With Compassion in Bolivia: Just Processing… Pt. 1

They told us to find a way ” to process” our experiences.  I would nod and agree whole heartily for everything was well with me.  If you know me you know I was engaged, attentive and not shy to talk to others about my impressions during and after the trip.  In my mind I was processing constantly, heck, I even made notes on my journal (and I’m not one to keep a journal)!
We’ve been back for a few weeks now and there’s a physical ache in my heart when I think of my days in Bolivia…On our way to the airport to fly home, as the dusty and muggy wind would blow on my face, I kept thinking “I get to get outta here…but what about them?”  I took one last look as our taxi driver was engrossed in the harmonious chaos of cars navigating in all directions, successfully avoiding car crashes, knowing in my heart this most likely would be my last time setting foot here.  Excited to be home and hug my husband and kids, I suppressed my thoughts and the void I was beginning to feel. My first day at home was a bitter sweet one for the flood of tears and tightness in my chest would come suddenly as I encountered the ease of my day in comparison to what I saw there.  The comforts, the abundance, the joy and even the the love were more like burdens than pleasures to delight in.
You would think this was guilt for having more or pity for those living in such poverty.  It’s actually more like mourning or missing what I am no longer seeing or sensing all around me.  The intentionality of those working to bring hope to the oppressed, it wasn’t just hearing the testimonies of Christ and His grace everywhere I went, it was the camaraderie among the sponsors and the love out-poured when they saw the little ones’ faces, it’s the bond and friendship formed in those 10 short days.

I am mourning what so abruptly is no longer there…all the while wrestling to not drown in the pool of abundance I now see everywhere:

When my little ones help themselves to what it is in the pantry, overflowing w/packaged, clean, organized goods…


When at night, my children all head to their soft, warm, and safe room to sleep…


When the overflowing of toys, books, and resources hunt me everywhere I look…

When I fill their drawers and closets with clean and fresh smelling clothes…


When I soap my dishes and rinse them in warm /instant clean water…

When bare footed I step off my bed and onto floors…


When I look at my  boys in the eye and their grins glow with confidence…


And even when Jon holds me tight and whispers that he loves me…

Is this processing? I ask myself.  I didn’t hear anyone wanting more things – they wanted more of Him! So why am I struggling? Or is it that those poor Christians are in fact richer than me? In a godless nation they swim upstream, they pick up their cross daily and follow Him, they are weak, they are poor, they are unloved, but it’s evident – He is strong!  You gaze over the rustic hills and you see nothing more than shed size “homes”.   For these saints everyday – they engage everyday, they suffer everyday, they give everyday – they truly live!

I had seen plenty of poverty before but none up close, not so close that my senses would rebel against such homes.
I honestly want to tuck away the images in my head and I want to shut down my brain so that I don’t have to think of what’s at stake. I want to go back to my old ways, thinking nothing of my day and seeing beauty in all that’s vain.  They warned us it would be hard, but I honestly didn’t see why.  Even our air…theirs was course and dry and it made everything have a layer of dust: their faces, their feet, their hands, their floors, their everything. 
Above all, it was the powerful look of strength driven by their faith that shook me the most.  Amidst visible struggles, these Compassion servants of God go to the least of them and by means of grace they share loafs of love and hope in Jesus name.
By Esme Randle


Comments

  1. Oh Esme. Thank you for bringing home an impression of life for Christian’s in another place, so different than our own. Thank you for confessing your struggles, and helping us to remember to struggle too. What’s always been so amazing to me is to contemplate the providence of God in my being born into my family in this country. What opportunity we have, and so often waste. Praying for your transition back. 🙂

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