Sunday, July 29, 2012

Romania is where my heart is: Summer Camp 2012

As many of you know, I have a new love in my life. Well, new as in last December. Before you start making travel arrangements for my wedding or sending wine of the month club gifts (on second thought--go ahead and send those ;) let me explain: I've fallen in love with the orphans of Romania.

If you read my blog posts from December (Part One, Two and Three), you know why I went to Romania again this summer. You know that my heart is there, and has been for some time now. Even before I went on my first trip, I was connected to the children there for reasons I may never fully understand (who are we to question these things? Sometimes they just are). After two trips, though, I know my life is irrevocably changed, and that I will spend the rest of it doing everything I can to spend more time with “my family” in Romania. (Keep reading—at the end are pictures!)

Last week, I returned from my second trip. If I thought my first one was life-changing, I don’t even know how to describe summer camp. I got to spend an entire week at a camp in the mountains of Romania with the kids—some new, but many of whom I met in December. I’ve decided not to write a long post about my week there, though. To be honest, my words can’t do those kids, and our week together, justice. My life was once again forever changed—in new ways this time—and I can only pray that the children were as blessed as I was. Every day now, I wake up with an ache in my heart—like a part of it is missing. There’s a part of me that wants the feeling to go away, but another part of me hopes it never does. It’s what keeps me connected to “my kids” in Romania. It’s a physical reminder of their presence in my life—even if they are half a world away.

One of the most impactful aspects of being at camp with the kids for a solid week is the trust that is built. Spending each day with them from sun-up until sun-down (and beyond) allows for a lot of fun and laughter, but also deep, meaningful conversations. With the help of our incredible interpreters, many of the kids at camp shared their stories with me. I’d never repeat those stories without their permission or in an online format like my blog, but what I can tell you is that I’ve never cried so much in one week. I’ve never sat with a child and heard the horrific things I heard while I was there—things that I couldn’t imagine if I tried. Eyes so full of pain and suffering that my heart broke over and over again. Many of these children have seen more sorrow in their few short years than any of us will experience in a lifetime. I don’t say this lightly or to make you feel sad. I say it with sadness, yes, but also with hope. Hope because I know that our God is big enough to heal their hearts. Hope that maybe the children were encouraged through our conversations and by being at camp. And lastly, hope that by reading this blog, some of you will be inspired to go. The need is great, and there’s no better thing we can do in this life than to love children who have never known the love of a mother or father, the assurance of a happy home, the arms of a parent around them when they’re sad, the comfort of a mother’s lullaby, or the sanctuary of a father’s protective arms.

Before I close with photos, I want to share one more thing with you, one of my favorite parts of camp. Every night, the kids would go to bed. About 15 minutes after “lights out” time, the group of Americans and Romanians who served on the team all week would light candles and file into the darkened hallways as quietly as we could. One of the translators would strum a note on his guitar, and we’d all begin to sing. With just the candles, our voices, and the guitar, we’d serenade the children to sleep. Usually, their doors would crack open and they’d peek out in wonderment as they listened to the music. Sometimes, one or two would come out and sit next to each of us, just to be close as we sang to them. They may not have understood the words, but there was no mistaking the love those words were sung with. One night, it hit me that they’d probably never been sung to at bedtime, and somehow, my heart broke a little bit more. This verse brought me comfort, though, and I prayed it for the kids every day at camp, and I pray it for them every night now:

“The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you; he will quiet you with his love; he will rejoice over you with singing."
Zephaniah 3:17

Now that I’m crying again, I’ll close with pictures. These precious faces (and so many more) are the reason I’ll never stop going to Romania, as long as I’m able.


Terri said...

Beautiful post, Carly. Thank you for sharing your heart.

Anonymous said...

ztcoaipjl kmoyqdagd [url=]louis vuitton cheap[/url] arvyzhcwc
dkgmyeakj panfisibq [url=]louis vuitton wallet[/url] tybdouejm
vktbrosie tnqzoipyp [url=]loui vuitton handbags[/url] yrwqfgexm
gyjxsofha chdeoahww [url=]louis vuitton handbags uk[/url] qxtmyfqdm
vusiameqr cpltdmolk [url=]louis vuitton purses[/url] bqaoxnayu