Roma Travel Journal - Day 11
Have not yet recovered from the very long day yesterday. When Liljana asked this morning if we wanted to go to Belgrade to see the city today, I suggested we spend the day recovering and enjoy Padina. She seemed happy to do this.
We gathered together at 11 a.m. for a wonderful brunch of soup, mashed potatoes, fried chicken and bread that Liljana had made. A couple of 11-year old girls came by for their guitar lesson, which was changed to “practicing” their English with five American women. We had an hour this afternoon we could devote to a team meeting, sharing some impressions and powerful memories, strategizing a bit about what to do in teaching about the Roma at mission schools. It was our time to begin our good-byes to Amy. She leaves after the 5 p.m. service tomorrow evening, catching a plane to Sarajevo. What a blessing she’s been to us.
Liljana and her husband Jan spent time telling us about Serbia, the United Methodist Church here, the situation of the Roma, and answered our questions, prepping us for the last few days we have to learn and interact with United Methodist ministry to and with the Roma.
A walk through this town of 6000 before dinner was interesting and laid back. The temperature by early evening was pleasantly warm. We ate
supper just a bit ago – after 9 p.m. Liljana and Jan have now taken Amy, Joan and Judy to the house where they are staying. They’re in Jan’s family home; Jan’s father (84 years old) lives with them here at the church. Check out the picture of Jan’s father taking his bike out to ride to visit his sister-in-law.
All the United Methodist churches we’ve visited in Europe have apartments in the church. Pastors of the churches live in them. Kathy and I are sharing a room in the apartment of Liljana and Jan. This is the biggest of all the church apartments we’ve seen. In our room there is a regular size couch and a love seat, both of which fold out to become beds for guests. The apartment has a large (by Eastern European standards) kitchen, dining room, living room, master bedroom, bedroom for the father, and a large bathroom with toilet, shower, tub, sink, and a small washing machine – all the better to offer hospitality to guests.
Tomorrow we will worship with a Roma congregation and they will serve us lunch afterwards. We think they will be celebrating Easter. There is a difference of opinion whether UM congregations should celebrate Easter with the majority community which is Orthodox, or with their United Methodists brothers and sisters world wide. I’ll let you know tomorrow which way the Jabuka UM Church decided to go.
In the meantime, I shared the following Richard Rohr devotion with the team this afternoon. It seemed to fit…
Resurrection as the Revelation of What Was Always True
In the Risen Christ, God reveals the final state of all reality. God forbids us to accept “as-it-is” in favor of “what-God’s-love-can-make-it.” To believe in Resurrection means to cross limits and transcend boundaries. Because of the promise of the Resurrection of Jesus we realistically can believe that tomorrow can be better than today. We are not bound by any past. There is a future that is created by God, and much bigger than our own efforts
We should not just believe in some kind of survival or immortality or just “life after death”—but Resurrection, an utterly new creation, a transformation into Love that is promised as something that can happen in this world and is God’s final chapter for all of history. That is why a true Christian has to be an optimist. In fact, if you are not an optimist, you haven’t got it yet.
My internal clock says it’s time to wrap it up…