I didn’t take pictures today. I didn’t have to. Scratch that… I didn’t want to.

 I grew up with a strange background. Of course, we all do. My mother was a single mother of four girls, and she did absolutely everything she could within dignity’s range to ensure we all stayed together as a family. We’ve lived in many places; townhouses, one bedroom apartments, the back of a big yellow van and a motor home in a campground to name a few. Though we were always together, I was typically afraid. I became much more mature than my age in concern for our safety and provisions. And so, visiting the mountains I had pictured multi-generational families living in log cabins, a little short on food because of their environment. Nothing could have prepared me, or brought back so many emotions of my childhood as the living conditions in the Carpathians. The mountains are indeed stunning. Green and rich full of color, they are the grand backdrop to poverty and destitution as I’ve not seen before. It’s no wonder HART spends much of their time, resources, and partnerships with people of the Carpathian Mountains.

The smell of the rotting chickens combined with the disintegrating wood of these fading foundations which these families accept as home makes my stomach turn and turn again. I wasn’t prepared to walk into that place where the chicken with a broken leg breathed in heavily and too close to death. The young man, one of many children sprawled across the property, stared at us with ice blue eyes and a ratty old shirt. The desperate and proud shouting from the only other room in that home ripped my heart to little shreds as this woman with ten children contended good men for even more than they could give. I had to leave. And I couldn’t cry, all bound up in the present and my past bubbling up. My mind wondered, and in it’s wandering I pictured taking the filthy hands of each of those children and piling then all into my arms. Piling them all into the safety of a Savior. So we left the food hampers, which HART leaves multiple bags for this family each month, got into the van and left with my head in my hands.
And my heart broke and it breaks. I need a little rest and a nice, deep breath of fresh Holy Spirit air. My head is weary and my heart still in repair and I cannot help but wonder if I could ever forget those pictures in my mind, that smell in my lungs or the faces of those children who so desperately need anything but to be forgotten. You see, I lived in tough environments. I bathed in the sinks of Petro-Canada restrooms and wondered if someone would break into our van while we were sleeping, or if the police would take us from our mother. I lived with fear, and pride, and feelings of hopelessness. I know for these children and families, the fears and hopelessness shows a different face, but it is fear and hopelessness all the same. My mind beat quicker than the pulse of my heart and I needed just to sit and resolve.
I’ve decided it’s like the matching and pairing of pictures like a game of Memory. Though some might take the same pictures of terror and match them in negativity and oppression together, I’d rather take each image from this difficult day and match them with their true contender. Because I know truly from experience, for every difficult thing I witnessed, Holy Spirit is there waiting to become the perfect match. Wholeness where brokenness shouted, life where death breathes heavy, and home where rotten wood crumbles.