Reflections from a short term missionary
A Week in Seleus:
I recently travelled from Scotland to Romania to spend a week serving in a team with Restore in Seleus.
The key motive of our trip was to help with a construction project, but we also had the opportunity to attend and help with the ongoing ministries of Restore, including the after-school programme, Teen Mums and Youth Group as well as visiting the Ukrainian Orphanage housed in the Restore centre next to where we were staying.
My week in Seleus, exceeded any expectations I could have had. Both in witnessing an entirely different culture and way of living, but also in the huge encouragement it was to see how God is working through the Restore Team and to serve the Lord in new ways.
So, what did we do?
Visiting the Community:
Before we started work at the centre, we went into Seleus to visit the community and meet some of those who benefit from the ongoing ministry of Restore.
I don’t think I will ever forget that first visit to the village, witnessing the conditions in which the community live and yet the warmth and welcome we received from everyone we met. It was an extremely humbling and eye-opening experience. Seeing first-hand what I had previously only heard described was emotionally intense and something that I am still processing even weeks later.
Despite the shock and the differences to life in the UK, it was encouraging to see and hear about the progress that has been made by Restore and see the houses which have been built and the blessing they are to the families which live in them.
The key focus of our trip was to help with the conversion of the loft space of the Restore Centre in Seleus, to make the space useable for the youth group. This involved putting down the floor, fitting insulation and installing a dorma window to add height to the room and allow natural light.
Despite how natural I might look in a boiler suit, construction work was entirely new to me. I went out with very little knowledge about building but simply with a willing heart and hands to help in any way I could. Thankfully there were many on our team, and Restore staff who had more experience, and together we were able to pull together and progress quickly with the build (despite the snow)!
I am the prime example that lack of ability and experience is no hinderance to God’s work and all that is needed is a willingness to serve. Whilst only there for a week, we made great progress with the build as you will see from the progress photos below!
It was such a joy to serve in a team of people of varying ages and abilities all with the shared intention to work hard for the Lord. The progress we made and encouragement we felt really does demonstrate how God will bless work done for his honour and it truly was such a blessing to be able to serve in this way!
I took a welcomed break from the building work to attend the Teen Mums program, whilst numbers were quiet, it was wonderful to be able to spend time with the young mums and their babies and see them engage with bible teaching shared by Natalie (another member of our team). The teen mums group gives the woman and their babies a safe and warm space to have fellowship, play and learn more about the Lord Jesus and what he has done for them.
I also got to attend the Afterschool Programme and had the opportunity to share a bible story with the children each day. I was blown away by the warmness and welcome from the children with their smiles and waves overcoming any language barrier.
Despite not speaking a word of Romanian I helped as best as I could with their schoolwork – although I think I learned more from them than they did from me! With a lot of patience (from the children) I was able to help some of the younger ones with their maths homework, again proving that no obstacle is too big for God!
On our final night we attended the Youth Group run by Sarah and Bjorn-Richard. It was wonderful to be able to worship with the young people and answer some questions they had.
Whilst the standard of the questions asked varied significantly, they did eventually shift from awe at our height and shoe sizes, to give us the opportunity to share more about our faith, our priorities, and their need to accept Jesus as saviour.
As a member of my own church’s youth team, it was a wonderful experience to attend a youth group, which despite being over 1000 miles away, was not so different from our own!
Visiting the Ukrainian Orphanage
In a couple of evenings during our trip we visited the Ukrainian orphanage, housed in the centre next to where we were staying. Despite the language barrier, we played various games (with various rules), and these visits were a lot of fun.
I am confident that the week I spent in Seleus, will be one I will never forget. It was a week full of humbling, eye-opening experiences, and huge encouragements. It was a joy to join with believers from a different country and culture and worship with them, giving a taste and a great assurance of what we will all experience in eternity. I was blown away by the warm welcome we received everywhere we went and the genuine kindness of everyone we met. It was a huge encouragement to be able to serve within a team all motivated to glorify God, and a great reminder of how God uses all people, not letting any human obstacles or practical hinderances prevent his good work!