Though I sent out a letter called Kosovo I, of course logically implying there would be a Kosovo II, I haven’t been in Kosovo for seven days now and at this point only my journal remembers what happened eight days ago. This is very good news for many of you because 7 days ago I walked in front of the OSCE building and leaned on the UN cars that were blown up in Pristina last week. May your minds be at ease on that accord, and thank you for the concern
Kosovo did end well, we saw the Lord use us in more ways than we had hoped, including using us as instruments of reconciliation between a family and the missionaries there. I spent some time talking with two thinking pagans about peace. They are both involved in peace restoring efforts between the Serbs and Albanians. We talked about what peace is and why people would be motivated to make peace with one another, and that lasting peace must be a result of something else changing. This lead into a discussion of Christian peace and how peace works from the internal out, giving a reason to love your neighbor, and if that motivation is not there, why go through the painstaking selflessness of loving the son of the man who killed your father? It was good.
What about Romanian parenting? The short answer is that apparently there is none. The first day after our arrival in Hersova (near the eastern border of Romania, 2-3 hrs from Bucharest) we went to a program that the missionaries have started here for the children. A woman in the church opens her yard/house for the street children to draw pictures, drink water, and eat some bread. Resources are such that they can only be there for two hours, after which time it is back to the streets for them. I went to the “program” that first day, walked in and immediately had the destitute and filth-covered hands of children all over me. One of them shoved her little sister into my arms, she was about 2 ½ maybe, walking though it seemed her tiny body would collapse under her own weight. There were about twelve children between 2 and 15 there, most of them gypsies, but some Romanians. The boys ran to Jonathan because he’s a giant to them (they call him “Hercules”) and the girls just longed for a mother’s touch. A 15-year-old girl that I’ve gotten to know over the past week is named Nicoleta, and with her 4’10″, 80# body she clings onto me. Through the week I’ve seen the other children on the street during day and night, and they come to my apartment to visit. They just stand outside my window yelling, “Nicoleta! Nicoleta, veno!”. Yesterday there were eleven of them waiting out there to play, to talk, to touch. This morning there was a small tapping on the door and a small bunch of flowers on the mat awaiting me.
I visited the Hospital, where they will accept infants and “take care” of them until they are seven years old (at which time they are kicked out). The missionaries here, Marshall and Marta, try to visit these forsaken children every day. There is one family in the church that “checks out” some of the children for seven days at a time, they go back for a day and they check them out again, it’s the only way to get around the system. I went into one room, it had stark white walls without a single hint of colour, 4 white cribs without blankets, and one window. Marshall picked up one of the girls, Pina, who always wants to be held by the men and not the women. Pina is four years old but is contained within that crib every hour of her life, and is therefore the size of a 1-2 year old. When I walked into the room she squealed and jumped in Marshall’s arms, she reached for me. When I took her she just put her arms around my neck and held on for dear life, Marshall said he had never seen her go to a woman like that before. Pina moved until she was in nursing position, and just rested her head in my arms, clinging still to my neck. The time to leave came too soon, she put her dry and peeling lips to mine and I put her in the crib that will be her only home for the next three years, and she just sat there – no cry, she just let go – because that’s what she’s used to. In three years they’ll kick her out of that crib and put her on the street, maybe the other street children will take her in, maybe someone will “check her out” once in a while so she will know what colour grass is. My prayer is that God will provide a family who will take her in without making her a prostitute.
On the positive side, the native’s I am working with are great. The cooks have been my favorites. Every time I go in the kitchen without shoes, they yell at me, “tu papuchka!” because they are convinced that I am going to get sick if I don’t have my shoes on. One of them has taken to spanking me whenever I go in there just for good measure (by the way, they’re both women). Last night the other cook came up to me, grabbed the waist of my pants and pulled up as far as they would go. I was shocked to say the least, but realized that she didn’t like that my pantlegs were dragging on the dirty ground floor, and she figured she would either pull them up or roll them up – unfortunately she chose the former option. These two cooks have given me quite a bit of rest and laughter after the turmoil I find every time I go outside and see the children.
There is so much more to say, but for now I just ask your prayers for Marshall and Marta, Pina, the church here, and for someone to take in the street children. For me, after twelve adopted children, two crazy cooks, 18 marriage proposals, and one case of lice, I say “la revedere” to Romania.
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