By Carol Brown

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 6/18/2015

I’ve seen many mountain ranges from the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and they are all amazingly beautiful. But the majesty of the High Tatra Mountains rising up in the backyard of this small village in Slovakia takes my breath away. As our mission team serves among the Slovak and Roma families in Vazec, our work is framed by rows of quaint houses, sheep and chickens on the side of the road, friendly neighbors calling out “Dobry den!” to the Americans, and the ever present but sometimes cloud-covered High Tatra Mountains.

But it’s not just the mountains that surround this village that take my breath away. Each afternoon as I watch the Roma children parade down the lane toward our meeting place, yelling and calling our names, I am touched by the openness and love of these children.

They present us with flowers that they have picked along the way and excitedly greet us with words that we don’t understand. We gladly return their smiles, offer our hugs, and invite them to play with us. Their fr endliness takes   my breath away.

The Roma children in Vazec live in a settlement just outside of the village. Their homes are not quaint and their life is not idyllic. With no running water or electricity, their lives are hard. As I look into the faces of these ragged children, the difficulty of their lives takes my breath away. Each afternoon, we lead the children in silly songs, make beaded bracelets or bejeweled crosses, play Duck, Duck, Goose until we’re dizzy, and share a Bible story about God’s promises. At the end of our time with them each day, we ask the children questions about the day’s Bible story. As they quickly call out the answers, I’m astounded to realize that these loud and boisterous kids have listened and heard God’s promises. As the children repeat the promise of the day, “God is always with me,” or “God loves and helps me,” I am reminded that each of these wild but beautiful little ones is a beloved child of God.

And that takes my breath away.