We drive into the frozen village. Even the laundry hanging over the hedge is frozen. This whole Roma community is inside the otherwise barren house, sitting tightly packed together. As we park the car, the children start running to reach us, ready to come to church.
But, one child is screaming loudly, continually, hysterically.
The high-pitched voices of the women are responding, but the child is inconsolable. One of them is carrying him into our car. I am surprised and kind of speechless (now, I do not say a lot in Croatian, because I am still learning), but I am alert and trying to read their body language. After a lot of screaming and talking, ten minutes later, we are ready to leave. It isn’t that easy, seemingly, to sort out who is going and who is not. The child is still screaming, but I understand that this is the way it is now, and I start the car.
As we drive away, I try to sort out what is actually going on and why this kid is so extremely upset. Why is this poor child behind my back unable to stop crying and wailing?
This child is very sad. That’s clear.
The child has a mother and four siblings. The children have the same mother but four different fathers. The mom is twenty-four and does not look after this child or any of the others. The mom’s younger sister looked after this crying little guy, but this summer, she found the responsibility too much and left him to himself. Running away and moving to another place. Twice, this kid had an intense sense of loss, and it turns out he was rather depressed in the last few months.
Sometimes, there is something to eat. Often, there is not. Sometimes, there is something to wear. Sometimes, there is not. There is, however, always a sense of insecurity, vulnerability, and possible aggression.
This child could only cry. It takes about 20 minutes to drive to church, and by the end of this little journey, the child was crying differently—not as hysterically and loudly as in the beginning but soft and deeply sad, plaintive and displaced, like an upset baby.
This kind of situation makes me feel paralyzed. It looks so hopeless and distorted. It also shows me how important the work among the children is, although we also want to stay focused on the women.
Lately, I had been reading a little article about the impact of trainers and teachers. Whoever is working with children, and especially with children in tough situations, might lose hope. But, in this article, the writer pointed out how he had a very unstable home situation as a kid but that his Sunday school teacher had been so crucial to him in his early years. I found it very encouraging.
Later this morning, I was reading Matt. 18: 5.
Whoever receives such a child, in My Name, receives Me.
That puts this little boy in another perspective. This makes him quite an Important Visitor.