When I first heard the word Hungary I thought–oooh, Europe. But through the mission trip introduction I found out about the injustices inflicted upon the Roma people. The Romas are more known as Gypsies but I also found out that Gypsy is a derogatory term (like nigger for Black people). It hit me–pop culture has got it all wrong, romanticizing the “bohemian gypsy” style and making it a trend while ignoring the dark undertones.
Our team consisted of 8 people. Out of the 8, Ivana and I were in charge of the children’s ministry. We were going to have a productively fun time with the Roma children–or so I expected. With the conglomeration of experiences of rowdy uncontrollable kids in Manila, extremely shy kids in Japan, and wannabe rebellious preteens from tutoring, I figured that I could handle almost any kids in this world.
As we prepared, I have received blessings after blessings about angel armies and miracles. To say that I was excited was an undetstatement. I was ready but also very expectant–the switch for my adaptability skill was already cranked on to the highest notch.
Ivana and I planned for four days of lessons total. We had games, dances, music, English vocabs, crafts, drawing time, and story time–we thought we were loaded. We used up most of our ideas by the first day. According to our very tentative and flexible schedule, we were supposed to have children’s ministry in the evening while our team leader, Pastor Chang was preaching to a bigger crowd. Bigger crowd meant more kids to “babysit”.
But no, people were flooding in from the very first morning sessions and kids were running around the halls screaming and crying. Ivana and I had no choice but to gather up the wild monkeys and play games with them throughout the whole day.
The biggest difference between the Roma kids and the other kids I have worked with was that I could not speak their language. They also had very different concepts of hand signals and body language so I couldn’t even tell them to line up by motioning. I later found out that they actually didn’t really have the concept of lining up–the Taiwanese side of me laughed.
Even though communicating was excruciatingly difficult, the need for every child in a developing community seemed to be the same. They just needed a little attention: a hug, a squeeze in the hand, a gold star sticker, or just a high five.
It’s interesting to see how I go to a mission trip so willing to give but forget the fact that I am to receive beyond imagination. Whenever I work with children, God reminds me again and again of what a childlike heart is. He also reveals to me the differences between childlike and childish. Childlike means seeing the world with wide eyes, unconditionally seeking the greater fun, believing that you are worthy of a hug, and longing for exciting adventures even though you played hard till you were laughing on the floor silly the day before.