Sometimes in life you are part of things that you cannot realize the significance of in the moment. You’ve entered the story midway through and have chapters and chapters of history to catch up on before the depth of development is realized, before the importance of what has happened gives weight to what is now happening. I feel that way, editing pictures from last week.
We arrived in Valcea, Romania on Friday evening. Met our hosts and settled in. Explored the surrounding countryside (saw the ruins of Dracula’s castle), walked around the city, got a brief social studies lesson on Romania, this Latin-based country surrounded by Slavic ones, Orthodox to its core, in a post-communist world still reeling. And then on Monday we started camp.
In the town of Curtea de Arges, there is a rehabilitation center for kids with disabilities. A building set back behind a half-abandoned clothing factory, with a few teeter-totters and swing sets scattered about the lawn. And every morning for the last week, a handful of Romanians got together to sing songs, put on skits, teach crafts, play endless rounds of Duck-Duck-Goose, and love on the students that came to camp. There was bedlam at times, but the type that comes from an exuberance that shouldn’t be dispelled.
You see though, it was different than just day camp, than a morning of joy and laughter in the hot schoolyard. You must understand the story of Romania to understand this. For over forty years, Romania sat in the shadows of Soviet control, forty years of communism, a social structure that told the people of Romania with disabilities that they didn’t exist. That they must be kept in back rooms or state run institutions or anywhere but in the light of day where they could be seen. That to have a family member with a disability was shameful, disgraceful, and a curse.
Sometimes in life you get the privilege of witnessing love laugh in the face of shame and disgrace.
And that is what this last week of camp was. It was a joy made all the more joyful because of forty years of despair, a light shining out even brighter because of how dark the darkness had been. Every game, every shout, every hug was made richer because of its defiance of the past. Camp was the start of a victory lap.
Please pray for the students who came this last week, that the seeds planted in their hearts would grow, that the joy they experienced this last week would point so clearly to the Gospel. Pray for the relationships started with families, that parents would see the abundance of love shown by the workers at camp and know that it is only because of Christ.
“The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1:5)
See the faces and places from Hand Rom VBS camp here: Portraits: Hand Rom VBS camp