Dear Friends of the Romanian Children’s Homes-
Another year is quickly drawing to a close in Romania. The barricades on the road to Braila have been installed to hold back the snow drifts that will soon be coming; the farmers are busily preparing their fields for the long winter ahead; and the children of the Bethel Home and Home of Hope children’s homes are beginning to look forward to Christmas with growing excitement.
Jerry and I traveled to Romania this month with the same plan that we have each trip: to see and spend time with our children from both our children’s homes, especially the new children. Both the Bethel Home and the Home of Hope children’s homes have received new children since our last visit this summer. We had only seen them in pictures and we were looking forward to meeting them all in person.
We arrived in Bucharest on a cold, foggy November afternoon, and drove to the Bethel Home in Guirgiu where we were greeted by our 3 new children there: Nicu (2), Ionut (4), and Madalin (6) who are brothers and so much tinier than we had expected from their pictures. I’m sure you will not be surprised when I tell you that life at the Bethel Home has become much livelier! We were impressed to see that the older Bethel Home children now help with their younger brothers, especially Mariana and Claudiu. (It was rare to see Mariana without Nicu on her lap!) The little boys were shy at first, looking at us with their heads lowered through dark lashes. But they quickly warmed up and by the next morning were hugging us and smiling at us just like the older children. We were told that Ionut and Madalin are timid and often look to some of the older children to defend them, but Nicu, the littlest boy, is known as the little lion, and a fierce little lion he is, standing up to any bully that crosses his path! I wish you could see him, sitting on Mariana’s lap at the dinner table, roaring like a lion between each bite. And, oh, how he puts away the food!
A few days later we traveled to Braila to the Home of Hope children’s home. Once again, to our delight, we spent the first evening with Ben & Ana Boingeanu, meeting 3 of the newest children to be welcomed into the Home of Hope: Dennis (2) and Edward, known as Eddie, (4) who are brothers and Ancuta who is 8. All of these children have been in foster care, and the DPC (Department for Child Protection) was anxious to place Dennis and Eddie at Home of Hope where they could be reunited again. Ancuta had an even sadder story, having been in 4 different foster homes where in each home they found another reason to dislike and reject her. Ana & Ben, and Jerry & I found this completely mystifying. How could anyone treat such a darling little girl in such an appalling manner? It was such a pleasure to watch Ancuta, Dennis, and Eddie playing games, singing songs, and interacting with their older brothers and sisters and mother and father with the same childish joy as the other children. We had the same experience the next night when we went to Cristi & Gabi Cireasa’s home where we met their 3 new children: Nicolaus (5), Ionut (6), and Bianca (7). Cristi and Gabi are also new houseparents at Home of Hope, and they come with Daniel, their little son who is 2 years old. How impressive to see this young couple with their little one accepting God’s call to become parents of 11 children! And it was equally impressive to see how quickly their children have bonded with their parents and new brothers and sister. (I should also add that Cristi is the son of one of the Home of Hope cook’s, Lidia, who is delighted to be able to spend time with them each day.)
Meals together with our families at both Bethel Home and Home of Hope are always our favorite times in Romania, and Jerry & I enjoy sharing family times and even beginning to converse with the children in a mix of elementary English and Romanian. However, I must confess that the children’s English increases by leaps and bounds while our Romanian languishes!
Romania had a presidential election the day after we arrived which whittled down 14 candidates to 2. The final election scheduled in a few weeks will determine who the President of Romania will be. We heard a lot of talk of politics this visit–mostly pessimistic–but for an outsider just judging by appearances Romania is far from the shattered country we first visited in 1995. Although on the surface it is a modern European country, we can still see glimpses of poverty on the streets, in the high unemployment rate, and in the tragic stories of the children entering our children’s homes. One day, Ina Popescu, the director of the Home of Hope, complained bitterly to us about the new laws passed recently that create endless hours of paperwork for her and her staff. But she ended her complaint with this statement: “But when I see the lives of the children being transformed day by day, it makes all the paperwork and all the government scrutiny negligible.” And this is exactly the way Jerry and I feel. As we watch the older children graduating from universities and begin to attend their weddings; and as we see the new children come to the children’s homes and finding the joy that the Lord has prepared for them there, the rigors of travel pales into insignificance.
Jerry and I want to thank each one of you for your faithful prayers and financial support for the Romanian children’s homes. May you be blessed just as you bless the children!
Love in Christ-
Jerry & Kendrick McCandless