All around smiles, laughter, tears, some more smiles, and definitely a lot of joy.
With short term missions trips, sometimes it is hard to understand and realize that you are actually making a difference. You walk into these gypsy villages where they have absolutely nothing, spend a few hours with them, leave, and ask yourself, “is that it?”
Coming back a second time, seeing the same kids again, and spending multiple days with them, I truly was able to see the impact we are making on these kids lives. These kids remembered me from just the two hours I spent with them in March. What I find amazing, is that every time they think of us, they will experience joy amidst the horrific circumstances they are living in.
On the last day of camp in Ghida, the sun was coming down hard. The kids had set up the benches before we came, and instead of setting them up in our normal spot, they were being very considerate and set them up outside in the shade in a spot that also happened to be the geese poop field. Every few minutes the scent would waft around and our faces would scrunch up a little, but the kids just remained their joyful selves, not knowing any difference.
This was just one of the many times throughout the week where we stepped out of our comfort zone and loved without limits.
My heart broke for the gypsies we met back in march, and coming back a second time and seeing them yet again, has given me more joy than sorrow the second time around. Maybe it’s because I leave knowing them a little more, or because I understand their situations and culture a little better, but it’s not as sad, and I’m thankful for that.
Some of my favorite moments throughout the week came through my camera lens. I was able to see every smile, every laugh, and enjoy every moment as I walked around and captured all of the special moments that happened at camp. But having my camera glued to my side also allowed for some very special interactions between me and the kids. One day, there was a big game of duck duck goose going on. I hopped in the middle of the circle and sat down to try and get some good pictures of the kids while they were running around and playing. One of the little boys decided to follow me and sat down in my lap. He was so curious looking at my camera as he was trying to figure out what I was doing. So I grabbed his hand, moved it to the shutter button, and pressed down. He thought it was the coolest thing ever! Just this sweet little interaction gave him so much joy, and it melted my heart completely.
My heart is full of joy and my prayer is that the Lord continues working in the hearts of these gypsies as the ministry here continues to work in their villages. The gospel message is bringing hope and joy to these people and I can’t wait to see all the Lord is going to do.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13
All of these pictures are genuine and unstaged. This is the difference Camp Joy and Hope for Romania is making. For some more information about Camp Joy, like the facebook page (Hope for Camp Joy) and follow the instagram @hopeforcampjoy.