I feel like I’ve been kind of coy on my blog and with people who ask what I’ve been doing in Romania. Working with the kindergarten and the summer camp is my jam and I’m happy to share about it, of course. Kids are kids are kids, ya know? But the other aspects of what I’ve been doing like seeing the Roma villages and building relationships with the incredibly wonderful women here at the rehabilitation center feels very sacred and personal. I haven’t really known how or if to share and in what capacity and for what purpose.
I’ve really been mulling over how to tell stories on a multitude of levels. The first being my job right now. Several times during the week, I sit down to either help create or proofread the content of ministry’s newsletters and social media updates. Not only is it hilarious trying to explain why things make sense in your language for absolutely no reason, it’s also been such a good learning experience. The women decide how much and what to share about their story and their healing process. This gives them complete ownership. Sometimes they reveal things that seem absolutely unbelievable to us but are just parts of their journeys to them. It’s in these details that I realize my problem.
Americans (especially Americans who are willing to give their money to organizations but expect some kind of something in return) are so sensationalist when it comes to learning about other cultures and people. I am probably the most guilty which is what makes this whole thing so uncomfortable. I live for the shock factor. But here in Romania I totally bit off more than I can chew as people here have lived lives we can’t even imagine. Please remember Romania has only come out of communism 27 years ago. So many of the people I know lived through the regime or were raised in the chaotic post-independence period. This context shapes absolutely everything and explains the feeling of…almost resignation and despair…that hangs over the whole country.
When I’m writing these newsletters, I think “oh maybe you’d get more support if you share this fact about so-and-so and show how much she really needs this ministry”. But then I remember that I only know these details because I’ve spent time and effort here building relationships based on trust and confidence. How dare I consider exploiting them even if it’s to aid the ministry?
I hope that when people read others’ stories it is through this lens of humility. Whatever is revealed is done so with intention and emotion, trust and purpose. I wish I had known this whenever I shared stories of people in the past; not only stories of people I’ve met abroad but even my own family. I’ve always maintained that people should be in charge of how their own stories are told…and yet as a writer, I’m conflicted because I personally love telling a great and dramatic story.
I know I have a duty to share what I learned and observed here because the people I know in my life back home need to know about Romania’s realities. It’s vital that our time as human beings is spent understanding how others are living; even more so as Christians, we have to remember to encourage the whole kingdom of God, not just our Midwest megachurches.
This is just an introduction. There are hard topics I’d like to write about and it’s in this lens of humility and respect that I plan to do it. I’ll be discussing the need of beauty in relation to the Roma villages, how to humanize addictions in our own lives, a comparison of Haiti and Romania in light of the idea of “the noble savage”, and the importance of tough love.
Please let me know if I’m overly sensationalizing or if my being vague is detracting from the impact these pieces may have. I just want to tell these stories, and tell them well.
Talk to you soon,