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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Because I Have Been Given Much


I'm leaving to go to Kenya in three weeks! As I've been preparing, I've thought a lot about other experiences I've had serving abroad in the past, and why I'm doing it again. I think these excerpts from my grad school application letters kinda sum it up:
"As I waved goodbye to Vishal, I wondered if I would ever see him again. He had followed me around the Bal Ashram for over two months, never saying much, but always smiling and peering over my shoulder at the strange, foreign characters I was writing in my journal. Vishal had been brought to the Bal Ashram, a rehabilitation center for rescued Indian and Nepali child laborers and street children, at age four. He was a happy, but frail little boy who frequently fainted as consequence of a failing liver. His mother abandoned him at a train station when he was a baby, and the other orphaned street children who found him, took him in, feeding him scraps of garbage, dirty water, and alcohol. They didn’t know any better. When I left the Bal Ashram in October 2007, six year old Vishal was scheduled to take a two hour journey to Jaipur, the nearest city in India with adequate medical resources to treat his liver disease. He was a lucky one. Far too many individuals around the world like Vishal suffer and die needlessly because of lack of resources, education, and access to quality care. This must change, and my hope is that I will be amongst the public health professionals who are driving that change....
"I have had numerous meaningful preparatory experiences around the world—from volunteering in my local Emergency Room in Utah, to working with rescued child laborers in India and children of prisoners in Nepal, and from tutoring foreign students at the English Language Center at BYU, to teaching English in China and Thailand. I’ve seen the panic of pandemics while working at a Utah County H1N1 screening clinic, as well as while serving as a missionary in Hong Kong during the time of SARS. I have observed the lack of health care resources and its consequences at both individual and general population levels. But perhaps one of the most poignant experiences of my life was working in India and seeing and feeling the struggles of so many of its people. This was the first time I had ever witnessed first hand the devastating blight of leprosy. My heart ached as I encountered many individuals afflicted with this demoralizing disease, begging for money on the streets, stretching out their hands with blackened and missing fingers and deteriorating skin. I often thought of Christ and how He offered so much love, compassion, and healing to these societal outcasts. I remember frequently passing through the outskirts of Jaipur, where some of the poorest of the poor in eastern Rajasthan reside. There the children play in the same piles of garbage where filthy pigs wallow, cows defecate, and helpless adults scavenge for scraps of food to eat and materials with which to patch together shelter. The place reeked of desperation. I often wondered, as I compared my abundant lifestyle to theirs, how and why I ended up in a place and situation so different from theirs. Why was I so fortunate to be blessed with a beautiful home, good health, and economic stability, in a country with freedom, education, and opportunity at my fingertips? Reflecting on these questions made me realize not only how much I have to offer, but also how much I am expected to offer..."

I don't know how much of an impact my short time in Kenya will have on the people there, but I agree with President Hinckley when he said, "I believe in the principle that I can make a difference in this world. It may be ever so small, but it will count for the greater good. The goodness of the world in which we live is the accumulated goodness of many small and seemingly inconsequential acts."
Doctrine & Covenants 82:3 says, "...unto whom much is given, much is required." The Lord has poured countless blessings into my life, and I know He expects me to pass it on!
So, why do I do what I do? Because I have been given much.

7 comments:

Carla said...

Have you been accepted to graduate school yet?!? If so, where will you be going?

MindySue said...

Cim, you completely blow me away. Thank you for being out there, doing what you do! I know we are both on our own journeys right now, but I wish that I could step alongside you on these trips and see what you see, and feel what you feel. This post was a great opportunity to travel vicariously.

Tawnya said...

I love that you're so adventurous and strong! Have a great time.

chellae said...

Love you so much my little sis! Can't wait to hear about all the Kenya adventures. Your grad school application excerpts choked me up a bit. Let us know how grad school stuff goes.

Janelle Kendrick said...

You inspire me.

Tara said...

I loved that Cim. You're probably gone by now but good luck and have fun improving small portions of Kenya as only you can!!

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