Disclaimer: These daily blogs are based on journal entries during my two and a half week trip broken into seven installments. Over the next week, you will learn more and more. The idea behind doing it this way is so you can go through the process of experiencing a portion of my experiences in the same progression of events that I did. The goal is that by the end of the seventh blog, you will have the context to understand why and how I intend to continue serving these people.
First Impressions: Day 4 -- August 7, 2013
As we drove up to the village, we first passed a large field, dry, desolate and filled with piles upon piles of cow droppings to our right, and to our left was dry, empty land that went further than you could see. Just as we entered the village, we saw a river that served as the dividing line between the field and the village. Even in the two seconds that we had to see as we drove past we could see the trash, and the milky, pasty-blue color of the water, but also the sight of children screaming with joy as they splashed in the water.
This church is the central point for the whole village; it was planted by the Christian Reformed Church denomination several years ago, although the pastor that came with it left just months after due to his inability to read or write in Ukrainian. I was incredibly shocked to hear this since I was raised in the CRC, and I currently serve in youth ministry in the CRC while I attend seminary to become a pastor. The church, while the gate is open, sits on the land allotted to the Baron. The Baron is elected by the village from within by majority vote. The Baron also serves as the creditor for the village; when individual families need to pay for materials to buy a home, he essentially owns their loan. The Baron is making an intentional effort to work with Hope for Orphans in a committed partnership towards holistic growth in this village.
The next big project Hope for Orphans is working on for this village is a self-sustaining farm. They have already acquired the land, and in fact, the government was willing to give it to them for free because of the proven success they have had elsewhere in the country. A major problem with Gypsies is they are raised in a culture where work is not overtly encouraged or done by most of the adults.