Today, as I was reading in Psalms 73 and Proverbs 17, I was struck by the war that is raging inside of me. A self-revelation struck me as I meditated and prayed on these verses that stood out to me so directly. I realized why I always feel so unsettled and bothered. It is not simply the reverse culture shock, though that has taken its toll. It is not that we are in a new place with 100% new relationships again, though that can be tiring. It is not the season of transition that we find ourselves in - transition back to the states, transition to life in the midwest, transition to a bigger city than we are accustomed to, transition to having the kids all in school, transition to having a mobile and very vocal toddler, transition to a new ministry role for Gami, transition to less responsibility for Cathi....indeed, this season of transition is huge and is in no way nearing its end.
Still, in all of this, there has been something more...something deeper, nagging at me. Today, I realized what it is. When we left for Haiti in 2013, I knew that we were giving up everything. We gave up our dreams of a secure income, "easy" life, the "American dream," and so much of what we had dreamt for our children. I personally gave up the dream of further education, an eventual career, owning land and animals, and traveling the world. Now, here I am in 2019, finding myself back in "the land of plenty," the place where dreams come true. I find myself rethinking the very things we knew we were giving up. I find myself wanting those dreams again. I dream of what it would be like to go to medical school, something I have wanted to do since I was a child. I dream of life on a small farm, growing our own food and raising chickens (and of course, horses!). I dream of having a successful business and being able to travel. I dream of being able to supply my children with nice things, and affording nicer things for myself too.
Then, as quickly as I dream, I am struck with reality. I find myself drawn to simpler things, and a "less is more" attitude. I want to get rid of half of what we own, because it is so unsettling to have so much in our house. I struggle with the simplicity of life here, because it should not be this way. I realized today, that I am at war within myself. I dream of the life of luxury, but I cannot escape the reality of the life of poverty. I yearn to be financially successful and to travel and see all the things, but I cannot let go of the fact that my friends in Haiti are literally facing hunger day after day. My selfish desires for the American life of dreams and luxury cannot find balance with the life I lived in Haiti. And so, I am at war...a war that will hopefully not soon die off. For once it dies off, that means I have lost some piece of myself.
Then, as quickly as I dream, I am struck with reality.
My friends have messaged me this week, telling me that Haiti is once again on lock-down. The Haitian people are tired of not having basic needs - and rightly so. The majority of the country does not have affordable access to safe drinking water, has no running water, and has limited to no electricity. Their healthcare overall is unreliable at best. While millions of dollars are poured into this country, it seems no relief is coming.
So, how can I sit here and sip on an iced coffee in my air conditioned, luxurious home, and not be at war within myself. How can I live in such comfort, and not think of my friends who cannot truly fathom what this life is like. How can I pursue my dreams and not wonder how my friends will make it through this year.
Then, another truth hits me - the one that really brought me peace and hope this morning. Friends, all of this is fleeting. It does not often feel that way. In fact, it feels like this life is simply too hard at times. Psalm 73 reminded me that eternal perspective is of the highest value. Yes, I am at war within myself. My prayer is that we all would be - a war that is raging because we cannot accept the life we live here without thinking of the life we will live in eternity. I pray that a war would rage within each of us to fight for the souls who do not yet have a guarantee of eternal life. I pray that we will not silence this war within, but that we will continue to fight for injustice, serve the poor and outcast, and pray for the souls of the lost. May it be a war within that causes us to act and to live differently, to shift our priorities and remember that "if it doesn't matter forever, it doesn't really matter."
My prayers are with you, friends.
Gami & Cathi Ortiz
Best friends; married for 17 years; parents of five wonderful children; living on mission in Haiti since 2013.