27 January 2012

You Can [still] Call Me Gershom


It's been a long couple of weeks since we have been back in the States.

It's been long.

Haitian Market
When I first moved to Haiti, it seemed that for the first few weeks, all I did was fight back the tears.  I would be with the children in the compound and have to go inside because I could feel this great wave of emotion coming over me.  I would be in the store and have to fight back the tears - pretend something was in my eye.  I would be in the truck on the road and have to keep looking out the window so those I was with wouldn't see me crying - but what I saw out the window only made the emotions well up more within.

I was overwhelmed by the lack.  Complete lack.  I had come to the conclusion that the people of Haiti [and I know this is a generalization] had less than nothing.  The poverty was overwhelming to me - this suburban-bred white guy.  They had less than nothing.  If they had food, they shared it; shoes, they shared it; clothes, they shared it; homes, they shared it; tents, shared. Less. Than. Nothing.

What really got to me was that they [another generalization] were happy.

That was then.

That was culture shock.

Fast forward to present-day America.

When we came back a few months ago - and the short of-necessity trips we've made in the past year and a half, we knew when we were going back.  This more recent trip carries no defined return date and therefore has a greater sense of permanence, and so, a greater effect on us.

American Shopping Center
When we came back this time, it seemed for these first couple of weeks, all I did was fight back the tears.  I would be with my family and have to go to a different room because of the wave of emotion coming over me.  I would be in WalMart and have to fight back the tears - pretend something was in my eye.  I would be in the car, on the road and have to keep wiping my eyes so that I could see to drive.  But trying to keep it in only made it well up more within.

I am overwhelmed by the lack.  The lack of ... lack.  Complete lack of lack.  I have come to the conclusion that the people of the USA [another generalization] have more than enough.  The over-abundance is overwhelming to me - this suburban-bred, but Haiti-experienced blan (creole for white guy).  They have more than enough.  They don't share much.  Too much food, they throw it out; old shoes, send them to Haiti.  How many types of popcorn or cookies can one family need?  Pantries full.  And if you can't afford it, your government will buy your food for you.  So many cars.  So many choices.  If WalMart doesn't have what you need, maybe Kmart, or Target, or Staples, or Marshalls, or ....

What really gets to me is that they [another generalization] are so unhappy.

That is now.

That is reverse culture shock.

I'm not sure who is better off.  Many of you would easily say, "Oh, we are way better off."  I'm not so sure about that.

And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land. 
Exodus 2:22





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