Friday, May 3, 2013

Loving Our Neighbors


Last Sunday night I returned from a week-long trip to Havana, Cuba. It was my second time there, the last being in November.
The Havana harbor line and the lighthouse we climbed.
There’s so much to say about Cuban life and society and the effects of the embargo. The average Cuban receives $20 a month as a government salary. That is the below the poverty line. They scrape around to find odd and end jobs to earn more money and bring their monthly salary up. But there aren’t many other jobs to be had.

I left with more questions in my heart than I had the first time. So many questions that I can’t even tell you really what the questions are. I can tell you it’s incredible to visit a country that has no political or economic contact with the most powerful country in the world (a country that only sits 90 miles away from Havana). Whatever your feelings on the embargo might be, I can tell you it manifests itself in variations of poverty throughout Cuban society. I never knew this. Not until traveling there.
Walking the streets of Old Havana
Why is it that we are so uninformed about the world we live in? I have come to care greatly about places only once I have stepped foot on foreign land. I must see the places in order to believe that human beings just like me and you live and breathe and work there. Do we really have to see to believe? I guess so, perhaps that is just intrinsic to our human nature. I mean, Doubting Thomas embodies all of us in his questioning of Jesus’ resurrection. Possibly I too must truly touch and feel to believe in the existence of something so foreign to me. My experiences of Uganda, Central America, and Cuba have all shown me that by traveling to a place I become so much more invested.

But God calls us to a greater witness. He says that we are one family in Christ and that I must love my neighbor in China, Burkina Faso, India, Iran, and France. He says that His people must join together as one to live in a world that is broken yet redeemed. Yet I know so little of this world.

I might have spent months living here in Costa Rica, but still there are so many cultural niches that I don’t understand and probably never will. And yet I know virtually nothing about my neighbor in Kazakhstan. Or Thailand. Or Greece. How can I become more invested in knowing about the happenings of the world? I feel we are called to read more, to seek more, to ask more questions.

And that’s what I left Cuba with. Much more to seek, to know, to question.
La Catedral, Havana, Cuba
My friend Olivia and I in front of one of the old cars (taxis) we rode in.

I feel very blessed by the opportunity this job has given me to travel—to Nicaragua, Cuba, and various places around Costa Rica. I have learned much about this small part of the world, and a great deal about who I am and where I come from. It has given me a thirst for wanting to see more of the world. I know that sometime in life I would love to have the chance to travel to the places my ancestors come from—Germany, Italy, Ireland…

…I am getting ahead of myself. I think I have the travel bug. But I also am very ready to return home to my beautiful Colorado at the end of June. I can’t wait to see my family and just be home for a bit.  For a bit, you might ask? Which leads me to an exciting announcement:

After many months of discernment, I can now say with confidence that I will be living in Honduras starting in mid-August to work for the Association for a More Just Society! Aaron received notice last week that Yale Law will permit him to defer until fall 2014. So his work with AJS will continue and they have offered me a position as well. I will be working on investigating corruption in various sectors of Honduran society including education and health care.  I feel I cannot pass up such an important opportunity, where I will have the chance to learn from an incredible NGO as well as discern more about the next steps for my career. There are still many unknowns about my time there, but I am very happy to have made a decision and to at least know which city I will be living in come August! Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers during the decision process. If you would like to read more about the work of AJS in Honduras, click here: http://www.ajs-us.org/

While I know that many of you were hoping I would finally return to the U.S. (can’t that girl just come home?!), I truly feel called to be working with Aaron in Honduras and I think it is an important next step for my vocational calling. I feel strengthened by one of AJS’ foundational Bible verses: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18). God calls us to serve our neighbor in love. His perfect love, which we must emulate, does not discriminate based on how close we are to the people we are loving. For example, I would do anything for my family because I love them. But God calls us to give that same level of loving to our neighbors. This is why he tells to, “Seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:17).  The oppressed, the fatherless, the widow: they are all our neighbor. We must serve them as we serve our family. We must love them as God loves us. So it is through the call of 1 John 4:18 that I step out in faith for this new journey in Honduras. It will be difficult at times, but I am grateful for the opportunity to learn how to better love my neighbor and trust in God’s great provisions of grace. Thank you so much for all of your support and prayers. 

2 comments:

  1. This makes me proud to call you my frienny. Thanks for being wonderfully, beautifully, you! xo Olive

    ReplyDelete
  2. Olive, you are a stellar friend. I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to get to know you this semester! I can only hope that we will stay in touch with one another, sharing our travel joys and challenges via email in the years to come. Thanks for who YOU are. xo

    ReplyDelete