Romania, Part I

I’ve tried several times to sort of “wrap up” my experiences in Romania to be able to share them and it just hasn’t worked.

Maybe it is because the heartbreaking things I saw remain heartbreaking. Maybe it is because there isn’t resolve. Maybe because people usually just want to see a few pictures and be done with it, but we weren’t allowed to take photos with the kids. I’ve been tempted to turn this into a Sunday School lesson, bring some moral catharsis out of this, but I think Romania deserves far better than that. I feel like it would be very similar to writing a Disney Musical about the earthquake in Japan.

So here is one of my journal entries from my trip to Romania. On this day we visited a church that folks from America helped build and spent some time beyond that in the village of some Roma people, more commonly known by the derogatory term “Gypsies.”

7/26/2009 The Psalms are the prayers of the Body of Christ.

“Only in the whole Christ does the whole Psalter become a reality, a whole which the individual can never fully comprehend nor call his own. That is why the prayer of the psalms belongs in a peculiar way to the fellowship.” -Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

God, I pray love over our team this morning. Unity. May we love each other selflessly and with your heart.

We must remember to be guests.

It is hard for folks -sometimes even impossible- to hear us when we act as hosts proclaiming the gospel. Like Paul said he became all things to all people- we must be guests loving on everyone, seeing where they are in their lives.

When we are accustomed to being in one church with the same kind of people with the same problems, background, social benefits- we assume that is how to measure what is right.

Here in a Romanian church I felt as though the Roma people were welcomed in a sort of ‘Good for you’ attitude – patronizing them instead of saying YOU ARE MY BROTHER or YOU ARE MY SISTER. …not that we would make them better by accepting them perhaps we need an outlook that says “I need you. You are my brother, we are family. I need you. I love you.” That is the attitude we all need.

We went to a small Roma village. The dirt street was crowded with goats and sheep moving from one pasture of the rolling hills of grass around us to another. We saw children hiding behind corners, barefoot, evaluating what kind of people we were and why we were suddenly appearing in their space.

The first to greet us was Joseph, the jolly looking pastor of a very tiny five-pew church. Then the village women came in with shy children hiding behind their traditional Romanian dresses. All the men except Joseph were either drunk or slightly less drunk and tending to the animals.

I had seen poverty and farm small farming village culture before on other trips to Honduras and Mexico, but this was new to most of my group. They had never seen kids with black teeth or a little old lady asking for bread as the lice confidently marched around her head. This was sad to me, but even more shocking to those who had never seen it before. [We bought that lady some bread and gave the children toothbrushes.]

The two mothers in our group immediately started crying as soon as they met some of the Roma kids.

Their hearts immediately broke.

D told Matt and I that it’s different when you have your own kids the same age as the ones we saw in dire poverty. It tears you apart in a different way.

The boys who approached me wanted to hold hands. They just reached up and expected me to give them my hand. I had to stifle tears.

I got to give away some things that I had two of today. Glad I didn’t even think half a thought about giving them away. That is one of my favorite verses “If you have two tunics and your neighbor has none…”

“It will be good for us to give them unprejudiced attention” -Our Host Pastor on playing with Roma kids.

REAL community- Jaden, a three year old, running around like crazy during church service and no one turning around or being angry. That little girl will always be comfortable in church.

This was just what I could get written down on the first day. I will continue to post the rest of the trip’s entries over the next three weeks. If you got this far, you do not want to miss the other posts. (Part II) (Part III)

Was there anything that stood out to you? What would make you the most uncomfortable, sad, happy? Is it really different when you have your own kids? How? How might that give us insight to God’s passion for the unloved?


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  3. I was in Romania in July of 2009 as well, and also served in a Roma village. They are some of the most beautiful people…with some of the greatest needs. It’s encouraging to meet someone who shares a heart for the Roma. I’d love to chat sometime about our mutual experiences there.

    Do you plan to go back?

    • I would love to go back. Love. To.

      There are a few things keeping me from doing that right now, biggest being school. God willing I graduate in December. The other reasons I might write about some day, but the short version is that the door to Romania is not open right now for me.

      I’ve also been to Honduras and Mexico. I love it. Something about mission trips that postures your heart in the right direction.

      And I like chatting.

  4. Pingback: Romania, Part III (Final) | ChadwickFloyd.COM

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  6. What crept into my thoughts as I was reading … of course the sad “how awful” … but what is worse in my mind is the possibility that they don’t know any way else to live. I mean … did they even know what a toothbrush was? Or that it isn’t “normal” to have black teeth? Or head lice? Do they know that life can be better? Are they content in their way of life? They certainly aren’t as miserable as you and I would be in those conditions. PLEASE don’t get me wrong … I’m NOT coming from a “better than them” condescending attitude. I agree that it is important to remember you are a guest and even though you and I would be miserable living under those conditions, it is their home and who are we to criticize it? Besides, there but by the grace of God go I … and my children and grandchildren.

    Nor am I saying that because they don’t know the difference, we don’t need to be concerned, or we don’t need to do anything. Like you said, they are our brothers and sisters … they are God’s children … NOBODY should live in those conditions. What I’m trying to say is that the possibility that they are content makes the situation even sadder to me. Those children are growing up thinking that’s the way life is supposed to be. I think that providing such items as toothbrushes and bread are very important, but is there also some way to teach them to dream of a better life? To instill hope and even an expectation of change? Or would that be cruel? Even sadder yet, are these the poor that “will always be with us?”

    I tend to want to fix problems and get overwhelmed by it all. I have to remember that I can’t do everything, but I can do SOMETHING. It warms my heart to know that quite possibly the something I did was to give birth to Chad Floyd.

    • Yes, we taught the kids how to use their toothbrushes. :)

      Well… I think part of the problem (and part of my journal I didn’t post) is that we should cry from shame when we see this. I was heartbroken because I don’t need a tv, I don’t need to paint my living room every year, I don’t need more than two chairs in my house, I don’t need much more than what these Roma had. But I spend money on myself, investing in stuff that doesn’t matter to the kingdom.

      Why has this lady gone without bread and lice medication until now? Because of my pride.

      So I ask this of everyone: do we need to teach them to dream for a better life (hard to do given their cultural context), or do we learn to be ashamed of our greed and selfishness?

  7. great post.

    i can only imagine seeing kids ansley’s age in poverty. it would tear me to pieces. it makes me teary eyed thinking about it now.

    and wouldn’t that be nice to let kids be kids in church. we want to have ansley grow up attending worship with us instead of nursery. we do get a few looks every now and then… oh well.

    can’t wait to read more about your time in romania.

    • Thanks Lindsay.

      Yeah that little girl running around without anyone being upset really comforted me. I was dealing with a lot of issues with churches- that gave me a little peace.

      And just so you know- No one- No One got more looks than I did in a traditional american chruch. :) Just don’t let her wear flipflops, jeans, a beard, and an eyebrow ring.

      I plan on posting the other Romania journals later in the week for the next two weeks.

  8. Well written in words about how we need our other brothers and sisters in other countries and not greeting them with a ‘good for you’ approach. I know I have learned in visiting in other countries how the communities act as a communities even if they are not Christians. Acts 4 is lived out more in less established countries more than anywhere else. I’m liken the journal entries.

    • Thanks Katie.

      Seriously, I’ve wrestled with how to share this for a year and a half. I was sick of these type of experiences turning into happy ending stories when they should really motivate us to do more instead. Glad you like the method I settled on.

  9. Dude, Keep it up!

    Was there anything that stood out to you?
    1. The perspective that these dirty folk are are family! That is the reality of the Gospel and those are the ones Christ went for first! 2. Your willingness to acquire lice and skin disease from being the hands and feet of Christ. It he touches lepers why don’t we?

    What would make you the most uncomfortable, sad, happy? It makes me sad that more Christians are not exposed to the “least of these.” The “least of these” are our obligation! They are our brothers and sisters.

    Is it really different when you have your own kids? How?
    Ask me again when I have kids.

    How might that give us insight to God’s passion for the unloved?
    Reality, we have no clue how God judges. We have an American standard or rubric that we deem appropriate for gauging people. At the end of the day we never know someones past or thoughts! We can NEVER know the measure of Grace that God has given someone. We can easily see the exterior and the filth that someone clothes themselves in. Yet can we chose to look deeper into their soul and chose to see their spiritual filth. Moreover, if we do, what action will we take to help them?

    • A+

      Thanks again for the positive feedback. I’ve thought about what it would mean to see people in dire need through the lens of relating them to my own children. But I guess I really can’t know that right now. You’ll have to share soon. :)

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