China has changed me and for the better. I wouldn't want to live here, but then I like who I am here better than who I am without China.
-Spending time in a country where you can't breath the air without significant health risks, makes me complain less about a hot or cold day back home.
-Spending time in a country where your right to drive is determined by a lottery and then only granted to you every other day, makes me more tolerant of a day of increased traffic back home.
-Spending time in a country where you can't drink the water out of the faucet in the nicest hotels, makes me more tolerant of my water bill when my pool runs in the summertime.
-Spending time in a country where toilets are commonly holes in the ground, makes me thankful for my bathroom and less concerned about the material of my countertop.
-Spending time in a country where you are only allowed to have one child, makes me less frustrated when my 2nd child doesn't pick up his toys.
-Spending time in a country where the government owns all of the housing, makes me less envious of the house around the corner that I cannot afford.
-Spending time in a country where almost everyone lives in an apartment high rise, makes me more grateful for the yard my children can play in.
-Spending time in a country where good medical care is hard to come by makes me more tolerant of my co-pays, deductibles, and premiums. They are inconvenient but I still have the option to have them and their benefits.
The list goes on and on.
It is always hard to return from China. I like who China makes me to be. In a week I will return home. As I recover from jet lag, I will feel a deep since of discomfort for the materialism around me and the entitlement that you cannot escape in the U.S. I will listen as my kids complain about there being too much food on their plate or as a friend complains about how long they had to wait in the check out line at the grocery store. Something will eat at the inside of me because I don't like what privilege has turned me and those I love into. I will strangely miss China and the hardships there.
Then sadly over weeks and months, the life of privilege will start to harden my heart again. I can't escape it. I will become more entitled and less grateful for all that God has given me again. I will think it is a hard day when I leave my cell phone at home or when I have to walk in the heat to pick my kids up from the school (where they are getting an excellent education). I will nod my head in agreement when someone complains about the wait at Starbucks or how they have to get take out again for dinner. I hate the materialistic, need to be comfortable, ungrateful for all that God has given me side of me. I hate that I can justify those behaviors by a sense of importance or just deny them altogether because they are commonplace where I live. I don't like who America makes me to be. I love America, but I am a more grateful person when I am in China.
This is why Trent and I decided a long time ago that it is good for us to leave the country every year or two and be reminded how blessed we are.
Ruthie and Maggie's Adoption Agency sends people on mission trips all over the world. They aren't cheap but then when you consider what we have, they really are. They are life changing. I met Maggie on one and now generations of lives will be changed because of my going. You can read about them HERE at http://www.awaa.org/act/default.aspx. You should check it out. I can't afford not to go. Can you?