dating website
dating sites
dating websites free
free online dating websites
free dating websites
«    »

Gut Reaction

Posted on January 11th, 2013

I just arrived back in my apartment after a 10-day trip with the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission, serving in the poorest zone of the poorest country (economically) in the world. (Details of the trip are still available here.) While I have plenty of pictures to share and a number of incredible stories to tell, I want to first write about the very end of the trip while the emotions are still fresh.

Under most normal circumstances, when I fly back to New York City and see the skyline, I get a sense of relief and I feel that I am arriving home. Indeed, I usually can’t help but stare out the window and watch the buildings in Manhattan smoothly glide past below me. I often imagine hopping into a cab and then resuming my day-to-day life at home, church, and work. I like routine, and coming back to New York is essentially a return to just that. This evening, however, I felt something very different altogether; it was a strange combination of anger, frustration, and sadness.

When I peered out of my window tonight, I saw the skyline all lit up and I felt my blood pressure rise and my fists clenching. I was thinking about the injustice of how buildings in New York keep their lights on while most of the Haitians I met live in darkness at night. I was thinking about how those buildings have clean running water conveniently available at all hours of the day while that is a luxury in Haiti. I was thinking about how I was about to spend $40 or $50 on cab fare and dinner, and how much of an impact my evening’s worth of expenditure would make to the families I had left behind. I was thinking about how I was planning to spend hours upon hours at the gym over the next few days helping myself, while people in New York, Haiti, and around the world are desperately seeking attention, love, and help. Being back in New York numbed me.

Having come from a country that has so little, I suppose that it was to be expected that it would shock me to return to a country that has so much. I thought that I’d become more aware of how fortunate we are and gain an even stronger appreciation for what we have. While both of those things have certainly happened, I couldn’t help but become really critical of my current disposition and of the environment around me. One word, in particular, kept on surfacing in my head: wastefulness.

Waste comes in many shapes and colours in New York and in my life. Electricity is wasted. Food is wasted. Time is wasted. As I continued to reflect on all of this on the plane, the anger transitioned into frustration over how poorly I have allocated all of the resources that I am so lucky to have. Specifically considering money and time, I know that I can be so much better at how I spend both of them. While I have to remain realistic and concede that I can’t devote everything and all of me to the service of others, I know that there are steps that I can take that will have a profound positive impact on what my life looks like; I know that I can waste a lot less.

The sadness emerged when I started to think about how resistent I have been about giving more of myself. At church, I have heard time and time again about the needs of the city and of the global community, yet I usually chose to serve where and when it was most convenient for me. I looked for opportunities where I could take a short subway ride home or where I could easily get brunch afterwards with friends. Yes, this is all better than doing nothing, but it does not characterize the sacrificial heart that I am called to have.

Yet, in Haiti, I can say that I got a taste of what it was like to give all of me. There, I had left my home, my job, my family, my friends, and the bulk of my comforts to serve. It was exhilarating and I was able to share the same kind of sacrifice and experience with nearly thirty others – then strangers, now friends. As the plane was making its final descent into the airport, I began to pray for an opportunity to return to Haiti; I left behind a big part of me and my heart melts at the thought of how much more that could be done there. For a brief moment, I even considered recklessly abandoning everything I have in New York to go back on a permanent basis. (This was summarily dismissed as being slightly too big of a leap for me at the moment, but I am encouraged that part of me would even fathom such a remarkable shift.)

Instead, I am going to try and take something Janiel Owen (Executive Director of the mission) said and accept that as a challenge for myself: to make myself available. Just as the Samaritan made himself available to the beaten man in the classic parable, so too can I make my time and my resources available wherever I am, be it in New York or in Haiti. I will volunteer more. I will save more to donate more. And, come January 2014, I will return to Haiti.

To all of my supporters: thank you, from the very bottom of my heart, for helping me and the team get to Haiti to have such an immersive and transformative experience.

One Response to “Gut Reaction”

  1. Sarah Says:

    Amazing to hear about your initial feelings and how you’ve been impacted by your experience! Thanks for sharing Justin.

Leave a Reply