I am now back in the United States of America. I have been back in my home country for almost a month now. I am loving seeing family and friends, but am still struggling with missing so many aspects of life in Ecuador. Here are some things I miss about day to day life:
1. Setting the work aside to play UNO with kids in the evenings.
2. The feeling of accomplishment that comes after washing all your clothes by hand.
3. Experiments in the kitchen with soup, rice, and homemade bread.
4. Walking with flashlights to visit families at night.
5. The cheerful chaos of hanging out with kids at the childcare center: wiping snot off noses, supervising the playground, holding little hands.
6. Going to the store around the block for flour or rice, paying less than $5 for all my daily needs.
7. The ease and affordable-ness of bus travel. Paying $1.25 for a two-hour ride.
8. Simple phones that work and don't cost a fortune.
9. The simplicity of life (more about that in a future post).
But there are also some things I really appreciate about being here:
1. Having indoor heating on cold winter nights.
2. The ease of throwing dirty socks in the washing machine.
3. Regular access to fresh treated water, ice, and desserts. :)
4. Walking outside to a winter wonderland. Snow...what a beautiful thing.
6. Shoes in my size! A size 40 (8.5 U.S. size) is no longer abnormally huge.
7. Driving for hours on straight, 4-lane, smooth (for the most part) highways.
8. Seeing friends and family, having people to play bananagrams with.
9. Unlimited access to books - public libraries are great (and so are gifts).
That said, you can see that I am torn between the advantages and disadvantages of each of these two societies where I have lived. Just as I tried to adjust to the Ecuadorian culture, while not losing important parts of myself connected to my own North American culture, now I will have to begin again here in the United States, while maintaining some of the values and simple lifestyle choices that I picked up in Ecuador. In many areas, there is a middle ground, between technology and simplicity, self-sufficiency and community. For example, I can use kitchen appliances without feeling guilty of my privilege, while at the same time deciding not to buy a new car just because I could. It's recognizing the difference between need and want, between being comfortable and following your convictions.
Lord, thank you for giving me this irreplaceable opportunity to experience a different culture, for the vulnerability and courage of being a stranger in a foreign land. Thank you for giving me a home there, for making me part of a community, and finding new parts of myself that I never knew. And thank you now for bringing me back to the land where I grew up, to teach those around me what I learned, to share with them a new worldview, and to continue challenging those comfortable places here. Amen.