IMG_9629 IMG_8541I have always thought it’s harder to come home than it is to depart for a new adventure. After being in Ethiopia, getting to know the culture, and helping run a clinic almost every day I am kind of at a loss of what to do with myself. I spend the first week back from a trip letting the experience sink in, reminiscing, and resting. It took almost three whole days travel back to the states for us because of delays and time changes. I learned so much from my time abroad, much more than I could possibly write at the moment. Medically, I gained a lot of confidence in my assessment skills especially after working directly with providers who let me ask my questions first then explained how the patient’s answers led to a diagnosis. Seeing the whole process all together was very helpful and fulfilling. Personally, I know lots of people say this when they come back from places that aren’t very wealthy, but being there made me really stop and think about what is important in life. The people we met often led a self sustaining lifestyle. Many were farmers and only made enough crop for their family to live on that year and no extra to make a profit. It was not uncommon to see people wearing rags, and most of the maladies we treated had to do with the water supply being scarce and filled with parasitic organisms (a problem we don’t even have to think about here in the USA). Despite all this, I have never met people with such spirit. Their emotions were so vibrant and plain to see.  Every moment of life was spent actually living. They truly valued their relationships with others and even had a “coffee ceremony” which was simply time set aside to make coffee and talk. They had so much joy and strength and love that it was sometimes easy to forget how little the had in earthly possessions. Clearly, what we have is not equal to who we are and how happy we are. Maybe it’s because the necessities of life like food and water come so easily to us that we forget how precious life is. We worry too much about possessions and get caught up in the race to make more money. A quote comes to mind, “If you don’t stop once and a while to look at life it might just pass you by”. That saying wouldn’t even be applicable to these people because the already appreciate the value of life. While I’m not saying I want us all to live a life where it’s a struggle to meet basic needs, we should take time to evaluate our priorities and remind ourselves where true happiness comes from.