Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Around the World...Romania, Pt. 3

I'm back again...with more pictures and plenty of thoughts from my trip to Romania. Since I've been back it's been a whirlwind of events and being sick (I'm better now...had a not-so-fun bacterial infection of some sort) and finally trying to unpack my suitcases still after being back for 3 weeks. Today has been refreshing as it was the Christian Women's Conference at LCC (a.k.a. Ladies' Day or "Skip Day" to students...), and we had some great speakers. The day has had a somewhat cheesy reputation in the past, but it really is beginning to change. I listened to 2 of the speakers this morning (Priscilla Shirer and Lisa Harper) and they were both completely solid, not-fluffy, deep Biblical communicators. I was coming to Bloomington already this evening, so I was able to bring Lisa Harper and her assistant to the airport here. Just our conversation in the car was refreshing to me, and it was fun to talk to her! I think it was God-ordained that I brought her instead of one of the other speakers.

Anyway, we came earlier than planned, so I'm enjoying a little time in Panera to catch up, email, do some work, write, and now share some more of Romania with those of you who care enough to look!

In the car on the way here, Lisa was talking to me about some of my passions. There's no doubt that I'm passionate about music, but I can't get away from the fact that I have a strong passion for missions. Now, I know pretty darn well that I'm not cut out for being a full-time missionary on the field. I'm not trying to limit God at all, but I just don't think He's created me to do that. I think He's specifically given me the compassion to conribute, but my gifts and strengths work better to strengthen and support those who actually are in the field. I just hope someday I'll be making enough money to actually contribute...but then we can all keep waiting until we make "enough" and it will never be enough.
Missions is one of those things, though, which makes people reluctant to give money to. When you look at all of the TV commercials and so many organizations like Compassion and World Vision and Gospel for Asia and all of the places you can support, it's hard to know where your money's going to. I can speak for the latter 3 with the knowledge that they are truly giving their money to the little faces you see on the packets at concerts and other events. Their directors aren't living in mansions and driving Ferrari's on your dime. I'm thankful for that. I hope and pray that all of them are.

I'm digressing somewhat from what I wanted to share, but my point is this: the faces on those cards are real people. The money we have truly makes a HUGE difference in the lives of other people. I hate myself for spending $76 on a purse that isn't worth it knowing that I could have just fed a family for a month. I'm left, frustrated with myself, knowing I could have made a difference. Instead, I just have a different purse. This is sad.
These words about poverty and change don't carry much power or influence, though, until you see the need firsthand. While we were in Romania, we had the privilege of visiting a poor Romanian village. We delivered bags of necessary food and drink items to about 12 families that lived in huts made of blue tarp, random scraps of wood, cardboard, rugs, blankets, and anything else they can find. It was the closest I had ever come to true poverty, and it was unbelievable. These people live off of whatever they can scrounge up, and I can't help but wonder if their lives will ever be any different. Society gives them no value as human beings, so their chances of ever having a job are highly unlikely. They can only rely on the waste of other people and the compassion that the Church will hopefully have there in Romania.
Being there and able to see these homes, the people's faces, their few belongings, their pride in what they have, their need for what they don' is something that changes you. It's still changing me. I'm not fully there yet. But there's something about seeing the inside of a 10' x 10' house for a family with 5 kids, smelling the burning of a fire on which their little food is cooked, seeing & smelling human feces on the ground because there is nowhere else to go...these things cannot go untold. These people have stories that need to be shared, and that's the reason I write. Their lives have worth. That's the reason I have pictures to show you about this. It felt awkward taking pictures of their lives, because I didn't want them to feel like a spectacle. However, this is the only way I can bring a picture of their reality to yours and mine. Here's a bit of life that we can barely comprehend. Let it sink in a bit...

(above) We got to go in this house...
(below) This is the family who lives here...

(above) They brushed these things out of the way to "clean up" for us as we were able to enter their home.

(below) This was the inside of their tiny home, complete with rugs hanging on walls, one giant bed that this family of 5-6 all sleeps on, random articles of clothing piled up, and a radio playing with some music.

(above) A husband and wife proudly posed in front of their home for us.
(below) One of the little boys immediately started eating some cookies from a bag of Joe's (or similar Romanian wafer cookies) that we took them.

The picture above is one of my favorites and sums up what I felt inside of the tiny hut home we saw for about 3 minutes. This was the sheet hanging in their window in place of a curtain. I noticed the sun shining through the colorful fabric and couldn't help but think about the rays of hope that I so often miss. I hope the people living here can see the sunshine in the midst of their world that seems dark and empty. Their physical needs are great, and I'm sure their emotional needs are even greater. I pray that the light of truth is shed on their lives as their lives shine light into my own. It makes me praise God for His colors of creativity...


Mills Family said...

I think God is doing a number on your heart. Moving you from it being about "Missions" which can turn into a department of your Christianity. These words you wrote sound like a woman who considers meeting needs as fundamental in her faith as prayer or meditation...maybe it is "becoming" more and more a spiritual act of worship. Bless you Mandy. I love to watch God move in your life. Thanks for letting me.

Jake R. said...

great stuff Mandy. It makes me think of my trips to Haiti and the DR and seeing the "slums" there. It's crazy how fast you can get back into the routine of life in America and forget the faces and feelings that you experience in places like that. I think I need a daily reminder that there are people in this world that have more needs than I do. (and that I can do something about it.)

A boy named Toadie said...

Thanks for sharing these pictures and bringing back so many great memories from my trip there last year. You totally made me miss Rachel, Nate Dogg and all the wonderful people.

I would encourage you to keep investigating where your greatest joy can intersect the world's greatest hurt. You may find that it will carry you to a whole new field of adventures or make you more passionate about where you are now.