Friday, April 24, 2015

Hope and trust?

Yet another full couple of weeks since I last blogged!  Last week was full of work, musical preparation, dog sitting and oh yeah – a car accident.  All is well – I’m ok and we shall see how the car is; Bob's mechanic is working some magic (I hope).  Yet another experience in a foreign country where I don’t know the language but it worked out ok; even with a dead phone through the whole experience:).
I just arrived home this morning (Friday, April 24, 2015) from Bucharest, Romania.  I attended a conference…yes, a conference.  I could not help comparing it to conferences I have attended in the past.  Similar in the fact that very ‘expert’ people were involved and it was organized well…but the topic and approach were quite different. It was the European Freedom Network – anti-human trafficking.  
I was honored to be included in a group of people that got to stay at a shelter for trafficked women during the conference.  To be honest; that was the best part.  To meet and see and hear from the women who are learning to survive and hope again.  When we arrived they were making items such as decorated tin buckets and soap forms; to be sold at the conference.  I bought someJ.  The volunteers and employees at the shelter are amazing – so giving and loving.  These girls have some physical, psychological and certainly spiritual items to deal with now and in the future.  They don’t feel well – one had a toothache and was up most of the night (result of meds, drugs, alcohol etc used in the past).  They don’t trust people – would I? – Would you?  That takes a while to gain and give – trust.  They don’t know where or who God is – fair enough…again, would I? – Would you?  But the people at the shelter love the girls no matter what and share Jesus – who I know also loves them no matter what. 

Most of the conference attendees spent a day at the Romanian Parliament – that was another amazing experience.  Romania and the European Parliament have some folks that are pretty passionate about working on this issue that is certainly European wide but also worldwide.  Several of them even stated that Jesus must be involved for success…. politicians!  Takes some boldnessJ.

So the issue with conferences are – what are the take away items and how can you, and more importantly, will you use them in the next 6-12 months?  I would like to partner with the shelter here in Budapest…how can I as a volunteer missionary assist?  They have work already going on – I don’t need to re-create the wheel but what is needed?  It was interesting to see the cycle of trafficking…. usually family abuse on some level is involved – which leads to poor education – which leads to zero or poor employment  - which leads to poverty – which leads to ease of exploitation.  Anywhere in that cycle – somebody can enter in and assist in breaking that cycle…that could be me or maybe others I know. 

That is where my mind and heart are today…and have been since Monday – so to me life is still good and God is waaaaay better...even when I ache to see others hurt and abused.  So I’m working through that and those experiences; trusting and hoping because if the trafficking victims can learn to do so; so must I.

Stop the Traffic. A poem by Gerard Kelly. 
I am a person
not a potato to be picked and packaged 
and sent to market to be sliced and diced 
chopped up and ketchupped 
on the other side of the world. 
I am human and I am not for sale. 
I am a living conscience, not a cargo. 
I travel passenger not freight. 
I am not cattle 
not contraband, 
not a catalogued commodity. 
I’m not the bottom line 
for those who trade in tragedy 
and profit from perversity. 
I am not a can to be recycled. 
I am human and I am not for sale. 
I am a thinking individual, 
not a rare exotic bird. 
I am your sister, 
not an inmate for your zoo. 
I am not merchandise, 
not meat, 
not a meal ticket.
I was mothered, not manufactured, 
begotten, not created. 
I am human and I am not for sale. 
Its time to end this trade in human tragedy, 
to terminate this travesty of a global economy. 
Let the red lights of your cities 
be put to better use to stop the traffic. 
Write it in lights across your seared conscience: 
I am human and I am not for sale. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

My heart wanders...

This world is fairly small.  I know it takes 14-16 hours to travel to Budapest from California and about 24 hours to go to Ethiopia from California but when you think about it; the world is fairly small.  I was in Romania all last week…we had Korean, Hungarian, American, and Romanian folks around all week long and I loved the diversity!  The Romanian language made me feel a bit more ‘at home’ since it is considered one of the Romantic languages…so some words were very Spanish like!  The Roman Empire ruled that area early on so thus the whole Italian/Roman (as in Romanian) influenceJ. 

We visited villages…they were very poor villages.  The kids found refuge at the church with a lady that cared for them.  She has green houses and an aqua-ponics system so she can grow enough food to feed all these kids each week.  For some of the kids; that is their only meal of the week.  They come on Fridays and eat several bowls of soup and bread – and receive love for their hearts and food for their souls as well.   There was a little girl that didn’t say a word and her name is Andrea (see side picture).  She is probably 3 or 4 and her father is an alcoholic as well as part of the mafia/gang in town…and he does not treat her nicely.  She has something wrong with her; perhaps a little slow in learning, nobody really knows.  And more than that; nobody really knows how to deal with her.  So she comes to the church where she is loved, can play with other kids and not worry about being hurt or mocked. 

There was a boy in one of the villages that showed up and knew the songs we were singing – so he wanted to sing a song for us.  He did – and when it was translated he had said:  ‘I am Roma, I am proud of that, I know Jesus loves me and I love Him!’  Now Roma means Roma-Gypsy…poor, looked down upon by most and certainly not given many chances in life.  I want to see this boy as he grows up; he will take any chance he can find and he will be a leader – for good and not for harm.

It was an amazing week; people that lead there were inspirations to me.  I still can’t really wrap my head around what amazing people they are.  One of the ladies named Roberta retired from being a professor and doing research for NASA at the age of 55 and moved to Romania.  Now almost 20 years later she is going strong and is loved by MANY and has made a tangible difference in so many lives.  I want to be like that.  Her job description at the time she came to Romania?...Teach, preach and a boat load of other things!  Awesome.

So I am full of experiences that touched me, people that inspired me, and questions of where all this is leading.  I come back to California and Idaho for a quick 10 days in May to celebrate my nephew’s high school graduation.  I’m soooo looking forward to seeing friends and family – those whom I know and love.  Will it be hard to leave here?  I don’t know.  Will it be hard to leave the U.S. again?  I don’t know….my heart is wandering these days.  So in the meantime; I’m quite sure that life is good and certainly God is waaaaay betterJ.  Have a great weekend.