The first time I went to Romania, I came back with a new and much deeper appreciation of being born in the United States. The freedoms and blessings we have are so easily taken for granted. Throughout life, God has a very creative way of humbling us and bringing us to the realization of the true condition of our heart especially when we chose to serve on a mission trip and minister to people in extreme poverty. If we allow Him, God awakens us to see people through His eyes and completely wrecks our hearts in a beautiful life changing way. Here is a testimony from Jeanne Fenlong who served with us on our most recent October trip. She eloquently gives us a glimpse of what she experienced in Romania.
“On the third day here, I saw ‘her’. She was sweeping outside covered by her kerchief. I saw her peer out sheepishly as if to sneak a peak at the passerby that was me. I smiled at her and caught a fleeting moment of what looked like surprise crossing her face; but instead of lowering her gaze again, she smiled back a broad and toothless smile. I swear I saw a sparkle in her eyes. I thought how sad it would be to have to remind yourself that you can still smile.
Her face is weather-worn, and her cheeks sunken. But a longer look revealed what a glance could not. At one time she had skin soft and flawless. At one time she too was youthfully filled with other dreams. I wonder a moment if she can sing.
She enters a building that has missing windows and no sanitation. To her, it is home. Children dance and play on the dirt stone road. I notice they step back when I come near, suddenly wide eyed and vulnerable.
She invites me in and I try not to look disturbed, pretending her normal is now mine. I fool no one. We exchange words that feel so awkward. I realize what is building up in me is awe. If our roles were reversed would I have the courage to open my home let strangers in and take pictures of my “least of these” life?
I leave feeling nausea unsure if it is due to what I just saw and smelled, or is it the reminder that when I arrived here I fretted unceasingly about forgetting my earrings for this trip, and I felt ashamed. I prayed to be more courageous, like the lady that sweeps the outdoor.
I will remember these days forever.”