The Facebook Phenomenon

I want to start off this blog with a little honesty. While we (Jess and I) are in Haiti, Facebook has become a lifeline to America for us. We cannot keep up with every one of our friends and it is very difficult to talk with people, so a lot of times we get on Facebook just to get caught up with what is going on in the world. It is how we keep up with Jacksonville and LaGrange news and it makes us feel a little normal. Now, I understand that you cannot really learn anything about anyone on Facebook. Most people are either overly positive about every aspect of their life and they want everyone to know how great they are doing or they are overly negative and try to shock people for attention while everyone who does not fall into these 2 groups is just on there for the gossip. Nonetheless, Facebook makes us feel connected to a world that we deeply desire to be connected to and I never thought I would admit that to anyone. The funniest thing about Facebook is that you get a real glimpse into what is truly important to the majority of the people in your circle. Let me give you the top 5 Facebook stories over the past couple of weeks:

  1. Football season started (because we are from the south, specifically college football season started).
  2. Colin Kaepernick decided not to stand for the national anthem.
  3. Very very few people like either of our presidential candidates.
  4. Ryan Lochte did something stupid in Rio and got rewarded (or punished depending on your view point) with an appearance on Dancing with the Stars, which seems to really be lacking actual stars.
  5. Everyone’s child seemed to get it together long enough to take one really good picture prior to the first day of school.

I’m not sure if these have been the same stories that have dominated the actual headlines in America, but they are clearly the top 5 news stories on my Facebook feed. In reality, I don’t have anything positive or negative to say about this list other than it is kind of funny what becomes important to us depending on where we live and what time of the year it is. I was, however, really shocked at just how dominant the start of the college football season was on Facebook. If you know me, you know that I am a big sports fan and I always have been, but I recently learned that I am not as big of a fan as I thought I was. In fact, there is a hilarious clip that some local Jacksonville Sports Talk radio hosts play each year that shows the depth of our love of college football in the south. It happened a couple of years ago after a UGA loss (my favorite kind of loss by the way) and a guy called up to a radio show in Atlanta. When he started talking about the game, he got so caught up in the loss and the apparent emotions tied to that loss that he actually started crying. A grown man crying about a game that he did not even play in or take any part in at all. I thought I liked college football as much as the next guy, but after seeing Facebook go crazy I guess I do not.  It is crazy what we get caught up in and what we get emotional about and what news we find important.

So I started thinking, if I posted more than just ATN things on Facebook, what my top 5 Facebook stories would have been over the past couple of weeks. And then I got bored thinking about that, so I started thinking what stories would have “trended” here in Haiti compared to the stories that I listed above. I know there would have been a lot of political stories trending because there is a Presidential election (one that should have been completed last December 27) coming up on October 9 and with that election comes a lot of social unrest and manifestations (or riots). After that, however, the stories would have been like night and day in their content compared to America. The things that we care about and read about and talk about in America are so much different than the things we do here. Notice I do not say they are “less or more important” or even better or worse…They are just different. There are days that I wake up here and wish desperately that I was back in America with different things to worry about, care about, and talk about. Wishing that it was really easy to talk to my friends and family or go out to dinner or even just grab some fast food. Then there are days that I wake up when I am in America wondering why I am here rather than the place where GOD called me. Wondering why I do not have to constantly check our electricity to see if we can make it through the night, or stay up when it rains because otherwise we will be swimming in our bedroom the next morning, or flinch every time I start one of our trucks because the conditions here have caused them to deteriorate rapidly.

One of the hardest things about living here is that things are just different. The things that are important to you, the things that you talk about, and the things that you struggle with here are different. And not just the kind of different that stretches you to become better (though it is that). It is the kind of different that can cause you to sometimes be lonely both in Haiti and in America because it is hard to figure out exactly where you belong and how to hold a conversation with people whose struggles and experiences are so different than your own. It is the kind of different that causes me to get irrationally angry at inanimate objects such as the roads we drive on or the trucks we drive because I am not used to struggling with these things. Now that Sophie is with us, it is even more different because it is more difficult to find community here. Generally the Bible Studies or church services that you can go to and find community in happen during her naptime or at night when we are putting her to bed. I am not complaining by any means, in fact, when I really sit and think about it I would not want things any other way. GOD is using these things to help me to rely on Him more and more. He is expanding my faith, and the honest truth is that faith is an area that I can struggle with from time to time. I love a good plan, and I love to see that plan play out in front of me, but I can sometimes over plan rather than allowing GOD to stretch my faith, and that is exactly what He is doing now.

So for now, we will stay connected with you guys through Facebook and email, and please feel free to send us a message any time you think of us. Pray for us as we figure out how we belong in both of the worlds that we live in currently. Forgive us if we seem “different” when we are back home or hard to communicate with when we are away. Come and visit us in Haiti if you get the chance either with a team or by yourself, we love having people come and experience our new home and spend time with our kids. Help us with fundraising appointments (especially over the next 2 months because we will be home starting in very early October) when we are back in the states because this is by far our biggest stressor right now. At the same time, don’t be afraid to talk to us when you see us because we can talk about more than ATN and fundraising, and actually it is nice to have simple, social conversations in English when we are home. But most of all, pray for our kids and pray for us. We know that GOD has called us here for a reason and if you’re reading this He has called you to support us and we covet your prayers as we move forward in Him!

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