Family Blessings, Part V

31 December, 2009

Roma children, Skopje, Macedonia, 2009.

Roma children. Skopje, Macedonia. 2009.

One of the greatest aspects of traveling is experiencing new cultures and customs (I could add cuisine to that as well). These differences expand my understanding of people and countries. Another enjoyable aspect is the discovery that there are so many similarities; similarities with different flavors, but similarities none the less.

One such similarity is the importance of family. This becomes the topic of this final Family Blessing series post. This image was taken while I was walking around a Roma community in Skopje, Macedonia. In most situations I can’t move unnoticed, especially in an area such as this Roma enclave. With my blonde hair and western clothes (and camera) I garnered a lot of attention.

These children were walking down one of the many small alleyways that criss-crossed the community. As soon as they saw me they wanted me to take their picture. I obliged them as they propped their younger siblings against the fence for a photo. However, this photo of them prepping their siblings for the photo was my favorite. The older brothers and sisters lovingly cleaned up their younger siblings for the photo. It is especially interesting since there was no expectation of their receiving a print for the photo. They just enjoyed that they were receiving this attention.

This is a cross-cultural similarity among all cultures, the love and care of the younger siblings by the older. Yet, a growing incongruity between this community and the one I left in the US was the fact that this group of kids walked about their community without their parents which showed a sense of security in this poor community that may be disappearing in the communities of the west.

In some ways, these small communities in the poorer countries I visit bring to mind what I imagine the US was like before this modern era of instant communication and the electronic segregation of communities that it has caused. We in the first-world are losing the blessing of 3-dimensional locational community in exchange for a 2-dimensional cyber community. We are exchanging a deep understanding of our neighbors and community for text-bytes of information of groups of friends, loosely grouped and hardly known.

The Christian community is an aberration to this trend, where community is still valued. In order to keep values in perspective, I believe that Christians need to visit other countries where needs are great and engage themselves in these other communities of believers. Through these experiences we not only gain a greater depth of knowledge of the world in which we live, we also gain a better understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. Keep in mind that we are in the world solely by the grace of God, so live as instruments of his blessing to others.

© 2009 A Mission Proclaimed

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