I was having lunch with a friend Monday and we started discussing the differences between life in the US and the island (he had been a college student there). One of the biggest differences we noticed about people who come from America to the island is massive weight loss.
This is due to a number of things; heat and lack of air conditioning leading to sweating weight off, the only main thing to drink being water, lack of fast-food restaurants or large grocery stores nearby, and people doing a lot more walking (particularly where I am in Barrouaille).
While all of these things contributed, the greatest in my opinion is the lack of cheap junk-food
Gone were the fifty-nine cent donuts at Walmart, and one-dollar bottles of coke or pepsi, replaced by $10 bottles of coke (I’ve yet to see a donut on the island). At first this was difficult to deal with since pastry’s and carbonation are my go to combinations for comfort food . However as I began to lose my “American weight” an amazing thing happened…I found something much better than comfort-food.
Like many people I didn’t so much deal with my emotions as much as they were drowned out or medicated with empty calories I can remember over the summer after a particularly frustrating day I made a trip to the grocery store for a pack of birthday cake oreo’s because it was a “birthday cake oreo kind of day.” At first something that may not seem bad because everyone indulges in food that’s bad for them every once in a while. But a look at my monthly bank statement revealed the number of “oreo or donut runs” was getting out of hand 🙂
I actually didn’t realize just how connected junk food was with my connections till having a bad day on the island and no junk food to placate it
All of us have days when our body pretty much crashes and says “okay your not going to do anything productive today” I had one of those after being in Barrouaille for a week. In hindsight it was a combination of the heat, too much walking, and not setting aside time to rest in the afternoon. Whatever the reason, I was pretty much useless from 3:00 that afternoon on.
In the past that kind of feeling would result in a quick trip to the local Walmart or grocery store for food that would make me feel better. This time however the store fifteen minutes away didn’t have cheap junk food (paying $20 for a bag of oreo’s would have made me feel worse). So instead of turning to my trusty comfort-food I crashed on the bed, rested, and asked God for help.
Though my heart desperately wanted comfort-food in that moment, I’m so thankful God didn’t give it to me.
The reason why is those exhausted days are becoming less and less frequent, and each one less powerful. This is because being away from cheap junk food has made my body stronger (and of course healthier) and able to serve effectively on the island. See donut and oreo John wouldn’t last too long here because he wasn’t ready physically or emotionally for the challenges ahead. But the lack of comfort-food has toughened me up so that I can truly reach the people of Barrouaile.
This doesn’t mean I won’ take full advantage of the food in America after returning. My friend Monday told me about purposely gaining around ten pounds in two-weeks the last time in the States because he knew that he would lose it right away 🙂 But in a deeper sense I’m thankful weariness or discouragement today has me turning towards rest and communion with God instead of food.