I'm really not sure how to feel right now. I know the summer is coming to an end, but it's a crazy feeling. I feel like I've been living someone else's life for the past three months, and I'm going to go back and everything's going to be just the way I left it.
I'm not sure how I'm going to handle going back to my life. For the last three months, I have been uncomfortable over half the time. Everything about this summer goes against what the world teaches us to be as women. I am sweaty, smelly, my nails are dirty, my hands are callused, my skin is always broken out from the heat, I have the worst tan lines known to man, but as I sit here writing this I am almost in tears because I know I am leaving in two weeks.
A few years ago if you'd told me I would be spending three months like this, I would've said, "Uh, no thanks." But this summer has been the best of my life. And the fastest. I know I am going to go back and sit in a classroom and wonder if this summer ever happened.
But I feel like I am going to be back someday. Last night I laid awake for quite a while because my heart is so restless right now and this is what was running through my head:
My heart is restless because I want to do more. This is just the beginning for me.
I know God brought me here at this time in my life for a reason. If I had come after graduation, I wouldn't be going home. But I have to go back, because YOU have to know. Juarez is not the city everyone makes it out to be. Yes, it's dangerous. Yes, there is violence. But I have seen NOTHING this summer and have never been in danger. These people need help. They live in a poverty-stricken country with corrupt people ruling over them. We who have so much have been called to show compassion to those who are struggling just to survive. I am coming back to show you the real Juarez, where two million people live, most of them waiting for someone to save them. I am coming back to give you the opportunity to serve in Mexico alongside me.
I read this quote in a magazine interview with David Crowder: "...there's a difference between compassion and justice. Compassion is when we're all sitting on the side of a river watching people drown and respond by pulling them out. But justice is when somebody pokes their head up and says, 'You know what? I'm going to go upstream and see who keeps throwing everybody into the river.'
Somebody needs go upstream and get to the bottom of the issues that are causing these things. Of course, we also need compassion. That is a necessary response. We can't stand at the side of the river and allow the people to drown, but we have to be involved in changing the system, as well.
And so we always challenge students, kids, parents, whoever is in front of us. Somebody's got to give their lives to these issues and be willing to spend the time and the energy and have the fortitude to not wind up in hopelessness."
What I'm about to say might hurt a little, but it's true and it's something I've learned this summer and over the past couple years. In the United States, most of us live in a fantasy world, with nice houses, our own beds, our own cars, food in our cabinets, tons of clothes, and air-conditioning (I haven't had AC for most of the summer and am definitely thanking God for it right now as I sit in the hotel in Del Rio, Texas).
Most of the world doesn't live like we do in the States. Over 80% of the world lives on less than $10 a day. That's a salary of about $3600 a year. About 50% live on less than $2.50 a day. Why is this? I just don't get it. These are human beings we're talking about. People. Moms, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles. People who love, laugh, have dreams, have needs. Today, over 28,000 children will die because they have nothing to eat. One child every three seconds. I saw on the news last night that they've been saying 12 people a day die in Juarez, but they didn't specify how. I can bet you it's not because the cartels kill them, it's because they live in cardboard shacks in 100 degree weather.
God brought me here for a reason. It's time to stop talking about changing the world and start living it. It's time to figure out why people are drowning in that river and who's throwing them in.
God gives us life for a reason. He wants us to enjoy it and realize our dreams! My dream is that one day every child will get to go to school and that they will get to eat good food and drink clean water, that they will have a house to come home to.
God has allowed me amazing opportunities to try so many new things and just get out of my comfort zone. I've learned to build a house, work with electrical, stucco, lay concrete, work with power tools, I've attempted bouldering, slack-lining, and gotten to go hiking. I've met people who have nothing but their faith, people who live out of minivans and cardboard shacks. I got to attend church camp and lead high schoolers and share my passion for Casas. I've gotten to attend two church services in Mexico and see how they worship and love one another. I have new friends whom I consider family.
I am a different person than most of you knew when I left. I have more confidence in my God and in a sense, myself. I am learning the difference between having a gentle, quiet spirit and letting people walk all over you. I am learning to stand up for myself, but still represent Christ. I have doubted, I have wanted to rip my hair out and scream, I have praised, I have laughed, I have spoken so much Spanish that my brain might explode, I have been humbled. God has changed my heart this summer, and if I come back and seem like I'm not there, it may be because my heart is still in Mexico.