I work in childcare. I can vouch for that last one. But I learned something interesting during my time in Romania. Many Americans would CRINGE if they learned how little I actually make in a month. But the thing is, in one month, on my pathetic childcare worker's salary, I make about 3-4 times the amount that a typical Romanian family makes in a month.
That's the average amount that most Romanian families make in a month. And that's a huge improvement over what it used to be. I guess the economy there is slowly improving. But I'm pretty sure the childcare workers in Romania make next to nothing.
So with all this in mind, it's pretty remarkable how hardworking the people are. One hardworking lady in particular made a big impact on me.
This lady, for lack of a better term, is the children's director at the church we worked with in Turnu-Severin. She leads the Sunday School class. Which one? Oh. THE Sunday School class. The only one. In the whole church.
My church has so many Sunday morning Bible study classes (as well as Bible studies that meet other days of the week) that I can't even begin to count them. This church has one. One. I can count that on one hand. One finger, really. It's a children's class, with children ranging from 3 years old to probably around 11 or 12. All in the same class. And the children's director lady leads it.
She also leads a "kindergarten" there at the church that meets during the week. In reality, I think it's a little more like a preschool, but whatever you want to call it, this lady does a phenomenal job. And I don't even know if she makes any money at all for it. If she does, it's certainly not anything like what I make for working at my church's preschool--which has multiple classes for multiple ages.
The kids all flocked to this lady. And she responded with hugs and kisses, with open arms and hands, ready to love them. And honestly, that's why they flocked to her. And while I was there, the children flocked to me. Why? Because most kids have a natural ability to be able to tell who actually loves them and who is just pretending. When they know someone loves them, they want to be around that person. They wanted to be around me, around the other lady on our team from America. But they mostly wanted to be around their children's leader. Because she loved them, and they knew it. Love is never lost in translation.
One thing I definitely noticed in Romania is that there are a lot of willing people. There are a lot of people, definitely including this remarkable woman, who are so so very willing to serve, to give of themselves to others in the name of Jesus. But as willing as they are, their resources are just so limited.
The children's director loved using English materials with the children, learning English songs. But the English material she had was mostly falling apart. One of the materials we used in Sunday school was probably originally published in the 1950s. I got the impression that someone from America had brought it there, probably because they didn't want it anymore. But she was so thankful for what she had!
And playgrounds? Forgedduhboutit.
The church had a lovely small, gated courtyard outside the church where the children could play. But it was very small, and the gate opened up into a fairly busy street. Again, she was thankful for it.
|The church's courtyard, as seen through the "cross" gate.|
But even with the limited resources, the lack of financial incentives and other support, this woman was an example of a hard-worker who strove to give of herself to these children in the name of Jesus. It was a joy to be able to lighten her load a little and to be able to say a few words of encouragement to her.
Our last day in Turnu-Severin, the children's director brought photos of children she'd taught in the church preschool for the past fifteen years. Her son and the pastor's son were in the first class she taught, and they were both about to go off to college. It was good to see those pictures. It was good to see the work she had done, the work she was still doing, the legacy she was leaving.
It was a legacy of love. Everything the woman did was to show Jesus to the children she taught. She also showed that love to me, and I was thankful to be able to return some of that love to her. Love isn't lost in translation, and I have a dear, dear sister on the other side of the world. One Day, she's going to have a huge reward, and it won't be taken away from her. For inasmuch as she's serving the least of these, she's serving Jesus.