Today, we visited the place that I wrote about the other day, a place in Kosice where many gypsies live. Most are children and all belong to one large extended family. One minute you are on the streets of Kosice and everything is beautiful and smells nice. Then you walk through an ancient passageway and you arrive in another world. The smell is the first thing that you notice. The air smells of decay, urine, and filth.
More than 50 people live in 5 rooms, 3 are upstairs and 2 are in the basement. They would not allow us to see that area. What we saw was so terrible that I can not imagine what was below. Each room was the size of a large American bathroom and usually had only one bed. There was no heat and it is cold here, usually colder even than now. They have no gas to cook with and no running water or bathrooms of any kind. I honestly do not know how they live.
I asked Jon what he was thinking when we left and all he said was "I’m sad." He had no other words. Heather said that what she had seen broke her heart.
We took carefully chosen bags of groceries to each family, full of the basics that children need to eat. We also made balloon animals for all of the children. God used these small gifts that your gifts made possible to open their hearts to hear the Gospel.
We prayed for the families in several homes and had 2 good discussions with groups of adults. Let me share one story with you.
The mother and grandmother of all of the people there was talking about how hard it is for them to survive. All I could think was…What can I possibly say that will not be dismissed as the empty words of a comfortable American? I was really praying for wisdom. I had visited with these people before and had been tols that over the last 2 years they had often asked about me. I felt like I should tell them about Mike and his death, maybe in that loss could I hope to touch a common place of suffering. As I shared with them, God seemed to melt their hearts and a door opened for them to hear the Gospel. Praise God! I was hugged several times by the mothergrandmother. She said, "Too young for him to die." Thirty years ago her husband died when he was a few years younger than Mike. She still missed him and I could understand her pain.
Please pray for this group of gypsy families. Their greatest need is Jesus. There really is nothing this side of eternity that will change for these children. I will be honest with you. I am crying and finding it difficult to type this email.
Children,Sewage, and Songs
Five years ago, Sam, David Thomson, and I first visted a small gypsy village. The experience forever changed the 3 of us. Heavy snow and ice covered the ground , as we entered a very small house. Seventy people crowded into a place that would have comfortably held half that number. WE could not get the stage into the room and so the guys knelt and friends held up a curtain. During the show, the weight of all the people caused the floor to buck and sewage came up from a drain field under the floor. Though the guys legs were soaked , they never moved. Eventually , I had it all over me and the equipment, but since the children stayed in place, we finished. Afterwards, a young man pulled out an old guitar and began to l lead in praise music. I have never been so convicted before that the focus must always be the cross. We left that place changed, challenged, and really happy.
Tonight, after such a long absence, we returned to that place., but at a different site. The crowd was again too big for the space, but no one cared and some stood during the whole program so that they could see the show. To our amazement, the adults remembered Sam and I and we were humbled by the joy with which they received us. They clapped for everything. Again, the guitar came out and the singing of praise music filled the room.
Best of all, I think almost every child in the room was praying out loud with us as we gave the invitation to receive Jesus. I am so grateful that the Father allowed us to return to that place. There is a small church there that needs your prayers! Also, please pray for these children and their new faith to grow strong.
In Jesus,Linda for the Team
Sam, Dodo,Mykayla,Heather,Jon, and J.T.