Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ordering, Sarajevo, and Weddings!

To say that I'm feeling a bit more chipper than a few days ago would be a serious understatement! The past four days have been amazing and I am really thankful for all of the experiences I am getting to have during my time here in Bosnia. I'm left feeling selfish and somewhat embarrassed. My entire view on missions has changed in such a short period of time, and I think that the revelations were really wearing me out. The places I have the most ministry experience are all very charismatic and open to spiritual subjects. So, I just had to put it in my mind that Bosnia is WAY different than anywhere I have ever visited and just sit back and learn from they way that they live.

Something that doesn't seem too exciting but was a big deal to me was ordering a meal at a restaurant all by myself. First, I was given a list of take-out orders and my team sent me and another intern (who also does not speak Bosnian) over to the restaurant down the hill from our house. When we got there, I ordered the first thing on the list but the waitress asked for the paper (clearly I was struggling haha). BUT the big victory came that night when we went out for dinner downtown. Beth and Will (some of the members of the missionary family we are working with) helped me practice how to order the meal I wanted. When it came time, I said what I wanted to eat and drink... and he understood me :D It was an awesome feeling even if it was just a simple food order.

Yesterday, my team got to go spend some time in Bosnia's capital, Sarajevo. What an awesome city! There is so much history here that affected us all. One of the coolest things for me as a history nerd was walking across the bridge where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated. Our team also got to go into a few museums: One about the history of Sarajevo, one about the influence of the Ottoman Empire on the country, and one about the Siege of Sarajevo. The Siege museum was hard to walk through at times. It's hard to believe that such a brutal war went on, and I never learned about it at all growing up. I guess it did happen when I was just a baby but it's strange to me that we didn't learn about it in school. Anyway, it was an amazing day and I learned a lot about the country that I'm living in for the next 5 weeks.

Today was the most fun I've had here so far. Our team was invited to a wedding by one of the families we will be working with this summer. First, we ate... a lot. So much. So much that I thought I was going to bust! Then, we ate cake (you had to pay 10 km per person) and drank coffee. After all of the food stuff was out of the way, we danced!!! It was so much fun, but we were all really bad at it. The first time we tried, the group that we were dancing with broke up and went into another group... I guess we were embarrassingly bad. We kept trying and we actually got the hang of it! I danced in a group where I was the only one who spoke English. I felt pretty nervous at first but the little girl standing next to me keep telling me (in what little Bosnian I know) that I was doing "good" and sometimes she even said "super!" She was a precious little girl with a club foot that was dancing her heart out. At the end of the dance, she patted my arm and smiled. I loved EVERYTHING about today!

Sorry, I know this is a very long post but so many great things have happened in the past few days and I really wanted to share it all! I hope all is well wherever you are and thanks for reading :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Focus, Fokus, Konsantre.

"I was trying to daydream, but my mind kept wandering."
Steven Wright

Though this quote doesn't describe my state of mind 100% accurately, it does simply convey my constant struggle to "be here" all of the time. I get so frustrated with myself when I can't focus on a single task without my mind wandering home. I think I get so frustrated with myself because I didn't struggle with this at all last summer during my time in Haiti. I know that circumstances are different, and I left the country on different terms than I did last year, but I still cannot rap my head around my absentmindedness.

One difference I see is not having time to just "be" with God. Living in a house with 5 other people and having tasks throughout the day doesn't leave much alone time. I find myself building up frustrations and prayers and not giving myself time to sit, be silent, and listen. I've never really had this feeling before, and it is not clear to me how important my "still time" is to me. That's how I refuel. It doesn't matter if I read, pray, sit and stare at a wall, or (my favorite) sing... the point is that I need it. I don't even think I've really had a chance to mourn the things that are happening in my world at home. My heart is heavy and I've been looking for healing in all the wrong places.

I don't write this post to say that I am miserable here, it's quite the opposite actually. I love where I'm at, who I'm working with, and who I am serving. This has been a stretching experience so far, and I really look forward to the rest of the summer. I have laughed a lot, and have loved a lot. I have learned so many new things about myself, my team, and what it is like to live in this country. I've also learned more about God's kingdom and what it will be like when it comes. God has BIG things going in this country and I am humbled by the fact that He let me be a part of this plan for the summer.

However, I do ask for prayer. I pray (and I hope you will to) that God will redirect my thoughts. I NEED to focus on what He has for me here. I pray that I will begin to trust that He will take care of my family while I'm away, and that He will bring justice to the entire situation. I pray that I will find time to just be quiet, and listen for direction from God. Lastly, I pray for opportunities here with the women of the villages we visit. I pray that they feel open with us, and feel comfortable with us. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

More Harm Than Good?

This week, my team took part in CHE training (Community Health Evangelism). CHE is a program that trains missionaries to not create dependency in the community they are working in, but instead boost development, which is sustainable even when the missionaries leave. It is apparently a very effective and well known training program in the mission community, and I am fortunate to be able to take it here in Bosnia. The first few days of training were pretty straight forward, and seemingly elementary, but I stuck with it with a good attitude and I actually gained reality that the work I had done in the past may have been harmful. Everyone likes to think that they go on short term trips and save the world. They think that by giving out food and hygiene bags, they are helping the people in need. Actually, it's basically only helping yourself, and hurting the people you are trying to help. Short term aid creates dependency. By continually entering into someones community and handing out resources, you causing the locals mindset to change and not in a good way. Their mindset changes to one that makes them wait for the materials to be given to them instead of them going out to find ways to get the resources themselves.

This made me think. What are the projects I have taken part of before and how have they hurt the communities I've worked in? Then it hit me... many of the projects I've been a part has been humanitarian aid. So, does this mean that I am so monster that destroys the people I go to serve? I don't think so. But, if I had the knowledge that I do now and continued to create dependency, then I would become a monster. All the things my teams in the past have set out to do were great things... they were just not carried out in an effective manner.

I know that God gives me grace and that He can fill in the cracks that I left in the people that I have worked with so far in my life. I am very thankful that I was able to go through this training in order to see where I have short-comings in my work and how I can fix them in the future. God desires for us to take care of the poor, weak, and vulnerable but there are many ways to love them without causing them to depend on us for all of their needs. I look forward to applying the CHE training to my future mission work.

Other than that, everything is well in Bosnia and I am loving my time here. Please pray for opportunities to fellowship with the Muslims here and pray that our time will feel 100% healthy very soon! I love you all and I am looking forward to "celebrating" my birthday tomorrow!  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Training, Heart Break, Traveling, and First Few Days….

Training was nothing less than brutal (but really). It was 6 ½ days of 15 hours of lectures, classes, language acquisition, games, mall evangelism (which I was not a fan of), and outdoor training (which I was a big fan of). To add to the stress of training, I found out that my aunt, Michelle, had been murder at her workplace and they still do not know who killed her. Needless to say, I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. I still am. It’s hard to find a second to stop and just talk to God about it. I was extremely thankful that I got to spend some time with my family when they came out and took me to dinner. We just sat around the table and laughed, talked about of memories of Michelle, and talked about this amazing opportunity I have here in Eastern Europe. Please continue to pray for Danny, Carly, and Madeline because they are the ones who carry the most grief from Michelle’s death.

Traveling can be summed up in one word: Obama. President decided to fly into Chicago for a fundraising at the exact same time we were supposed to be speeding down Louisville’s runway heading toward Chicago. We were grounded… and eventually missed our connecting flight from Chicago to Munich. So, we made the most out of our 24 hour layover by getting a room and exploring Chicago a little bit. We made our flight to Munich that evening and had a (semi) smooth ride. Munich’s airport is a little scary, quiet, and well… white. But we made our final flight to our work place right on time. When we finally made it there, the missionaries we will be working with were waiting on us there!

Eastern Europe is: beautiful, green, caffeinated (I have never had this much coffee in my entire life), and welcoming. Every house that we have visited us so far has had a meal waiting for us and coffee to follow. It is amazing how hospitable these people are and how interested they are in why we are there. The thing that has been the hardest to adjust to is taking off your shoes before you go into every house because in America and every other country I’ve visited, people wear shoes into the house. It’s not that foreign of a concept, because I was never allowed to wear shoes in my house growing up but at school I never take my shoes off until I get in my bed (sometimes I don’t even then). Also, the call to prayer from the Mosque right down the hill from us has been hard to grow numb to, but I hope I don’t. I want to commit to pray for the Muslims here every time that I hear it. Other than that, the food is AMAZING, and so are our living arrangements. I love the team that I traveled here with. We laugh all of the time… seriously. This is a hard field to work in (growth wise) but I am excited to see when, how, and where God moves.

Sending love to you all and I hope all is well in America. Like I said before, please pray for Danny Mockbee and his daughters, Carly and Madeline. Their heartbreak is more than I can imagine and I pray that God will give them peace throughout these rough times.