Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: PHOTOS and/or SOUVENIR(S) (vacation) (07/16/15)
TITLE: The Remembrance
By Marilyn K. Smith
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Before my head touched my pillow on the second night of my journey, I had visited one of Dracula’s castles in Transylvania and wandered through the streets of Bucharest teaming with street children holding out there hands for money. I had stood in line with a group of Christians who were waiting to use a despicable, dirty bathroom in a street-side bar. I had watched gorgeous table scarfs being hand-made at a roadside market and had even purchased one as a souvenir. However later there would be another souvenir that would become the most meaningful remembrance of my visit in the Carpathian Mountains of
My journey began in 2000 when I met with my Bible study group at my local church. Sitting by one of my good friends, I vaguely heard her and another friend discussing an upcoming trip. She turned to me and asked, “Hey, why don’t you go with us?”
Impulsively I replied, “Sure, let’s go,” thinking they might be planning a shopping trip. Then I belatedly asked, “Where are we going?”
“To Romania,” she said.
“Romania?” I repeated bewildered.
My friends and I were nurses and our pastor was coordinating a medical mission trip as a partnership between our Southern Baptist Convention of South Carolina and the Southern Baptist Convention of Romania. We were to serve at a Christian camp for Romanian orphans.
The trip proved to be a long nineteen hour flight, and upon arriving in Romania, we experienced a jostling journey over the Carpathian Mountains. Our tour bus shared the road with gypsy wagons, pulled by donkeys and piled high with hay, as well as other automobiles. The mountain roads did not have posted speed limits and most of the drive was spent with my hands covering my face. I remember screaming a lot.
Camp Hargita offers orphan children a summer camping experience. After arriving I remember peering into the bunk houses where the children would stay. I saw long, dark rooms lined with bunk beds which, when we arrived, had no linens. That would soon change. My duties included opening windows to air out all the little mattresses, and then washing bed linens and transporting them by hand-pulled wagons to clothes lines to dry. There were literally hundreds of sheets. And of course the dozens of little bunk beds had to be made before the children arrived. Talk about laundry day; that was a Monday wash-day for sure!
Then the buses arrived. They were loaded with children whose scalps had to be examined for lice, throats for strep and every little pair of eyes for any sign or symptoms of infection.
During that busy week we made friends with the children, helped them with crafts, performed puppet shows, helped them memorize scripture and shared the good news of God’s love for them. At the end of that week, our hearts had been so captured by them that we began to feel the ache of having to leave. However the greatest heartache was having some ask to back to America with us.
Before we left, I had the privilege to attend a small village church worship service. I immediately recognized the hymns the congregation sang, although they were in Romanian. The accompaniment was the same as in my church worship as home. I was humbled to be able to give my testimony to this sweet group of brothers and sisters with the assistance of an interpreter. The prayers of the worshipers were simple and honest and consisted of “Thank you God for the cup of water I had this morning,” and “God, I thank you for the piece of bread I ate.” What a precious and humble group of Christians! In my pew that day was a card, printed in Romanian and illustrated with a dark sphere representing the world with a radiant white light shining from behind it. On the top of the world were three crosses. I tucked the card in my Bible that Sunday.
God is so good and He works through ordinary individuals willing to be available. My souvenir, that card I tucked in my Bible, turned out to be an illustration of a familiar Bible verse. “God so loves the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life!” John 3:16. Celebrating that truth with the children and the church in Romania was a true blessing.
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