Reality and The Culture We Live In
I’ve been trying to put these words on paper for several weeks now, I type and delete. When we arrived back in Moldova I was super excited to make the journey up the street to the Cancer Hospital to see Maria. Why was I excited? Because I hadn’t seen her in 3 months, because I had some really cool cards to share with her that some children from America had made her, or maybe it was the fact that I had heard some really great news her tumor had shrunk. Whichever emotion it was quickly escaped my mind as we entered the hospital room where Maria sat in a chair waiting to receive a ratio active treatment. For a slight moment, she had a smile that quickly turned into a frown and her eyes filled with tears. Was she upset that we were there to visit, was she scared that she was about to endure this treatment again the answers to these questions I will never know. We stayed with her for a moment read a few of the cards to her, gave her a small gift that someone had sent her, and decided that we should leave so that she could regain her composure before her treatment. My heart broke I couldn’t hold back the tears I hugged her, told her I loved her and we walked out.
As we walked into the hallway her mother (Christina) followed us. She begins to apologize for the way Maria reacted. We explained that there was no need to apologize, and we begin to ask all the routine questions. You know all the ones you would ask the doctor if your child was in the hospital. Christina confirmed that the doctor had originally told them the tumor was 4 centimeters and was now less than 1 centimeter. Kelly begins to tell her how great this news was, that many people in Moldova and America had been praying for Maria and their family and that God was doing a great work in Maria’s life. That’s when the culture that we have always heard about here in Moldova became a very real voice to us. Christina looked right at Kelly and I and told us that God had done nothing for Maria.
She had been to the Orthodox Church in Crasnaseni, taken Maria with her, given the priest money, taken communion with him, and he had prayed for Maria. She was very persistent that the Orthodox priest was the one who had shrunk Maria’s tumor. Kelly begins to explain to Christina that she doesn’t have to go to the priest that she can talk to God anytime she wants, and how this is a gift that God gives us freely. She listened to every word Kelly spoke, however, her facial expression never changed and she never showed one bit of emotion. Her mind was settled, she never wavered, never even blinked an eye. We ended the conversation and prayed for her and Maria. Christina thanked us for coming and told us we were welcomed back anytime.
The 2-minute walk back to the car seemed like a 2 mile walk. My head was spinning as I thought of the words Christina had just spoken. How does it feel to live in such a world where you are so oppressed that you live as a slave to them. You wear blinders so dark that all you see are the many lies; you can’t see the truth. Then my heart begin to crumble, as I thought of Maria, an innocent 12 year old girl who’s mind must be so confused. She lives everyday in her village where this type of oppression is common. She came to a summer camp where she was told, how this God is a good good Father and will never leave her or forsake her. Yet it was during this time she discovered she had a massive tumor on the base of her brain, that has caused her so much pain and completely turned her world upside down. We come to visit her in the hospital or at home and tell her how much we love her, how much this same God loves her, yet she still suffers. Then her and her mother visit the Orthodox priest and the next week her tumor has shrunk. No wonder this child was upset to see us once more, however, we will continue to visit, check in, and pray for Maria. I know God is not finished with Maria’s story, I know He is continuing to write it.
As we returned home I began to pray. I ask God to show me exactly what He was trying to teach me. His response was very clear. We have been serving Him here in Moldova for the past 5 years, however, there are many things in this culture that we don’t know about or that we dont understand. More specifically the Orthodox Religion, it’s beliefs, and what it teaches the people who follow it. Learning this will give me a greater understanding of how deep the oppression runs, new insights on how to share Jesus with them, and a deeper understanding of what their repentance means to them. Please continue to pray for Maria and her family that the blinders are removed and their hearts are broken so that they can see Jesus is the only true healer. Also, continue to pray for me as I seek to understand more information about the Orthodox Religion.