New things I have learned:
- Fratele Gigi can fix ANYTHING. It really is amazing. Just yesterday he cooked mackerel for dinner and it was good! (I don’t like fish, so that’s quite a bit from me). We are still carrying on with our mimed and sound-effect infused conversations, and he has tried in vain to teach me the difference between a ‘i’ with a tent on top and an ‘a’ with a tent on top. They both sound like tortured ‘uhhhhh’s to me…
- How to count to twenty and say my alphabet (except for the tented vowels, of course).
- Gypsies are the most beautiful people group on the planet. Hands down.
- It is possible to play monopoly in Spanish with two Romanian girls who have taken less than 6 semesters of English combined. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to read the instructions well enough to understand and explain the rules about the many ways you can get into and out of jail.
- There are no motokars here, but the transportation is just as much of an adrenaline rush. Maxitaxi drivers take pleasure in stomping on the gas or slamming on the brake to throw you to either end of the bus. The taxis drive so fast it makes your head spin.
I am finally a little clearer on my duties, and I am so excited and blessed, but also a bit overwhelmed. Next week a team from Norway will be here to help at Golgota, so I’ll just be there to help and observe and learn. That ministry with the children will be almost like a kids’ camp or VBS with the Roma children. It will start at 5 in the evenings and last until… the kids go home. In the mornings I will be at Pestera doing a similar sort of thing, except I will be the VBS director. AHHHH!!! Just kidding… Well, not exactly. I intend to tell stories chronologically throughout the Bible with them – so they can get at least a little understanding of the meta-narrative there – and I’ll also have a craft and some games and songs, God willing. I don’t know if any of you learned any Romanian (or any Gypsy) songs when you were growing up, but I didn’t. I’m either going to have to get someone from my host family to teach me some or have them translate some I already know. God may bless me with someone native to the area to do songs for me. That’s my prayer, anyway. I’ll start on Wednesday with Creation. I’ll use my story quilt that Olivia (my wonderful little sister) made for me to give them a visual depiction of the history. Some of you probably know that creation is my favorite story, so I am glad to start with it. Plus, a very wise person once said, “Let’s start at the very beginning – a very good place to start…” Mom and I found a 8” roll of paper before I left, and I brought it to use with the kids. I’ll probably use it to make a creation mural with the kids. It’ll be GREAT!! It always makes me feel a little bit better when the 4-year-olds’ alligators and flamingos don’t look any better than mine.
After the Norwegians leave I’ll have the same job in Golgota, and the times for Pestera will move to 6:30 or 7, depending on when the kids show up. I’ll have those mornings free, so I may work with a Turkish Gypsy church (ministering to a Muslim Turkish Gypsy community) with Monica or follow along for house visits with the FARM team that is here helping Fratele Corneliu as well. Monica is 22 and part Roma, and she speaks wonderful English. She is a large part of anything that goes on at Golgotha, and she will help me translate on days that Florin gets tired of me or his brain melts from translating into Gypsy Romanian (a little bit like Eubonics except far more different from the main language) or if he just needs a day off or doesn’t come. I have already spent some time with her, and she is a wonderfully mature young woman of God with a fiery passion for helping the Roma to learn about Him. She’ll be doing some other work with the Golgota teens that I may help with sometimes. The FARM team (an English acronym that I can’t remember, but it means native missionaries helping their own people) will be working with Fratele Corneliu in a different way. While I work with the children, they will be doing house visits and prayer walking. Some days I will have the opportunity to join them, but I am still praying about God’s will in that area. I can speak enough of the language to endear people to me, but that’s about it. It’s kind of like when a baby stutters out ‘Dada’ or ‘Mommy’ or when they begin to lisp out common phrases or sentences and everyone thinks their sooooo cute. Yep – that’s my Romanian level. Anyhow, I don’t know the culture or the people or the language, so all I can really do is pray and smile. I’m not belittling praying at all; that’s alright if that’s what God wants me to do, but I don’t know yet. The FARM team is four people about my age – a married couple and a couple of singles – that are not from Romania. They are Roma, but they lives elsewhere and were trained to work with their own people. AnnaMarie can speak a little bit of English, and I think she can understand more that she lets on, but she grew up speaking Romani. So, if she ever needs to translate into Romani for me, we can do it with some prayer.
I do have one more opportunity that I’d like you to be praying about. I have the opportunity to work as a counselor at a camp for two different sets of church kids during the third week I’ll be here (one set in the morning and one in the evening). Right now I want to skip the opportunity because the woman leading it already has a team scheduled to work with her, finances to afford her camp, and she’s working with Romanians (the group that mistreats the Roma, generally) that already come to church. I’m only going to have four weeks with the Pestera kids and 3 with the Golgota kids to tell through the whole Bible, and they won’t get that information any where else – especially after school starts back for them. I already have a hard enough time cutting out stories to cover 4 weeks of material, but if I only have 3 and 2 weeks, I know it won’t be easy. I know for a fact though, that that is my opinion, not God’s. Pray for God to change my heart if He is calling me to work at the camp, and pray overall that I would be sensitive to His leading rather than my own feelings and hopes. Pray for strength, encouragement, and rest, as well as a united spirit among the many workers of the Lord here. Thanks for sticking it out to the end, and I’ll let you know how things are going when I can!