I worked for 20-something years for Columbia County before leaving four years ago to answer the call as a Baptist missionary to Honduras. When I returned last month to my homeland for the first real visit in four years, I noted several things which had previously not registered with me. On my first morning back here in the states, I walked up to the corner for a paper and a cup of coffee. As I walked down the street I was struck by the differences between our country and the Third World.
This country smells great! The clean, crisp air, filled with the smells of springtime in the South, gently touched my nostrils. Odd, I thought; what a strange smell. It was then that I realized how different indeed were these delightful, fragrant scents from the odors of Central America. The acrid smell of wood smoke, rising towards heaven and filling each morning and evening with the sharp scent of burning pine as families cooked their meals over these open fires, was missing here.
The smell permeates each day in Honduras along with the pungent odors of human waste, diesel fumes and decay. But then, too, the smell of coffee roasting was missing here.
This country is so clean! We drove 1,000 miles through Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina, constantly marveling at the lack of roadside litter. The roadsides were nearly pristine in their cleanliness. At one point, I noted only five visible pieces of trash in a 1-mile stretch of road!
What a contrast to Central America. Litter and trash along the roads and paths is the norm. Mounds of trash paint the landscape. But then, what is there is truly trash. Anything of value dumped by the way has already found a use in someone elses life. I guess the poor have been into recycling a lot longer than anyone else. ...
This country is so green! Being of Irish ancestry but never having had the opportunity to visit the Emerald Isle, I really cant compare it to this country. But as we drove around the Southeast, we discovered that the green comes from the sheer density of trees. We marveled at the lush, verdant countryside with so many trees.
It is difficult to understand concern for tree cutting and development unless, perhaps, one has been living in a country that was practically deforested in the early part of the last century. In Honduras, it is a crime to cut any tree without having three types of permits in ones possession
This country has a wonderful highway system. Coming from a locale where a 15-mile trip can take upwards of three hours, we noted the smooth, interconnecting system of high-speed roads we enjoy in the great country. I dont recall dodging an ox, swerving for a single, man-eating hole in the highway or being stopped by an army patrol or police checkpoint in all our wanderings. Having dodged ox carts, pedestrians, taxis, tanks and all manner of transport for the last four years and also having to replace the front end on our vehicles on an annual basis, we really enjoyed motoring along without four-wheel drive.
This country is so religious. Everywhere we drove, we noted the most beautiful churches. Glorious architecture, immaculate grounds, impressive facilities and wonderful maintenance all marked each church we saw, from the small country church to the grand edifices of modern ministry centers. Being used to churches without floors or electricity, sometimes without windows, we were in awe of the grandeur of the American religious scene. The marks of religion in one nation under God are very apparent.
Yet given the divorce rate among our countrymen, in view of the ever-increasing crime rate and rising addiction problems and in light of the seeming decay of American moral fiber as evidenced by primetime TV offerings, it would seem that, while we are a very religious country, perhaps we have lost, in large measure, our relationship with that God, under whom we purport to place our nation.
Perhaps in all this, and in light of current events, it is time to seek God humbly and call on His name so that He will heal our land (II Chronicles 7:14). It is still a great country, well worth whatever effort it takes to bring it back under God.
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