What I learned from Bill & Melinda Gates, and a friend
Last fall I had the wonderful pleasure of visiting my sister in Seattle as I transitioned back into my North American life. While there, I visited the Gates Foundation Visitor's Centre. What an incredibly moving experience! I had to have tissues on hand.
I've written before about the difficulty I have re-transitioning into my 1st world, "me-first" culture, society, and life. While in Malawi I live for a long time out of a suitcase filled with comparatively little to what my life seems to require in Canada, and I find I do quite well surviving with so little. Through these experiences, I learn a lot about the difference between my needs and wants. And I have come to realise there really is very little that I actually need in life. My NEEDS are simple. My WANTS are vast. Vast comparatively ... depending on where you live in this world. It's quite amazing to see the wants of a Malawian compared to those of a Canadian. Literally, worlds apart.
Tears came regularly while visiting with my sister as I allowed myself to actually sit still, breathe, and re-enter into my life away from Malawi. While visiting the Gates offices, my spirits were gently lifted and I found myself being re-inspired. I took picture after picture of quotes around the office building and the Visitor's Centre.
It's a good thing to be bothered and uncomfortable
about living here in my first world culture
My heart is still heavy. I think it will always be that way. I believe I will always be bothered and uncomfortable about living here in my first world culture. Which, as a friend recently suggested, is actually a good thing. I am thankful for her wise words! It's painful, but also good. What I have to learn to do is not let the disconnect that presses in on me ram me into the pavement and leave me sinking into a concrete hole, but rather figure out how to get the disconnect to push me up, and out, and spur me on. I feel like I'll be working on the "how" of this for the rest of my life.
One of the biggest things that became clear to me while in Seattle is how important it is for me to present the needs of the people of Malawi by educating and informing the people of Canada. Plain and simple ... money is needed to reach and change the needs of those who don't even have their basic needs met! This is a problem that needs addressing. When I return to Canada I become overwhelmed by how much our country lives beyond our needs, when there are people with huge needs that aren't being met, and simply put - they can't do it on their own. God has given me an opportunity to love and serve those who are in dire need of having their basic needs met and to share with others what these needs are.
God has made it clear to me that I need to work on informing and educating people here, what the needs of the people are there. There's a difference in my mind now between fundraising and, informing and educating. About as vast as the difference between the worlds we live in.
(If you'd like to read about why I'm not appealing to people individually for funds for awhile, read this previous newsletter.)
I left Seattle refreshed. I'll admit, I'm still raw and weepy even today sometimes. But, I'm thankful for two things:
1. To have been reminded by my friend that these feelings of discomfort are a good thing.
2. To have had my eyes opened to the importance of informing Canadians about the NEEDS of Malawians.
... which I will try to briefly do now.