Most of the time I blend in pretty well here. Yes, my skin is lighter than most, but since my hair is black, and my eyes are brown, I can usually go unnoticed. It isn’t until I mumble some verbless sentence that people realize I am the rumored “gringa” living in town! To be honest, I hate drawing attention. I am proud to be an American, but I’d rather hide behind my over-sized purse and go about my business, than have it pointed out over and over again that I am different. In my house however, it’s another story! I wake up in my air-conditioned bedroom, I spend time watching cable TV with my kids, I talk to my mom on my iPod, and check my Facebook from my laptop. If it weren’t for the beads of sweat rolling down my face, I’d almost forget that I’m not in the United States! Internet, and air-condition may seem like pretty basic things to the average American, but here, they are not the norm. I am different! Because I’m so used to having all these things, you can imagine how I feel when the cable goes out, or the internet is loading too slowly. Like most, my first reaction is to complain, but then I’ll spot something out my window that will change my mind. I’ll see a little boy riding a bike that has two flat tires, with no shoes on his feet, but a big smile on his face, and I suddenly feel very guilty. How can I be so upset that I can’t check my e-mail, when this boy has next to nothing, and is still so happy? Could it be he has learned the secret…”of being content”? (phil 4:12)
How often do we look in our refrigerators, and say, “there’s nothing to eat,” but how often do we actually go to bed hungry? Do we really ” know what it is to be in need,” and “know what it is to have plenty,” or do we fool ourselves into thinking we are in need because we don’t have everything we want? I’ll admit it, I struggle with this. There are times that I’ll see pictures of friends on Facebook, sitting around a beautifully set Thanksgiving table, and I’m jealous. I’ll open Christmas cards with pictures taken in front of live Christmas trees, or cards with kids waist deep in snow, and I admit, there is a part of my heart that breaks. There are certain memories, and traditions that I always I assumed I’d share with my kids. Things that I sometimes feel I deserve to share with them, because I had the privilege of being born American. It’s those times, when I let my thoughts get the best of me, that I have to look outside, and see the reality. My kids may never get to eat off expensive china at a fancy thanksgiving table, but I will teach them to be thankful for the food on their plates. They may never have a big Christmas tree, but I hope they will remember how it felt to give kids presents, who don’t have a tree. We may not be lacing up winter boots to play in the snow, but if they can see a boy on a bike lace up sneakers for the first time, I will be content. I’d be lying if I said, I don’t still dream of the “greener grass” of the United States. I dream of the “American dream” every day. Until I get my white picket fence, around the “greener grass” of my Long Island yard, I pray that God will teach me the secret of being content with the cinderblock wall topped with razor wire, that surrounds my “not-so-green grass,” in my barrio, here in El Salvador.