Archives for posts with tag: Ukraine

I was in the middle of a palace garden, sipping a latte with brown sugar, waiting for the girls to come back from the washroom … again. Everything felt like magic – something I was feeling with every breath since arriving in Istanbul.

It was sometime after the sluggish remains of jet leg crawled off my skin, but much before the peaceful protests would turn to tear gas and water bombs, and even longer before I’d sit beside crowds of formerly trafficked sex slaves breaking bread with me.

I looked at that latte, looked at the gold-framed gates leading to The Bosphorus and multi-million dollar mansions lining the strait, looked back at the latte again. Magic.

It was the spring of 2013, and I was on a trip I begged Cindy to let me join. “So, what does a girl have to do to be invited on this trip?” I began. It honestly wasn’t long before I was saving up for a trip my boss wasn’t too keen about me leaving for.

“Sex slaves? Prisons for young criminals? Eastern Europe? Three weeks without you here?” He had become more like a father than employer during my time in that office. He wasn’t entirely thrilled. “Email me, please. Email me often.”

It was a simple trip: go to Eastern Europe, adjust to the time change in Istanbul, travel through Moldova to meet formerly trafficked girls and give warm bread to kids in gypsy villages. Hang out in an orphanage, a boys prison in Lviv, and then, go home.

I had been so caught up in myself.

I was too caught up in myself, and to be certain, I was exhausted of it. When the opportunity came to get outside of my own head, I bolted. I begged. I received, and it was magic.

I thought about this event much like all of my favourite moments. It came out of nowhere while I was closing up the expensive purse store, lining up clothes in perfect order and thinking too much of myself. I’ve been exhausted of being inside my own head, again. Always. And this image of me in loose green pants and a white tee enveloped my senses. Brown sugar, espresso, Bosphorus. There wasn’t room for freaking out about my degree, a job, a love or even eating right.

I’m reminded all of the time about these moments because my head knows I need it. I need to be reminded that even when the world is about it birth something big, I don’t need to repeat the possibilities in my head.

I think we all do that; we consider all of the possibilities until we drive ourselves mad and incapable of simply being available to a moment. Whether it’s a relationship, a job, a big decision, or even a personal health goal. I’m convinced more than ever that overthinking is a disease.

See when I went to Turkey, Moldova and Ukraine, I was told over and over about the possible dangers lurking around every single corner. I was told about kidnapping and war and violence. But I didn’t give myself to it. I accepted that I didn’t know what would unfold, and experienced something so beautiful I think it might actually have been magic.

I wonder sometimes if I need to do that in my everyday life? You too?

I wonder if I need to set aside all of those things I couldn’t control in my mind or my life, sit down with a cup of joe and simply feel the magic instead.

You know, we left Istanbul for Chisinâu just a few short days after we arrived. I met up with the girls the next morning after a typically awful sleep. Cindy handed me her iPad with a news story staring back at me. “Did you hear what happened yesterday?” She said. Of course I hadn’t, but it turns out we left the day Istanbul was breaking their peaceful protests for unrest.

“Wow,” I said shocked, tired, feeling a little guilty. Cindy mentioned her gratitude and guilt too, as if perhaps we should have been there or been able to get everyone out of there if we were going to leave.

See I knew there were protests. I knew this beautiful city was fighting for something incredible to happen for their children’s future. I knew it. And when I left, I didn’t wish for things to have been perfect, I just wished I knew how to connect my fortune with their struggle.

There will be so much unrest. Jobs, family, relationships, pressures. There will be fortune for you and terrible struggle for others. There will be deep regret and wild hope. There will be so much we cannot know until perhaps it feels to late.

But I promise you, if you stop all that overthinking, even just for a moment, there will be magic too.

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.