May 11, 2019

First World Problems and a Third World Disease.

Journal Entry #14

I’m going to let you enter into the cluttered confusion of my mind today…please bear with me as I sort through my thoughts and feelings and find a place to put them.

Our village held a fundraiser today for our family.

Initially, when I heard that this was happening, I thought that it was ridiculous.  We are not a charity.  We don’t need money.  It is a lovely gesture, but we are not victims…I am not a victim and certainly not a charity case.

Then reality started to set in.

I’ve been off work for 5 weeks already.  Self-employed for over 20 years.  For those of you who are also self-employed, you understand that when you don’t work, you don’t get paid.  Now, I have disability insurance…a policy that kicks in after 91 days of not working.  What?! Who takes out a policy like that? Well, 16 years ago, I did.  Back when I was making a quarter of what I make today, when my business was new, when I was building a clientele and before I really had the extra money to invest into insurance policies.  I was young, healthy and had the thought mentality that I would never use it anyhow, so why pay the high premiums?  And then I didn’t think about it again.  Until now.  Talk about ridiculous.  I never, in 16 years, revisited that insurance policy.

The reality is, the Miltefosine has cost us $7000 to get started on treatment.  The reality is, there are a lot of little incidentals when one goes through treatment that really start to add up. Then tack on my lost wages and how I contribute to our household. And although I hope to be back to work mid-June, we have been told that the wounds could take another 12-16 weeks to heal.

Now, we have a little slush fund where we tuck money aside for a rainy day (because rainy days happen to everyone).  But our rainy day fund was depleted in February when our basement flooded. That is a whole other story…but my point is, that we are responsible adults, and even though we thought we would never experience something like this, here we are, with a dry slush fund on a rainy day.

The reality is, this situation will not break us.  It will set us back, for sure.  But we will recover.  We will be okay.  We will have tight times and are back on a strict budget.  And we will be okay.

It was only a month ago, that I was in Guatemala on Mission. And I can honestly say, that out of four Third World Mission Trips, I saw the most extreme poverty I have ever seen on this one.  We did ground breaking work in a village that had never seen Missionaries, let alone white ones.  When we arrived at the community school, we watched as the children participated in an assembly about anti-discrimination.  The children were being told that even though the people coming to their school that day would look different (eyes, hair color, skin color, height) that they were people too, and all people were to be treated with respect.  It was a delicate experience.  Our day and work there went off without a hitch.  We offered a Science Program (science is not a part of their curriculum there), Parachute Games (they had never seen one before), Crafts and Soccer. My role along with Judy and Stephanie, was to run a shoe drive for the most needy kids there.  But here’s the thing:  Every. Child. Was. Needy. And, we didn’t have enough shoes.  Correction, we didn’t have enough of the right size of shoes.  And at the end of the day, three little boys sat in front of me, hopeful for new shoes, and I stood in front of them heartbroken.  We offered them each to choose a pair of shoes for their mom or dad.  One took a pair that he thought would fit his dad. One took a pair that he thought would fit his mom.  The third, walked along the tables looking, once, twice, three-times…shrugged his shoulders, dropped his chin and walked away.

With nothing but a pair of socks.

It was then that I noticed the little faces peeking in the windows, and the half clothed, barefoot children standing along the fence watching as all the other school children, children who had shoes, receive goody bags and candy, play games and squeal in laughter.  You see, school is free in Guatemala…but only if you have shoes.  I snuck some candy and dinky cars through the fence to those children, as I took my broken heart to the van to weep.

In the last month, I have witnessed first-hand, poverty, filth, disease and need amongst some of the most grateful and happy people I have ever met. I have suffered a heartbreak over shoes that somehow doesn’t compare to the wounds I carry in my skin.

Today, when I walked around the fundraiser at the Greenbank Hall and Pavillion I realized something.  Our village isn’t much different than the poorest village in Guatemala.  We take care of our own, in whatever way we can.  Our paradigms are different, but just because they are poor and we are not, does not mean that we are any different than they are.  We are all made of the same grit.  We are all just people, figuring out life as we go.  We are all people, on the same train, headed to the same destination, we are just riding on different cars.  Shoes or no shoes.

It is kind of amazing, how when I walked through the hall, I saw traces of so many facets of my life.  From people I haven’t seen since high school, to those who babysat our kids, to Circle Sisters, Mission team members past and present, church friends, families from Prince Albert Public School (PAPS), and teachers from PAPS too. There were friends from the curling club, extended family members, community members, and even friends of friends and children of friends.  Overwhelming to say the least.  And comforting.  To know that I belong to such an amazing village.

And not once today, did I feel like a charity case.  I simply felt loved.

Today, wasn’t about raising money.  I am just realizing that.  Today, was about community.  It was about camaraderie.  It was about keeping our village strong and together.  It was about showing our children that anything is possible when we work together.  It was an incredible gesture of love.  Big hearts did an incredible thing today – you taught me and my family a valuable lesson in belonging and you over-filled my heart with a love I haven’t felt since I first held my babies.  And that is a gift that no amount of money can buy.

I am not going to lie.  I was dreading today.  I was nervous on the drive to the hall.  Everything about it was uncomfortable.  But I am not growing as a person if I am comfortable.  So, today I grew.  And that is thanks to you.

Thank you for being a part of my journey.

xo Juli

4 thoughts on “First World Problems and a Third World Disease.”

  1. Beautifully said, Juli. I was manning the donation box at the fundraiser,when a lady approached me and said ” I dont’t know Juli, but I heard her story and would like to make a donation”. …my heart was so full at that moment. Xo

  2. Beautifully said Julie, you have made a difference to so many of us, setting an example in your giving ways and compassion. We wanted to do this for you and your family. You are loved and admired for just being you????

  3. This is beautiful. You are such a strong and wonderful human. As you know I am new to the village – but have been overwhelmed with the graciousness and generosity of all those in it.

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