The Rev. Miriam Schmidt is an ELCA missionary in Bratislava, Slovakia. To support Miriam, or another of the ELCA’s 230 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.
Last week, I got lost again. Actually, I wasn’t really lost, I just couldn’t find the place where I was trying to go.
But the experience has made me think a bit about what it means to live outside of your country and culture of origin. Very simply — you get lost more often. You fail to find things, people, agreed upon destinations. You plan thirty minutes to get somewhere, and that is not ever enough.
I think about being lost when I look out over the congregation of Bratislava International Church. Most people worshipping here are not from here. Even the Slovaks come from other parts of Slovakia. Many others have traveled farther — from Iran, Korea, Ghana. They come here to worship because they want to worship in the English language – yet oftentimes English is a second, third or even fourth language. I’m sure many of them get lost in worship.
In April, we made a trip back to the United States, at which time I got to know the four young adults who will come this August to be Young Adults in Global Mission in Hungary for one year. They are amazing young women and men, excited about devoting a year of their life to service in foreign land, in a foreign church, among people who they will not be able to understand for weeks, or months.
I know these four competent and intelligent young adults will get lost.
And when you get lost, you are made to feel vulnerable.
But as a wise and beloved pastor recently reminded me, what it means to be Christian – on a deep level – is to welcome, even embrace vulnerability. After all, this is what God does in Jesus Christ – God enters into our human vulnerability, even to death. But somehow, we trust that in and through God’s vulnerability, we receive healing and salvation.
So perhaps there is something to all this getting lost. Perhaps I need to let it wash off my skin a little more easily.
Breathe deeply. Walk slowly. And prepare for getting lost (as it will happen.) But also trust that by the grace of God, I will be found. Again and again.