We've arrived at our sites and schools at a funny time. Much of the educational system here revolves around major standardized tests, and since the tests are done and there is only 3 weeks of school left, not much "school" is getting done. So, one of the things that has occupied my school time has been playing along to some of their songs with the school's guitar. Today, the kids sang a couple English sunday-school-type songs. One was called "God's Love is Like a Circle", which spoke simply of God's unending love, and the other repeated the line "the countdown's getting shorter every day", referring to the anticipation of Christ's return. In every way, they were typical, sunday school songs; I'm sure you know the type. But in the middle of playing along, I got a little teary eyed.
I've heard more than my fair share of worship songs, and I don't usually get choked up so easily. As I reflected on the situation, it brought to mind what I would consider to be one of my most significant struggles during my Peace Corps service thus far.
The truth is this: I miss Christianity. I can't think of any better way to say it. This may sound strange to say, since I live in a nation that is overwhelmingly influenced by Christian religion. But the language barrier and cultural differences make it such a different ball game.
In many ways, I could say that there are plenty of "Christian aspects" of the Peace Corps. We are here to serve and empower those less fortunate than us. We are leaving home and comfort behind and are choosing to live like the people we are serving. But not once in our training has the importance of adopting a servant's heart or putting other's needs before our own been mentioned. Not once has it been implied that our service carries any kind of greater purpose or bigger picture.
Having come from a life surrounded by Christian friends and a church community, this reality has been extremely hard for me. I am used to talk of God, or prayer, or purpose coming up so naturally in conversation. But not once have I been encouraged to pray in times of struggle by a friend. Not once has peace been offered because of God's love and plan. It has felt so foreign and strange to prepare for this type of service without even a mention of spiritual matters.
All that to say, we are getting by. We are certainly having to lean on each other more, and we are having to get fed spiritually in other ways. And I do know that, in the end, we will benefit from this stark change. But, I have also realized that I sorely took for granted my friends and community back home. Of course, it's important to invest in folks who think differently from us, but to truly share life with people with a common perspective on life is a beautiful and invaluable thing. It connects us far more than I realized.
Friends, you are missed.