I confess. I want to go home.
I’ve been missing Rochester, NY for months. This isn’t homesickness. Rather, it’s a desire to connect to my community and the place I call home in the deep way I do here.
There are plenty of things I’m missing out on at home, but I know I’m missing those things for a good reason. I know the reward will outweigh the cost. In the end, I’ll get exponentially more than I lost. More fulfillment from my relationships, more satisfaction from my work, more life out of 24 hours, and more beauty out of creation. And by “in the end” I mean heaven, specifically the one God promises.
I want to go home because I love my country, my city, my neighborhood. Sometimes I feel sad that I am thousands of miles away from home to serve someone I’ve never met and may never meet again.
I’m aware that all humans are equal and poverty is poverty. Everyone on the face of the planet needs a supernatural dose of hopefulness. Street beggars in Madagascar and NYC alike need to receive a glance straight to their eyes to remind them they’re human.
I’m aware that God calls us to love everyone and to bring message of love to the ends of the earth.
I’m aware that when God calls you somewhere, you really ought to go, or else your overnight boat trip might get uncharacteristically stormy and you’ll be thrown overboard.
So, yes I know I’m here for a reason. I truly do love serving here. I love being a part of this ship community and serving the crew. I love being a nurse and serving the patients.
Yet, the nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach remains. I traveled thousands of miles to love and serve people when there are people around the corner from my childhood home that could use a smile or an encouraging word.
- There are so many violent crimes in Rochester that my chance of being a victim is 1 in 94 (vs 1 in 254 in NYC) Source.
- There are injustices committed against the homeless.
- There are crimes committed against grassroots NGO’s trying to make a difference.
- There are kidnappings.
- There are young people who can’t learn because they are too addicted to weed, or too lost in the school system.
- There are black and Hispanic students that get arrested for being black/Hispanic.
- The “open-air drug market” is thriving just around the corner from the lawn I weeded and the roses I planted for my mom last summer.
If I’m gonna keep my focus on the task I can do, the circle I can influence, and the people I can love, I need to remind myself of those called to Rochester for such a time as this. As much as I care, it’s not my place to be at this moment. Maybe that season is coming, but it’s not time yet.
My own Facebook feed is filled with influential people who love my city. In fact, I just came across this article from CITY newspaper. I hear of people like:
- Lisa Barker is one of the co-founders of Seedfolk City Farm where she influences and teaches youth in the city about their relationship to food and farming. Read more about Seedfolk here. She was also a featured speaker at TEDxRochester and tells more about why this is so important
- Danielle Ponder inspires me because her art influences her day job and her day job influences her art. She is a public defender in addition to the frontwoman of Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People. I went to a concert of hers at the Lilac Festival last May and was quite moved by her presence and the power that emanated from her. She serves on the board for Teen Empowerment and serves through the Anti-Poverty Initiative.
- Danielle Raymo is one of the founders of The Brainery. This is a place where community members can teach or take classes. These are not your average classes. Ruben and I went a few years ago to learn how to make sausages from scratch. You can take classes on anything from pierogi making to blogging. You can also sign up to teach classes on a topic you know a lot about. The vision is that accessible, affordable learning and teaching supports and grows the community.
Thank you to these folks and the many more that are fighting for change. I get excited when I read about what they’re up to. When I worry about what God is doing in my city, I can see him working through these guys and I can let my worries go. Their efforts at caring for humans and our planet are ushering in God’s kingdom on Earth.
One thing I’ve just begun to learn: God is the God of the Universe, the whole Earth and every nation in it. He loves the mom living on the streets in Madagascar as much as he loves the mom in Rochester who can’t afford healthy food for her kids.
I will always miss home but I remind myself that Rochester is not my responsibility right now. My only job is to pray and cheer on the good work happening from a distance.
For my fellow travelers, crewmates and mission-minded friends, do you know who is fighting for change in your hometown? Do you tend to focus on those changing the world near you, or across the seas?
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