happiness in a beautiful day, God's grace, sunshine, a garden full of fresh vegetables and more.

And then there's this little guy, that is so ridiculously cute, it's easy to miss the importance of the message.

I'm not advocating giving up all of your personal belongings by any means. I just think its important to be aware. Aware of what you have, how nice you have it and how so many more people are struggling so much more than you are. And most importantly, be aware of how you can help those who are less fortunate.

That's certainly one experience I'm hoping to take away from our journey here. I hope to fully appreciate having grocery stores fully stocked with food, a safe home with four walls, windows, clean running water, a real door that can be locked securely and more. Things as simple as sidewalks and paved roads - yea, those are nice.

Matt and I have started going to a couples Bible study that has been a wonderful experience for us. There are couples there that range from other first semesters all the way to fifth semesters. It's great to meet and chat with those who are going through what we have, can relate to our struggles, and are proof and motivation that it can be done. It was interesting last Sunday, when we were discussing appreciation at how many of the upper semesters talked about how much they appreciate the island - the slow pace, less stress than the 'go, go, go' attitude, the friendly conversation with those you meet and not being attached to cell phones just to name a few. And although we are enjoying our time here, it is encouraging to hear other positive experiences learned from this journey.

So next time that your air conditioning is running so much that you are shivering, remember that it's really not a problem. Just be grateful you aren't overheated. Go drink some clean water from the tap, relax on your overstuffed sofa with a plush blanket, surf your 843 channels and most importantly, just be thankful for what you have.


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