Visionner « Will Reagan & United Pursuit – Find My Own Flame » sur YouTube

Praying and thinking tonight at lot about Nepal, my favourite mountainous little country and about my future career,  family and adventures. This song came to mind and I’m loving it.

I want my life to be raw and real
I don’t want to be just dry bones
I want to live a life driven by passion and purpose

Lord, help me find my own flame, my own place. Plant a passion inside me for whatever you want me to do.

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There are no winners in war

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They say life imitates art…and in the case of the newest Hunger Games instalment, Mockingjay Part II, the real life connection hit a little too hard.

Sometimes I think that I think too much. I can never managed to completely zone out and focus on one thing, I always have a million secondary thoughts chasing around my brain, cross referencing with each other. So when I watch movies, I sometimes have a hard time disconnecting from all those thoughts and just watching the dang movie.

As I’m sure most of you know, the Hunger Games is an extremely popular movie franchise in a dystopian world called Panem. The heroine of the story, Katniss, finds herself the centre of a rebellion…and soon enough, a civil war. The 13 districts, tired of facing an oppressive government are fighting to free the people and establish a democracy at any and all cost.

For myself, as a student of development, the story of this fictional society rings all too true. This past semester, my discussion group had an interesting discussion about democracy. Democracy is considered a vital part of development but political reform comes with consequences and conflict, which makes it a difficult topic to figure out. My peers and I went back and forth for over an hour and couldn’t come to an agreement about a) whether or not these changes can be made without war or b) if the answer to a is no, is that conflict worth it? I still don’t have an answer to this question but the Hunger Games had me thinking about it again.

As I watched the war in the movie unfold, I couldn’t help but cringe. Here I was, sitting in a theatre, on a “sister date” after months of being away from home and watching people kill each other…for entertainment. I don’t know, I guess I just didn’t think it was fun anymore, sitting and watching Katniss fight for her life. It gave me chills to know that thousands of kilometres away, people were hiding out for real, worried about being blown up or tortured, praying that their children won’t be taken away.

The movie continued and I realized something, in the dark of the theatre (while I should have been mindlessly consuming media); there are no winners in war. It doesn’t matter how valiant the cause…war is war. It is violent and dirty, it corrupts good people and makes my heart ache. There are always people who die from being in the wrong place, there are always innocents killed in the crossfire. There are no “good” outcomes. Only ones that are less horrendous.

This post isn’t about violence in the media, nor is it necessarily about being grateful for what have. It’s just something to think about. We were born into a place where we live with freedom from fear, a place that has never known war in our life time. But we do reside in an era of globalization, which means that we cannot close our eyes to the things happening around the world and pretend they don’t affect us, that people we don’t know, don’t matter.

Maybe I should have just watched it and enjoyed it for what it was: a movie. But I can’t, that’s not me. I thought about all the ways it related to the world, to my life. When the movie started showing the refugees fleeing their homes…when it showed their children being bombed (by the “good guys”) in order to gain leverage, all I could think about was the Syrian refugees. 

I’ve been pretty quiet about the whole refugee “hot topic” when people bring it up because I do understand both sides of it. Obviously we can’t just leave them there. Refugees do not choose to be born in a war zone. They do not choose to have their religion hijacked by extremists, they do not decide to flee their country for fun. I cannot imagine the horrors the people in the Middle East have faced recently but moreover, I cannot imagine living a nightmare and being told by the world “we won’t help you”.

I also understand the fear of Canadians.  Yes, it is going to cost you money. Yes, these are people you do not know. Yes, you are scared that they might bring the war here. But when it comes down to it, yes, they are people. Yes, they matter. Yes, they deserve to have the basic right of living without fear.

In this Christmas season, the Bible story will be read all over the world, thousands if not a million times. But a lesser known part of the story has been all I could think about.

Jesus, as a baby, was a refugee.

Shortly after Jesus’ birth, Joseph and Mary received word that the King had ordered all baby boys to be murdered and thus were forced to flee their country in order to save their son. They went to Egypt of all places and keep in mind that the Israelites had quite the history with Egypt. It was probably the last place they wanted to go and the last place they would be welcomed. But they went. Not because they wanted to but because they feared for their lives. 

They lived in Egypt for several years. Imagine if they had been turned down at the border. Told “Go home, we don’t want you. We remember what happened the last time we had Israelites in our country”. Jesus could have been one of the children killed during King Herod’s reign. How crazy is that? This Christmas the pastor at my church said the one person he wouldn’t want to be in the Christmas story is the innkeeper that turned them away. I wouldn’t want to be the one to turn away a refugee out of fear. God understands the plight of the Syrian refugees and my only possible response is one of love and of hospitality.

There are no winners in war. But there are heroes. I’m praying that Canadians will live up to our reputation as being the friendliest country in the world, because in some cases, the best hero is the one willing to be a true friend.

As for the Hunger Games, it did sort of have a “happy ending”, as happy as can be after everything the characters had lived through. It was one of my favourite book series when I was in elementary school so maybe I’ll be able to watch it again sometimes and see it just for what it is.

Or maybe not…I think I’d rather think anyways. I certainly learn a lot that way.

-Until next time,

Sam

 

Nepal – Shaken not Shattered

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Anyone with access to media knows at least the bare minimum about what’s going on in Nepal right now. On April 25th, they experienced a 7.8 magnitude earthquake which killed thousands, destroyed cities and damaged most of their heritage sites. Although aid is flowing in and the people seem, for the most part, to be in good spirits, it is going to be years before their infrastructure and economy recovers.

I have had a fascination and obsession with this mysterious and mountainous country for well over a year now. I’m not exactly sure what initially drew me to it, nor do I remember exactly when it started. But as I’m sure my friends can testify, I’ve talked about wanting to go there for quite a while now. No one really understood why, myself included. There was just something about this small country that fascinated me.

Maybe it’s because I have a thing for mountains and Nepal just seems like a country created for adventure. Or maybe it’s because they have an ancient and beautiful culture, language and temples and colours and smells that would be foreign to me. Then again, maybe I’m just stereotyping and being an ignorant white girl from Canada. But the people there seem to have joy in their smiles and a strong work ethic deep in their bones and I just fell in love with Nepal the more and more that I read about it. I thought about it often, read about it often, dreamt about it often.

I want to be clear that I’m not oblivious to the fact that it is a developing nation. I know that much of the country lives in poverty and brokeness. But for me, that doesn’t and shouldn’t disqualify them as a nation of potential. I’m going to be studying International Development and Globalization in university next year (which I am SO excited about) and I am so passionate about seeing those small “third world” countries develop and grow and share with the world why they are so awesome. So Nepal, for me, was a place of both mystery and beauty in spite of their struggles. I felt drawn not just to the place but also to the faces of the people and wondered how long it would be before I could visit.

Fast forward to last month and my economics teacher assigned a project where a partner and I would have to choose a country currently on the United Nations list of Least Developed Countries, learn more about it and then come up with a theoretical plan on how they could improve their economy. Naturally, I convinced my partner that we should choose Nepal.

The next day, the earthquake happened.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that it felt like something had been ripped out of my chest. I was actually heartbroken. Why would something like this happen? And more importantly, why did I now have to sit in a classroom everyday and work on a website called “Solutions 4 Nepal” while the real country lay in ruins? This past month I have come very close to booking a ticket and just going, I would say about 6 times. I wanted nothing more than to help this country that had somehow found a special place in my heart.

Truth is, an 18-year-old girl from Canada showing up in a recent natural disaster zone with no experience working in developing countries and nothing but a heart to help and the first aid knowledge of a lifeguard would have been more of a hinderance than a help. No matter how good my intentions are, I am not equipped to help in country right now.

Maybe in a year from now, when most people have forgotten all about it, I will go. Nepal will be recovering from years to come and I don’t want to be just another person who forgets all about them after the earthquake stops being on the news everyday. I’m not trying to be self-righteous but that is what we all tend to do in situations like these. We are interested for a minute and then leave them to try to do the rest of the recovery alone.

For now, all I can do is pray. When I feel helpless, prayer is my only possible response. And I can ask you to do the same. Will you please intentionally pray for Nepal today? The Nepalese are so very proud and they don’t trust the first world and the help we offer. Pray that they would be open-minded. Pray for the people who have lost family. Pray for the aid workers, that they would have wisdom, humility and that they would go in willing to partner, not take over. Pray for revival. Pray for joy in this dark time. Pray for hope. Pray for opportunity to not just recover, but to grow. Pray that Nepal will come out of this stronger than ever before. Pray for the people above all, for jobs, for homes, for relationships and for safety. Pray that they would be ok, whatever that means.

If you want to learn more about the project my friend Rico and I did, you can check it out here (fair warning, the project isn’t due until next week so it’s a work in progress) If you want to donate to help with the rebuilding check out this link .

That’s all I have to say. Just wanted to share a bit about why the earthquake has bothered me so much. I’m still hoping to see Nepal one day, to explore, to experience the culture and meet the people. I have faith that I will see a beautiful country as I’d always hoped, a strong, proud and hopeful nation. I believe that Nepal, while shaken, is not shattered. The country lies in ruins but they will recover. This is not the end of Nepal’s story. I don’t know if part of God’s plan for this country includes me…but I hope it does. Either way, I think I will always have a soft spot for it.

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Shaken, not shattered. I have faith in you Nepal, you can do it. But please, trust us to help. We really do care.

– Sam

*all photos come from google