It's when you're sitting in the back of an uninsured car filled with gypsies blasting Roma praise music. It's the specific moment when the Roma pastor next to you recommends that you pray that we don't get pulled over. It's at this moment that you begin to question every life decision you've ever made.
And I can imagine my conversation with the police, as I would desperately try to use my broken Ukrainian to explain that I come from a good family, I translate Shevchenko, and I'm just a little bit lost at the moment. I had planned a rather conventional trip to visit my District Superintendent and then to cross into Slovakia to spend a few days with a mission team. Pastor Volodya recommended that we get out of the train early and take a bus the rest of the way. It would save time he promised. Three hours and thirty dollars outside of my plans, we finally arrived at the District Superintendent's house. I was exhausted and almost in tears.
I don't understand Roma culture. I don't know when I'm doing something wrong. I'm so at home in Ukrainian culture - it fits like my own skin and I wear it well. I'm so out of place in a gypsy home. Nothing fits for me there. I feel like I'm back in India again, I feel like a spectator. I feel more like I'm walking around a zoo than enjoying a forest.
After another difficult day of travel I made it safely to Slovakia. I'm having a great time, but I am apprehensive about these upcoming days. I feel like visiting gypsy camps in the company of five other Americans will only intensify my feelings.
I read this article recently about Ministry with the Roma. It made me nervous. I feel like anytime we build a building far outside of what the worshipping community could afford that we are not being in ministry WITH those people. I am nervous about the building plans we have in Lviv for the same reason. Please continue to pray about both situations.
On the train, a gypsy came in and played a broken fiddle - each note less comforting than the last - and then walked the path expecting our change. When he saw the gypsy man in a suit sitting in first class, he stopped and began yelling at him in Romani demanding money. Pastor Volodya was clearly embarrased but, he didn't have any money to give. He didn't make eye contact. He looked strait ahead until the man left. He looked at me, and said, "I don't know how some people live like that."