12 June, 2014

Reminded of How Blessed We Are

While my family and I are really enjoying our vacation, and a time to just unwind and let go of some of the stress of life, we've also had some doses of stark reality this week as well. We are in Cancun, and let me tell you, it is just amazingly beautiful here, and has quickly become one of, if not THE favorite vacation destinations for me. Of course, the reality is that we are in the tourist region, which is not at all a reflection of the real world of those who live here. We've met one man from here who spoke of his living in a gated community. There are those aspects of Cancun. But the truth is, most of the people here live in abject poverty. We accidentally got on the wrong bus and went deep into the inner city. The conditions we witnessed were just heart breaking, but even that scene did not prepare us for what we witnessed yesterday. We took the day to take a tour bus to an absolutely wonderful theme park, which is billed as the world's largest aquarium. I won't even go in to describing it, but suffice it to say, of all the parks I've ever been in, this was by far my favorite. We were on a bus for a little over 90 minutes each way, and on that ride, we witnessed things that just shook me. Along the way we saw dozens upon dozens of multi-million dollar resorts, and then just a quarter of a mile up the road we would see people literally living in shacks, in some cases, no more than huts. We saw a couple of "houses" that were grass roofs with no enclosed walls at all. We saw areas that looked like something you'd expect to see in one of the church services where the missionary comes in to show you slides or video. A few times I would view some of the blighted inner city scenes where laundry was hanging on lines on the roof tops, and fences with barbed wire everywhere, and I'd think to myself, "I'm sitting here on a bus going to enjoy a day snorkeling and we will spend more today than these people will see in months or even a year. It was one of the harshest slaps of reality that I have ever received. At one point on the way home, my wife and I were talking about all this and she said, "I understand now why people have asked us if we are rich."  We are not rich. Far from it. We struggle many times just to make it. But seeing these scenes makes me realize that MY definition of "struggle" and the definition of so many of these people that we come into contact with in Galesburg and Peoria are not even on the same page. We are truly a blessed family. For that matter, all of us in America are a blessed people. We throw away more every year than what people who we witnessed yesterday will enjoy in a lifetime. Next time I feel tempted to complain, I'll just take myself back in my mind to the scenes we've witnessed this week.

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