A couple weeks after Christmas in 2002, a volcano erupted in Congo. Working for a development agency in neighboring Rwanda, I went to help.
Up on a platform, I handed out blankets to refugees. The orchestration was almost perfect—we had roped off lines like an amusement park—and I got to be the main attraction.
Here I was, on the front lines, personally handing out blankets and helping families that had lost almost everything. Noble cause. Noble mission. Noble actions of a twenty-five-year-old relief worker. A photographer snapped pictures. And I smiled wide for the camera as I did “God’s work.”
But I wasn’t thinking about the refugees. Instead I was thinking, I can’t wait until the people back home see these photos of me.
I saw the photos a few weeks later.
I trashed them. Captured on film, I recognized myself as playacting for people far away, not thinking about loving the people in front of me.
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