God Has a Big Hand
The following article was submitted by Dorothy Reid, a missionary in Romania.
“Do you know what I am most looking forward to about going to camp?” asked 11 year old Cristi. Before I had time to guess he replied, “The food! We don’t really eat regular meals at home.” My heart melted with compassion.
Organizing a 6-day camp with every detail from A-Z was a huge undertaking, I was discovering. The planning committee was comprised of a small band of 7 women, most of whom were young mothers each bringing two small ones of their own along. But wouldn’t it be worth all the time and effort if some of the poorer Romanian children in Oltenia County could experience the love and joy of Jesus for a week in a beautiful setting outdoors?
We had a lot of questions and there were still so many unknowns as we sat down to discuss the details:
- Would the mayor of Slaveni give his permission to use an open field in his community that was surrounded by forest with a nearby spring of water?
- Huge tents for sleeping, dining and cooking had been loaned, but who would set them up? Most of our missionaries and men from church were away that week.
- How would all the expenses be covered when each participant was only required to give 30 lei (less than $10 CDN)?
- How would everyone survive the heat all day in an open field with very little shelter? Already some people were refusing to send their children due to the blistering temperatures.
- And what about a cook? With only 4 days left we were still wracking our brains to think of someone able and willing to volunteer to prepare 15 meals in primitive conditions over an open fire.
The list of wonderings seemed to stretch on and on, but one by one God began to answer them:
- The mayor said “DA” (yes) to our request.
- A group of volunteers from an American army base showed up to hoist the heavy tents and dig holes for outhouses.
- The resources began to come in to not only buy food, but even all the extras like toilet paper, dish detergent, and a special snack each afternoon.
- Ana, a woman who runs the small donut shop from fall to spring next to the school not only agreed to come, but managed to produce amazing meals out of a big, black kettle and fry pan!
The mayor insisted there was nothing of interest to see or do in Slaveni, and no one was available to come and share about the history of the region as August is holiday month for everyone in the teaching profession. However, God had a wonderful surprise in store for the children; on exactly the day an excursion was scheduled, a fair set up in the next town, within walking distance!
On the day of the much anticipated outing, the weeks-long drought was broken by a rainstorm that lasted all morning. Anxiously the children asked if we would still be able to go. Again the Lord was watching out for His lambs and by afternoon it was sunny and dry, but the rains had cooled the air enough to make the long hike bearable.
When we arrived there was cotton candy, ice cream, cold drinks, toys and treats, but the thing that every child looked at with longing was the single ride going round and round to music. One of the leaders tried her hand at bargaining, asking the man in charge whether he would agree to a discount with what money we had available. He refused, saying it was not permissible, and Roxana left disappointed. The children continued to stand about watching in fascination, when all of a sudden the man called out to his two helpers, “Let all these children go on.” Somehow his heart had been moved to allow them all on for free!
Often, after a two-hour children’s program, I will come home utterly exhausted. I knew it would be impossible to hold up non-stop for 6 days unless God intervened… and He gloriously, wonderfully did! He not only gave me the strength to make it to the 6:30am staff meeting each morning, but He gave abundant energy and joy to love the children with hugs, smiles and encouragement hour after hour, day after day, throughout the camp.
It was an amazing experience as we saw how He used all our gifts and talents on the team to complement and help one another so that the burden felt light! He even sent a cloud over the camp one morning during the Bible lesson so that it was cooler in the dining tent and the children were able to concentrate.
And as the children’s song goes, “What a Mighty God We Serve!”