YAGM Alexis (Serving in Serbia)
*** Alexis is one of the YAGMs (Young Adult in Global Mission) from our region. She is halfway through her time serving in Novi Sad, Serbia. Below is a brief reflection on her time accompanying the people of Novi Sad.***
Living in Novi Sad is an experience that is challenging to put into words, because I had no idea what to expect, and yet I was still surprised by what greeted me when I arrived here. Serbia is a poorer country, struggling continuously with corrupt leaders, dealing with the realities of being a post-communist country, and (as some locals put it very casually) a ‘country that experiences war regularly, once every 50 years’. This is the reality of the Balkans, but daily life is a miraculous testimony to the strength and resilience of the people who live here.
While the people know their history, they also know that life is bigger than what they’ve experienced. Most of the people I have met are extremely cultured, wise beyond their years, and always willing to lend a helping hand. I’m learning every day to accept hospitality and noticing that I am witnessing Christ in others in a way that is more potent when I do so. Of course, using my own hands to serve is one of my favorite parts of the journey.
While Serbia is quite westernized, the general attitudes regarding family, food, and life, are all different. Family is the most important thing, food is to be savored with others in community, and life (in general) is something to be enjoyed here. And don’t drink your coffee (kafu) too fast or the host will think you aren’t enjoying it!
Some days I forget that I am in a foreign country, thousands of miles away from home- because it feels so natural to be here. No doubt, Serbia is quite different from my Michigan home, but the people I have encountered here have made this place sacred for me. This is especially the case with the children I work with at the Novi Sad drop-in center. The children who go there work on the streets- they are primarily Roma and are under the poverty line. In the past few months they have shown me what real LOVE is—love that transcends language and cultural barriers and settles right into your heart, no matter how you may try to fight it.
Novi Sad, Serbia, will always be my Home across the sea, of this I’m certain.