Our penultimate day…
The day began as usual with morning prayer, beautifully led by Abi, Charis and Libby. Everyone was very tired after a long and hard week of physical labour and being the first, second and third course for the local mosquitoes! Even those who’d previously managed to avoid being bitten were itching and scratching… Lovely!
After our morning prayers, we were cheered by our very delicious breakfast of American style pancakes, homemade by Mona as usual, along with all her tasty jams.
Having woken to an overcast morning we were worried that the weather could mar the day but God is gracious and we had fabulous weather. There was much excitement in the air knowing that it was the day of the party and we were going to be playing games, eating lots of sweets and consuming lots of drinks…only our Christian duty persuaded us to allow the Romanian children to have some too! Well, we were very hungry and thirsty after our post breakfast mammoth balloon blowing session. Once again the St Stephen’s crew pulled out all the stops in time for the 11am Playground Opening Party, there was bunting and balloons, crisps and balloons, kids toys and balloons, trampolines and balloons, badminton, table tennis, mini crazy golf and did we mention the balloons…. and to the amazement of all, the guests were on UK time not Romanian and arrived early not late! You will be pleased to know that all the equipment was thoroughly road tested by the selfless team, the hammock came in for special recommendation by our two youngest crew members, Matt (Walshy) and Jack.
There was so much entertainment on offer in the playground that the children, who came from the Gypsy Church in Tileagd, the orphanage at Ineu and a few from Daniel and Mona’s church, overcame any temporary shyness and abandoned themselves to enjoyment. It was wonderful to see how all of the team mixed with the guests, even those who would have said that playing with children was not their thing were caught on camera doing just that. No language barrier existed, of course Matt Rodgers can be a clown in any language, they even asked him to tell them his jokes!
The children enjoyed that very British party game “pass the parcel” where they not only received a gift in each wrapper but also performed a forfeit, the most memorable and moving was when one was asked to sing a song, she chose “Light of the World” and all the children joined in without prompting. Mona once again excelled and produced enormous hot dogs followed by delicious ice cream cones.
The party lasted for around five hours but thanks to the amazing generosity of the St Stephen’s Church family and gifts from others the abundance of games and equipment left no room for boredom today and will continue to be a source of great pleasure to many children in the future.
For the team, the transformation of the site from rubble, weeds and wasps nests to a fully functioning beautiful children’s playground, a place of fun and laughter was incredible, humbling and a massive answer to prayer.
At the end of the party the children were all excited to receive party bags full of the gifts so generously given by the St Stephen’s family, we were all very sad to see them go but it was wonderful to see them leaving with lovely smiles and great memories!
A final task was to tidy up…. and what to do with all those balloons??? Well have a look at the photos to see the inventive, but most effective solution we came up with, thanks again, Matt, (Walshy) and Jack!
An emotionally and physically exhausted team managed a couple of hours rest before dinner, Daniel’s mother came to cook a delicious traditional Romanian dinner of stuffed cabbage leaves…some of us are grateful not to be sleeping in a dorm!
The evening ended with everyone, St Stephen’s team and Charis team together, worshipping God accapello, sharing the things that had particularly struck us today and whilst working on the project…a time of great honesty and humour, and giving thanks for the work and vision at Charis. We then took it in turn to thank the whole family singly or together for their hospitality, patience, kindness, direction and understanding. Daniel then took a few minutes to thank us for everything we had achieved and admitted that he had not expected us to complete the project and certainly not to the standards of professional builders! The way the family live by faith is inspiring and shows in every action.
We exchanged gifts and the St Stephen’s team were delighted to each be given a certificate and medal for all our hard work, a very touching and humbling experience. A wonderful day has been had by all, we shall sleep well tonight….
Night night, Wendy and Edith
Photos courtesy of Jono