ROMAINIA 2004

Team Vision Statement

We are committed to unite with passion to be God’s vessels in equipping others to be fishers of men, by living obediently to the call of: God’s vision for our lives, the Holy Spirit and the call for love and hope.

This vision statement launched the beginning of a six-month process in which 10 young people and 4 Adults pursued the call of James 1:27.We called our project the Madison Summer Outreach Program. Each participant had to come up with $3500.00, which would fund a two-week discipleship intensive in Madison, WI. and a two and a half week mission trip to work with Livada Orphan Care in Targu-Mures, Romania.

As a team we diligently fundraised and petitioned organizations to support our efforts to reach out to the community in Madison, WI. and to run a week long camp for orphans and special needs children. We raised a total of $45,000.00 as a team. We met bi-weekly via a conference line and pursued obedience and community together because our team was from four different states with ages ranging from 14-45.

On June 30th everyone moved to Madison, WI. into two apartments, one for the guys and one for the girls. We practiced, paying bills, cooking for each other, cleaning, daily devotions, serving others, and culminated our efforts with a one-day music and arts show for the community of Madison, WI.

On July 14th we left for Budapest, Hungary, which was our hub prior to arriving in Targu-Mures. In, Budapest, we experienced one of the oldest cities in all of Europe. Once in Romania we met up with Livada Orphan care, split into two separate teams and departed to our areas of service. One half of our team went away to camp and provided the orphans they worked with opportunities to do a wide variety of activities they had never done before like canoeing, rafting, playing games, crafts, movie nights, ropes courses, and a whole lot of one on one attention and love. The other team would host a Vacation Bible school for a girl’s home and then would proceed to a special needs orphanage, which had children with disease and small babies. The girl’s home was full of nine little
girls who were placed with a mother and father figure as part of Romania’s efforts to rid their country of an enormous orphan population.

At the special needs orphanage, the team would basically spend the day holding and cuddling the pre-school age children and the babies who have never experienced family or a home life outside the orphanage. Most of these kids were molested, HIV positive, had STD’s, or were disfigured in some way.

Romania has an unusually high orphan population and many of the orphans we worked with were living on the streets, smoking pot, sniffing paint and trying to survive some as young as five. This sadly is often better than living at the sometimes abusive orphanages or home. A great informative documentary is “Children Underground.”

Our team arrived home broken and humbled on July 29th where we spent two days debriefing and sharing stories from the mission field. On July 31st six months of hard work and vision were completed.

TESTIMONIES

August 2004

As I look over the past month and all that I experienced the two words that come to mind are wonder and discovery. I think about how many times the new things I was seeing stirred my wonder.
I think about the time spent in Madison…it was a stretch for me to
come together with different people from all over the country to all live
together. I was constantly practicing patience, my listening skills, and
my ability to relax and know that God has it all planned out. He was showing
up in new ways every day. One day while we were there we invited a lady
to our home for dinner and she brought her son, her sister, niece, granddaughter,
grandniece, her son’s friend and a boy she was babysitting. I was
blown away at how many people were affected by just us stepping out and
inviting her. I felt like God told me that He will do the rest once I
take the first step and am willing to talk to people I don’t know.

As I look over the time I remember the excitement
of going to a different country. I had never been out of America except
when I was a baby and I don’t remember much of that. It was fun to
have meetings about what to expect and or what to be ready for just incase.
I was full of anticipation and ready to go on an adventure. Up until then,
Madison had felt like a time for our team to really come together and
be molded into the team that we had set out to be. God was making us a
team that was going to unite in passion. *We are committed to unite with
passion to be Gods vessels in equipping* others to be fishers of men,
by living obediently to the call…~Of Gods will for our lives ~Of the
Holy Spirit ~of hope and love~ (mission statement). As we were at the
airport to leave for Europe Amy had constantly told us to keep our passports
in our backpacks, which I thought it would be easier access to have it
out in my hand. I simply set it down before we went through security.
As we got to the gate to get on the plane and I couldn’t find it,
my heart started to pound and I knew that all of the trip and my participation
were on the line. Amy told me that if we couldn’t find my passport
she’d have to send me back home to Seattle. I wasn’t going to
be able to go to Europe. I was so scared and felt so sick. I thought it
was all over. Then we sat down and prayed that God would bring to remembrance
to me where I had been since we had entered the airport, so we could back
track. Then I recalled how at security I had set it in the little bin
to go through the x-ray and I had never picked it back up. I jumped and
ran to security and asked the lady if she had it. She said she found a
passport but thought it was a man’s. I told her my name and she said
“Whoop, yep it’s yours” I screamed in delight gave my hero
a hug and ran back to the gate and got on the plane. As I sat there and
cried in between my two teammates Chris and Bree, God let me get all the
tears of fear out. Afterwards I was recalling the situation in my journal
and I felt like although it took a harsh experience God’s voice gently
showed me the importance of following my captain’s lead very thoroughly.

These simple lessons were vital but were
what God wanted me to learn before I even got to Romania. In Romania I
was part of the team that went to camp for five days with the children.
Through that time I got to experience love without limits. At times it
felt like I was standing back and watching myself as I saw God open up
my heart and fall in love with a people that he loved. I began to love
the children and my teammates and my Romanian interpreters with a love
that was overwhelming. I couldn’t believe that they had been alive
for all this time and I was just meeting them. The children’s willingness
to open up their hurting hearts taught me how to accept love in a new
way. All this time I thought I was going over to “save the kids”
but I walked away learning that God doesn’t want me to save anybody.
It’s not my job. He just wanted to be willing to go where he sends
me and be a part of His bigger plan for someone else. I was so happy to
have the honor to go. He showed me that by being willing to talk to people
I didn’t know and by following my leader, He can do miracles through
me. I learned that it has nothing to do with my ability and or strength
but it’s all about what he wants to accomplish. – Alisha
18 yrs old

To speak of my trip to Romania in the past
tense seems somehow inaccurate…The way it has changed me and continues
to cause me to experience life differently, even though back in the States,
it seems somehow eternal rather than “in the past.” The things
that once really got under my skin like missing luggage at the airport
and flight delays and long lay overs don’t really phase me anymore. It
is these kinds of tests and challenges along with missing passports and
stomachaches that came at us from all sides that my faith-life was forced
out into the open to show its true colors. (James 1:1 The Message) Satan
really wanted to distract us from practicing “faultless religion,”
that is to “look after orphans and widows in their distress and to
keep oneself from being polluted from the world.” (James 1:27)

In all the circumstances we encountered we
prayed for what would bring God the most glory; we asked Jesus to come
to our rescue; and we accounted for our mistakes and repented and sought
forgiveness from God and each other. EVERY time God came through and got
glory! One night just before leaving our hostel to go to dinner we were
praying with a guy on our team whose luggage hadn’t made it to the airport.
It hadn’t yetbeen delivered to the hostel either and we were leaving for
Romania from Hungary EARLY the next morning. We were praying for his luggage
to come and as we said “Amen” a taxi pulled up from the airport
with his luggage right next to us!

With the babies and kids I was with (and they
are still with me) I just have to say I choose to believe that the minutes
I spent with them for 6 days praying over them, playing with them, singing
to them, and telling them to listen to what God says about them and not
what anyone from the world says about them, that God loves them and will
always be right there with them, that He’ll never leave them…I choose
to believe it makes an eternal difference to them. And I choose to believe
that they are in God’s care, that He’ll keep sending people to care for
them—these children who are blind and crippled and autistic and abused
in every way…these who still manage to laugh and play and touch and
sing…how brave they are! I’ve still not processed all there is emotionally,
logically, spiritually to process. I’ve not yet been able to make much
sense of a lot of things, but what I can put into words I have put into
words for you. Like the trip, I hope they have eternal impact. Jen
– 28 yrs. old

The Romania trip was truly an awesome experience
for me in a number of ways. I cannot say what a privilege it was to be
on the team with everyone that showed up their commitments were evident
in their presence. Being in the orphanages and at the camps put on by
Livada was a humbling and sometimes tear jerking experience that I cannot
wait to repeat. Finally I can not tell you all how much of a privilege
it was to do this trip with Amy Maxwell and Gap Youth Training services,
I am still amazed at the caliber of people running and participating in
this organization and I look forward to working more with them in the
future. Hank – 23 yrs old

I’m one fourth Romanian. That’s not something
I usually say on a day-to-day basis, but in the context of this trip it’s
a pretty important piece of information to me. When I heard about Amy
putting together this team, God immediately told me that I was going.
However, the fact that we were going to Romania kind of freaked me out.
I mean, for all I know when I’m speaking to one of the orphans, I could
be speaking to some distant relative of mine. I don’t know a whole lot
about my grandmother’s family, but I do know that I have family there.
This petty fear of mine wasn’t one I really brought up with the team,
but it was one that both excited me and scared me. I was going to see
a piece of my heritage. No, I wasn’t going just to see it; I was going
to change it. And yes, there were many bumps and bruises along the way,
but God totally showed up for me.

During the first two weeks our team spent
together training in Wisconsin, God taught me the biggest lesson I have
ever learned during my Christian walk. I am a daughter of the Everlasting
King. I had always known that, but I hadn’t necessarily known what that
truly meant. You see, when I was little my dad molded me into the son
he never had (I’m one of three girls), and my tomboy personality never
really wore off, even when I started wanting it to. It wasn’t my dad’s
fault; I was always just the sporty one in my family. In Wisconsin, however,
the Lord revealed to me that I am His daughter, and I am meant to be treasured
and pursued. I am meant to be a gentle and loving woman, not a rough and
tumble tomboy. Through prayer and through encouraging talks with other
members of the team, God helped me to step into the role that He has destined
for me. A princess.

Now all of this princess stuff might sound
like some not-so-important information, and if I were in your shoes I
would probably think the same thing. Yet God used the lesson that He was
teaching me to help me love on the kids we worked with at the camp. You
see during camp, the older boys go on a camping trip for about three days,
and the girls have a Princess Night. Yes, a Princess Night! I practically
fell over when I heard that because it was exactly what God was working
on in me! The boys went out and played soccer and did other “boy
stuff” while the female staff did the girls’ hair, make-up, and nails.
Then we fed them dinner on this beautifully set table that had little
gifts on it for them. After dinner, we all went back upstairs and the
girls were taught about purity and about how God wants us as women to
pick our husbands. Then that night we all watched The Princess Diaries.
Just seeing the look on the girls’ faces when they had the same revelation
I had had, that they were princesses, made it a night I’ll never forget.

It still blows my mind that God chose such
a perfect time for me to become who he has meant for me to be. He surrounded
me with people who didn’t judge me for the struggle I was in the midst
of (my struggle to become a woman of God), but showered me with love and
support. They prayed with me and for me, they talked with me when I needed
someone to talk to, they simply loved me. Then God used me exactly where
I was at to His glory. He didn’t ask me to get over the struggle I was
in, he just had me embrace it. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Now
as I get back to my everyday routine, I think constantly about the kids
I came in contact with. Did I make a difference? Did I do anything? All
I have to remember is the look on their faces when they found out they
are daughters of the King, and I am reminded that it was not only worth
it, but that it was unforgettable. Bree – 14 yrs. old

I just wanted to say thanks for the opportunity
to travel with the Gap Grads, Amy and the Team to Romania. It was an incredible
adventure into the world of ministering to Orphans in their affliction.
I understand why God calls it pure religion. Each day we were there we
grew closer to the children, their eyes, tears and smiles will forever
be in my heart. We led camps, taught Vacation Bible School, played, hugged
and prayed for them. I was really impressed with the organization of the
trip. Great job Amy!! The Gap Grads were such a blessing to work with,
their clear vision, hard work and tenderness brought hope to the orphans
and to the missionary helpers from Livada. I hope that this will be the
first of many mission trips that Gap Grads will make, as I know that they
made a difference in each life they touched. I would love to be involved
in the next one… God Bless, Linda Costa

On June 30th I left my family and a good 25
lbs of tears for Madison,
Wisconsin. Here I met with a team of 13 people for two weeks of communal

living and ministry…. awareness. The commanding officer of this mission
was
a woman named Amy Maxwell. Her example and downright unrelenting spirit
of
faith to follow God’s call on her life is really what ended up flying
me to
Romania. This 26 (I think) year old woman did what not a lot do. She had
a
vision or at least caught one and made it happen. Madison was a God directed

war movie staring righteous leadership. On the 16th of July we left for
Romania and ended up in Tirgu Mures.

Tirgu Mures was filled with old buildings, young people, taxis, and a

certain hotel that I happened to sleep at with very large cockroach looking

bugs. It was beautiful…. but somehow the fact that I wasn’t in
America didn’t
hit me. A few days later half of the team from Madison headed for camp:
summer camp for Orphans who may have never been out of their institution.
A
place of refuge and family for kids accused of being crazy, abused and
cast
away as nothing. Some of their stories are not even repeatable, but their

Joy is. Pure joy. Pure laughter. Pure smiles. They own their characters.

Character so intense that holding a hand, or offering a kiss would give

them a reason to believe in God. Camp was incredible. But, I still wasn’t
in
Romania. Finally, a few days later I ended up a baby orphanage. The place

that would be what “my” camp kids had come from. I walked in
feeling the
oppression, the rape, the ragged and tired spirits of children and knew
that
this is what I had come to Romania for. I was here. The children had
unmistakable STD’s and signs of sexual and physical abuse. There were

infants in rows of cribs stinking of urine and disease. Two of them in

particular had huge heads all filled with water. I knew they would die

soon…all alone. I was able to hold a few. For those precious minutes
I
tried to connect with babies that wont look you in the eye because they
know
you’ll leave. They smiled too, although, at just a touch…and they
meant
their smiles. And then I left. I put the child that I was holding back
into
his crib and left. He cried and reached out for me. And all I had was
Jesus
and all he had was Jesus. Ill never be the same. I was IN Romania and
I knew
why.
A few days later I left my Madison family. I cried in secret for the most
part or just on the inside. I left for Tecuci; a 10-hour train ride with
a young man
named Cristi, whom Id never met. I felt good. I felt the Holy Spirit and,

honestly, wondered why. By the time I got where I needed to we’d gone
to the
wrong town, spent the night at some crazy hotel had a beer and I believe
he
met the Holy Spirit. I think he was “saved.” So, in his broken
English and
my perfect American…I prayed with him next to a few wild dogs and some

drunken policemen in a train station. Not the salvation prayer or the
Romans
road. But a life prayer, a vision prayer. One for a new heart and healed

relationships. It was beautiful.
In Tecuci, I work in a home with severely disabled orphans that were
rescued out of spiral. Spitals are wretched places where thousands of

orphans and even elderly deemed crazy or retarded were and still are placed.

Again, rape and abuse were common activities here, especially if a child
was
a female and unable to speak. Most of the girls in the house that I
volunteer at fit this category. There are three houses here. Sandy and
Bruce
tanner, the couple who foster all 33 of the kids here, saw the documentary

“Shame of a Nation” and moved to Romania 13 years ago. Casa
Hannah, where I
work, is staffed by brilliant Romanian women who know how to do everything

from chop wood, an essential for winter survival, to make wedding dresses.

They are royalty among woman and they haven’t a clue because its what
they
know. I have progressed to hanging laundry on the clotheslines and changing

Diapers. The diapers I can handle, but the clothesline is a different

story. Actually, just the back yard is. The yard at any given time may
have
a horse and cart driven through it next to the woodpile and the veggie

garden. It is in front of a huge cornfield and often filled with the sounds

of cows, chickens, pigs, and, of course, wild dogs who’ve decided to be

pets…. Tecuci feels like a medieval farming community with quite a few
bars
and a couple Mercedes Benz that people buy from who knows where.
Anyhow, just to let you know this letter is not proof read and is
filled with grammatical error due to my quite eccentric personally and

artistic bent. Ill write again soon and fill you in more with what its
like
to live with people from Ireland, England & New Zealand! If you know
me
you’ll be laughing hysterically and wondering how I communicate with
the
refined half of the planet. I love you all so much. I’m learning
how to still
my spirit and have church with out you. It’s hard. Sometimes I feel
ashamed
of taking that for granted. Church. Please don’t. Be reminded that
an
extended hand or an offer to lunch is enough to feel God. I miss that.
I’m
learning to dig deeper. To find God in the redemption of stolen lives
and of
peaceful orphans. Love your church guys. Please pray for my heart. I need
to
be broken more and to feel more. To be an example in my house…I’m not
sure
what that looks like yet. It’s so human here. Please pray about funding

me…Money goes super far here, but you always need more than you think.
If
you’re lead please send it to Grant and Rene Gereghty with a check written

out to Sonya Gereghty. They’ll put it in my checking. Thank you so
much for
sending me here. I love you guys. UUMMMmm…Karen or Loni could you send

this so PLF! And any one else who’d be interested. And mom and dad or
anyone
else feels free to forward this. I think Ill be getting photos to email
soon!
Be blessed family! Sonya – 20 yrs old (p.s. my name means sled in
Romanian…HE! HE!)

Romania was a surreal experience for me. The
team worked so hard to get there, through finances, conflict resolution,
days and days of travel, and yet it was so hard to believe it was real.
The kids, translators, and workers, were all so different, but so awesome.
I went with the intention of sowing into the lives of the children, with
a vision and desire to bless and encourage them, and ironically, I was
the one who walked away so completely rewarded. Emotionally painful, physically
stressful, and spiritually rebuilding, this trip was life impacting for
me.

An issue God really drove home for me was
how much importance I placed on my possessions and how easily I would
forget His provision. I experienced what it was like to not have clean
water, toilet paper, and things I regularly took for granted. I mean,
I never even thought twice about things like that in the past. Another
thing I learned is how blessed I am to live in America where women have
rights, respect, and opportunity. The women of Romania have no voice.
I now thank God daily for the ways in which He takes care of me in ways
I once overlooked. From the second I heard about the trip, I knew God
had a place for me on the team, which truly was hand chosen by God. Every
aspect of Romania seemed like an experience I wanted and needed. So I
made the sacrifices, saved the money, dealt with the issues, and worked
my way there. God totally honored and blessed my efforts. Nothing could
ever replace that season of my life and I am so proud and grateful to
have been a part of it. Sarah – 18 yrs. old

I just want to say this trip has turned my
life around. I hadn’t planned to do this trip earlier, but it happened
the man of my life showed me the light, and showed me where my heart is.
It was with the team and the kids. I am planning to move to Romania to
be a foster parent. This experience will make you see your life in a better
way. I just want to say thank you to the GAP ministry, my Father God,
and my church family Christ Church. Chris – 18 yrs old.

As I rode the train from Budapest to Tirgu
Mures, Romania, I fell in love with the countryside. Rolling hills gave
way to meadows and farmland, and back to rolling hills. Everything was
so green and full of life. Shepards wandered with large flocks of creamy
white sheep. Cows and horses wandered freely, as there were very few fences
to restrain them. The homes seemed very humble, but everywhere you looked
you would see flowers, on their windowsills, in pots and planted in their
gardens. Everything was in bloom. There was field after field of giant
sunflowers, fully grown and smiling at the sun. You could see people out
working in their gardens or fields, stacking hay into dome-shaped stacks,
tending their animals or using sickles to cut down their wheat.

After a while, I noticed that everything was
being done by hand. There were no tractors; there were horses and carts.
Very few cars were on the roads even in the cities, by our standards.
Dead and abandoned buildings that were once mills and factories could
be seen from the train. Later I was told that communism had only died
in 1989 and that there was very little industry. Romania is considered
a second-world country and at the time $1 million of their “lei”
equated to roughly $30 American. The average person could live monthly
on $2 million lei.

But the reason I had come to Romania, was
the children. I was told of the large number of orphans in Romania, so
when the opportunity was presented to be part of a mission’s team
going there in July 2004, I prayed about it and felt drawn to go. My other
team members were mostly teens and young adults and the leader was a young
woman named Amy, with whom I knew and admired for her love of God and
young people. So as I took the long train ride into Romania, I watched
for children. I would see one occasionally, in a wagon, or in a field,
but not very many.

My first experience with one of the children
of Romania was on the first or second night there when the organization
we were working with took us to dinner at McDonalds. We were done, and
leaving and I was one of the last one’s. I was in a hurry to catch
up (that theme continued most of my trip) and was just about to throw
away my wrappers, when a small child stopped me. He looked 8 or 9 but
I found out later was closer to 12 or 13. He was talking quickly in Romanian
and all I could understand was that he wanted my tray and I handed it
over. There was nothing left to my eyes, but to him there were a few stray
fries under the wrappers and what was left of my shake. As soon as he
had the tray, 3 other boys appeared and they divided up the remnants.
I was shocked and my first thought was to go buy them their own food,
but the translator I was with stopped me and said that these boys spend
their days there and eat quite well. She said it so matter-of-fact like
and then shooed me towards the waiting taxi so quickly, that it wasn’t
until I was on my way to the hotel, that it struck me that one of the
ways these boys eat, was to hang out at McDonalds all day. In preparation
for the trip, the team had watched a documentary about the street orphans
of Romania and what they must do to survive. A lot of them, especially
in the larger cities, “huff” (which means to inhale) paint to
give their bodies the illusion of not being hungry. They are treated like
pests on the streets or ignored all together.

As my team had done the work necessary to
come on this trip, we had been asked our preference in whether we wanted
to go to camp and be with the older kids or to go to the orphanages and
be with the babies and younger kids. I outwardly said, I would go where
I was needed, but inwardly I knew that seeing the babies would be the
harder of the two options for me. I was relieved to be assigned to the
camp. It took four hours by bus to reach the camp. Along the way we picked
translators and camp staff. They ranged in age from mid-teens to mid-twenties.
They were a lively group, so loud that the bus driver actually pulled
over and admonished them at one point. By the end of the ride, we all
seemed to be fast friends and I was amazed how easily the family of God
could overcome language and cultural differences.

A gain, the countryside was beautiful and
as we went through small towns I could see the age of the buildings and
I knew that some of the towns were older than our oldest towns in the
states. In some towns, time seemed to stand still, with carts and horses
the main mode of transportation or just good old-fashioned walking. I
remember seeing a woman ahead of me walking in the same direction the
bus was going and so her back was towards me. She walked as if she was
fairly young, in a skirt, shirt and scarf on her head. I wondered what
she looked like so, I swung my head around to see her as we past. I looked
into the ancient eyes of a woman with white hair and no teeth. I smiled,
she smiled, and then she was gone.

Little houses painted in pastels and decorated
with flowers lined the streets in the small towns, and instead of the
flags you might see in the yard here, more often than not, you would see
a life-sized cross or a crucifix planted in the yard. Jesus was painted
on buildings or hanging in yards. I imagined what my neighbors would think,
if I went home and planted a crucifix in my flowerbed at home. I read
on the Internet, 2002 statistics that that broke down religion in Romania
as follows: Eastern Orthodox (including all sub-denominations) = 87%,
Protestant = 6.8%, Catholic = 5.6%, Other (mostly Muslim) = 0.4% and unaffiliated
= 0.2%

When we were being briefed about camp, the
man in charge, we called him Brian, told us that the camp use to be a
communist prison camp. They were leasing it for 10 year in the hopes of
buying it then. As we came out of the mountains into a little niche of
a valley, all of the sudden, there was the camp. It looked really old
and in need of repairs. As we were shown to our rooms, I noticed that
they use to be locked from the outside, and the old hardware was there
still waiting for padlocks. The cots were old and everything smelled musty.
The showers were one giant room, the cafeteria used metal plates and cups
and the benches where roughly build with nails that protruded and ripped
your pants if you were not careful (which I wasn’t). I won’t
even talk about the bathrooms. By the time the kids got there, I had fussed
myself into a state of discontentment and overall crankiness.

And then the buses got there. Dozens of kids
started to stream out and there was an enthusiasm and pure joy that was
physical, as they ran to anyone and everyone and started to chatter and
touch you. Holding your hand and linking arms, examining you like you
were a wonderment that their eyes had never before beheld. Their faces
were beautiful and their smiles infectious, and in that instance, I in
love again, this time with Romania’s orphans.

Brian had said that these kids wait all year
for this week to arrive, it was their Disneyland, a week of fun, where
they are special and the center of attention. Where a whole staff is there
to ensure that they are treated with love and respect and they have fun.
And that was just what we did. There was hiking and games, ropes courses
and slip n slide, crafts, races, volleyball, soccer, camping for the boys
and princess night for the girls. Every moment of the day was dedicated
to those children and their well being, and every morning and every night
we would get together and Brian would talk about God and Jesus. We would
sing songs and pray.

As the week went on, I noticed that the attention
the kids paid during Brian’s talk time was less bored and more participatory.
The kids that that were on my team started to ask what I believed and
who God and Jesus were to me. I was amazed at their passion and the love
that they had for others. Many had suffered much, but they still have
great love to give.

On the last day we all got into our groups
for one last time to pray for and over the kids. We heard some of their
stories for the first time. One young man in particular, named Christy,
had been aloof and silent most of the time. When we heard his story of
when his family had left him at the orphanage and how they just ignore
him, it was heart breaking. And the one time they did take him home for
a short amount of time for a visit, he ended up in the hospital for two
months from the beating he received from his father. Sonya, one of my
teammates started to pray for him and in the middle of a sentence, started
to repeat how God wanted Christy to love himself. She just kept repeating
it and repeating it until he broke down and started to sob. We all took
turns hugging him until he started to smile and then laugh.

There was not a dry eye in camp as we packed
the kids back into their buses and watched them disappear down the long
rode. As is this custom, we waved and waved and waved until we could no
longer see the bus or the arms sticking out the window and waving back.

I felt drained as we rode the bus back to
Tirgu Mures. Part of me questioned myself and God, if I had done what
I had come for. I wasn’t sure that loving on those kids for a week,
and then sending them back to their respective orphanages hadn’t
caused more harm then good. I felt homesick for them and was surprised
how attached I had become.

It was good to meet up with the rest of the
team, and soon we were exchanging stories. Some of the things they had
to report were difficult. Babies that they were not allowed to be held,
because they may cry and expect to be picked up. There were rooms with
babies that were not expected to live and just waiting to die. I have
four grandchildren, the oldest of whom turned 6 while I was on the trip,
and youngest was not quite 2 months old when I left. I had been glad not
to go to the orphanages. I didn’t think my heart was up to it, and
was surprised to find out that it had been arranged for us to all go together
on the following Monday. I knew God had something for me.

Monday morning we all headed first to a group
home that was home to seven little girls, a set of parents and a grandmother.
It was a happy home, and the girls were all excited as we painted with
them and watched them splash about in little pools that we had carried
there. We took turns blowing bubbles with them and then we all walked
to a little store to buy them ice cream.

After we returned from the group home we rested
a while and then walked the mile or so it was to the orphanage. As we
walked into a little courtyard we were suddenly surrounded by a dozen
or so little ones that appeared to be no more than 6 or 7 year old. I
remember thinking “I wonder where the girls are” as all the
children look the same dressed in boy’s underwear and sleeveless
tee-shirts. Some of the team members who knew the drill started bringing
out the same small wading pools and started to fill them up. As soon as
the children saw that they started to strip out of their clothes and run
to the pools. It was then that I realized that they were boys and girls
alike.

I noticed that none of the kids spoke very
well and after a while I asked about them. What I was told in so matter
of fact way was that all these children were the leftovers. Leftovers?
I asked. Yes, this orphanage was closing and all the kids that could be
put into group homes had been, all those who were to be adopted had been
and these where the leftovers. They would end up in another institution.
What was wrong with them? Some of them were sick, some were autistic,
some were slightly retarded, and some I think were just overactive and
aggressive, what our culture would call A-D-D. I watched as they frolicked
in the water and wondered about the futures.

Later when they were dressed again, we went
with them to the play yard and handed out cookies. They fought over them
and the more aggressive ones took from the weaker ones. I gave the same
little boy a cookie over and over only to watch it be taken away by another
child. I finally stood him right next to me and shooed the other kids
away until he had finished his cookie.

I picked up one little boy and he decided
he was going to take my glasses off my face. He had a death grip on them
and I thought they were gone for sure. I kept saying “no” to
the little guy but he was so strong. One of the attendants came by and
in a very soft but stern voice said “no” and the child went
limp in my arms. I looked into his face and I was pretty sure it was fear
that I saw. I noticed that the attendants seemed to herd the kids more
than attend to them and we were asked not to take photos. I saw no gentle
interaction between them and the kids only correction.

The children had no identities of their own,
not even male or female, but seemed to be uniformed in size and dress
and hair cuts. There was a pecking order amongst them and there was no
pity for the weaker kids. As we walked back to the hotel, there was an
overall sadness amongst the group. I was processing what I had just experienced,
others were crying and still other praying aloud.

At our debriefing we were all asked what we
had thought and I realized that the orphans had reminded me of a pack
of some sort of wild animals, that they were not viewed as individuals
but a group that had been labeled as leftovers. I was angry and frustrated
by what I had seen and again felt helpless.

That night, I tried to see their individual
faces and pray that God would cover them with His love and mercy and that
He would bring them happiness and comfort them when they cried. And to
make sure they all got their fair share of cookies. I realized I needed
my own comfort so I imagined myself crawling up into God’s hand,
my favorite spot, and resting there. Soon I realized again, that God is
in control, that He loves every one of them and He knows their faces and
count their tears. And then I knew my whole reason for being there in
Romania at that time was to hug them, and hold them and listen to them.
I was to show them how much He loves them by loving them, myself, in His
name. I felt a little peacefulness creep over me as I drifted to sleep.

Some of the changes in me that are a result
of this trip are:

God has changed my world-view; the world is
so much bigger than it looked in my head, and that He is everywhere. That
is one thing to know with your head and another to experience. I also
came back looking for the opportunities, the “works created in advance
for me to do”. I have a strong desire to find out what those are
and march towards them. Also, I know I am to serve where God wants me
to serve, and not everywhere I can. This bogs me down and tires me out.
Note: I am still working on this. And most of all, I feel I experienced
and now know the joy that comes from serving God out of faith and love,
even when it is hard and doesn’t look like it can possible work out
or amount to anything, and then God shows up. That joy is addicting. There
is nothing better. -Roxanne McDaniel Juchau

Romania was a surreal experience for me. The
team worked so hard to get there, through finances, conflict resolution,
days and days of travel, and yet it was so hard to believe it was real.
The kids, translators, and workers, were all so different, but so awesome.
I went with the intention of sowing into the lives of the children, with
a vision and desire to bless and encourage them, and ironically, I was
the one who walked away so completely rewarded. Emotionally painful, physically
stressful, and spiritually rebuilding, this trip was life impacting for
me. An issue God really drove home for me was how much importance I placed
on my possessions and how easily I would forget His provision. I experienced
what it was like to not have clean water, toilet paper, and things I regularly
took for granted. I mean, I never even thought twice about things like
that in the past. Another thing I learned is how blessed I am to live
in America where women have rights, respect, and opportunity. The women
of Romania have no voice. I now thank God daily for the ways in which
He takes care of me in ways I once overlooked. From the second I heard
about the trip, I knew God had a place for me on the team, which truly
was hand chosen by God. Every aspect of Romania seemed like an experience
I wanted and needed. So I made the sacrifices, saved the money, dealt
with the issues, and worked my way there. God totally honored and blessed
my efforts. Nothing could ever replace that season of my life and I am
so proud and grateful to have been a part of it. Sarah, 19 yrs.
old