Monday, July 22, 2013

To Know Them is to Love Them

^^^scenes of Romania^^^
I've been wanting to share my thoughts about my feelings of once again being among Romanians after living with them for 18 months (almost 5 years ago! I can't believe it), but it's been hard to organize my thoughts because I don't want to give the wrong impression or offend anyone in expressing how I feel. You see, in the last few days I've found myself more often praying to have more patience with Romanians. There are some moments when they really test it.

I did this on a daily basis (the praying part) when I was living here the first time. Praying for patience, and praying for love for these people. And there is no doubt in my mind that my prayers were answered. I love Romanians. I love their beautiful country. I prayed to come to know them and understand them. This is definitely still a prayer being answered, because even now coming back and not being a missionary I've been able to understand them a little better. They've been through a lot in the last few decades, and there is still progress to be made and lessons to be learned.

There is an expectation when you serve a mission that you will come to love the people in the mission that you are serving. And if you have complaints about them, then you keep it to yourself because you don't want to give off an impression that you don't love the people. I rarely wrote home about my frustrations with dealing with Romanians. I didn't want people to think I didn't care about Romanians, because that wasn't true at all. If anything, I have realized that I began to see Romanians as family whom I loved so much. But when you love someone as family, you are completely aware and more frustrated when they do dumb things. You want them to be happy, and it hurts to see them make choices that you know will not bring happiness.

The only other group of people that I feel like I know better than Romanians are my fellow Americans. And we all know I can write an essay even longer than this one about the flaws of Americans: the things that frustrate me so much and the stupid things Americans can do.

So in answer to my prayers for patience in moments of frustration, I am blessed remembering the good things instead. Sure, Romanians may be blunt to a fault, they may smoke like chimneys and take months off my life by blowing it in my face, they may be incredibly rude and aggressive drivers (highest number of car accident deaths in the E.U., but that's besides the point), and they may have even less patience than I have, but they are also some of the kindest I have met. Incredibly giving hosts, who make it a top priority to make you feel welcome and well fed. People who are willing to help you in any way they can. People who just want you to be happy.

I hold on to those moments and to those people and keep them in an easily accesible part of my memory to bring out in moments of frustration and impatience. And this trip has been causing that drawer in my memory to overflow because I have had so many wonderful experiences and wonderful moments with old friends and new friends. We're going to miss them. And we're going to treasure the memories we have made and the lessons we have learned this time around.

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