Our time in Croatia is drawing to a close, and it has made its way to the top of our list of favorite countries. The beauty, diversity and history are captivating. The Adriatic Sea is so clear, we could see straight to the bottom looking down into it from a mountaintop. The shades of turquoise shimmer and compete only in radiance with the enormous, blinding sunlit sky. The rugged mountains layer every backdrop, some snow-capped and some peaked with jagged, gray stone and fresh with evergreens below.
The Croatian people hide a recent painful history behind their smiles and concerted efforts to move on. Our last stop in Dubrovnik is proof positive of the energy and willingness to rebuild after a harrowing siege on their beloved old city, the Pearl of the Adriatic. You can still see sadness in the locals’ eyes if you stop and look long enough. It’s impossible to ignore. Only the teenagers seem to have the genuine laugh of a carefree attitude since they don’t bare the scars of the war 20 years ago.
We have learned so much about the internal strife of the three distinct people groups as they warred against neighbors and friends. No one group is to blame, except the politicians who raged their propaganda on innocent lives in order to gain territory and power. War is not a new story here though, just the most recent. Croatia has been ruled by various empires for centuries and bloodshed ushered each one in and out.
While we were here, we learned of a tragedy at home in Athens. Four college students killed in a senseless car accident and the driver, a friend and regular visitor to our home, is still fighting for her life. I have marveled at the response by our community, our Christian friends and countless young people to find good in this unexplainable sadness. It is a testament that our world is broken, but in God we find His beauty in our brokenness. In Him we find peace, comfort and the will to put one foot in front of the other, praising Him for His love, grace and the resurrection. I’m thankful we have a God who is bigger than this world and who is ALWAYS in control.
I will always think of my friend Agnes, her bright smile and her unshakeable faith when I remember Croatia and its complexities, in beauty and in brokenness.