I forgot {week two}

This week I was reminded of how small I am in the face of the very real problems that exist in this world. Overwhelming problems. Dangerous problems. Complicated problems.

I study human trafficking, so I’m completely aware problems exist. I’ve seen some of the world’s worst problems firsthand. If there’s an innocence spectrum, I’m on the opposite end of naïve. But for the past year I’ve only been researching these problems. Reading about them. Writing about them. And while reading and writing and research have a completely necessary place in the world of international development and I don’t for a moment regret my decision to go back to school…somewhere within the papers and books and academic journals I was beginning to forget.

I was beginning to forget that these “problems” have names and faces. That they are twice-abandoned, single mothers who can’t afford a $50 a year school fee to send their kids to school. I forgot how difficult it is for them to save even 50 cents each month. I forgot how hard the cement floor must be to sleep on when you don’t have a bed. I forgot how difficult it is to encourage women to dream when for their whole lives their dreams have been stifled.

(with permission)

(with permission)

I forgot the pain that must follow kids who are the sole survivors of their families. I forgot that kids who have been trafficked, abused and abandoned need more than effective anti-trafficking legislation because anti-trafficking legislation doesn’t work in a country as corrupt as Ghana. They need education, they need a place to live, they need someone to care and to make sure they are encouraged to survive and dream. They need someone to listen. And they need someone who is committed to making sure the situations that rendered them exploited or abandoned are prevented in the future.

(with permission)

(with permission)

I forgot that there are no easy answers, that poverty is a complicated beast of a problem that can’t be fixed overnight. It can’t even be fixed by the most well-intentioned Millenium Development Goals. Because even when your goal is free, universal, primary education, you don’t realize that there are families who still can’t afford the school uniforms. You don’t realize that a primary education doesn’t even ensure an individual will be able to read and write. You forget that even the best theories often don’t work in practice, and what works in America may not work in Thailand and what works in Thailand may not work in Ghana.

photo 3

I forgot how privileged I am. “Woe is me, I’m a poor grad student.” But the reality is I’m getting an education most Ghanaians aren’t even able dream about. I eat three meals a day and have enough water to drink. I have a car and a bed and a closet full of clothes. The computer and phone I carry in my backpack cost more than most Ghanaians make in an entire year. And yet I complain. Yet I complain.

When I got home from Thailand I promised myself I’d never forget, but somehow I did.

Remembering is never easy.

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Mission trips: What we’re doing wrong and how to get it right

As a Christian, I’ve done my fair share of short-term mission work…local community projects, hurricane relief in New Orleans, half a year spent in Thailand. And I never once questioned whether I should go.

Pattaya slums 2 (photo by Megan Edmiston)

But now I’m also a student of International Human Rights. And as I research and read and consider the needs that exist in the world and the ways that have proven effective for addressing those needs, I’m not convinced the Church’s current model of short-term missions is the best way to solve the issues. Continue reading

The feeling of coming home

Waking up in a sun-filled room, the familiar sound of motorbikes whirring by on the road outside.

Instant smile lands on my face.

I am back. Continue reading

The question in my head

I recently found myself writing a question over and over in my journal…the same question I had written right after I got home from Thailand…a question that has swirled through my head every day since…a question that usually goes unasked for fear no one would understand, for fear that I wouldn’t be able to ask it with humility and grace.

So I ask for your grace. Continue reading

Wondering

At times I wonder about my life. About 5 or 10 or 15 years from now. About how my past will fit into my future, about how grad school became a part of the plan for my early(ish) 20s. About how a year ago I was living on my own in Thailand and now I’m a barista in my small hometown and living at my parents’ house, about how I’m strangely okay with that. About the mysteries of love, about the lasting fragments of brokenness, about what it feels like to be completely known and accepted. Continue reading

A journey of simplicity

I’m currently rereading all my journal entries from Thailand. I’m reading them to remind myself of all that I learned there, of what life felt like a year ago. Reading them in America is…interesting. Convicting. The lessons I learned in Thailand are somehow harder to implement here in America, in the West, in the land of opportunity and ease. It’s been good for me to bring myself back to that season of simplicity and focus, of utter dependence on the Lord and His power, of faith-filled and humble living. Continue reading

One year ago

One year ago today, I stepped off a plane alone in Thailand.

I had no idea why I was there, other than this crazy notion that for some reason, the Lord wanted me there.

I had no idea what I would be doing, couldn’t understand a word of Thai, and had never met the people I would be working with.

It was the most terrifying, exciting, full-of-faith step I have ever taken. Continue reading

Heart-sick for Thailand

Today my heart is homesick for Thailand. Continue reading