My heart’s cry so often is… Break my heart for what breaks yours…
I am burdened.
In a different way. But I have recognized it as a heart burden. A grieving.
It is easy to be in an area of need and be burdened. But being in the states for a longer period of time and then being in the city has given me three different perspectives of the world in a short period of time. And to each place, there are adjustments to be made. Yet, there is a fresh way of seeing life here as well. Being away gave me perspective. Turned my eyes from the focus here to the focus there. Being away reminded me of changes in the world and changes in myself. A perspective that isn’t developed in a short trip back to the states.
And so, to step back into life in the valley here, in a way is to see it again afresh. Many things were forgotten and my senses take it in again. I see the burden. I feel the burden. I feel the difference.
Burdened. There is something here. Burdened for the older generation. As they lived through a war and are on the other side. As development happens, yet they cling to their old ways. Burdened as technology passes them up and I see the structure of family changing. They are saddened. They are struggling to understand the change. I pass an old man a few times a week along the side of the mountain. He is in his field with his hoe in hand. Barefoot. Trying to plant a crop of corn so that he can continue to eat. Yet he barely has the strength to raise his hoe.
Burdened for the middle generation as they seek to work. As they look for jobs and to provide for their families. As they have hope now for change and as the Western influence comes. Burdened because there are more materialistic things for them to desire, yet in this valley, the opportunities for jobs are scarce. If they have an education and want to stay here, they find themselves in a corrupt system to struggle for a job. You must be the right political party or family or associated with the right people. Burdened because they want to provide a better life than their childhood produced. Many of this generation has left leaving mothers to raise their children alone or aunts or grandmothers who now have the burden of raising children left behind by immigration.
And the burden grows. For the younger generation. As I have listened to conversations and dialogues, I hear a change in the way that young people are talking. Here in this valley. They want out. They want something different. They hope for something that they have not had. They want an education. They want a change to dream. They want the things they see in movies. Many of them are looking to the states as an answer to that. They know that there are opportunities out there, and yet they are ill equipped to embrace them. They have pint-sized practice at decision making. And yet, they are making decisions that completely effect their path for the rest of their lives.
And so as I listen to the youth here talk about their futures. As I talk with students who have left to study. As I talk with those from the mountains that have come to town, the general consensus is that they are searching. Many go to the bigger cities. Many go to the states. They are searching for something that would satisfy. Something that will help them make a better life for themselves than the previous generation had.
I had a flashback as I was thinking. That much of what is happening here is not much different from what I have seen in my hometown. Or in the small towns around me in Western Pennsylvania. They were mining towns. Oil towns. Boom towns. The economy was built on what was around them. Over time the people left, the industries were not able to keep up with the change. There were no jobs. There was nothing to entice young families to stay. Adolescents graduated, went away to college and settled elsewhere where there were opportunities and promises and a better job market.
I have a soft heart. I am often burdened. But this burden is real. I am constantly thinking of how to break that cycle. How to provide hope. How to create jobs that will keep the educated here, within their communities. Bettering the town. To have role models to point to. And above all, for God’s mercy to shine in this country.