November 29, 2009

Weekend Update, Happy Thanksgiving

Everything is pretty crazy around here now.

We have had power outages throughout the country and for the past month, we have been cooking and eating dinner in the dark.

Lice has come and gone throughout several of the girls in our house, most likely from children in the afterschool program.

My brothers, Tim and Brian came to visit. I am so happy that I could share my life down here with them. I think they were blown away by the poverty, yes, but even more so the genuine warmth that comes from my neighbors. Its truly a unique vibe down here.

We also had a chance to vacation in Banos, another beautiful town surrounded by the Andes. I hope the pictures and videos of us repelling down waterfalls and bungy jumping doesnt take away from the reality of the Ecuadorian people, which they saw in my community.

And finally coming up on Tuesday, I will be leading a retreat group from Depaul University in Chicago for 10 days. I will be an experienced tour guide by the end of the year.

And finally on my mind, Tiffany comes in just after the Holidays.

Though I feel I have been all over the place for the last couple weeks, I dont want this blogs purpose to suffer. Yes, it is about what I have been up to. But more, its about the reality of this new culture I am experiencing. Heres a reflection on that reality through my brothers´eyes.

As my brothers walked down the street, they were overloaded with ¨Buenos Dias, Como Esta?¨ everyone we passed by, acknowledged us with a smile. Those I knew, talked with for a while, and even invited us in their homes. My neighbors were interested in meeting my family, that was what was importent. My brothers couldn´t believe that the people they met, lived in the conditions that they did. They welcome us, they cook us food, they are open, they trust us, they let us relax in their home, they laugh with us, they tell us about their lives. They are happy. But why do they live in a one room house? Why do they have to hail down the water truck in the morning to have that trash can filled outside their house? Why do they have to wait days for that damn water truck? Why dont they have windows, or screens? Why do the flies freely come into their house? Why do they have to skip dinner more days than not? Why are they not given the same opportunities we (yes, you too) were all given?

Here is the paradox... In the worst living conditions, live some of the worlds most most genuine, hopeful, and warm people.

The Us and Them distinction is something I have been struggling with recently. They live here, this is their reality. We are guests, and have the opportunity to leave anytime we want. The list could go on for a while about how we are different from them. But the reason I am here, is to challenge that list in my heart. To challenge my perceptions that I came her with, with the reality. And that reality, Bob Marley knew, ¨we´ve got to realize, that we are one people.¨

My brother Tim couldnt believe that my neighbors lived in the conditions that they did. Me and Tim live in different worlds right now, but he gave me this insight (because we are from the same loving family). The insight that we are one people. He did not look at my neighbors as people that lived in poverty- he saw through that. He saw them as people, he saw them as warm people, he saw them as family, just as he sees me as family.

I will be struggling with the Us and Them distinction for the rest of my life, since I will never know what it is like to live in poverty (coming from, not visiting for a year). Maybe soon I will try to take on social justice, and bringing about some equality in this world. But today, I am happy that I have a foothold in understanding that we are all brothers and sisters. We are all in the same human family. And for today, that is good enough.


Gisele said...

Today, in my classroom, we started to talk about how people are alike and how people are different. Focusing on how we are alike helps bring us together as "the same human family". Noticing differences feed into the "us and them" thinking. Can we accept that people have differences? This acceptance can help us celebrate and appreciate each other! It's OK that we are different.
Seeing the difference in the wealth (monetary) of many families in the USA and Eduador can make us feel guilty and cause us to worry. I read recently that guilt and worry are the two most useless feelings. They keep us out of the "now". Dan, I think your experience in Ecuador is allowing many of us to look inside and try to figure out what we can do to share our wealth with others less fortunate!! Thanks for helping to open our eyes!

doris.gagnon said...

Dear Dan,
I can't believe I've finally been able to send a comment! I've been following your blogs without missing a single one! But I finally found out how to subscribe to be able to correspond directly.
First of all, I am so very proud of the man you are and are constantly becoming. Your insights are filled with so much wisdom -- wisdom rarely seen in a person your age.
Dan, I sent you a card this weekend and am mailing a package tomorrow. Be on the lookout, OK?
Lots of love,
Aunt Dor
Now for the test - will it get to you or not?????