Reflections on Romania - Brittany DeGraaf & Petra van Dorland

“Romania!?  Who goes to Romania?”  This was a question we heard several times as we prepared for our trip to Romania through COAH.  It was not specifically a location we chose, but one God had chosen for us.  Contacts were made and plans began to emerge:  one week in Kajanto Maria, a children’s home in Alesd, and one week at Christian Endeavour House in Oradea. 

Kajanto Maria Children's Home, Alesd, Romania

Kajanto Maria Children's Home, Alesd, Romania

We were joyfully welcomed to Romania by Pastor Istvan Visky and his family (COAH’s main contact in Romania), and on our first Sunday were blessed to worship at the Hungarian Reformed Church in Osorhei where he serves as pastor.  We then moved on to Kajanto Maria, where we spent our first week.  We sent the children off to camp early Monday morning.  We spent part of the week doing odd jobs around the children’s home such as organizing closets and cleaning windows.  But mostly, we listened.  We listened to Eva, the director of the home, as she told us many stories about the children.  Where each one came from, why they were in the home, how their experiences had already impacted their young lives – by the end of the week we felt as though we knew the children even though we had only met them briefly.  We were able to spend some time with the children as we picked them up from camp on Saturday and then remained at the home until Monday morning.  And due to our prior conversations, we were able to see the children in a different way. 

Brittany Petra and Granny.jpg

From Alesd we moved to Christian Endeavour House in Oradea.  We spent our first few days with Zsoka, the worker in charge of the Granny Project for CE House.  The Granny Project supports a number of widows (and several widowers) mostly over age 80, with little to no family left in the area to care for them.  They each receive a monthly visit.  Through Zsoka’s translating we were able to learn some of their stories. 

One story was especially touching; a woman told us how her husband had passed away years ago, and she was left with her son and his family.  As she raised her grandsons while their parents worked, her grandsons promised that they would take care of her once she was older and in need of assistance.  A few weeks prior to our visit she was working in her garden and tripped on a rock.  She didn’t have the strength to get back up and lay there until her neighbour came and cared for her.  She said she lay there begging God to take her home because she couldn’t deal with the pain anymore.  Not the physical pain but the pain of losing her husband, losing her son, and having her grandsons move to other countries in search of better lives.  She asked us to come back for a visit if we were ever in Romania again but said she hoped she would be in her eternal home soon. 

We also had good conversations with Zsoka, as well as with Sandor, the director of CE House.  The simple faith they exhibit through the struggles of working in ministry was a testimony to God’s grace and strength in their lives.  The problems faced by those they minister to are real and complicated and often nothing can be done to change the situations.  Life in a post-communist culture can be very hopeless, yet CE House shines hope through the gospel of Jesus Christ.  So we (and they) ask that you pray for God’s work in Romania, specifically for these ministries and those who work at each one.

Going into this trip we expected to be physically tired at the end of the two weeks; we were surprised to realize that we were more mentally and emotionally tired.  But mostly we were incredibly thankful for the experiences, conversations and friendships made on this journey, and humbled to realize that God’s purposes for sending us to Romania were far greater than any expectations we may have had.

“Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.  Amen.”  Eph. 3:20-21