Excess

Wow! I’m back from my short-term mission to Haiti, and there are just too many things running through my mind to put all in one post. I’ll definitely have several Haiti-oriented posts over the next couple of weeks. I wanted to start the Haiti series by sharing the most shocking thing that I experienced during the whole trip – American culture.

Here’s how it happened… We were in Haiti for 6 days with 2 travel days bookending the trip. We spent all day April 2nd getting there. We made a pretty quick adjustment to life in Haiti, at least life at the Christianville compound in Haiti. Cold showers, having to spray our rooms for bugs before bed, big ‘ol rats, spiders, extreme heat, etc. Inconveniences, yes, but not a whole lot of trouble. What I truly enjoyed about Haitian culture was its simplicity. They had cell phones, but they used them as phones and not as status symbols. They had cars, but they were for transportation and not boasting. They did not have television or personal computers or internet access. They did have a few things that most Americans do not – peace, contentment, happiness. We lived a week in a culture where survival is paramount, not personal comfort. The people, who had almost nothing, were generous beyond what most Americans would give, even though we have so much more. I was reminded forcibly throughout the week of Jesus’ remarks about the people who gave money in the Temple – the rich gave just a small percentage of their wealth, but the widow gave all she had. Jesus was much more pleased with the widow.

Fast-forward to April 9 when we returned home. We had just spent a week living (and enjoying) a much more simple, but fulfilling, life. We fly out of Port au Prince and into Ft. Lauderdale, FL. We change airlines, get checked in, go through security, and head towards our gate. As we sit down to wait out our layover, I look over and notice something which causes me the most intense feelings of disgust towards our American culture – an iPod vending machine. AN IPOD VENDING MACHINE!!! A maching where you can swipe your credit card, open the door, and take out an iPod Touch, iPod video, PSP, plus accessories. I could not believe my eyes. I had just come from a culture where the average person was more concerned with survival, and into a culture where we have enough excess to buy a $400 piece of unnecessary technology from a vending machine.

I had expected the culture shock to hit me when I got to Haiti, not when I returned home. It was a sad realization for me.

Thoughts?

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