Many new visitors to Rebricea for a new experience in Romania that was very intense and touching.
The whole Jones family (Keith, Deborah, Luca, Chiara and Sofia) who live in Rozzano, where several years ago they started Chiesa Veritas with the Lord’s blessing, arrived late at night on April 3. The remaining guests (Emanuele, Ludovica and myself) arrived late on April 5.
Thanks to the Jones’ experience and dependable resourcefulness and the invaluable help of their three kids, life on the farm for these four days was very busy. Many activities took place: cleaning and painting the walls of the lunch hall, English after school with Luiza’s classmates, Saturday Kids’ Club with kids from Rebricea, visiting churches in Negrești and Pădureni, and most of all spending time with our six kids and the Strois, meditating on the Word of God, encouraging one another for the successes achieved since we began to work in this country, and new goals to pursue.
It was incredible to see how Luca, Chiara and Sofia were perfectly at ease with our six kids. It was important for Keith and Deborah to show them the conditions in which their Romanian peers can live and invite them to be grateful to God for what they have. The children’s spoken language was never an obstacle, especially because our kids have begun to learn some Italian expressions, which is a great accomplishment for us.
One of the highlights of this trip was the start of two different programs for the Saturday Kids’ Club: one for teenagers (older than 10) and one for the younger kids. There was plenty of singing, pizza, art activities, lots of laughs, and since it was sunny out, also a game of football.
During the time dedicated to studying the Bible, and after listening to the lesson Deborah prepared especially for them, the younger kids had a lot of fun with Crina and Ludovica doing recreational activities and playing many games.
With the older children we thought it was time to discuss more delicate issues: in Romania, adolescents are over-mature and unfortunately are exposed to sex, violence and immorality from a young age. It was helpful to clarify these concepts in light of the scriptures. Keith dealt with the difficult issue of the role of men and women (starting with the story of Adam and Eve) in a clear and engaging way; he spoke about the responsibility that each one has, of the weaker vessel (the woman) and how she needs to be protected and not treated as an object to shatter in a thousand pieces. Keith spoke about what marriage means for the Lord and the fact that intimacy is kept inside of the union of marriage.
On Sunday we had a great time with the churches in Negrești and Pădureni. It was exciting for the guests to take part in a Romanian church service. The church in Pădureni was overflowing with kids accompanied by their mothers but, as usual, with very few men.
After church, it was very moving to visit the home of Maria and Mihai, a seventy-year-old couple that lives next door to the church in Pădureni. Maria’s past, her simplicity and her contagious joy deeply touched us.
At the end of the trip, we asked our new guests to write their impressions. Personally, I think we need to see again through their eyes a reality that continues to require our help to relieve the suffering and hunger (spiritual and physical) of these people, remembering that the things that are in excess for us, become extremely precious for them.
From our guests:
Emanuele Sansone “To summarise a weekend in a few lines is… too difficult!
What I know is that I am here working in my office, but my mind and heart are still in Rebricea, lost among the faces and innocent smiles of the children waiting at the roadside for the bus to take them to the farm where, after having songs together and reflections to build their lives, the much-adored pizza, handmade by Mihaela and Crina, arrives.
It is impossible not to think of the children from Pădureni and their town made up of houses of dried mud and straw. Faces and hands marked with need and poverty, neglect but the joy in their eyes before a bag of candies.
The attention that these children give to the teaching of the Word of God struck me and I was amazed at the competition memorising Bible verses and the poems recited during the teaching.
These are memories and images that I want to keep safe, leaving a door of my heart open and a bag ready, maybe for another trip.”
Two days. Two days to get to know the Stroi family and their fantastic six children. Two days to be with the children from Rebricea and Pădureni. Two days to see a reality that I did not expect in Europe. It may not seem like much time, but it was enough to realise that the Word of God goes everywhere, even to the ends of the earth. In the towns where abandonment, abuse and poverty are the norm, the program dedicated to children at the farm and the church of Pădureni are a great blessing. Initially, being around, playing with and talking to the children and knowing that they are little survivors of unimaginable situations, fills your heart with sadness but then leaves a place for hope: hope that when these children have grown up, they will remember the Jesus that they heard spoken about. I expected that, having come from very painful situations, these children would not trust me, a perfect stranger, and yet they were so affectionate that it left a great feeling in my heart. “When are you coming back Vladimira?” Yes, they even gave me a Romanian name. I hope to go back soon because spending time with them is an honour and an immense joy.
“It was a great joy for our family to be able to go to Romania with Bethesda in April. Each day was full of new experiences for me and Deborah and our three children. Every day we had the chance to be busy with various jobs: from painting a room, to playing with the children, to preparing lessons for the adolescents, to having Bible studies… the possibility to serve in Romania is endless! The thing that gave us the most satisfaction is the thought that we were able to sow the good news of the gospel in the lives of the children and the adolescents that God brought through Bethesda. Who knows what impact these children will have as adults when the gospel will have blossomed in them? God has allowed us to have a little part in their development. Thank you Bethesda for this wonderful opportunity!”
Translation by Tracy Horst