20 November 2012

First World Problems

Since being home, I've been introduced to the social media trend of #FirstWorldProblems.  You know, the things we whine about it that when put into perspective pale in comparison . . . like flopping on the couch to watch TV only to realize that the remote isn't in arm's reach . . . or having so many grocery bags two trips are required . . . or 'she dropped her Kindle into the foot tub when she nodded off during her pedicure' . . . or the leather seats in the car are too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter . . . or can't hear the TV because the cleaning lady is vacuuming . . . well, you get the idea.

So, the other night, I had to face one of my irrational fears head on.  No, I didn't have to cross a plank-and-rope suspension bridge . . . or survive a night trapped in a cave after an avalanche . . . or have my right arm bitten off by camel (Dude!! I did say 'irrational' people!!  This is a Judgement Free Zone!).  As terrifying as those may be (for certain ones of us), they would be nothing compared to what I had to do . . . I spoke in front of a group of teenagers!

Laugh all you want, but I'd rather take my chances with a pack of lions during a gazelle drought than stand before teenagers!  They will eat you alive!

But, last Friday, I had to do it.  They wanted to know about Niger and somehow I was the closest to an expert they could find.  My manual hyperhydrosis flared and I tried to hide the vocal tremors with pathetic excuses for humor.

And as I have seen in other areas of my life, miracles really do happen!  Somehow this pack of socially-carnivorous youths was actually interested in what I had to say.  I wouldn't go so far as to say they deemed me 'cool', but they were pretty captivated, which in my book is as good as it gets!

When I finished sharing about what life is like for kids their age in Niger and my work at Galmi Hospital, they asked questions . . . THEY ACTUALLY ASKED QUESTIONS!!!!

One kid in the back inquired about the local cuisine and wondered if there was anything from the US that we could find there.

After detailing the culinary delicacies of millet and sauce, I explained that we make everything from scratch . . . and that the only just-add-water mix we have is milk.  For us in Galmi there's no stopping by the corner store to pick up a gallon on the way home from work . . . we even have to make our own yogurt!  (pretty sure they dug the pioneer-spirit!)

To finish answering his question, I told them that we can actually find Oreo's in the capital city!  After an array of 'cool!'s, one witty kid in the front said 'But you don't have any milk!'

As we all laughed, I quietly said into the mike: 'First World Problem!'

And as silly as it is, it's really got me thinking . . . sure, here in the US it is easy to get caught up in the minutia.  But the 'first' world really does have problems . . . serious ones at that!  Addictions, loneliness, abuse, prostitution, sexual coercion, materialism, cruelty, stress . . . .

These kids I was speaking to are a part of a generation that will do anything to feel accepted!  Starvation in Niger is easy to see . . . skeletons with bloated bellies wearing skin.  But, as I talk to folks here in the US, I find a spiritual and emotional starvation that is just as heartbreaking . . . bankruptcy, homes destroyed by natural disasters, families torn apart by selfishness, and an overwhelming sense of purposelessness.

Jesus once said, 'Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.'  He couldn't have only meant physical suffering!


mamastouff said...

glad to see you are back to writing...Kids are so honest, and they appreciate the "real thing", that's what you gave them!

sheryl obrien said...

Oh Deb, i'm so proud of you for "facing the giants." And I appreciate your wisdom. Dave and i are about to re-enter the 1st world in January. We needed that reminder of the invisible starvation that will be all around us. God bless you!