In Shauana Neiquest’s book, Cold Tangerines, she says many people desire to go overseas and serve the poor,
“I encourage them to go and recommend organizations and churches to connect with, but inside myself, I whisper to them, Be careful. You will be haunted by what you find there and you won’t be able to wash away what you’ve seen and heard. You will see things and hear things and then you will be responsible for them, for telling the truth about who you are and who you discover you are not, and for finding a way to make it right.”
This is not my first time in El Salvador, however the home I spent time in yesterday will haunt me. Maybe for a few reasons: one, I was already emotionally invested in Kimberly. I knew her face and her story before I found myself sitting in her two bedroom shack across from her 20-year-old mom. Two, her level of poverty was a not something I remember seeing last year. It was more desperate, somehow more final.
Later, Shauna says, “I had to make things right within me. I had to confront the person I found on that trip, the one who wanted to fly home and pretend the whole thing was not real. That’s the trick, I think. That’s why actually getting on a plane and going there is dangerous and very important. because I could not forget about it, as desperately as I wanted to…Becasue once you see it, you will never be able to un-see it, and once you see it, you will be responsible for it and for the self it reveals back to you.”
Yesterday left me wondering how I will play out my responsibility for what I have seen here.
Here is Kimberly’s home. For now all I know is I look forward to returning here one day.