Saturday, August 9, 2014

Romania - Working with the Roma

As some of you probably know (if you follow my blog), I went to Romania on a mission trip a couple weeks ago. It was a truly remarkable and amazing experience, and I loved every minute of it!
Posts already written include

Now, our first day there we rested and got to know the full time missionaries that we would be staying and working with a little better. They were truly amazing, and  have a place in my heart. Their hearts are so big and they have such strong faith and love in the Lord, dropping everything to meet his calling for them. We also  took some pictures of the scenery outside of the house, and talked about the two lessons we were going to do the next day with the Roma (Gypsy) children (Roma is the more correct term for them, compare to calling Native Americans Indians).

Our second day (Tuesday) had a lot going on, though, making us thankful for that day of rest!  Tuesday morning was our first day working with the Roma children. We had been warned that they could be a little harder to work with, because they didn't have as much education and weren't as disciplined, but we weren't completely sure what to expect. I was excited and nervous.

(We weren't supposed to take electronics, so I don't have any pictures of the Roma, but I'll share the video that was made after we got back later, where there are some pictures. I do have some of the Romanian children though!)

We had a wonderful translator name Ilulia, who is a teacher there and works with the missionaries, who helped us. She was a huge blessing! We would say a sentence, or part of one, and she would repeat it in Romanian (it wasn't as confusing as I thought it would be. We started out with games, which mostly went well. Then songs, which were led by Edith the woman who had started the ministry there with her husband, and Hunter from Utah who was staying for two months. It was wonderful to hear them worshiping in their language (Romanian), and it really left a smile on my face and warmed my heart to hear them singing along with so much enthusiasm! Then Dean and Patrick (two of our  group of nine) told the story of how God created the world and did the Bible verse with them. After Patrick went over the Bible verse, a few of them went to the middle and said it from memory - I loved that they learned it so fast, and it took a lot of courage for them to get up there!

Then, it was time for me to get up there and go over the craft. My plan was to tell how the numbered beads 1-7 corresponded with the number of days it took God to create the World, ask if they remembered what God made on each day, and explain the process. But it definitely did not go as planned! The tables were put out before I started talking, I couldn't find the translator, and all of the children started talking loudly and rushing to the tables. I wasn't able to explain anything! It was utter chaos! We passed out the string, then we each took a bag of one number trying to give everyone one of every number but it was difficult because they would come up to us instead of staying in their spots so some of them got more than one of some numbers. 

Then, I thought that if I put the colored beads on the table, they would share. But, when I got  out the bag of beads 15 children put their hands out in front of me or tried to grab the bag. I was eventually able to put a handful down on the table and 15 children tried to take all of the beads for themselves. It was really sad and heart wrenching, because it was like survival of the fittest mode. That's how they were raised. You couldn't blame them because that's all they knew, all they were taught, all they had seen. It was very overwhelming, and all we could do was put a small handful of beads in their hands as they came up to us. They did enjoy it though. It made me even more determined to share God's love with them to the best of my abilities.

Later that evening we had a second lesson with them. We decided to keep it simple and talk more about creation. That lesson went better all around! I had told the people helping out not to move the tables until I was done talking, and we kept them sitting in their circle. I talked about the bracelet first, then asked them "what did God make that flies in the sky," of course they said "birds," and then I showed them the bird they were going to make. I had done most of the work putting the birds together - gluing the eyes, beak, and head on - because we thought it would just be to much if we had them do all of that. So we gave them each a black marker to color it with, and when they were done they brought the marker back in exchange for 2 feathers and tape. It went so much better, and they enjoyed making the birds and flying them around, as much as I did helping them!

The next day we had our third and final lesson with them (we would work with the Romanian children in the surrounding villages for the rest of our stay). It was wonderful to work with them, and we were much more prepared, but it was bittersweet because we wouldn't be seeing them again. 
We talked about how God is our Savior, and I talked about how they were going to get a cross and gems to glue on it. This time, instead of a fiasco like the beads, we put the gems in little cups and gave each child one. It went really well!

Another cool thing about working with the Roma was that they were ages from baby - older teens and there were about 50 of them at each lesson. Some of the parents would come and they were just as eager to learn as the children were. I loved hearing their laughter and seeing their smiles light up their faces!

More to come!