Sunday, March 14, 2010

Why I go

If you talk to anyone who does Operation Smile Missions they will tell you how addicting they are. Once you go you really can't stop going. It was the hardest thing for me to give up doing when I had little babies at home. One of the fringe benefits of them growing up is being able to go again. In fact if I were very honest, I think one of the saddest things for me would be to think I could never do them again. (So I am glad that isn't the case) I would practically realign the stars if I had to in order to continue doing these throughout my life. I always hope they won't suddenly be flooded with child life specialists and not need me!!
It is amazing how close you get to people in a week and a half. Also how quickly you adapt to a new environment. By the end of the trip it all feels natural. You are used to the intensive schedule, the food, the people. It's like you reach a new normal and it feels like home? In fact you have to remind yourself you don't really live in a hotel in Jordan and won't be at the Vinaigrette at 5:45 for breakfast the next week. I was also talking to my friend Jamie (a NP from Texas) and my friend Heather (who is an OR nurse from UT) we all agreed these trips are like pressing the reset button on your world. There are so many things I take from going on these trips.

1. You get to immerse yourself in another culture finding it's flavor. It reminds you we (Americans) don't have the corner on the market of all good things.

2. You are reminded that happiness doesn't come from things.

3. You realize how easy it is to bond with people who live half a world a way and whose lives are very different from your own especially when you are all coming together for a single goal. You gain so many friends.

4. You gain a great appreciation for your health and the health of your children and your access to medical care.

5. You realize how a few people coming together can create a big change in the lives of others.

It's funny because you always get comments from others when they hear you are going, telling you what good work you are doing, but really in a sense it almost feels selfish to go. The experiences are so rich and personally rewarding you sometimes feel what you receive from it is greater than the benefit the children receive from the surgeries.

Yes, I am already getting my suitcases packed for the next one. I figure realistically and logistically I can only do about 1x a year now...I wish I could do it again tomorrow, but home duty calls and my family is my first love. But already dreaming whats next? Egypt? India? Bangladesh? Ethopia? Although I'd easily go back to Jordan in a heartbeat. I have never gone back to a site I have done a second time and that would be a fun experience.

My family really is so supportive. People always say, "Your husband's okay with this--?" Especially when I told them I did 4 missions the first year we were married. He doesn't get threatened by it. He knows it's important to me, and I wouldn't be the woman I am if I didn't do these things. He knows how passionate I am about it and supports me 100%.  And my parents support me too, my mom came to help Allen with the boys (who by the way got seriously sick in my absence- which actually made me feel bad about being gone however cleaning up after 5 days of sick kids- secretly glad I missed that) and if you know my mom you know my house is now cleaner than ever and my freezer is filled with dinners and (seriously I should take a picture) over 30 homemade lunches in containers for my husband. I also returned to blissfully happy children. I have spent the week reassimilating into life, catching up on all the mail, bills, school papers, everything else that went on hold for 2 weeks.

There is a certain let down factor when you are done. It always feels kind of like a dream. It's sad to see it end. To know that in reality you will likely not see those families and people again. You go from being so busy and focused and connected back to ordinary life. It take a week or so to sort of recenter yourself back in your everyday world.


Lis said...

Leslie, you ARE one Smart Mama:)

This post is so true. I love it, shukran;)

(I just typed thanks and then corrected myself)

I can't wait for you to come to Utah this summer. What days are you going to be here? I hope I'll be home to see you and your sweet fam!

Smilin' sunshine said...

30 homemade lunches?? Seriously, can she come to my house??
What does she make? Maybe we need to have her come to our RS and teach us some things!!

smart mama said...

Lisa june 25-july 4- hope we can meet up!!!


dawn- there is a list on my fridge also very square inch of my walls were magic erased and my spices were all alphabetized-- seriously you can learn these skills in a night- I've beena round it over 30 years and still haven't learned - LOL

ellen said...

I enjoyed this post-you're a lucky gal!

LL said...

I love those pictures of you with the kids...glad you had such a neat experience, I look forward to your next adventure so we can hear about it.

Jenny said...

Sounds so much like heaven.
Glad you can do this!

Tamlynn said...

Loved reading about your trip. Could you use some I spy bags as toys to take? I was given 2 half-finished ones that are different from what I usually make (smaller, different fabric) and would love to see them put to use.

Suzie Soda said...

So neat you can do this. Amazing! I want Sherry to stay with me and make 30 homemade lunches. xoxoo