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Aurora — Taking a trip out of the country is something most American citizens hope to do during their lifetimes.
Some might reconsider the trip if they knew the destination resembles that of a Third World country.
But the thought of traveling to a poverty-stricken country didn’t prevent the Rev. Josh Elliott, pastor of Aurora United Methodist Church, from making the trip this summer with 10-year-old daughter Selena.
“In general, Romania is no longer considered a Third World country,” Elliot said. “However, if you don’t stay in the major cities, you wouldn’t totally understand that.
“Once you get out into the countryside there’s a bit more discrepancy,” he said. “You’re still forced to use outhouses in many of the villages.”
The two traveled together to Romania as part of Elliott’s mission trip. They departed on July 12 and arrived back in America on July 28.
He made it clear there were numerous reasons why he decided to go.
“My uncle was a full-time missionary in Romania for about 15 years,” Elliott said. “That’s where I heard about the mission. He went there several times. So my daughter and I had the opportunity to go this time.”
Elliott and Selena spent the first week leading a retreat for orphans. There were separate programs for young children and teenagers.
They went for reassurance and to provide assistance to those who needed it, he said.
“Our job was to go in and support the existing infrastructure,” he said. “We lent aid to the existing United Methodist churches and helped them run some programs that they wouldn’t have had the ability to run without help.”
Elliott also wanted to ensure the UM Church presence in Romania was alive and well.
“It was awesome to see Wesleyan influence and early church Wesleyan presence are alive in Romania,” Elliott said. “It’s so often lost in our U.S. churches because we’ve aged into it and often become a bit complacent.
“But there, it’s fully alive. Just the accountability and the community relying on the Holy Spirit was wonderful. Early church Wesleyan presence was awesome.”
Elliott discovered an already UMC strong presence, but many individuals are in need of guidance and common resources, he said.
“We held leadership training,” Elliott explained. “Most of the kids living there don’t get past fourth or fifth grade because they have to start working. So it was great to be able to teach them some things.”
Elliott takes pride in being able to assist Romanian citizens, and is already considering making another trip in the near future. Selena also is in favor of another trip.
“She was very touched by the orphanage children,” Elliott said. “Even upon coming home, she has created a whole ministry that she wants to do specifically for those we met in Romania.
“Building off of Operation Christmas Child, she wants to do something similar, but specifically for the orphanage kids.
“I’ve already been talking to people from the local congregation and we’re thinking potentially 2018. It’s very possible we could be back in Romania then.”
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