Monthly Archives: May 2012

Lonely Part II …. Clarification

It seems as though I have caused a tad bit of confusion and quite honestly I have offended some with my last blog post.  Please understand this was not my intention.  When I speak about Guatemala I always say I learned so much there.  One thing I have learned upon coming back home is that I should not say or write anything while my mind is so clouded.  Things do not seem to come out of my mind in the way I mean them right now.  They lack clarity and they have a harshness to them that I do not mean.  Those that know me are shocked by my attitude.  I have been approached by so many telling me that my last blog was harsh… or mean… or offensive.  I feel terrible that people have taken it in a way it was not meant.  I am trying to articulate feelings and thoughts that cannot be articulated yet.  They seem harsh because I just came from a harsh place.  Thoughts are muddled in my own mind and if I cannot totally make sense of them, how can I expect others to?  That is my fault and I should have known better.

I re-read my blog…. several times… What offended some the most was how I came across.  That Canada sucks and Guatemala is amazing.  People here suck and people there are amazing.  That could not be further from the truth.  But in my re-reading I see now how it was worded.  I did not do a good job in articulating what I was trying to say.  What happened in my writing was me trying very hard to compare apples to oranges… it simply cannot be done. The problem with my last blog that got to so many, was my use of the word ‘community’ and how we don’t have it here in Canada.  I overstated the point… in a way that made sense in my head and does when I explain it face to face with people…. but totally gets misinterpreted in the semi-impersonal world of writing.  Happens so often when we write… without expression & body language and a forum for others to jump in and ask questions,  things get jumbled…. Compound that with the thoughts being jumbled in my head, and that is not good….. lesson learned…

There is community here… strong, solid and good….  it is just a different type of community for a different part of the world.  Apples to oranges…. I stand by what I feel in the way that it can be at times an unhealthy type of community.  I love the people that surround me.  None of what I do or pieces of who I am could be without them.  But people, me included, sometimes seem discontent… busy… distant… it makes me sad…   People… friends, family, neighbours, strangers,  in our community live with loneliness and despair and we are clueless to their plights at times.  People in my own community are clueless to my plight… both my fault and theirs….  We are all guilty of it… whether here or in any other part of the world.  It is a broken world… everywhere… filled with broken people… everywhere…

Coming back from a mission experience of any kind, whether short term, or long term has its pieces.  Pieces of beauty and pieces of ugliness too.  You return with an extreme desire to fix things…. to fix people… to fix problems… to fix everything.   You want to scream from the rooftops how everything you see seems out of sync.  Make no mistake,  that is MY problem and not YOURS.  It is something that those returning have to deal with.  They have counsellors that deal only in this specific type of reverse culture shock for missionaries.  There is a very good and valid reason for those counsellors.  You cannot hold a dying child in your arms and not be affected… not be different… not be harsh at times.  I have had people say to me, “you have to be patient with us back home… we cannot understand”.  I have to say the same things to you… “Be patient with me…. you cannot understand…I have held the dying child.”….. Everyone is unique… and we all process things differently.  No one can totally understand how I personally process things.  And I cannot expect anyone to.   Its like I have been blindfolded and spun around.  Someone has stopped spinning me and removed the blindfold only part way and placed me in a place that is familiar yet unfamiliar.  Now I am dizzy &  disoriented and trying to find my way.  But I am only sure of one direction…. forward… but forward seems unattainable while my brain tries to re-orient itself and my eyes can’t really focus yet.

The bottom line is…. love one another… those that are close to you… and those that are distant.  Reach out to those you don’t know in small ways… they mean so much.  Take time away from completing tasks, from work… from extracurricular activities… from your “stuff”… whatever your stuff is…. take time from it and love on someone.  From the outside looking in (which is where I feel now at times both here and in Guatemala) it seems to me that people have been so busy with their stuff that they have lost sight of that.  I was one of the worst people for that… always surrounded by ‘have to’s’ … drop some have to’s and live… and love.  Yourself… and others.  It’s a lesson I learned during my time away.  And one I am still struggling to process completely.

Let me clarify things…. I love my life here.. I love my life in Guatemala.  I love my people here… I love my people in Guatemala.   There are so many things we do so much better here… there are so many things they do so much better there.  Apples to oranges….  People ask me, will you miss here at all?  Of course I will.  But, I know that this is the path that God has me on and I accept that.  Gladly and with a humble heart….. I am very passionate about this ministry that God has put on our hearts.  BUT, I am terrified.  Packing my life into 10 boxes … leaving family and friends… leaving my community…. starting over.  Terrifying stuff.   But I am also excited to begin a new adventure.  One that I want every single one of my community here to be a part of… because I cannot do this alone.  None of my family can.  This is not our thing… this is God’s thing…. and it can only work if we do it together, however that looks.

Once again, if you are one of those I offended… please don’t be offended… It was never my intention to hurt anyone… don’t give up on me.  I have changed in many ways, but I am the same person inside.  Many who have seen me personally have said I seem lost… I am lost.  About that I cannot lie.  I need you…. I need prayer… I need help… I need time… I need so many things.  Its not easy for me to say these things.  I am inherently a very independent person and admitting my need is a tough thing for me.  One of the biggest things I need is your understanding…. your patience and your love.

God bless you all!

Lonely….. but with a purpose!

Wow… 2 weeks today my family & I landed back in Canada.  Complete with warnings from so many people that our transition back into the Canadian culture would be difficult.  Well I have to tell you that difficult does not even come close to describing what me and my family have been going through these past weeks.  Incredibly, inconceivably brutal might be a tad bit closer to our reality right now.  Every single thing about Canada feels foreign… even our own home feels a bit unfamiliar.  It seems full of meaningless junk.  Stuff…. tons of stuff that does nothing but weigh me down like I have an anchor tied to my neck.  Stuff I have to clean and dust but serves no purpose.  All seems pointless….. As I sit and think about it…. nothing has changed here… its all still the same… its us who have undergone a total and complete transformation.

I have at times been completely surrounded by people these past weeks.  All with the best of intentions.  I love them dearly.  Make no mistake, I love my people here with all my heart.  And I have loved every minute seeing them and catching up.  But I find myself quiet now.. (and for those that know me, that is very unusual).  I sit and I listen… its like my brain is moving in slow motion and it takes me a while to truly focus.  Its only been 2 weeks and everyone says, don’t worry this will pass.  Its the foreign nature of my surroundings that has me … um… weird I guess description for lack of a better word.  Someone said to me, “perhaps its just too soon to be with people”.  I took that to heart and have tried basically becoming a hermit this past week.  Still feel the same.  I finally pegged it down.  I am lonely.

People in Canada are surrounded by people… they gather, they meet at Starbucks to talk, they communicate electronically through social media like Twitter and facebook, they text, they email etc etc…. but there is something missing.  Community.  True, REAL community.  THAT is what I am missing.  I can’t explain it unless you’ve lived it.  But its real… and no matter how much you think you have community here, you do not.  We segregate ourselves and our lives… We compartmentalize.  We live in our homes…. we might chat with our neighbours, we gather with our friends…. but we do not have community.  I miss community…. North America is a lonely place.  Its not just me…. Geoff feels it… my kids are a mess right now.  Surrounded by friends, school, family etc but they are so missing something that they cannot quite put into words.  They don’t have to… I get it… I know what it is… and we together as a family have found an answer…..

We don’t want it to pass, we don’t want it to go away.  We want it to thrive in us.  We don’t want to be lonely anymore.  Solution?  Simple!  We are going to follow where we feel we are being led.  It doesn’t get any simpler.  We have made a decision to turn our ministry into a full time, forever thing.  Not a year or 2…. nope.  We are going “ALL IN”.  Our house will be sold, our belongings sold…. we are going to keep only the real memorable things that we simply cannot do without.  Basically what can fit into a few meager boxes.  We don’t need any more than that…. we have each other and our community.  Good enough for me.  Our plan right now is to live in Guatemala for 10 months of the year and return here to Canada for the summers.  Simple as that!

Now, in order to go “ALL IN” we are going to need tons of help.  We are still hoping for now to cover all our living expenses ourselves.  I will be teaching english in Guatemala, that is already arranged.  My boys are already all set up to do homeschooling.  Geoff will be working on projects etc.  We will find our way.  Where we need you is where we always need…. financially.  Every few days I get emails from Hermana Veronica… more kids have arrived… more on the way…. the rains are full force… the hospital is filling…. there isn’t enough money to help them all… etc etc…  Oh how I wish I was there right now to help… I feel so utterly and completely helpless.  We simply do not have the means to help by ourselves…. helpless is not a good place to be…. so here I am, taking the reins and making things happen.  I cannot sit idly by anymore without asking people to make the tough choices… to commit.  Words are great and we love and appreciate all   the moral support, but we need so much more than that for the kids…..  We need people like you to search your hearts and your lives and see if there is anything more you can do to help them.

The Hospitalito right now has well over 20 kids and more arriving weekly.  We need to cover the hospital budget.  They cannot function without money… they cannot serve…. they cannot save these kids if they don’t have the money to buy food.  We need people to commit.  To go “ALL IN” right along side us.  We need people to say, enough, I am totally going for it.  A monthly pledge can come right out of your bank account…. you won’t even notice.  But others will notice.  The precious kids will notice when more nutritious food shows up on their plates at meal times saving their lives.  Im not guilting here… nor over-stating.  I am merely stating the facts.  If the money does not come in the kids will not have a shot.  I’ve seen it.  I’ve paid for funerals…. Trust me when I tell you I do not want to ever have to pay for another one.

In the next month or so we hope to have a website up and running.  There will be options there too.  Sponsoring a child that is currently in the hospital.  Sponsoring a Hermana to get an education that can aid her to serve the poor better.  Nursing, teaching, agriculture etc.  Sponsoring a specific project that we can discuss and arrange, like for example an outdoor playground for the kids… etc.  You could be responsible for saving a child’s life in any of these 3 ways for less than the cost of what we spend on things like Starbucks in a month.  Doesn’t sound like too huge a sacrifice to me…..

In the mean time, if you want to get started right now… that is totally what we are looking for.  The form to fill out can be found here…. click on it, http://www.ctenc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Commission-To-Every-Nation-Canada.pdf … print it out….  fill it out… put “The Doppenberg’s in Guatemala” at the bottom & mail it to CTENC at the address on the form,  and just sit back and enjoy the pictures and updates we will send you regularly so you know exactly where your money is going.  You will totally be a part of something that is beautiful beyond your imagination.  Coming to Guatemala in person is something we always encourage so you can see and experience for yourself.  Talk to someone who has come… we hosted 51 amazing people this year and every single one of them has been touched by the experience in some way.  Consider coming down and seeing for yourself!  The time is now!

There are so many plans in the works… a farm to provide fresh food and jobs… a new Hospitalito in El Salvador…. so many new and exciting things….  But we cannot move forward yet.  We cannot until we have the existing hospital covered.  Renovations are mostly complete on the building.  It is up to snuff so to speak.  This year was about getting it in better working order so that they could function better and save money.  The time has come to get their financial situation in order.  The monthly hospital budget is under $5000.00 for operating costs…. Imagine running a hospital in North America for that much?   We need this budget covered by the people of Canada together with the people of Guatemala so that burden can be lifted from all of us and free us up to proceed forward on the path to El Salvador.  Malnutrition knows no borders and El Salvador is not immune to this epidemic.

The average cost (without meds or medical tests etc) of having a child in the Hospitalito for one month is 1000 quetzals, which is $135.00.  That is nothing!  What would that number be in North America.. I shudder to think?  I am not asking for anyone to pledge that amount of money, although it is totally do-able for most, we do understand that it may seem like a hefty number for one person… What I am asking is that you cover, monthly, a portion of that.  We need to go to Guatemala and know that the Hospitalito is covered monthly.  They have costs like lights, power, food, water, etc just like the rest of us.  What they do not have is payroll.  The Hermana’s and us are doing what we do because, in the words of Hermana Mercedes, “Some people were just born to serve the poor”.  We will do without a paycheck… We will do without the luxuries.  We will do without the commercial Christmas… we will do without whatever it takes to help.  We are willing to do without stability in our lives in order to follow the path that we feel God has put us on.  But we cannot do this alone.  I have said it so many times before, “Will you help us, help them?”.  Many people read this blog… many people watched the weekly videos we posted…. this stuff is not for entertainment.  We do this so you can understand from afar exactly what we are all about.  What it is that we do.  We want to make it personal.  This is NOT our families thing.  This belongs to everyone who wants to be a part of it.  Together we can walk, hand in hand, with God in the lead and make a difference.  It is a choice… and the time has come to choose.  We have now stood up and declared that we feel its not right to have these kids dying of starvation while our fridges and cupboards are full.  There IS enough to go around.  I am asking you now to stand with us and say, NO MORE!