My friend Alise Wright is a talented writer and musician who is writing today about her recent trip to Moldova:
I think I’m a missions anomaly.
Everyone I have ever met who has done any kind of missions work has always told me that as soon as they got back from their first (or fifth or tenth) trip, they immediately begin thinking about their next one. They’ve had a taste of serving in a different country and they can’t wait to do it again.
I don’t feel that.
Last week, I returned from my first trip abroad. I went to Moldova to help share the stories of women who have escaped sex trafficking and who are working their way back into society again, after dealing with horrors that no one should ever experience. I was captivated by these women (some of who are far more girl than woman) and honored to have the opportunity to serve beside people who have given their lives to help these women recover and thrive despite their circumstances. I will never forget my time there.
But I’m not pining to go back.
Don’t get me wrong, if someone asked me to join them on another trip, I’d give it careful consideration. There were some amazing things that I experienced being in a different country that I can’t replicate here. There is lack there that I needed to experience in person. I am changed and I am profoundly grateful for that.
It’s just that being there reminded me of how much I love my home. Because so many things about Moldova reminded me of my state, that stirred something else in me.
I live in West Virginia. Moldova is the poorest country in Europe and West Virginia is the second poorest state in the United States, and I live in the poorest county in the state. Almost a third of the population of Moldova leaves to find work elsewhere, because the economy there is so bad. Here in WV, our population continues to age, as young people leave to find employment elsewhere. We were among the last states to criminalize human trafficking.
But it wasn’t simply the negative things that were similar. I saw my home in the kindness and hospitality of the people that I met. I heard it in the traditional music. I felt it in the embraces of people who had survived hardship and still found reason to hope.
It can be easy to dismiss the need that we see here because it is so much worse elsewhere. I have done it. I’ve looked at the extreme poverty that is abroad and used it to excuse my lack of involvement in my community.
One of the things that I look for in NGO’s that I support is that they use people locally to do the work. When I was in Moldova, something that impressed me was the dedication of the people who were there every day working with the girls. They were the ones doing the important work. Their involvement was what made the restoration happening at Beginning of Life possible.
Why should it be different here in West Virginia?
My brief time observing poverty in another country left me hungrier for ways I can give back in my own. My week working with abandoned children made me want to comfort the abandoned children here in my own city. My trip across the ocean in a giant airplane with new friends made me want to take a trip across the county in a bus with people from my church.
Moldova reminded me of my place as a citizen of the globe. But it also reminded me that my home is here in West Virginia and to be a citizen of the world, I must first be a better citizen right here at home.
About Today’s Guest Blogger
Alise is a wife, a mother of four, an eater of soup, and a lover of Oxford commas. Her writing reflects her life and her relationships with all of the “wrong” people that God keeps bringing into her life. You can generally find her sitting behind a keyboard of some kind: playing or teaching the piano, writing at her laptop, or texting her friends a random movie quote. She blogs at alisewrite.com and you can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
About the “Doing Justice” Series
For 2013, we’ll spend each Friday looking at a new story about the ways someone is doing justice or acting justly. Christianity is a religion about action. Beliefs are important, but if those beliefs don’t translate into concrete action that reshapes how we live, it’s literally all in our heads. Using Matthew 25 and Michah 6:8 as our guides, we’ll be sharing stories that illustrate what acting justly could look like today.
How to Follow This Series
For starters, make sure you do two things:
- Subscribe to my blog (see the links at the top of the center column).
- Subscribe to my e-newsletter where I’ll share updates about the series.
Write your own story…
Contact me at edcyzewski (at) gmail (dot) com with a 2-4 sentence pitch for your guest post. Some guidelines:
- I’m loosely interpreting “doing justice” along the lines of Matthew 25, though feel free to offer your own angle.
- Keep the pitch short so I can reply faster!
- I can’t repost an existing post, lest Google penalizes me.
- Make sure it’s a story, not a theology lesson.