First Shop

Saturday, April 30, 2016

We are back in Canada for a 3 month Home Assignment to visit our family, friends and supporters. When coming back to your passport country, each time there is a period of adjustment. Some things are different, some are the same, some people are different and some are the same, but most of all you are different.

Something that us missionaries talk about quite often is about our 'first shop' experience when we are fresh off the field. So I thought it would be fun to document my first shop experience and so I took pictures of things that struck me as strange or overwhelming. 
Shopping Overload! Check Ruths Face...
I think there are a few different aspects to why these things stuck out to me, 

Pre made items: When you spend so much time making things from scratch, just seeing them pre made and cheaper then I could have made it for, is a bit disheartening to think about the hours I've taken making things they can just be easily picked up here.

Choices: Though we are quite spoiled in Kinshasa to be able to get a lot of things, there are still only one or two options of each item or if you want several specific items you have to go to different stores to get them all and even if you really want Cheerios, I'm not paying 25$ for 1 box. At this store I stood in front of 10 different kinds of apples I could buy and wondering what made one kind 'fancy apples' and the other ones regular.

Waste: Really who needs marshmallows this size. Don't get me wrong I love marshmallows but seriously it seems a bit much.

Assurance: When I go shopping in Kinshasa, I never know if everything I need will be there or when I go if I will be stuck in traffic for several hours. Here, we decided to go shopping, we went, everything we wanted (and more) was available and we were home within 45min. If I go Kinshasa that's usually all I do that day, it just takes that much time and energy.

Before I went to go live overseas I remember hearing council often to 'not take things for granted'; after living over seas and really fulling appreciating just how easy life is here, I think it's hard for North Americans to fully 'not take it for granted' because so much of the behind the scenes work is hidden and it often seems like it just appears. Even when we come back we rely on being able to have our checkups, flight Medicals, rest time etc all readily available. 

Which is why I wanted to write this now, before everything starts feeling 'normal' again, to remember that much of the world does not even have an option to visit and experience the ease of first world living. 

So during my first shop I was also stuck with a bit of sadness for our North American culture that is gluttonous and in many ways feels entitled to its prosperity. When we are so full of twinkies, iPhones, credit cards and are so removed from the poor and hurting of this world its easy to forget that we have so much privilege and with that comes a responsibility to the rest of the world. 
In 2005, the wealthiest 20% of the world accounted for 76.6% of total private consumption. The poorest fifth just 1.5%:
The poorest 10% accounted for just 0.5% and the wealthiest 10% accounted for 59% of all the consumption:

Now giving money and material goods has its value but sometime money doesn't fix all the worlds problems. It can instead make it worse. For example right now the USA is planning to dump 500 tons of peanuts on the Haitian market. Which sounds nice, other then Haiti already has a large amount of people that make their living by farming peanuts. So by doing this they will flood the market and provide free peanuts for a little while which will then then put many families out of work which will result in less peanuts being locally grown in the future.

We don't want the poor of the world to be dependant on 'first world handouts' we want them to be able to take care of themselves. We have to think further then the here and now and think to the future and even more to eternity. And that takes a lot more time and a lot more effort, but is so much more worth it.

A fellow MAF missionary posted this quote the other day in response to people asking her if they should become a missionary and I think its very apt for any worthwhile adventure and very much so how I feel about our adventure so far with MAF.

Gandalf: I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone. 
Bilbo: I should think so—in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them … 
Gandalf:  You’ll have a tale or two to tell when you come back 
Bilbo:  You can promise that I’ll come back?” 
Gandalf:  No. And if you do, you will not be the same
-The Hobbit
So heres to letting the truth and compassion change our hearts so we will never be the same again, and if that means I look a little strangely at marshmallows the size of my fist, I'm okay with that.

Heres a pic for all our American friends that wonder why I always call Mac and Cheese KD