My mission trip to Bulgaria was a wonderful experience in every way. The Galloway family is so gifted as missionaries, as representatives of God’s love for others, as hosts and communicators. As a team, we spent the majority of our time conducting VBS for the Roma children. We visited three Roma villages and taught Bible stories, made crafts, and led the children in praise and worship. The children were so affectionate, even only having known us for a few days, and in some cases a few hours. One day we took the children out in the country on a picnic and played games. I was shocked to find that, for some, it was the first time they had ventured outside the walls of their village! We also attended several Roma church services and a youth service. The pinnacle of our trip was accompanying twelve of the Roma churches on a picnic beside a small river in the mountains. There was praise and worship, some spoken word, and a number of baptisms in the river. It was a beautiful experience on so many levels. We also enjoyed some great food and had a little time for hiking along the river, which ended in a breathtaking view of the gorge.
Throughout our ten-day trip, the Galloways organized our activities so that we had a little down time to visit a monastery in the mountains, walk around the village, and visit a Turkish bath.
The work the Galloways are doing within the Roma community is difficult to convey in words. They have made tremendous inroads with the Roma and Bulgarian citizens. As you would expect, the success of their work depends on the strength of their relationships, and they’ve taken great care to lay a foundation built on mutual trust and respect. While we were there, they were just working to finalize a deal to purchase a few acres of land to begin producing food for a Food Pantry they were establishing and also as a vehicle to provide jobs for the Roma. They have invested in the people and the community. They’ve put their boots on the ground, planted their roots deep, and the fruits of their labor are souls being saved. This translates into a lost nation of hopeless people now seeing that there is hope. Their lives have value, they are loved, and they are children of God. As they understand these truths, they realize they are more than what society has told them, and they develop the courage and vision to reach beyond what is inside the walls of their village.
I can’t say enough good things about my experience in Bulgaria. The Galloways and the Roma people are as beautiful as their country. (And the food was delicious too!) I’m afraid the Galloways have spoiled me for any other mission trip and I hope to return again.