by: Irina Mitina

Novotroitskaya mission 2017 - Summer Guest Playground

Ministry with Roma people is a challenge and a blessing!

This summer we had our second summer vacation camp for Roma children in Novotroitskaya, Stavropol Krai (region). We call it “camp” for short. The legal name was “a summer guest playground” SGP according to the legal language of the Russian Federation and because the children did not stay all day long and were free to come to our playground or to stay at home.

The preparation for the camp was more complicated this year – I had to get permission from the parents with their passport data and their children’s certificate of birth data, sighed by parents. It was difficult for three reasons. One –some parents were afraid to give the official documents data because somebody (I thought that those were illiterate superstitious Roma, but it happened to be some Russian people) frightened them that I would steal their children and sell them for organs transplantation. Two – they could not write the permission themselves (being illiterate). Three – their signature was a problem; they out two or three initial letters. Another challenge was to find a place for accommodation for twelve volunteers. Last year we had only six. So we had to buy a tent four five people, we put it in the yard of host Galina’ house. Therefore, our brothers slept in the tent and one of them in the car; sisters slept in the house (on the sofa and on the floor). Thank God, everything all preparations were done! The volunteers were on fire for this mission, children were looking forward for the SGP.

On July 4, the Summer Guest Playground started.

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It was nine days long (four days longer that the last year). We had 24 children in the beginning of SGP; four of them were from the Russian family. Then some of them dropped: three teenage girls had to stay at their homes babysitting because their parent went to work; four of them were not allowed to come by their father. The second week two more boys joined us.

The camp was a blessing both for volunteers and for the children.

Every morning, the volunteers had to walk two and a half miles from the host house to the Roma Center where we had our SGP, and in the evening - back the same distance.

During the SGP we had morning exercises, breakfast and then Bible lessons. The theme of the SPL was “Miracles”. We taught the children about the miracles of the birth and resurrection of Jesus – this shows us His love. Then we talked about miracles which Jesus did: the healing of blind Bartimaeus (be persistent calling for Jesus, pray even if other people try to shut your mouth; Jesus is a great healer)

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A story about Jesus healing a paralytic tells us about four friends who brought their paralytic friend and who found a drastic solution how to get him to Jesus. This text taught us to care for the weak and ill and never stop trying to bring people to Jesus. We also read the story about Lazarus (Jesus is mighty to rise the dead; people have to do their part of work) and other stories. We tried to teach Christian moral standards.

After the Bible lessons, we did crafts to remember the lesson.

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Before lunch, we played outdoor team games,

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After lunch, we taught the children elementary Russian and Mathematics, sang songs with motions, played individual games.

For the SGP we bought a trampoline. It was a special treat for the children. Some of them were very skillful!

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Every day was a present for us. Our UMC bickers from Sochi came to visit us for two days. It was a pleasant surprise for the children; each child had an opportunity to ride the motorcycle with Dima.

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We had twenty-four children and eleven volunteers. The team was very confident and united. I thank all volunteers who participated in this mission. They spent their own money to pay for the transportation and made some gifts for the SPG. Our brothers even made a summer shower! In addition, mowed the territory of the camp.

The camp went very well. One thing has made this year camp special and different from the one we had last year.

The stress came from the visits of all possible authorities of the village (administration, police, Cossacks and Russian Orthodox Church) and of the region (education department, minor children department, Health epidemiology control department. Their visits happened almost every day. Aggressive. Blaming me in different law violations. In all their actions, I see a spiritual reason - we disturbed the devil! We shared the love of Christ and His Story with twenty-four Roma children! We tried to wrest them from Satan's clutches. Therefore, he - the devil - sent all possible authorities to attack us and to disturb our mission. However, God is with us! We managed to finish the program of the camp and bring glory to the Lord!.

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I want to thank all people who support us. We will do better next year! Come and join us! Praise the Lord!

Also read the story of V. Ditmar
“It all has just begun!”

Irina Mitina, DS South District, Eurasia UMC
Photos by I. Mitina, I. Margulis
Video by N. Smirnova