I had so much fun yesterday. We spent the day in Beius with all of the counselors from the Camp in Budureasa. Getting there was an adventure, for sure. First, we were going to take the train from Oradea. Then we were going to take the tram to Nufarul and get a car there. Well little did we know “get a car from Nufarul” meant find a jitney! (A step up from hitch hiking.) Iulia went and asked a group of drivers if they knew of anyone going to Beius and they directed her to a bus. A big smelly poorly venilated obviously eastern European bus – Mercedes circa 1974. Of course, I was little miss “YES! It’s a REAL ROMANIAN EXPERIENCE!!!” but by the time we made it to Beius, I was ready to get off the bus. Corina kept saying “I’m not getting on that thing.” Sierra kept smelling her deodorant so she didn’t have to smell the distinct salami-urine smell. And I smiled on the inside because every time a smelly Beechview local came into the coffee shop I would force myself to take a big whiff as missionary training. ;)
We spent the day catching up at the coffee shop, playing soccer and ping pong, and exploring the beautiful village so many of my dear Romanian friends call home. It was lovely. Then we stayed for church and talked about camp with Elijah afterwards. I was sorry to leave. But we’ll go back on Saturday for bible study with the youth from Maranatha after we get back from Batar. And then Sunday of course for church.
I can’t wait to go to Batar tomorrow. I’ll admit when I saw Sierra in church last Sunday and she told me about what they did in Batar, I was jealous to the point of tears. Cristi said Pastorul Danut knows where Stana Maria lives so if Justin’s directions fail me, I know I’ll make it there one way or another. Pray that God does something amazing. I have prayed for her often since November and my prayer was always that when I saw her again I could call her sister and rejoice in what Christ is doing and has done in her life. We’ll help John teach the kids English through a Sunday School-style lesson and then I hope he’ll come with us to find her. Maybe we can even convince him to take us to church there one Sunday morning.
I talked with Elijah yesterday about the Gypsies on the street and how even though I know it’s dangerous to help them, I can’t just pretend they’re not there. He says there are safe ways to help them. Unfortunately, all of them are dependant on whether or not there is a man with me. He explained the situation a little better with a great deal of grace. Just like in the cities in America, there are some Gypsies on the street who are genuinely and depserately in need of help. The problem is differentiating which ones are the kind that really need the help vs. the kind that are out for all they can get at any cost. There’s a sixteen year old Gypsy girl with a baby who stands on the corner at an intersection and asks the cars for money during the red light. Elijah met her a year ago and she was begging for food. She said “Sir, I have no milk for this baby because I haven’t eaten in three days.” He took her to a store on foot and bought her all the food she could carry and all sorts of other things small babies need. He always gives her money. She lives there on that street corner. I wish all of the Romanians had that much compassion for the Gypsies, but as it stands, the help is just not there. Or the ones that don’t really need the help are using up all the available resources and leaving people like this girl with nothing.
He explained that there are some Gypsies who send their kids to government funded schools (a sort of reparation for the persecution they suffered under Ceaucescu) and then send them out to the cities to beg. He explained that a very large percentage of the beggars on the streets are in fact working for someone. They are closely watched and monitored, taking note of what people give and what cars they drive. They are given a quota of how much money they must bring in at the end of the day and there are consequences for not meeting the quota. He said I can give freely as the Lord leads but ONLY in the company of a man and ONLY if I leave afterwards by tram or cab. He said a group of Gypsies will attack you if you give to one and not to all of them.
Oh Lord, is there anything I can do while I’m still here? Or is this going to be one of the focuses of my ministry when I’m better equipped to REALLY help? So much ugliness.. so much sin… so much pain. What can one person do? Lord, lead me to make a difference in the lives of these people and make an impact for Christ in a dark world.
I was talking to Corina last night and listening to the same song and dance I always get when people realize how serious I am about ministering to the Gypsies. It’s dangerous, you could be killed, they can’t be trusted, one minute everything is fine and the next they’ll stab you in the back, they’re thieves and murderers. I replied as I always do, “Doesn’t that mean they need Jesus all the more?” And then more descriptions of the same sin patterns the Gypsies are caught in. And I said “How can they stop if no one tells them it’s wrong?” She said “They know it’s wrong and they do it anyway.” Isn’t that just exactly the picture of the sin of every man, woman, and child on earth? I remember that’s how my mother explained sin to me when I was very small. So many Romanians look at them this way, even among the believing community. It breaks my heart, but I understand that this is the result of thousands of years of this vicious cycle between these two people groups. The sin of the Gypsies reflects poorly upon the Romanians, and the world blames the country of Romania and looks down on them. And the ugliness just keeps spreading and adding more fuel to the fire. How long, Lord? What is it going to take to extinguish this flame? Only You can heal all this pain, You are the answer to all these questions. Oh Lord, be glorified! Change hearts and lives and minds to fix their eyes on You alone. Make us all to know the weight of our own sin against You and help us live our lives out of thankfulness for Your mercy instead of condemning the sin of others. I am so often guilty of that.
Apparently the laptop I’ve been using here at the Gradinita/AMROM (kindergarten) has USB ports but neither of them work. I had hoped to upload some of my pictures for yinz guys in the States n’at. So I went to Crisul (indoor marketplace, kind of like a mall) and had them put on CD, but either the CD doesn’t work properly or this computer doesn’t work properly. Either one is extremely possible. Corina is trying to see if the CD will work on her computer. If not, Paula offered the use of her computer and I’ll just upload them straight from my camera.
In any event, here are the pictures I have.
From Oradea : Pictures from the Kindergarten and around the city
click : http://s281.photobucket.com/albums/kk237/misskatieinromania/summer2008/oradea/
From Codru : Pictures from the camp in Codru and Soimi
click : http://s281.photobucket.com/albums/kk237/misskatieinromania/summer2008/tabara_codru/
From Budureasa : Pictures from the kids camp in Budureasa
click : http://s281.photobucket.com/albums/kk237/misskatieinromania/summer2008/tabara_budureasa/
More to come when I can! I love you all and miss you very much.