then i was reminded of a conversation i had with a friend this week. he was sharing his accomplishments of the day and shared that he had thoroughly cleaned his refrigerator. he shared the sentiments that i have felt at times, "there was just too much food in there...some of it had to go." we then discussed the hilarity of finding expired salad dressings and moldy cheese tucked into some far reaching corner of our refrigerator. i've been there too. i'm pretty sure most of us have.
another person involved in the conversation stated the often ignored obvious, "this is definitely a first world conversation." those words knocked my attitude over the head with a two-by-four. unlike many people in the united states, i have seen third world problems face to face. i lived in cartagena, colombia for three and a half years. we moved there when i was pregnant with my first born and i had my sweet girl while we were there. while we were definitely living with the upper class, the desperately poor permeate that city and we were able to visit them in their homes and see their incredible need.
you see, of the one million people who live in cartagena, half of them are displaced. they have been forced from their homes at gunpoint from the narco-traffickers who take over the people's homelands for their own drug trafficking benefits. people traveled in masses, usually with only the things they can carry on their backs, to cities around colombia. cartagena is the home to approximately 500,000 of these people. they are generally poorly educated, poorly skilled, indescribably poor and with very little chance to improve their circumstances. the levels of poverty i have seen are beyond what most of us can imagine.
the people in the background are lining up for used clothing.
the line forming to receive used clothes mailed to us from the united states.
being "sized" for the two pieces of clothing she'll receive.
the kids lining up to pick two used toys from the u.s.
smiling outside of a school that was funded by european donations. it was a safe enough location to do our large clothing distributions.
i'm working on changing my perspective. instead of complaining about another clogged toilet, i'm going to be thankful we have one. instead of complaining about the food i have to vacuum off of the floor after each meal, i'm going to remember to be grateful there is food to feed each of my children, multiple times a day, with enough extra not to be missed when it hits the floor. instead of complaining about an appliance that no longer functions, i'm going to remember what a luxury it was to have appliances at all, and how many would be in awe of every facet of my life.