Thursday, March 8, 2012

Learning from the past...

Many of us sit around with friends and family telling fun stories about our past.  Or sometimes we talk about tough times in our past and how we got through it-as I get older I find saying "what I have learned over time..."  Really, what I am saying is (I am getting old!) I have learned so much from my past- the tough times, the failures and the successes all of these have impacted who I am today.  But there are times when the past can trap us, make us feel like we can't move forward. Failures from the past can paralyze us in moving forward and stepping out in faith.  Learning from the past and letting the past control us are two very different attitudes.  One liberates us to move forward the other imprisons us in a fear of the future.

The last few weeks my boys, Isaac and Felix finished and presented their very first 'research report'.  Since I was allowed to help them pick their topic and since I LOVE history (history major in Univ.)  I gave them a couple of books on WWII to look through to find something to write on.  Felix picked Pearl Harbour and Isaac to my surprise, picked Adolf Hitler...(I have read Mein Kampf scholarship history Gr.12!).  As I helped them through their reports I was reminded on how the past can impact us.  Even though both Germany and Japan were defeated and suffered great loss under harsh leaders, both of these countries learned from their past and have recovered-moved on and have become strong nations.

Liberia, during the war suffered under poor leadership; leadership that exploited Liberians, full of corruption and sent this beautiful country into years of pain, war, suffering and sent it down to the depths of the human development index-to be rated as one of the poorest and least developed countries in the World. 

A reminder of the destruction of the war

Bullet casings from the war were a common sight when we first arrived in 2005

With the end of the war-the long road of recovery commenced.  I remember when I first arrived in Liberia-hearing our staff talking about how they are 'tired' of fighting-that they had 'learned' from the past and they did not want to go back.  I am very grateful that this attitude has remained constant wherever we go to do projects.  The participants in our HOPE/CMP program have learned from their past and are using those lessons to move forward.  Yes, their communities experienced terrible things in the past 20 years-but they are moving forward. 

They have all learned the war is not the answer.  They have not let the past imprison them into doing nothing. They have not let the atrocities of the past fester into bitterness and revenge.  They have learned that revenge and bitterness was part of Liberia's  past-and they don't want to repeat it. Ever. Again.  Instead they are learning what it means to be a caring citizen of their community, how to help the vulnerable, how to Biblically love each person-no matter who they are or what they have done. How to prevent hunger, oppression and greed from sending Liberia back into war.  This could be some of the most important training that we do.  No matter what happens, the same God that got them through the darkest days of the war-will see them through the challenges of their bright future.

Learning from the past and moving forward: Our CMP/HOPE participants.

I am fighting my past right now in my training. After my first marathon in Dec. 2008, I suffered with an ITB injury that kept me from running for close to 4 months.  In London last year-many of you know that I was struck with a very painful hip injury.  As I head into the heaviest month of training I find myself frozen in fear from past injuries and failures (not breaking a 2 hour half marathon).  The things I have learned from the past races have made me train smarter, stretch more and know when to rest.  However, at times I have let the fears of injury or failure overpower the fact that I finished every race I have entered! I learned that God's strength will get me through.  Him in me-And that made me stronger-that made me confident that no matter what happens the same God that got me through the tough painful moments of running is the same God that will see me through my tough training month-and ultimately 26.2 miles through the streets of London on April 22nd.

Learn from your past-and move forward in confidence-this is what I see happening in our projects here in Liberia.  This is what I am learning from our CMP/HOPE leaders-they inspire me move forward in freedom and anticipation of the future of this country!

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