I have been thinking a lot about third-world countries lately. Well, more specifically, I have been thinking a lot about spending some time in a third-world country. The idea has been sporadically popping into my mind over the past few months. It’s not a big, invasive thought, it’s just kind of like a gentle nudge. If that makes sense.
When I was 13 or 14, I went to a Christian summer camp for a week up in Tennessee. I was really involved with my church then and most of my friends were part of the same church, so a lot of my extracurricular activities were church-based. One night while at this camp, we listened to an exceptionally moving speaker. I don’t remember at all what he talked about, I just remember feeling very different than I ever had before. After the meeting, our group of people from our church met up and our youth pastor asked us some question along the lines of, do you feel like God is speaking to you or calling you to do anything in particular? And all of the sudden, quite literally out of nowhere, I had this crazy, overwhelming thought consume my entire brain: I was supposed to teach English in a third-world country. My grandpa is very involved with a mission in Haiti that has built a school, church, and college over there and he goes every year to keep up with it and to provide the missionaries and school staff with anything they need. I actually went twice to Haiti myself, and both times were pretty incredible. At the time of this consuming revelation, it was Haiti that I had in mind.
Now, I know that probably sounds insane. It felt insane at the time, but it also felt like it was something that was just meant to be and that there was no getting around it. Almost like I didn’t really have a choice in the matter – that was the plan for my life. I even went as far as asking my grandpa if the school in Haiti needed any tutors or other kind of help in the school, because I was ready and willing to leave my little 14-year-old life behind and move to Haiti. But, at that time, the school didn’t need me, and there wasn’t much use in me taking up space in an already overpopulated school if I wasn’t going to be of some sort of help.
After that, I didn’t really think about it much. And I really haven’t thought about it again until recently.
Isn’t that kind of strange? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not some kind of zealot. I don’t even go to church anymore. I do have faith, and I do consider myself a spiritual person. My God today is still the same God who put that thought in my mind all those years ago, but my understanding of him has developed into something completely different than it was back then.
I am all about seeing “signs” and I totally believe in intuition. I also believe that I have a purpose in my life that, if I’d only listen, would be made clear to me. I believe that the right path for me has already been paved, and my only job is to follow it.
But living in a material world that worships social media and celebrities and having the latest iPhone, sometimes following – or even knowing – that path is pretty fucking hard. Not because I don’t want to, but because I don’t know how to. I’m a selfish person by nature, and on most days my number one priority is myself and how I feel and what I can do to be more successful or to be happier or to make people like me. That usually doesn’t translate well when it comes to the selflessness that’s needed to pursue a way of life that isn’t revolved around, well, me.
With all of that being said, I think it’s pretty cool – and kind of strange – that these third-world country thoughts have somehow creeped back into my mind. I’m not going to be uprooting myself anytime soon. But I do want to stick around and see what comes of them.