I once served as a short-term worker at a bible training center in Eastern Europe. Haus Edelweiss acts as a hub for providing on-site-classes and for sending professors to local areas to accommodate students in more restricted countries. One couple was able to work out their schedule so that the wife served with me at the Haus, cleaning and cooking for the students in residence while her husband went to Moldova to lead a week long training course there.
On our end, I got a reality check of what life was like for students coming from Eastern Europe and Central Asia. They were used to having the bare necessities and some luxuries but often lacked the variety and choices we enjoy in the States. Even countries like Austria don’t have available what we would consider essentials or everyday items – like Ibuprofen, marshmallows, and Jell-O.
My biggest flash of insight came the day I asked my new friend if she’d heard from her husband. “He’s battling sinus issues,” she told me. “I wish I’d packed handkerchiefs for him. There’s no Kleenex in Moldova.”
No Kleenex in Moldova?
Something so cheap, so available, so – necessary. Kleenex was the next best invention to sliced bread. My Western mentality tried to wrap my brain about living in a culture where one must launder handkerchiefs and rags to deal with sinus issues, colds, and tears.
Years later, I realized Moldova wasn’t the only place with no Kleenex.