Macedonian Mission Trip Overview: Before and After

Before:

To all my Dear Friends and Family,

Just wanted to share this with you :~)

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
~The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe  by C.S. Lewis

My brother and I have just returned from our annual Winter Conference (or Ski Camp) that GEM hosts specifically for the teens… a.k.a. A week of snow boarding/skiing and just general “hanging out” in the French Alps with other dear and loved GEM-K’s (Greater Europe Mission Kids).  I love the actual conference part of the camp.  Our speakers always have messages that wrangle and draw our minds into traveling through ideas and concepts most people would consider “best left alone.”  This year we discussed the imagination and how it might become captive to culture, media and the worldly messages that are preached through them.  And how, if our minds become ensnared with these messages, we lose the capability to tell an alternate story- a story of truth, of unfathomable love,  that rocks the imagination of the world’s close-minded foundation.
We also discussed how the church might have become captive too, and fall into the trap of the idea that Jesus is someone to worship not follow, someone tame enough to be held by sanctuary walls, stain-glass windows and a steeple.  When in reality, we were not saved by a normal, tame man who passively gave up his life.  Rather a wild one.  A saviour who purposely set up his ministry on the shores of a possessed man’s haunt,  the home of a wild and positively insane scoundrel who was both a joke and a real danger to the community he had been cast out of.  A man possessed by not one, but a legion of demons.  And it was Jesus, who was not only brave and enough of a wild man himself to cast out the Legion, but crazy enough to have mercy on the demons themselves, and cast them into the pigs near-by as they asked.  It was Jesus who was wild enough to ravage a market,  set up in the temple no less, screaming for the people to “Get out!” at the top of his royal lungs, as he over turned tables and stands, all because that market was making a profit in a place and time that was not honoring God.  A mad-man who surrendered his life to his enemies, to save them.  WHO does that?!
These stories leads us to ask, well, if Jesus is wild, is he safe? And if I choose to follow him, can I do it without being wild myself? “’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”  Not safe.  But good.  And when I choose to accept his gift of mercy, at all cost to him, (that mad-man…) I’m no longer safe.  Not safe to stay at home, or mind my own business when I go out, but tossed out to experience life and living in a better more astounding, more good way than ever would have been possible had I been
kept safe.
This year, I awaited in anticipation when the mission trips would be announced.  I applied for the three, whose ambitions and goals tugged at my heart the most.  I trusted God to place me in the group where I would serve best, and this spring break my Wild Saviour is leading me on a mission to fill a need in to Skopje, Macedonia, where His team of 12 students and 2 adults will be involved with the “Roma” or Gypsy children and youth through sports activities, perhaps in a carnival type setting with games, face painting, etc. Or just planning other engaging activities for children.  There will be an ESL (English as a Second Language) time – where we will have teen to teen contact, a time to wrangle and draw their minds around this possibility of a Wild Saviour with a story of truth, a story of unfathomable love, penned out in His personal handwriting specifically for them.  This trip will cost 800
Euros, or 1,200 dollars.
Challenge: I would like to ask you to sincerely and prayerfully consider if our Wild Saviour might be asking you to commit to praying for this team up until and during the week of March 25- April 2, 2010 and/or offer to be one of the financial supporters that we need.  Will you be one of six $100, or eight $75 givers?

~Love,
Brittany

After:

Hey Friends and Family,

Just wanted to let you know, I’m home.  The week I spent in Macedonia
was incredible, amazing, crazy, unexpected, an emotional roller coaster, exhausting and… a blessing.  Our group visited two Roma/ Gypsy neighborhoods.  The neighborhoods looked more like slums.  It was gut-wrenching.  The Gypsy people, who call themselves the Roma are a totally different race and hold to a culture and language than the natives of the country they live in.  Thus there is a severe
amount of  discrimination.  The first day in our first neighborhood we spent just playing with the gypsy kids and teens that came to the playground… it was insane.  This culture was SO physical!  it was completely natural for the kids to attack each other, for example just because one wanted to jump rope and the other was in the way.  Like, full out attack, punching kicking screaming.  But on the
flip-side they were very snugly.  They were just normal kids, with a larger “lovin’s” capacity.  They would latch on and give hugs and kisses galore.  Also, they were very, very, very, very dirty.  Most of them didn’t have proper clothes or shoes.  The kids we were playing with were from families with an average of six to eight children.  In Roma culture, it’s unusual if a person over 21 is unmarried and not a parent of four or more.  The second neighborhood was rougher, scarier, dirtier and the kids were meaner, more hopeless.  The “playground” looked more like a cage.  It made me just want to sit down on the filthy, glass strewn pavement and cry.  We cleaned up their “playground” and loved on them with all the energy we had left.  In between our playground dates,  we hosted ESL/coffee/ share the gospel times for older teens in the neighborhoods.  During this time we exchanged cultural experiences, thoughts, ideas and beliefs.  When our group encountered the vast need of this people, physical and spiritual, it was very hard not to wonder “What difference are we going to make?  Their need is so big, there are so many of them.  And we are so small, so foreign, so few, and only here for a short time.  How could we possibly reach them?” Which is funny because at the very beginning of our trip God gave us a verse: Zecariah 4: 10, “Who despises the day of the small things?  Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.”  Now I don’t know what’s going on with the second part of that verse, but I do know the verse was in reference to a temple being built.  And I also know, you can’t build a temple without leveling the ground before you could even lay a foundation.  I figure that’s what God called us to do in Macedonia, level the ground, or part of it anyway.  Because the salvation of these people is gonna take more than a group of thirteen teenagers and a few leaders on a week long visit.  I want to thank you for your support, both financial and prayerful, this trip meant a lot to me and to those we served.

Much. much. much. love,

~Brittany

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