Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Where Have I Been? January 23, 2010

I admit that I can be a news junkie. 24 hour access to news stories and images have become my vice. I think it started with the 9/11 attacks and it's basically continued since then. Somehow, watching the same images over and over in the wake of a disaster or human interest story seems to make me (dare I say "us") feel connected to the event. In times when we feel helpless to help, often it's our only way to be connected.This week I've been struggling with the images coming out of Haiti. I have wanted to leave the television on and yet, I have made a conscious effort to watch the news story once and then turn it off. It's difficult because there are people around me that are waiting for news of their children in Haiti and there are people around me with children from Haiti who I know have been struggling with the images and stories because for them, Haiti is in their family's genetic makeup. I realized that when I turn off the third run of the same story, I'm freeing up time to act. There is time for concentrated prayer for these families and time for focusing prayers on those who are affected on the ground in Haiti. I noticed this week that as lack of new angles unfold in the human interest stories that the focus of these news reports becomes the lack of response time and the administrative red tape that is hindering the relief efforts. Again, I'm caught up and have to refocus my energy on praying for the people affected and also assessing who is on the ground and getting things done so that donations can be utilized immediately. I've been sorting those things out this week and then Thursday morning, I was hit by the thought of "Where have I been?" It was one of those gut punch feelings of absolute regret - where have I BEEN?Haiti has been poor and struggling and destitute long before this earthquake. I have had connections to Haiti for years in the form of adoptive families and friends who have gone to serve amongst the poor in Haiti. Yet, where have I been? My efforts have been so limited and when I have given of time or money for Haiti, it's simply based on those relationships rather than a direct connection to the people of Haiti.I have begun to be overwhelmed with a responsibility - to serve the poor and care for those in distress. I know that I am human and have limitations but literally, I am called to serve the poor and care for those in distress. Haiti has been poor and distress long before this and yet, as a culture, we've accepted their poverty as their place in life. No celebrity telethons, no appeals in grocery stores or at the place where I get my oil changed for Haiti's poverty and pain before the earthquake literally shook us out of our stupor.I know that this week regret has turned to repentance for me...a call to turn away from the role of spectator with the luxury of turning off the images before me to the role of advocate and active participant. My heart is in Zambia and that's where I find myself engaged most days, hours, minutes...but Zambia has also given me a sense of what a mother in Haiti is feeling when she offers her child to an aid worker, pleading him to take her son to Canada because there is no hope for him in Haiti. Zambia is my filter...maybe Haiti is yours.I guess I'm just asking that we look around us and see who are the poor and destitute and reach out to them before the disaster. I know my heart has been fully engaged in Zambia. I know that my love for my friends and coworkers in Mulenga will compel me to continue to act in their best interests and share what I have with them. Find your Mulenga, my friends. Maybe now it's Haiti...remain engaged. Stay the course...let this be the moment that your heart becomes engaged with the world around you. Maybe it's Mexico or Guatemala...maybe it's Cambodia or India or East Vancouver or downtown Calgary.Maybe I'm just confessing to you that I haven't been as active as I believe I've been called to be. I hope you see the change in me and in yourself as well.

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