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Kenya Summer Camp 2007

Project Dates: December 9-16, 2007

"The “Lack of” Syndrome"

by Beth Isaac

The Youth Corp trip to Kenya brought broader enlightenment both mentally and spiritually; providing impetus for personal growth. It was there that I discovered the “lack of” syndrome that existed in me. This consciousness was immediately present as we traveled through Nairobi and surrounding areas. I became highly aware of the poverty that exists in Kenya (especially compared to my comfortable lifestyle back in Texas). Instead of daydreaming about the things that I would like to acquire someday, my mind wandered to how little so many Kenyans have. These thoughts led my spirit to a sort of apologetic shame about the great blessings I had.

The Kenyan people that I met are no doubt aware of what the disparity between the physical blessings enjoyed in the U.S. and those in their country. One large difference, however, exists between our view of the material and theirs. It is the fact that they do not act apologize for what they do not have. They don’t waste time with thoughts of “only if …” Instead, they gratefully acknowledge what they have and readily share whatever is immediately available. Satisfaction in bonding with others simply because we were all part of God’s spiritual family seemed to be enough.

As our African brethren eagerly “adopted” us, their arms were absent of any self-consciousness or shame. The brethren shared their homes, food, smiles, hugs, and joy with us unabashedly. How much more would we be able to accomplish as a church (especially in the U.S.) if we adopted this same attitude? What if we eagerly embraced one another the way God does towards us; if we just sort of “adopted” one another without analyzing or worrying (as some of us tend to do) about doing it the “right” way or if what we can offer others is enough?

In the U.S., I often experience situations where an individual (including myself) apologizes to others if he/she feels that expectations (real or psychologically created) about what that person can give them will not be met. A sense of what is “enough” doesn’t seem to exist easily in the American culture of materialism due to the subtle, disguised messages of competition over stuff that continually bombards our culture. While I don’t desire to trade the physical blessings the U.S. has to offer, my experience in Kenya helped me to see the spirits of competition and comparison that lurk within the U.S. culture of materialism and my own mind. As a result, I realized my need to release the spirit of self-consciousness about what I have versus what others have (or don’t have). I have come to more deeply understand the importance of gratitude and service; of how these two things can be spackled over if we feel it necessary to apologize to others for what we have or don’t have in comparison. Either end of the scale can be unhealthy when the components of the “lack of” syndrome are left unchecked.

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