April 7, 2016

So...how was it?

Camp in Croatia
Sitting here...with this blog post open...not knowing exactly what to write. How do I share such a life-changing, eye-opening, earth-shattering experience in a blog post? I think the answer that I need to accept is "I cannot". I'll write some thoughts now...and some thoughts later...and probably some thoughts in another year. That's what I can do.

My oh-so-patient Arabic teacher, and friend.
On Monday evenings, a bunch of ex-pats gather for what we call Monday Night Supper (MNS). I know I've blogged about this event before so I won't explain much further. This past Monday was my first full day back and my first MNS since we returned to Romania on Sunday evening. I was nervous about going and having to answer the overwhelming question of "so...how was it?" I shouldn't have been so nervous because this is a group of people who truly care and understand this type of work. I actually ended up being nervous because I knew I was being listened to so intently. It was silent around the table as I shared parts of my experience. I am thankful to have had MNS as my first experience of answering that overwhelming question.

These boys sat and talked about these drawings for at least a half hour.
This artwork hangs in the tent where we served tea and soup all day.
So how did I answer that overwhelming question...? Good question. I wish I had recorded myself because I answered it pretty well...and now I can't remember what I said. Typical. I know I used all of the cliche words like life-changing, eye-opening, challenging, amazing, frustrating, lovely, etc. Cliche or not, these are the words that I had/have at the moment.

As many of you know, I was sick with various ailments (bronchitis, pink eye, flu, cold, etc.) during our time in Croatia and Serbia. There were a lot of days when I went to the camp, came home, napped, ate supper, went to bed, woke up...repeat, which didn't allow me to process everything that I was experiencing. I was aware of this as I returned to Romania, but that hasn't made it any easier. I've already had some difficult moments since returning.

I think about the refugees, who I now call my friends, all day long. I miss them so much, so deeply, so unlike anything I've ever experienced before. These beautiful people gave me so much and taught me more about life, God, serving others, myself...than I ever expected.

Teaching the cup rhythm thing to two boys from "my family"
There are so many moments...faces...stories...conversations. I want to process them and share them you, but it's going to take time. I appreciate your patience. Please feel free to ask questions or email me or whatever. I want to talk about it. I love talking about it even though it's hard. Just know that I met some of the most beautiful, kind, resilient, courageous people. I served in the simplest ways at times, whether serving tea or sweeping crumbs off of the floor, but it was in those moments that I learned a lot.

Leading a train of kids around the camp on one of our first nice, spring days
I'm thankful to have found articles and quotes from others who have been able to put their thoughts and feelings into words. I hope their words will help you to get a better idea of how I feel since I don't have my own words just yet.

First and foremost, please watch THE VIDEO below. Nazarene Compassionate Ministries released it about a week ago. All of the images are from the two camps I worked at in Croatia and Serbia. It is so incredibly well done.

One of the two men who worked on that video also wrote a five-part photo essay, which is incredible. Again, all of the images and stories come from the two camps I worked at in Croatia and Serbia. Read each part here: PART 1PART 2PART 3PART 4PART 5. As I posted these articles on Facebook, I shared some of the quotes that really moved me. Here is one more that I think is worth highlighting...

"I'm watching a group of people who, five years ago, lived much the same as we do in the west. A group of people who, five years ago, had careers, homes, bank accounts, hobbies, and plans for the weekend. A group of people with dreams for their future, and desires for their children's.

I think it's easy to separate ourselves from what's happening out here.

'They' are them and 'we' are us, and it's none of our business to redefine associations. But in all reality, we are human. We all have the same fears, and we all have the same insecurities, and we all have the same ability to feel anxious and feel pride, and elation, and bitterness, and inspiration, and loneliness, and we all get excited, and we all have beating hearts that require blood to move throughout our bodies. There's not a difference here.

So let's start seeing it as such.

And let's start responding as such."


"Hope is hope when it seems impossible, when it takes a bit of faith to believe it's possible...

I'm beginning to think that, like hope, all virtues are true virtues only when they are really difficult. Hospitality is only truly hospitality when it's inconvenient. Courage is only courage when there is real fear involved. And love is truly love when it's hard...

And yet, from refugee to worker, and worker to refugee, there is love present. A hard love, a jagged love, one that shows its wear. It's why the embraces are so powerful and the tears so heavy. The chests heave with emotion, and the arms hold tighter than you would expect from a stranger.

Hospitality. Courage. Love.

They've been hard fought for here. And I'm understanding them better because of it."

The perfect day for jumping rope

No comments:

Post a Comment