In Good Hands

americanflag

In Good Hands
By Rodica Iova

Oh, how much I love you, beautiful.
My heart trembles inside me for the sake of you.
America,
I am your smallest servant, someone called
To watch up in the tower.
I have pledged allegiance to the flag,
So you can lean on me, my Lady.
We are many.
You are in good hands.

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Las Vegas

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I didn’t know what to do. I prayed after reading the news, but even prayer, which is sweet to my heart, didn’t seem to soothe the pain. When Americans suffer, the whole America suffers. I went and took a long walk on the island. I thought I would pray more, but my soul was too hurt to say words before the Father. Then , as I was passing by the yards full of flowers, I stopped and smelled a rose. The splendor wrapped me in its arms. It was something I could cling to in this world of madness. I stood there on the deserted sidewalk and thought to dedicate this picture to those who suffer today.

Don’t Ask

biffar-doors-high-security-district-small-12820PHASE 1 – It might be easier to walk into the White House without appointment than into the 99c Store’s restroom on Harbor. It took two representatives, one out loud call on the store’s microphone, one guy from the loading section in the back and an angry security lady to finally open that door that had a 9 digit pass.
I felt honored. 
PHASE 2 – While inside, another victorious elderly lady with a walker stepped in the high security area next to me. When she kindly asked for some toilet paper, “If you, by any chance, have some to spare.” She stretched her hand under the little wall between stalls, and I handed her the treasure.
Sharing with others brings joy.
***
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No, Thank You -30-

china(Continuation)

While taking the public transportation as a foreigner in Bucharest made you the target of the pocket thieves, that didn’t seem to apply to Beijing. I felt safe there, even though I stayed alert to what was going on around me, with all my documents and cash placed in a pouch hanging under my clothes. It looked like the many years of practicing fencing helped me be on guard and pretty vigilant.

We checked in the hotel and went to leave our bags in our rooms before taking a walk in the city. Not everybody from our team came back from the field and our meeting was at dinner. About an hour under the hot sun by the tall buildings, and walking without a specific target, we lost our interest in discovering the city on foot. Had some lunch and walked back to the hotel.

When I saw it. I was mesmerized. It was a small purse shop in the subway.

Some may wonder what was so amazing about that? I’ll tell you what: those purses had personality. Their design was so unique and beautiful that made me slow down and let my friends go without me. “Are you sure you don’t want to come back with us?” the translator asked me. I was sure. The hotel was straight ahead at about ten minutes away. They didn’t insist. I walked down to the subway again and got inside that store. It was full of dust, with bags and purses piled on top of each other, to maximize every inch. I didn’t care. There were at least ten purses I overwhelmingly liked from the first sight.

You may think that I’m a purse spender. I’m not. Every time when I needed, it was hard for me to find the “perfect” purse. But there they were lined up, faultless.

Made of black and purple leather with long handles, this one was parted in two compartments, with a tiny clasp on the exterior that was Mickey Mouse’s head. I bought it. Yes, I came to China from California and got a Disneyland purse.

Looking around the table I could see us, the few men and women who left the LAX airport not long ago, but something significant was changed. We missed one of us.

After being spread into the heart of China and encountering such a need for the Word of God, after being witnesses of poverty and pain in so many ways, we gained a new heart, a humble heart.

(To be continued)

No, Thank You -29-

china(Continuation)

When I heard the announcement that Beijing was the next stop, I thought, “Smog.” I was ready for it. I have read that Beijing was covered in pollution, but that day and the days that followed were sunny and full of light.

My first impression when we got off the train was that we were in the Bucharest of the 1980s; that was my first thought. Maybe because the travelers swarming in the immense rail station, rigid kind of people, looked too worried and stressed out to show a smile. We pulled our luggage alongside the river of people and managed to get to subway. I couldn’t wait to take a first glimpse of the city. Our translator bought us the tickets and we boarded a train packed with proletarians, the working machine of a country that was building their communist era. When one would fall, it didn’t matter. The Party and the masses were large enough to replace the sick and the dead without sorrow.

The doors opened and we rushed out to keep up with our guide. The city was marvelous. Breathtaking. But something was odd about the buildings. The skyscrapers made of steel and glass imitated Manhattan. I didn’t know that most of the largest cities in China boasted with replica of iconic buildings in Europe and US.

(According to DailyMail.com – “the head of one of the companies behind the development, …said: ‘…When we decide to learn from others, we should not make any improvements or changes.’ ” Article by Daniel Miller, January 8, 2013, “Chinese fakeaway: How the world’s most famous buildings – and even whole cities – are being cloned in the Far East.”

That was so sad.

-To be continued-

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No, Thank You -27-

china(Continuation)

We were leaving the next day to Beijing. The connection we made with people from villages and cities and especially with this pastor, were so strong that the thought of our departure was hard to bear. It was way beyond our normal ability to love. From the human point of view, they were strangers I barely could tell one face from another. But the bond of friendship between us was profound.

Next morning we packed our bags and carried them out to the van, where the lady pastor was waiting to accompany us to the train station. If you knew me, I took many trips in my life and made friends everywhere, but nobody in the world felt so close to my heart like that woman of God. I wept all the way to the rail station. She wept sitting next to me and holding my hand. It was the same feeling you have when you say goodbye to your loved one forever.

When I took my oldest children to the airport in Romania, one month apart from each other, to fly to the United States where they moved, the separation was so devastating for me that I wandered the streets crying out loud after them.

Now I was going through the same pain. We were sisters in Christ and were not allowed to see each other again on this earth. I had no picture of her, only a few memories to treasure for a lifetime.

We got off the car and pulled our bags to the building to get our tickets. My dear lady friend and the driver came with us. The man handed us a bag full of fruit to have for our journey. The halls were packed with people rushing to the trains and we had to move quickly to catch ours. There was no time to say much. We fell into each other’s arms and wished that moment would not come to an end. But a few minutes later, we were boarding a crowded high-speed train to the capital of China.

-To be continued-

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No, Thank You -26-

china(Continuation)

There was a restaurant in the city where most of the dishes they served were BBQ meats. It was an exquisite and expensive place where people who had money went to eat. Since our trip was all-inclusive and because I wasn’t familiar with the Chinese currency Yuan/Renminbi, I didn’t pay attention to how much was our food. The hotels where we stayed offered grandiose included breakfasts. This time our translator mentioned the dinner was pricey.

The lady pastor sat next to me and, with the help of our interpreter, we started to talk. She had one son, and her husband was working far away. She was in charge not only with her big church, but supervised quite a few churches in that area. At the end of that day, she didn’t look the strong woman of God she appeared when she walked to the pulpit.

Her sermon was powerful and moving. I saw people around me wiping their tears. She encouraged her church to have faith in Jesus and not let go. Now, at the end of the day, she was tired and drained. She was going home to her son. She felt lonely.

Her confession made our hearts tremble.

This woman of God had to battle many battles, to raise up a child by herself, to nurture a marriage with an absent husband, to care for her elderly parents and her husband’s parents as well, to pastor a big church while minding the requirements of her government, to feed the old folks in her church who had nothing to eat. When she said this last statement, she turned her head to hide her tears.

“If you could, ” she continued “please help us with food for them. We can’t keep up with the great need. All we can offer is a bowl of rice, and even that is not enough to feed so many who come every day.”

We were eating meat and visiting the country, and our brothers and sisters didn’t have food to eat.

I felt so guilty. And with all of that I didn’t know how to help, what to do. Sending money was impossible. We were not allowed to keep in touch with our friends. Everything had to go through the government.

I remembered when I got home to the United States I wanted to raise money for a soup kitchen in that city in China. My youngest son and I put aside all the money we had for that project. It was little, but I started to spread the word to our friends and family. Then I was told that the Chinese government didn’t allow foreigners to open food banks or soup kitchens in their country. That would have proved they were not able to care for their own people and it would have impaired their dignity.

But that was what the lady pastor asked us; to help them feed their elderly.

-To be continued-

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