Monday, July 27
Today was the first day doing VBS in the gypsy village of Puta Vale! We started the day off by meeting our translators a 7:00 a.m. and driving the 45 minute trip into the village. The location we’re doing VBS at this year is at a school with classrooms and great outdoor spaces for recreation. The village is very quaint and is made up of dirt roads and winding hills. Many of the gypsies in this village move about using horse-drawn covered wagons, even today! The women and girls of this village are dressed in very traditional longs skirts and colorful head scarves tied under their chins.
Getting started we set up a registration table where the kids could pick up their VBS shirts and names tags. They were all so excited they were pressed up to the gate hours before we opened. Looking out into the crowd of children you could see a sea of bright greens, yellows, oranges and red. We had about 200 kids today, ranging from the ages of 3-15 years old, and an even bigger turnout is expected tomorrow.
On our team we have 12 teachers who, throughout the week, will go with their class through different stations: craft, recreation, Bible story, snack, and a worship time. Today was hectic to say the least, but full of so much energy. The kids were so excited to sing songs together and did so LOUDLY!!! At the end of VBS we sang some songs in Romanian that the kids already knew, and taught them some new ones with a few verses in English. We could have been singing Happy Birthday over and over and the kids would still go crazy about it!
Many of these kids have never seen people with different skin colors and hair colors than their own, and were attached at the hip to their American teachers and helpers. Those with blonde hair were especially intriguing to the kids!
This village was unlike anything many of the team members had experienced before, and it was amazing. It felt like we were going back in time looking at the buildings and being surrounded by children in very traditional gypsy clothes. It was like right out of a story book, absolutely amazing!
After VBS we had lunch and debriefed with our Romanian friends in Zalou, another lengthy meal, and had some free time to shop around town or head back to the hotel to catch a few.
Later in the evening we headed back to church for dinner and to prepare for the Youth Conference that starts tomorrow. Bethany Grimes has been putting together this program for many months and it will be very exciting to see what happens! We spent an hour in prayer, giving all concerns about the event to God and getting excited for what is to come. Fliers have been passed out to many of the local churches in Zalou inviting the youth to come to a series of three services full of worship, fellowship and sermons by Jason Griffice (the capri pants man). There is general feeling around here that God is truly going to move in this place tomorrow. We don’t know what, but we can all feel that God’s going to do something crazy awesome tomorrow!