Bor, day 5: Into the Roma village (+photos)

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“Kako se zoves? I sto ti je omiljena hrana?”
(What is your name? And what is your favorite food?)
“My name is Natasha, and I like chicken.”
“My name is Mohammed, and I like eggs.”
Through hilly roads mountains, three cars make their way. They pass a shepherd, sitting on his chair in the middle of a field, watching his flock, waiting together till the day is over. After that are a few houses, then the last corner and a rocky road.
Every day, we go into a Roma settlement or visit people at the tiny church in Bor. It is quite intense. We never know what is going to happen when we enter a settlement.
A few days ago, we had a lovely visit, warm welcome, interested kids, and wonderful worship with a homemade instrument as well as lovely sharing and encouragement in a circle. It was all so peaceful and good with a beautiful sunset to complete it all.
Yesterday was different, though. The men were begging for money. There were far more children than we expected (more or less 75!)
People started to argue, and the whole atmosphere was not as the days before. The kids worked in their booklets but then some of them tore them apart. Everyone wanted to have a piece.
And the “Lords Prayer” was all over the place.

Bor has three coppermines, in some days they can find about 50 kg gold. None of this money is staying in this area. No wonder the local people are frustrated. Injustice is here visable.

One of these days, I was so exhausted and wondered if all these visits would make any sense. I took some time to read in my room. Recently, I got a book from my friend, Hye-Jin: Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus Through the Gospel of John,” written by Jean Vanier. He writes about the woman at the well. Jesus had a pretty short encounter with her but with a long-lasting change. To read about that in itself was already encouraging. He writes:
Jesus is revealing that if we drink from the fountain of the love and compassion of God, we become a fountain of love and compassion. If we receive the Spirit of God, we will give the Spirit of God. The life we receive is the life we give.
The promise of Jesus to the Samaritan woman, and to each of us, to become a source of life for others can only come about if we are humble and recognize our poverty and brokenness and accept our self just as we are.
The heart of relationship is not to do things for people. It is not to possess them or to use them for our satisfaction, to fill our emptiness. It is to reveal to them that they are unique, precious and have beautiful gifts.
It is to live a communion of hearts with them, where we help each other to grow to greater freedom. Life flows from one to the other.
It is people who are important—you, me, each person—whatever our origins or culture. He is revealing that at the heart of everything- of creation, human life and his message of love- is the heart made for relationship, heart to heart, person to person, where we give to and receive from each other and help each other to be.
Jesus came to give us life—eternal life, the very life of God—through a personal relationship with each one of us. We are called to communicate this life to others.”
Reading this gave me new strength.
When I sat there in my room, I got this image of the booklets what the kids tore apart. Suddenly, I saw a bunch of messages scattered over this desperate place. One mother finding a piece under her laundry line: “Give us today our daily bread”. A kid picked one up from the trash that read: “Let Your Kingdom come“; there next to the wheel of a car one man found: “Deliver us from the evil one”; and there, half in the mud, maybe read by nobody: “for Yours IS the Kingdom, and glory and power, forever and ever. Amen”
What is wrong with the Lord’s Prayer being all over the place?
This girl was so very happy with her new prayer necklace.

Have a good weekend, warm greetings!
Janneke (and Jelle at home with the kids.)