Friday, July 15, 2016

Gypsy- not a dirty word

She called me a hippie and I was taken aback. Was that an insult? I always have had a wanderer’s heart. But the hippy vibe reminded me too much of Charles Manson. I preferred the term gypsy, despite any negative connotations that word may have. My friend assured me that by "hippie", she meant explorer, traveler, wanderer, happy, joyful heart, free spirit.

I smiled. That is how I view the word, gypsy. Ever since I saw Aladdin, I was in love and wanted to be like Jasmine. Flying carpet ride and all.

Now, as I travel around the world, sometimes I really do feel like a gypsy. We go from place to place, staying only 1 month in each country (or less, depending on our travel days) hence the whole 11n11 hashtag (11 countries in 11 months- how long we travel on the World Race to partner with different organizations or churches around the world.) This makes for hard good-byes and a fast turnaround of getting used to a place just to leave it. Wanting to return to certain places more than others and falling in love with the people.

Bulgaria was one of those places. I fell in love with the country; a beautiful, natural place that inspired wonder and greatness. The first country of our European part of our Race and I was in love. The ancient history- the ruins from years ago that brought to life the castles I’d only imagined about and made me want to visit one even more. (I love castles. Castles represent freedom, royalty, the highest dream life actualized, hence it represents two different items on my bucket list- to be published soon on here!)

Bulgaria was also the place where I first met the Roma gypsy population- a traditionally nomadic people with no roots, no home base, said to originally have migrated from India. I could relate, and not just because of the World Race. I was always a gypsy at heart, I felt. I loved to move from place to place- wanderlust would hit me often once I got bit by the travel bug. Even growing up, our family did not have many roots either and we moved often.

The children in the gypsy community were full of joy. They loved to laugh and have fun and would make a connection with you right away. They had tender, open hearts despite the hardships they faced with discrimination and not having a homeland or any roots. Many people worldwide look down on gypsies and view them as inferior or have negative views of them, not trusting them.

We visited a couple of gypsy communities and played games with the children and got to know them for the month we were in the country. When we pulled away for the last time, the sadness hit me as I realized fully how much I would miss them, these fellow travelers who loved life. They inspired me to live my life to the fullest, to enjoy, laugh, take that risk and relish the simple, beautiful parts of life.

So, I am reclaiming and redefining these terms. Wanderer, hippie, gypsy. Someone who is free, loves to explore, discover, travel and learn. Someone who is free, ready and confident to live the fullest life. To live abundantly. To dream big and live out your dreams. 

God has been showing me how no matter where I go, He is with me. I don’t have to search for the perfect home to feel like I belong. I already belong because I am God’s daughter. My place is in God and though at times, I may be a wanderer on the earth, my eternal home is God’s kingdom. Here and now, I belong to God. He gives me a home and a family. He places the lonely in families. He is my safe place and my sanctuary.

My hope for the Roma gypsies and every wanderer on this earth is that they may find God and know they are loved; that they belong to the King and accept His invitation to be adopted into His family. To know that they belong to the Most High King- God, their Heavenly Father who loves them. 

May this verse below become true for all wanderers and gypsies and the refugees- please join me in prayer. 

Isaiah 32:18- Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation, And in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places.

More to come soon on working with the refugees in Greece.