Once in a while we get an opportunity to travel as a family. Most of the time we get to go to Florida or some other nice "warm" vacation spot in the winter. This past February we had the opportunity to go to an island that was part of the Dutch Antilles until its recent status upgrade to "the world's newest country". Curacao is located about 30 miles north of the Venezuela border and is part of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao). What sold me was not the three flights with three kids but the promise of 80-85 degree weather everyday (remember this is February). So, we were smart (or stupid depending on how you look at it) and said, yes, we will go.
As February rolled around the weather in Missouri was far from its best and I was getting very excited. As we made our first two flights we got there but had no luggage. Fortunately our last flight wasn't to go out until the next morning and so it caught up with us. When we finally arrived in Curacao we were greeted with warm, sunny skies and very friendly locals. Once we arrived on the island, we had a 45 minute bus ride to the resort. The teacher in me had given the kids an asignment for this bus ride. I told them that I wanted them to pay attention to the differences between here and home. I wanted them to notice the way people lived, the nature and culture. Curacao is not considered a third world country but it is also not as developed and as "rich" as what we find in most American cities or towns. What we were seeing were small, decent homes for the most part but not "nice" according to our standards. Not long into our ride, Kate said, "Mom, will our hotel be like these houses?" Now I knew she was paying attention and doing her "assignment". This led into a conversion about economics as well as culture because we were also seeing families, friends and neighbors sitting in each others yards visiting on this Sunday afternoon. Many people were walking at a leisurely pace. Another thing we noticed was that nothing was opened for business. I quickly thought, "this is what it must have been like years ago at home" before we somehow took a wrong turn in the name of "advancement" and became a socity that was willing to sacrifice relationships, peace and solidarity and bacame a "dog eat dog" society.
We had all learned a lot in that 45 minutes through observation and conversation. Once we finally arrived at the resort, Kate's questions were answered with a resounding "no". The resort was Americanized. We continued to experience the "island life" but something I think was perfected by the locals was genuine joy, acceptance and hospitality. They were all so friendly and happy even though they didn't seem to have a lot.
1 Timothy 6:6-7
"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out."