***Originally sent as an email newsletter on October 26, 2022
Hello Friends, I hope that you are doing well and are reminded regularly of God's faithfulness! As I prepare to move to Romania, I want to share with you more about the culture and situations of the children and families in Budila, the town that I, Lord willing, will be ministering in with Firm Foundations Romania. As I learned from Steffi Vogel, vice-president of FFR, life in Budila is quite varied. Some families are wealthy enough to give their children money to go to McDonalds on an outing and some don't know where their next meal will come from. Although Roma (Gypsy) families traditionally learn a trade that is passed down through the generations, it appears that the traditional trades do not remain in Budila. Some families are unemployed while other fathers work as street cleaners in Brasov, in various companies, or on farms. Because of the prejudice and negative assumptions that are made about Roma, getting a job can often be quite difficult. For centuries, prejudice against the Roma culture and people has been strong and pervasive, and Romanians currently tend to view Roma with suspicion and fear, for various reasons. A young Roma friend in Brasov often leaves stores feeling so hurt by how she is treated and the assumptions that are made about her because of the color of her skin, and it is not uncommon to hear yelling from security guards in grocery stores as Roma families enter the building. In a lot of ways, going in to a Roma village like Budila is like stepping back in time. Families travel with the use of horse drawn wagons and there are often not modern conveniences like heating and electricity. The beautiful, ornate clothing that is typically associated with the Roma culture is still worn in Romania, yet not by the class of Roma who live in Budila. Education is not highly valued in Budila, and the FFR staff have had to work hard to encourage parents to allow their children to attend the After School programs. While the children do have public education available to them, the school days are short, lasting only about 4 hours, and the teachers move on in the curriculum without the students if they are struggling. Sadly, some children in the village do not attend school at all and are instead sent by their parents to beg on the street. Although none of the children in FFR's programs beg, if needed, they do get pulled out of school to take care of their siblings. Once they reach 12 or 13 years old, when they no longer have school, many children get caught up in the cycle of alcoholism, abuse, and having children very young, taking after their parents. The children that I plan on working with in the village have challenges with attention, behavior, and motor skills that further impact their ability to grow, learn, develop healthy relationships, and become independent.
Other children that I hope to work with have medical illnesses, like Ms. M, who has Cystic Fibrosis. Recently, she lost her older brother to Cystic Fibrosis and has had several trips to the hospital herself. Although I won't be able to address her medical symptoms, I hope to be able to help her make gains in her growth and development, which has been impacted by her sickness and so much time in the hospital. In addition to working with the children in Budila, I also look forward to working with the sweet teenage daughter of one of the founders of FFR, who faced significant neglect prior to adoption as a toddler. Sadly, abuse, neglect, and alcoholism are common in the Roma villages and, like us all, Roma families need the hope that is only found in Jesus for salvation and righteousness in Christ and to know their worth as image bearers of God.
So that tickets can be purchased and final arrangements be made, I am praying for 85% of my monthly support to be committed to 2 months prior to moving, while still continuing to prepare to move at the end of January. To cover living and ministry expenses, I have an approved monthly budget of $3,000, of which $499 is committed to currently. I am also praying for $3,250 in one time gifts to cover initial expenses.
The link above will take you to a form that will allow you to share your intended donations.
Praise God for the open doors that He has provided for me to minister with Firm Foundations Romania and that they are willing and eager to host this mission of using Occupational Therapy to share the Gospel and help bring transformation. I am so grateful that God has sent me some new monthly supporters as well!! Praise God that the Agape Center is almost complete! Here is a video walk through of the building with FFR president, Sarah Vienna. Prayer requests:
85% of monthly support committed to by the end of November, if it is the Lord's will for me to move at the end of January
Grace and wisdom to complete the tasks and projects required before moving
Open hearts to hear and receive the Gospel in Romania
Opportunities and God's leading to minister to abandoned children
Open doors to visit the children with disabilities in the institution again
Housing in Brasov
Grace to become fluent in Romanian
Thank you very much! Your support, prayers, and encouragement mean the world to me. If you have any questions or would like to meet in person or over Zoom to learn more about this mission, please reach out as I'd love to arrange a time to get together. Also, please make sure to check out my updated website for more information: www.toromaniawithlove.org! With love,