Wow! Has it really been 7 years since I moved to Romania?? I am so blessed to be able to come home to regroup and visit family and friends once a year. Here are some of the exciting things the Lord has been doing over the past year:
At the end of the year last year, I met up with Jodi Sorrels and two other friends at the Urbana Missions Conference. We talked to and recruited hundreds of students to come to Romania on a mission’s trip. In our free time, we went to visit the St. Louis Arch. I returned back to Romania from St. Louis.
When I returned to Romania last year, I continued my work at the Girl’s Transition House through the middle of June. Summer was incredibly busy (more on this later), and this fall I had a new schedule.
After the first of the year, two of our transition house girls, Mihaela and Andreea, began hair-cutting school at Christine Valmy in Bucharest. They had been waiting for this since they moved into the girl's house and were excited beyond belief. They learned the theory behind hair and how-to by studying handouts, watching videos and listening to their professor. I was lucky enough to be a guinea pig a couple of times (probably not my best hair cuts ever) and they got better and better as the months progressed. Andreea is now using the skills she learned in a salon in London.
Our other two transition house girls, Silvia and Catalina, had a big spring. They were both reunited with members of their families…Catalina with her mom and Silvia with her Grandma. Neither Silvia nor Catalina had a birth certificate or an identification card (identification cards are very important in Romania) and so my co-worker and I helped both of them to attain these very crucial documents. You cannot hold a job and the government does not recognize you as a person without this identification card. This process of getting these cards was very long and not the easiest but very rewarding in the end. Now, let’s just hope they don’t lose them!
My good friend, Kristen, was able to come visit me this last spring. We had fun visiting some of Heart to Heart’s ministry sites. She stayed with me at the girl’s transition house. We also took a little side trip to Poland. It has been a dream of mine since coming to Romania to visit a concentration camp in Poland…so we did just that. We stayed in the city of Krakow--touring around the city, visiting the Schindler museum, an art museum, Wawel Castle, and finally on to Auschwitz. It was very surreal to visit there and to see the buildings where the Nazi soldiers kept their prisoners and to actually walk the grounds where so many people were tortured and killed. There were three rooms that we saw that really saddened me: first, a room full of hair that had been shaved off of the women as they entered the camp, second, a room full of shoes--probably the best shoes these people owned, and third, a room full of luggage that had been confiscated as the prisoners came into Auschwitz. It is so easy for me to take life for granted, so the next time I find myself doing this, I'm going to remind myself about the suffering that these people went through.
In May, two of our transition graduates, Alina and Roby, were married. We had the wedding at the Heart to Heart team house. I helped make the food for this event, made the wedding cake, and played my flute for the ceremony. It was interesting to help them with the planning process. They wanted a very simple affair, but at the same time very traditional Romanian wedding complete with a ceremony, a meal, games, well wishes, and finally a three-tiered cake.
The girls finished hair-cutting school at the beginning of June, jobs were found, and an apartment for them secured. Summer plans were also underway. I directed 2 girly camps and 8 kid’s camps…3 teams, 140 kids, 10 swim parties, lots of hot dogs and hamburgers grilled, 6 weeks later and the summer was completed. It was fun-filled, activity packed and very busy. One of the highlights for me was watching the kids renew friendships with kids from other orphanages from past summers. They loved seeing their old friends and making new friends. They even still keep in touch via cell phones.
This fall, my job description changed just a bit. Because we do not have the girl’s transition house open this fall, I am wearing several hats. I go to visit transition graduate apartments and have a Bible study, or cook something with them, or meet up with them somewhere in the city. They love the one on one attention. I am also developing a youth group program and attend two out of the three weekly youth group meetings at the orphanages. Every week, I hold a Mommies and Me class with the 3 transition graduate girls that have babies. They are enjoying having a Bible Study and learning different things about how to raise their babies and different cooking projects. In my spare time, I help out with teams, love to read, and enjoy spending time with others on our staff.
I’m looking forward to a terrific 2011! Thanks for your prayers and financial support! Without you, I wouldn't be able to do what I love to do everyday!