Posted By RichC on July 1, 2005
I’ll get a jump on the weekend with a couple of Independence Day suggestions:
If you’ve never owned a US flag make this year the year to show your pride and appreciation for our country. It is a good way to reflect and remember those that founded, fought and continue to protect this great nation of ours, as well as a symbol of our national unity to others. Although Americans differ in how we see the virtues of our country preserved, I believe most are thankful for where we live and the opportunities being an American offer us. This was reinforced in listening to my son when I picked him up from the airport after returning from Romania last night. Indulge me …
Taylor, my high school sophomore, returned from spending a couple of weeks working with handicapped children in Constanta, Romania (with my brother-in-lawâ€™s outreach ministry, Romanian Handicapped Ministries). The experience for a normal self centered suburban teenager was far better than I expected. He came home with an appreciation for his American wealth and shared with me a heart of compassion for those he worked with. He (and I) really had very little concept of what living in Romania, that on the surface seems civilized, but underneath is corrupt and uncaring.
I expected that in working with ‘throw away’ people in Constanta (it is how they view the handicapped), that he would have compassion for humankind and develop an appreciation for how fortunate his life is. What I didn’t expect was that he would observed the overall cultural differences that is truly self centered and uncaring. (some by necessity… survival of the fittest) His ability to compare what he knows of most Americans (even as self-centered as we are) to those he observed in Romania was a stark contrast. I was surprised at this, thinking we Americans are often uncaring and unmoved. His opinion was that it is a rare American that is without heart, but it was a rare Romanian that hand any compassion or caring for those less fortune.
He observed the extraordinary split in economic classes; there were those with noticeable wealth such as the organized crime syndicates as well as the street gypsies. He talked about the Bentleys, Mercedes and exotic sports cars seen in the midst of the poverty that was everywhere. Although there were people with noticeable wealth, there was a seemingly an uncaring attitude for the conditions around them; almost as if it were not even noticed. It is â€˜justâ€™ normal???
The family that my son worked most closely with was one with Downs Syndrome. They were in a two bedroom house/apartment with and outdoor kitchen and bathroom. Besides the medical care offered by RHM, visitor plan field trips to get them out, arts and craft activities and just socialization with the children and their families were part of their days. Most families and handicapped kids/adults were amazed that someone even cared about them. “I was sick and you took care of me. Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40
There has been change in the area over the past 5 years since Jerry established RHM. The daycenter offering health services and minimal job training is still small, but is able to offer at least some medical care and checkups to the handicapped of Costanza. This Black Sea port town has become a staging stop for our military personnel and has experienced a influx of American dollars. Unfortunately it also exacerbates the difference in wealth between the officials, organized crime and those living on the edge. The Russian/Romanian Mafia is noticeable and shows no concern for those scrounging at the poverty level.
Iâ€™m off the point in sharing what my son really came away with; he noticed that although there is a divide between classes here in the United States, the poorest here are wealthy and have opportunity in comparison with many he saw in Romania. Our wealthy class is still compassionate, in generous and helps to create opportunities for those capable of helping themselves … and assistance to the truly needy. Here in the United States, there are many charities, churches and groups willing to help; assistance is abundant in comparison to Romania.
These last couple of weeks provided my son a good opportunity to rethink his ‘condition’ â€¦ I only hope he will remember the blessings in his life the next time he has to ‘sufferwithout movie money’ or brand name clothes. It is easy o complain about the inequality of our society here in the US, but even as the wealth gap widens â€¦ the quality of life for the majority in the US continues to advance. The quality of life for all in the US is good and continues to improve despite our self-criticism; we as a whole are good examples to each other and to the world.
Perhaps in appreciation this 4th of July â€¦ we could in a small way thank someone that is on the front line keeping this ‘way of life’ improving. These military men and women are not only protecting our United States, but are sharing our hard fought freedoms with others around the world in hopes they also can build a better life.
TAKE A SOLDIER TO THE MOVIES
An easy way to bring a little bit of home to our soldiers overseas is to “take a soldier to the movies.” This project was started by Bernie and Kathy Hintzke of West Allis, Wisconsin (near Milwaukee). The Hintzkes have a 22-year old son, Adam, who is serving in the Army and is deployed to Iraq.
The idea was to bring a Saturday night out in America to the troops. Operation: Take a Soldier to the Movies sends soldiers packages that contain:
A new or used DVD movie
Two (2) packets of microwave popcorn
Two (2) packets of presweetened powdered drink mix
Assortment of movie theater-style candy (no chocolate), and
A letter from the person or family contributing the contents
All of the items come packaged in a special patriotic popcorn box. You can contribute any of the items above or make a cash donation by sending to:
OPERATION: Take a Soldier to the Movies
c/o Hintzke & Associates, Inc.
10617 W Oklahoma Ave U1
West Allis, WI 53227-4152