We have about 2 weeks of training time left here for the group as a whole, and a little longer for us media folk. People are reacting to the imminent conclusion of training in various ways, although almost everyone seems to be getting a bit antsy.
Last week we spent the time split up so we could focus just on the regions where we will be working. It was exciting to talk more specifically about Latin America and life and culture there. We had an assignment to research the countries where we are moving to present to the group, so those of us heading to Peru were able to work on our first “team” project. :-) Conveniently I already own almost every guidebook about Peru thanks to my own compulsive book buying and the thoughtful gifts of various friends:
Is guinea pig kosher? I mean, I know it has the word “pig” in it its name, but it’s basically an overgrown hamster.
Heheh! I'm taking their advice and plan to get to Peru just as soon as they'll let me. Yet, while my own Peruvian dream is alive and well, that doesn’t mean I’ve given up on America. This Saturday I had a chance to spend the day up in D.C. with a couple of friends. Despite the traffic and negative politics, being there still makes me proud to be an American. We didn’t have enough time to hit all of my favorite places in the city, but it doesn’t matter where you go, you’re reminded of our history.
|One of my favorite places in D.C. |
I'll always remember a magazine photo of Arlington that my Grandpa had. He, a WWII vet, had written on the back,
"The price of freedom is seen here."
Not all of it is pretty, (something we would do well to remember when we deal with other struggling countries) but it is part of the fabric of our country and it is our heritage. Washington, D.C. is a paradoxically inspiring and terrifying place: on one hand you are filled with pride as you are reminded of some of America’s finest moments, and then you turn around to find a grown American searching the last page of the Constitution for the famous “John Hancock” signature- not really something that inspires confidence in the next generation of American leadership. (If you're scratching your head, John Hancock's flamboyant autograph is on the Declaration of Independence. I promise not to tell anyone you if you didn't know that.) But no matter what, I’m proud to be an American.
I've had some friends who felt living overseas increased their distaste of American life. For them, seeing how people live life around the world highlighted everything wrong with America. For me, however, I've always found it to make me more appreciative of America, and living as part of another culture has given me increased gratitude for the privilege of being American.
It is easy to whine about our democratically elected government that wastes our tax money, and the financial policies that led to a recession, but let us never forget that at our worst, we are still blessed beyond the wildest dreams of most of the world. To keep things in perspective, worldwide more than 1 billion people live on less than $1 a day, and 1/3 of the world's children live in what is classified as "extreme" poverty. I was born into a comfortable family in a rich nation, and I have taken that for granted for most of my life. I don't know why, in His sovereignty, God allowed me to be born to such privilege, but I do know that it carries with it a responsibility: we are blessed so that we may bless others.
A friend "blessed" me with this cartoon last week (Thanks, Jason!). Very appropriate for a week where I studied Peru and saw Old Glory in person. Plus there's a Frenchie shout-out in there as well!
|(The French national anthem "La Marseillaise" is about killing Prussians. |
I can see why Bucky likes it.)