An organic movement of people drawn to see the weak and vulnerable with God's eyes, and respond by faith with practical love.

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Belated Update

Well I've been back from Serbia for a week and a half, which is hard to believe. Obviously I did a terrible job of  posting updates while I was away!

No way I can post about the entire trip in just one post, but I'll start by sharing some pictures and tell about the visits to the institution.

I arrived in Novi Sad Friday July 19th, worn out, but hopeful. I'm so thankful for the time I had to prepare mentally for the week ahead, as well as to form and deepen relationships. On the following Tuesday I visited the mental institution.

I like to think of myself as an expressive person, a communicator, but I struggle to put these experiences into words. Srdjan, one of the administrators, picked me up. It was so good to see him again. He told me all about plans they have for improving the living space for immobile patients. They are moving forward with good things!

Beautiful Ana greeted me at the institution. It was an emotional experience being back, seeing the people, talking about progress.

I have such hope for the future of the institution with the fresh ideas and dedication of people like Srdjan and Ana. I felt like a friend, welcomed in to dream with them. What a gift.

I'm aware of my smallness. Of my limited resources. But I'm thankful that for some reason God has allowed my story to be woven into the story of these precious people. The gift I have to offer is faith. Faith that God sees and cares. I'm praying for favor for the residents and staff. For success of their plans. I trust God will draw near and be real to them and the result will be hope.

I visited Cedo (pronounced Chado). That was also emotional. I had thought at one point adoption might be in the future but that's just not the reality. He has a family. They visit but are too poor to care for him at home. I have lots of praying and thinking to do about his situation.

After visiting the sweet people on the top floor I went to the workshops to see the beautiful handcrafts of the residents. Pure delight ensued as they displayed their work with pride and I left with armloads of wonderful treasures!

The time was good but raised lots of questions. What does integration look like? How would a sponsorship program work? Can the residents lives at the institution be improved? Can their crafts be marketed in a way that provides income and raises awareness of the value of people with disabilities? What is my role?

Each time I visit I come away with more questions than answers. But I'm really okay with that. I want to be a part of the conversation. Dogma is something I'm learning to shy away from. A rigid set of standards or rules is difficult to apply to a group of unique individuals. The harder work is engaging in conversation and relationship.

On Friday I had another opportunity to engage, an opportunity I'm deeply grateful for. On the day I spoke at the conference Ana was able to join us to talk about the institution. Then a group of us rode over to the institution for a visit.

The welcome was enthusiastic, the interaction warm. I was so proud of the group of people with me and the way they displayed the compassion of Jesus' heart to others!

There is still so much to say about my trip, so much to process. My expectations were exceeded and I'm hopeful about what's to come.

Thank you for praying, for going before me and behind me in intercession. God is doing a good work and aren't we so glad to be a part of it!

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