Monday, April 18, 2016

The Trip that Changes Lives, Part 2

My procrastination of this post has brought interesting timing.  The next part of the trip I wanted to blog about is the things I take for granted in my life both in Japan and in the US.  A look at the world events of the past weekend brings earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador to the forefront of our thinking.  Many of the things I noticed while in Haiti also apply to those in the disaster areas of Kumamoto, Japan and Ecuador.  Not all, but many.

Things I take for granted:

1. Hot showers.  Every morning in Japan or the US, I go into my bathroom, turn on the tap and hot water comes out, basically for as long as I want to take a shower.  Even at our lovely little hotel in Haiti this was not always true.  Each of us on the trip tried different times of the day for showering thinking we had cornered the magic hot shower hour, yet not always, or rarely, having success.
Those in the earthquake effected areas are mostly without water, making even cold showers impossible.  Today on the news they showed a hot spring in Kumamoto that was able to open it's doors.  The line to get a bath was long!

Elim water purification center
2. Safe drinking water.  Anytime I am thirsty in Japan or the US, I go to the sink, turn on the tap, and water comes out that is drinkable.  (Now, Madison, SD water does not taste good at all, but it is not dangerous to drink.)  In Haiti, as with a few other countries I have visited, we were even advised to use bottled water for brushing our teeth.  Knowing the amount of water we should drink to stay healthy, not having access to safe drinking water helps us understand health challenges in Haiti and other such countries.
Junior telling us about the center's water purification program
One of the child centers we visited has started a ministry of water purification.  They have purchased a purifying machine and sell the water to locals at a very reasonable price, basically making enough money to keep the machine running.  First, it is a way for them to give back to their community.  Second, it is a way to help with community health.  And, third, it is a way to get to know the community and share Jesus, the Living Water.
On the news tonight, one lady who was standing in line waiting for water in Kumamoto said, "Truly, water is necessary for life."

Classroom at one of the centers
3.  Free, stable public schools.  Generally, Compassion child development centers are after-school and weekend programs in which students participate.  However, in a few countries, including Haiti, the centers also have schools.  Not all of the children who attend the school participate in the Compassion program, but all of the children in a particular project go to the school there.  This is because the public school system is unpredictable in Haiti, due to the corrupt government.  I attended public school K-12th grade, taught at a public school in Texas, and have volunteered in a public school here in Japan.  I have great respect for teachers and administrators.  It saddened me to hear that many children do not attend school in Haiti, not because they don't want to but because it is just not available.  The private schools, of course, cost money.  Thankfully, there are many ministries who are helping with education, like Compassion or other church-based schools.  It seems they do all they can to get as many kids educated as possible.  I am grateful Shnaida has had the opportunity to go to school and is learning a trade.
Children in their classroom at one of the centers
Of course, the children of Kumamoto and Ecuador are not able to go to school right now, however, I know the children of Japan have the wonderful opportunity to attend school.  It is ironic that the children who have quality schools available to them do not want to go and sometimes don't even like school; yet those who do not have education or quality education available to them desire to go to school.  We humans sure are fickle.

4.  Variety of foods available.  We ate the same basic foods each day, usually at least twice, sometimes three times.  We know we were served food considered as the best and we appreciated it greatly.  In Japan and the US, even in SD, I am used to going to the store and finding a large variety of items available, fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, even different ethnic foods.  More than one person from our trip mentioned not wanting to eat rice again for a while.  Living in Japan, I didn't mind having rice all the time, but sometimes I did want just plain white rice!
The people of Kumamoto and Ecuador who have evacuated are running low on food.  They would like to have food of any kind, I'm sure.

Beans, rice, and plantains at every meal
Often chicken and some kind of pasta, too
Chicken or fish, rice, soup were available at every meal at our hotel
Some other things on my list which I won't take time to elaborate on: communication (I do not speak French or Creole!), smooth and paved roads (I've seen some big potholes in my life, but their's were amazing!), reliable electricity, flushing toilets and being able to put the TP into the toilet.

As I watch the natural disasters effect people's daily routines, I am reminded to pray for my friends in Haiti as I pray for the people of Kumamoto and Ecuador.  Thank you for your prayers for my beloved second country and her beautiful people.

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