In 2007, we arrived on the tiny island of Tarakan in Indonesia to work with MAF. After two days of traveling from our previous post in Papua (Indonesia), we arrived to see the smiling faces of our friends and their co-workers, including Brad & Rebecca. When our two months were finished, we continued to keep up with Brad & Rebecca through the wonders of Facebook and, eventually, our blogs. I'm so honored to have Rebecca share today about those who have less, but want more. A very moving read and I hope you'll share it with your friends and visit Rebecca's blog in the future.
I listened while my friend described the culture of materialism all around her. The women at her daughter’s preschool who tempt each other with their Blackberries. The neighbors and their bigger televisions. The movies and all the riches they advertise.
I nod, trying to figure out how to describe to her the English expression “keeping up with the Joneses.”
You see, I live in Indonesia, where most of my Indonesian friends make between $100-$200 a month. The lucky ones with jobs anyway. I was visiting my friend in her one-bedroom teeny tiny house that she shares with her husband, her daughter, her brother and her sister.
When she mentioned the movies—the television that promotes bigger and better everything—it hit me. If you live in a western country—America, Canada, Europe—the world is watching us. And they want what we have—on their teeny tiny salaries.
Most of my friends here live a simple life, according to American standards anyway. They own one vehicle—a motorcycle, usually. They live in small houses. They eat meals made from fresh spices and vegetables bought from a neighbor’s garden.
Many of them, though, are in over their heads in debt. For flat screen TVs, and computers and clothes. And then when their kid gets sick, in debt to the hospital for the mediocre medical care. Maybe in debt to the school for children’s school fees.
I want both more and less for these friends. More understanding of how to save instead of buying things they don’t need at rocket-high interest rates. More time spent reading to their kids instead of plopping them in front of the TV they can’t afford. More seeking for things that last forever.
But I also want for them less fear of wondering whether tomorrow’s needs can be met. Less captivity to materialism and its creation of debt. Less tension in families because of half-full stomachs and empty hearts.
I want more and less for you and me too. Less debt. Less focus on accumulating stuff. Less rat-race drive for the next thing that we hope will make us happy.
I want for you and me, more freedom to give. More desire to see the world’s needs and be part of meeting them. More seeking for things that last forever…even if it sometimes makes things less simple. And more complicated. Maybe even more difficult. But oh, so much more fulfilling.
Rebecca Hopkins lives in Indonesia, and is a wife to a handsome Mission Aviation Fellowship pilot, mom to two-and-a-half adorable kids, and friend to amazing Indonesian women. She blogs about Living for More in a World of Less at www.borneowife.blogspot.com, and you can also follow her on Facebook.