September 11 drew us closer to the world. All of us were touched by the events, whether personally or corporately. Nearly all of us knew someone who was there, or nearby, or who suffered as a result.
Before Africa I had never attended a funeral, I had never been close to anyone who had died. Here in Africa all our friends were shocked by this revelation. Zambians attend funerals on a regular basis--but I wasn't the only missionary with this life experience--or non-experience. Life is generally pretty good for those of us in first world nations.
Two of my staff members are around my age--both have lost two children. I can't even imagine this. I can't imagine living with this pain. Sure, I've lost babies here at the orphanage in the last five years, but none of them were my own personal babies. I hadn't grown them inside my body--hadn't pinned my hopes and dreams on them. Sure it hurt, but it can't even compare to the pain my staff members have experienced.
The reality is that as a first world country, we generally have it pretty good. Even for those of us who have had loved ones pass away from illness, it has usually been in a clean, well-staffed hospital where they were given the best drugs and medicines available.
In third world countries, when a loved one dies, it is often on the dirt floor of a tiny home, or in a hospital that would be condemned if it weren't the only thing available.
Thousands of people died during 9-11, and while I don't want to take away from the magnitude of that loss, thousands more died around the world that week--from disasters, from pandemics, from wars. We joined them that day. We finally understood.
In the last several years I have grown up. Now when the news mentions loss in grand numbers, I feel it. It's not just a number. Each person stands alone in that crowd, and I see the hole they leave behind.
As we vow to never forget, let us also vow to always remember: There are thousands around the world dying right now--from disease, from poverty, from neglect, from terrorism, from hunger. We have the power to make a difference. Perhaps not for the thousands, but for one, or two, or twenty. Always remember! We can make a difference!
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Living the Life
I'm an average girl--scared to death of creepy crawlies--who somehow ended up in the bush of Africa, building and running an orphanage. I now have 28 foster kids. In addition, I have a wonderfully adventurous husband and six kids. Due to the crazy passage of time, only one is left with me and five are working and/or in college in the U.S. Life is crazy, exciting, often scary and never, ever boring.