So we just had our first two weeks of camp! It’s flown by so fast, I forgot to write about it. It’s been a real learning experience for me; not only with my attempt to grasp less than a four year old’s competence of the Romanian language, but to see just how much work goes into creating a Bible camp from nothing. Liz, my roommate (who is an English English teacher *hahaha*), Crina (who works in the ACE learning program here and is hilarious), Doamne Mari (the most regal woman I’ve ever met aside from Madame, my French aristocratic former host mother), and I have the opportunity to teach and show love to about sixteen kids a day. Each day is a new surprise of who will show up and what new faces we get to see, for the full eight hours they are here.
The day begins with an icebreaker; they think I am an inexhaustible source of games, but really I’ve just had so much practice in Haiti and Hong Kong, I know how to improvise. Their favorites seem to be Hit the Deck! and Ninja.
We then do Bible stories and discussions. The theme is superheroes of the Bible. After a craft, we have lunch (made by the amazing Vio, whose spiritual gift is çiorba ((soup)), then a short English game (they all hate it but hahaha we’re making them learn), and then some afternoon activity. So far, we’ve done a talent show, a hike down to the river (which was fun up until the goat herd showed up), the Olympics, a water games day, and a bless-your-neighbor day. The kids decorated bags full of vegetables from our bountiful greenhouses and we gave them to whatever neighbor just happened to be out on our walk to the park. We ended up with bags full of plums from one elderly woman who was so overcome by the generosity (and the cute kids), she felt the need to gift us in return.
The kids are all very sweet and so, so well-behaved. They are pleasantly surprised by everything and don’t have a drop of entitlement; I think about the massively embarrassingly extravagant VBS camps are thrown in the US and how every child expects to walk out with LED lights, a T-shirt, and a bag of candy. These kids are just excited to sit on wooden benches in the hot sun, listening to Doamne Mari tell a Bible story.
Two kids particularly affected me. They are sisters, one probably ten years or so older than the other. The older girl watches out fiercely for her baby sister, and you can tell her job doesn’t stop when they go home. The little girl is overly attached, something we try to work on. The girls are a little shy but can get really competitive and goofy. On the first day, we found out that they had really bad lice, a hint of their home conditions. Doamne Mari didn’t even bat an eye; she immediately got lice shampoo and got to work. I, on the other hand, started to get itchy, thinking back to the case that just went through our own house. How I wish I would’ve reacted like Mari, just jumping into it, comforting the girls through their tears of embarrassment, instead of hesitating, preferring my own comfort.
These past two weeks, I’ve been thinking about what it means to truly do something. It’s a constant stress in our culture to be doing something. So you graduated; what are you doing? So you aren’t in college; what are you doing? What do you have to show for yourself? Is your Instagram full of pictures of you doing something? What can you tell people you’ve done?
It’s not exactly accomplishment or success; it’s just about the initial action. So yes, I can say “I went out on my own at 21. I went to Romania. I did something very independent. I am serving at a ministry. I am helping put on a camp. I am doing this.”
But am I? To the best of my ability? With my full heart? With my eyes trained on the purpose of my being here; no distractions, no personal intentions? Am I loving like Doamne Mari, patient like Vio, generous like my friends in Giurgiu? Am I actually doing this, or going through the motions of an action?
I don’t have the answers of “why now, why Romania, why me” yet, and I don’t know if I’ll ever really understand this thread of the tapestry of God’s plan. But in the mean time, I’ll keep trying my best to live this experience out with all I have. Even if that means on Thursday, I’m taking a bunch of kids out to the woods for an overnight that will probably definitely include cow herds and mosquitos.
Let’s do this.