|View from our room this morning|
I feel like my fingers are tripping over the words. Maybe it's because I've been listening to a steady stream of Serbian mixed with English. Or maybe because I'm still waiting for part of me to catch up to being in a whole other world.
I've been surprised by a lot of things. I think my favorite is that I've been surprised by friendship. Nichole and I are staying in a small Theological Seminary in Novi Sad, I can't say the blessing that has been to us. A haven in a world of different, a sweet connection of spiritual family in an ocean of new. Thank you Jesus!
I've also been surprised by the warmth and openness of Dom Veternik's staff. It's obvious that amidst difficult circumstances they have concern and compassion for their residents. They want better for the people and are affectionate and warm. I loved laughing with them and talking about the things that make up all of our lives. They were generous and accommodating and, I thought, very honest.
I don't know that I expected there to be a positive aspect to what I would see in the institution but there have been pleasant surprises. I'm impressed by the genuine care I see expressed between staff and residents, the staff with each other, and even between residents. I was surprised by how clean their facility is. And even though our perspectives on the health and care of the children are different I did feel they didn't try to hide the problems they are facing or paint something other than what it was.
I've also been surprised by my response to the up close, in living color, reality of lives that have been only images until this point. What I suspected, I've seen, and I can't grieve. I grieved before I came and now it's time to roll up sleeves and get to work. It has also been harder than I thought it would be to reach out my manicured, clean, American hand to stroke a gnarled hand dripping with slobber. Courage has worn thin but God has uplifted.
One thing I haven't been surprised by is the extent that original sin has ravaged humanity. When I look at the men and women serving the residents of Dom Veternik, I don't see perpetrators I see people, they aren't responsible for the condition of the disabled, it's the nature of our broken world. They are fighting the tide of pain and human suffering with a lot of guts but limited resources. I wasn't surprised by the suffering I saw but now that I've touched it with my own hands it's under my skin.
Another thing I wasn't surprised by was that I fell in love. A little boy with tender hands and bristly blond hair, and a little girl with a shock of dark hair standing straight up and a smile that lit up my heart, both with Down syndrome. I can't bring them home, today, but if I could I would. No surprise there, not at all. I had known I would meet them. But really they all touched my heart, precious and painful, ours to love, even from a distance.
I can't post pictures yet, I don't have permission, and really I'm not ready. I'm still soaking it in, getting my bearings. I'll document soon, but I'm not there yet.
This is a mile stone of a post. A dream has come to pass. God called and I've gone. I've blogged my way through the process and now, at this amazing time, I hit 500 posts. 500 ways I've grown, spilled out my heart, put to words the birthing of faith. Thank you for journeying with me. Thank you for letting me share my heart. Thank you for listening!