Sunday, July 13, 2008

Worldview Question

A while back, right after we returned from Haiti, I posted a question. "What event has most shaped your current worldview? What event has most changed how you see things?" My reason asking that is because it is a question that every person on this planet should have an answer for. It's part of having an examined life, a life and worldview that you have considered and weighed and wrestled with, and one which has caused you to do so with yourself and with God. If someone hasn't given much thought to his worldview, he ends up with a worldview that becomes his by default. I also think pictures of poverty and heartache are best viewed with one's thoughts on God and justice and hope and love in mind.

I promised that I would post about what experience most changed my worldview. So here goes. When I was 18, right after my freshman year of college, I decided I would go to Romania to work in the orphanages there. I can't really say how I reached that decision because I really don't know. A group based in Council Bluffs did a presentation at a church camp my senior year of high school so I knew of a group that did trips. So without much thought, I contacted them and filled out an application to go on a trip in June of 1997. I was accepted as a participant but then missed most of the training sessions because I was in college and playing basketball and unable to go to the meetings they had due to basketball games. So, on the date of the scheduled departure, my parents took me to the airport and essentially left me with a group of strangers to travel halfway around the world. (Or at least a quarter of the way.) I had never flown on an airplane before. I knew no one I was traveling with with most of the people being in their 40's or 50's with the exception of a married couple who was close to 30. The stark feeling of being really alone hit me once we arrived in Atlanta. The airliner had overbooked its flight to Zurich and they were telling me they didn't know if I would be able to get on the flight. I was scared stiff and I didn't know who to tell because I really knew no one. One of the women I was traveling with noticed how close I was to tears and talked to me a little bit but I was too scared to tell her what was going on. I ended up being the last person on the whole entire flight.

After we got to Romania, the group I was with divided into smaller groups and went to different areas of the country to work in different orphanages. I was still very alone and homesick. But I came to realize it was just me and God. There was no calling my mom, no backing out, and no one who would meet my needs but him. In the orphanages, I got to do all the things I dreamed of: holding babies and doing projects. Our evenings were essentially free and we stayed with Romanian families in their homes. I saw how these families lived in two or three room apartments where every room became a bedroom and then considered how my home had so many rooms and a room that was meant just for me. One night, we traveled to the shore of the Black Sea to worship with a local youth group. Since the translators who traveled with us were high school and college aged, I found myself gravitating towards them. So when the translators said they were going back to the beach, I went with them, nevermind that I really knew none of them, that I was the only American in the group, and that we ended up going out fairly late. One of the translators, Daniel, invited me to a dance club but I declined that offer. I also got to attend a Romanian worship service which meant two hours in a small, overstuffed church with no air conditioning.

But really, it was the babies and children that captured me. I saw so much that was really indescribable. I saw wall to wall children who were bathed and fed and clothed but not loved and held and played with. I saw handicapped children who were essentially treated as discards. They were placed into one room regardless of their ages and all children were confined to cribs. Some of them had treatable conditions like bow legs or cleft palettes that were not treated. Knowing Romanian culture, I would wager that most of those children will be street beggers within the next 5 years. I heard overt racism in a way I had never seen. Orphanage workers would look at the Gypsy babies with total apathy and would make comments like "How can you kiss that baby? He's so dirty." I saw pure and utter hopelessness reflected in the chocolate eyes of children who were still toddlers.

God taught me so much on this trip. He taught me about loving children in a gritty way. He taught me about relying on Him rather than others. He taught me about how priveleged I was. (One of the times I can remember feeling especially insensitive was when I realized the pictures I had brought to share with the Romanians seemed very inappropriate. I brought pictures of my senior prom, pictures that screamed extravagance and wealth, even though I am from a lower middle class family.) He taught me how Communism tried to supress the Gospel but really made it stronger. He taught me how His power in me can enable me to do things I never thought I could do.

This trip laid a lot of the groundwork for being called to adoption. When I first returned, I really didn't know if I could have my own children. Having my own children seemed almost selfish after what I had seen. This trip helped me feel connected to the global church. It has helped me believe that I could go to Peru and Haiti. And more than anything, it has taught me that my God is my God no matter where I am or what I feel, that He is right beside me and more sure than my parents, my friends, or my church.

I'd love to hear your own version of life shaking events so take the plunge and post it.

1 comment:

Dawn S. said...

Wow. I am still taking in yours. I think adopting from Haiti is changing my worldview moment by moment! The more I learn about Haiti the less I take for granted and the more I want to help.