It occurred to me while doing some budget stuff this morning that in just about a month I'll be at debriefing and along with that a whole whirlwind of other realizations. Among them: nine months ago at orientation was another world altogether.
A lot has been happening here in the last few months with my high school students (liceeni). In fact, I have suddenly discovered that we are up to our ears in some really great things. They're not, I suppose, overly spiritual and for the most part they're not dramatic. But they are real and clear, very relational, and such a surprise to someone who spent a little while with her eyes clenched shut.
This is why I'm looking forward to debriefing, and goodness there's so much to debrief. I guess it's cliche or maybe exactly what you'd expect to hear in exactly the way you'd expect it, but out of a whole mess of frustration and disappointment and, in all honesty, having no idea what to do, God has taught me about humility, grace and especially contentedness.
Before anything else, let me just say that I'd rather be no other place than I am right now. I don't mean Pitesti--I mean where being in Pitesti has brought me with God. This is it, and these last months I can't seem to get enough of it. So, a story:
Last Wednesday evening, a handful of students and liceeni got together to discuss the previous week's talk about criza familiei, crisis of the family. It was mostly hard stuff like emotionally absent and alcoholic dads--how familiar this is, the absent father, even if not physically, though it's that too. So surprising. But there were also good things like going home and having their moms cook and take care of them. There was so much I wanted to say, thinking, well I'm an expert in family junk, right? But in a group I'm much quieter than one on one, and looking back I think it was so much better to have just listened. One girl reminded me so much of myself a few years ago in the way she was reacting to everything with her family. Cool thing though: we're meeting together now and studying 1 John.
It was sort of a melancholy night, though, and by the end of it I was so far away in my head I decided to walk home, space to think and pray. It was a good forty-minute walk, cool spring air, right as it was getting dark. One thing I remember was about the Lord making me content here (Pitesti, that is--Romania was never a problem). And not just saying or feeling it but being that way. Maybe tomorrow I'll feel differently--if this blog is a testament to anything it is that I've got a tendency toward being mercurial, but that the God who is unchanging has rooted me firmly in the center of himself. I hope it's more of a testament to the second. And so there it is: content. Nothing less than a gift.
The funny thing about that is that time spent being just the opposite, eyes shut tight, well, he opened them to look better at him and in seeing him more clearly, trusting him more, suddenly I see the things he is doing. These high school students. I think I resented it for a while, thinking, well if I'd wanted to work with high schoolers, I would have been a youth group leader, joined Young Life (what was that about humility, again?) There's nothing to romanticize about. It's small and it's uncertain, and only God knows what will happen, but the more I'm praying for them, investing in them, knowing them, the more it feels like this is my ministry here. Who would have thought?
So as I walked home, on the street on the hill behind my bloc, I could see across Pitesti, lit up, the little spider lights floating in a periwinkle bowl, the hazy twilight color of a valley. This city looked beautiful. It's not about aesthetics--it never was. I don't know the words to give it, but that walk home, the brisk night, gave me words to praise God, found me working through the questions and frustrations and arriving at the word content. Thank you, Father.