Saturday, November 21, 2009
I haven’t written anything all month save the occasional comment on Facebook. Even my journal has suffered my absence for many weeks now as I cannot bear to write the words that ring in my head. It has been a trying time in that I have yet to digest the supreme loss of my best friend to cancer back home and still, I am here in Romania, giving it the daily all, wondering if my service will in fact be the capstone of my life.
Today marks the first three months at my site and it was and still is not without pain and much sacrifice. It is true that the changes that one submits to here in the initial service period are daunting, unpredictable, and never understood by those who have seemed to know you best back home. I hope that in looking back, it will have all been worth it. Some things are out of a person’s reach and scope of understanding. There are things that I will never understand. These things that take you to the depths of despair and to the pinnacles of brightness are all so much a part of it. And I have found that although you may have a heart of gold and the best of hopes and efforts, there are always many and unexpected events and disappointments around the bend.
However, the people here, both young and old, have continued to give me innumerable blessings, some more than I ever dreamed of and those which surpass even the gestures of my closest relationships back in the US---although to them (my Romanian neighbors) I am essentially a stranger in a strange land. The work is gratifying and challenging at the same time. My community is full of people who are open, caring and capable of cultural exchange without fear. I am glad that I was chosen to be here in Brusturoasa.
Now, life is very full of commitments. Places to be, people to see, things to do which fill my calendar and my days. There are tutoring sessions both for myself and others in English, games and activities with the children, family time at the gazda compound, chores, correspondence, teaching at three schools, cooking lessons, providing technology assistance, participating in community activities, and socializing to blend who I am (or who I was) into the landscape. All this while still living, breathing, trying to sleep, wash, eat, and generally being---something which most times came easily back in the US. Here, it is not so easy, as it is like living in the skin of another.
For many days and nights, I have carried a burden of guilt for leaving my home and everyone there. And for many days and nights, I have shed real tears to call to God on what he has planned for me and why this and why now. The answer has yet to be revealed and so I wait, hope and awake to another day, every day although it is full of trials…emotional ones…ones that pull at you to stand tall, stand firm, and stand alone yet equal and involved with everyone here and everyone there.
I have had very many memorable and touching moments, too. For those, I have taken photos, drawn pictures, and recorded video so that someday, if not too far away, I will look back with my grandchild and the rest of my loved ones and be able to make sense of it all, appreciating the losses that have come and respecting myself for enduring it.
If you are curious at all as to one person’s life as a PCV in the first three months of service, in a small town in the Eastern Carpathian mountains of an old-world country, then look to these photos of some of the times of my life, here at www.photobucket.com/knowenglishnow.
For the other moments---like when my sixth grade and I sang "Heal the World" together to Michael Jackson, and the morning the fourth graders cheered when they learned I had arrived at their school for the day's lesson, and the feelings that I get when all the old ladies who want to chat with me appear on my way to and fro, and how nice it is that all the men say "Sarut mana/I kiss your hand" as I walk by, and what happens to me when I see all the unfathomable smiles and the complexity of thoughts that run deep and clear in the eyes of each of the children here---for all those things and more, I cannot share them with you, although I wish I could.
In closing, on the eve of Thanksgiving, I will admit that yes, I know that I cannot by myself “Heal the World”, but surely, with effort and with honest love, I can, “Make it a Better Place.” The saints I know up in Heaven tell me so.