This morning began with breakfast in our hotel. The menus were written only in Romanian – we managed to figure out a few words such as omelette and coffee. Thankfully Tony and Claudia came to our rescue and placed our complete order for us. We had a hearty laugh over our meal when we discovered a major cultural difference.
In Europe, it’s okay to reach across someone’s plate if you want a particular food item. It’s also okay to get up from your chair and walk to a place at the table where you can reach that item. It’s not okay to ask someone to “Please pass the …..” That’s considered rude because doing so causes that person to stop eating or to interrupt their conversation to give you what you want. Our team explained to Claudia and Tony that in our country, it’s considered rude to reach across a plate or leave your chair to walk around the table to help yourself to what you want. They laughed and said, “We wondered why you always asked us to pass certain food items, such as the salt. We thought you were perfectly capable of getting it yourself. Why should you always ask us for help?” Gotta love the differences!
After breakfast we drove to the day center. Tresha put us to work sorting clothing and craft donations for an hour or so. She said our efforts saved her about six day’s work. I’m so thankful we could serve her in that way. Then the kids began to arrive.
All the campers showed up, plus four or five more…and three of their mothers! How exciting is that? We taught them a fun camp song called “Dum Dum Ditty” – they laughed and thought it was great fun. And then I gave a devotional about overcoming the giants in our lives by remembering that God is always with us and He will be faithful. Claudia translated for me. When I finished speaking, she shared some thoughts…and that led to a rousing and passionate discussion about attending discos, drinking, drug abuse, reading the Bible for answers, and more. The discussion grew so lively, with several people speaking at once, that Tresha had to give up translating. It’s so exciting to see how the kids feel free to ask questions, and how Claudia and Tresha constantly send them back to the Word.
Then came the tough part – saying goodbye to these precious kids. One gal – the one who read the poem about her mother’s death – wrapped her arms around me, buried her face in my neck, and cried hot tears. I held her close for a long time. She would look into my eyes and say, “I love you,” and cry some more. Her older sister stood a few inches away, so I hugged her, too. Then I felt nudged to say, “In my heart, I feel like a mother to you both.” Tresha walked by at that time, so she translated these words. The girls replied that they felt the same way. Then one said, “I don’t suppose you’d like to live in Romania. I’ll take you home with me.”
There were lots of tears, lots of hugs and kisses as our team bid the kids goodbye. They all expressed a desire for us to return next summer. I can’t help but wonder if they’ll all be alive next summer. My prayer is that, whatever the future holds, God will draw them to Himself so they will know His presence and peace now, and eternity with Him someday.