Friday, November 28, 2008

Vacations? A Ugandan Perspective

We had a fabulous Thanks and Giving PlayDate, a wonderful NEW holiday called "Feastavus", a relaxing Thanksgiving Day and a CRAZY up all night, shop but don't really spend any money Black Friday (from 12-4 am!). . .but, alas, I'll wait till I have great pictures to share those thoughts! For now, I want to share something that was on my friend Katie's blog. She is the one who moved to Uganda and adopted from Liberia. I met up with her in Uganda, so you guys heard about her and saw pics of her and her sweet kids. She is now settled in Uganda and blogging. I encourage you to check it out. This story is about her trip to Uganda and her conversation with a Ugandan man named Peter. Peter grew up in Uganda, went away to college in NYC and is returning to his home country now. . . .Here is Katie's recounting of an impactful conversation they had:

"One of his topics of discussion was how Americans spend their money. Now, just as a word of warning, I do not write any of this as a judgment on anyone, nor did Peter speak of these issues in judgment or bitterness towards people. He spoke in love and out of his longing to understand. I also do not write this in anyway to guilt anyone, not even myself. I am sharing this because it has challenged my heart and caused me to think.While Peter was in NYC he was befriended by many American families that are now his life long friends. But what he wondered about…What he sat up at night pondering about….was……How does an American spend $10,000 (could be way more or much less) on a weekend vacation? Or a family vacation? He had heard story after story of families’ vacations to the Caribbean, S. America, Europe, or where ever and he picked up on the cost of such trips. He sat through power point slides shows in people’s dining rooms while sipping tea, and flipped through photo album after photo album of beautiful landscapes and sun drenched smiling faces. And he wondered……Did they not know? Were they not aware of the suffering in other countries? Did they not know about all the AIDS orphans unable to afford ARV’s? Were they not aware of the famines? Had they not heard about the starvation and the displaced people groups living in refugee camps? Did they miss the news of thousands of children dying from malaria? Were they not informed about the lack of clean drinking water for so many of their brothers and sisters? Did they not know? Were they not told? Because surely if they knew, they would do something about it,…. right? Surely they would not turn their backs on them? Could not mere ten American dollars save the life of a child who does not have a mosquito net? Couldn’t a few hundred dollars help change the lives of many? Peter truly believed that these people must really not know. His heart is comforted in believing this. Because surely Americans, surely we wouldn’t choose to let people suffer and starve while we para-sail in the Caribbean, feast on buffets, and sip margaritas on exotic beaches.
Would we?
Would I?'s something to think about. Its interesting how other cultures perceive our choices and our lifestyles (the other thing he spoke about was how people love their pets better than they love other people). Part of the reason I share this is not because I think family vacations are wrong, but because I think it helps us see into our own culture. One thing Jeff and I learned in some of our mission's training is that before you can be a student of other cultures, you need to be a student of your own. These are wise words and it's helped me to see and consider how others see our culture - and view me for that matter. Check out the following website Though we were not surprised, Jeff and I fell out of our chairs, when we saw where we fit in the worlds economy"

That recounted conversation has stuck with me. . .but it hit closer to home when reading Erin's blog. It's easy to read the above and think, "oh my, he's right. I can't believe how SOME people spend their money." Instead, we should each look to ourselves. I love how Erin doesn't have a ton of money. . certainly doesn't spend frivilously at all. . but keeps asking the question of the Lord. Ponder this. . .let me know your thoughts.


steffany said...

I was just thinking about this.

Andrea said...

Thanks for posting this, Brandi! I feel like this is exactly what I have been struggling with recently and will struggle with for the rest of my life. I love your term gloriously ruined -it's so perfect and true! Have you seen this video - A friend posted it on her blog recently and I actually thought you could have made it :) Hope you are doing well!