Monday, January 26, 2015

2nd Chance

2nd chance is the name of the State run educational program here in Romania. It accepts school drop outs from all age groups, over 16 I think. The school will issue a diploma which is almost a must to legally obtain employment. The drop out rate is very high among the Roma kids I work with in Vinga. It is usually OK with the parents for them to drop out, which makes it very hard to convince these kids they need an education. Last year I was able to fund getting 5 students to school and back daily from my own personal funds. The first semester of this school year the Vinga church paid for the transportation but is no longer doing that. The second semester starts in a week and I do not have the extra funds needed.

Do we have high success rates with these kids? No, not really. We have had two so far that were able to get jobs. If a student gets a job the 2nd chance program allows them to stay enrolled and continue if they can pass the exams. Just being in this program gives these kids a better chance at getting jobs.

As most know - I really don't fund raise and often do not do a very good job of making the needs known. So I am making a need known now.  The cost for our five students to go to school this second semester is $350 a month and $1575 total for the semester. This sum also includes their school supplies. This program is near to my heart. Their culture is such that self motivation is not usually seen.  The kids that are enrolled in the program attend the Friday night youth meetings at Vinga. Bogdan is doing a wonderful job and the group is growing. Bogdan knows that had some of you not helped him he never would have been able to attend a University.

Will some of you invest in the future of these kids? .

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Since my last post...

Well I may have set a new record -over 3 months without an update. Almost all of the pictures are on a friend's memory stick computer operating system is old and can't read the stick. I kept putting off updating the blog - surely THIS is the week I will update my operating system - so this explains the lack of pictures, I haven't gotten it updated yet.

Thanksgiving was wonderful with over 50 people gathered around a 38lb turkey and all the trimmings.  The celebration was at Scott and Carolyn's apartments. Carolyn had to return to the States to be with her mom, who passed on in Dec. This has been a really tough few months for the Pouncey family.  They faithfully help at Mocrea every week and soon Carolyn will soon join the volunteers in the Pre-placed Child Development the hospital. I think there were 63 babies we were able to help care for in 2014. We have gained the respect and trust of the staff.

Irene Phillips with Reaching Romania was able to be in Romania to help distribute all the hundreds of Christmas shoebox gifts her charity works on all year. There were many wonderful celebrations with orphans, widows, the poor and the homeless. The Mocrea Christmas party was truly a lot of fun. Cerbu came with the girls of Osana girl's home and a great performance of The Christmas Carol along with carol singing. We had bags for every patient with fruit and candy as well as coffee and hot chocolate packets. Matthew, Callum and Marius came to help. Bogdan was Santa. There were also gifts for all.  I love that Christmas party. To so many of those patients we are their family.

The Jesus Generation bible club in Sanicolaul Mic, with Marius and Elena leading it, is doing fantastic. I was able to expand the building over a year ago and we are again bulging at the seams with children. Marius continues to give music lessons and we are again in need of instruments.

Several widows and 1 widower passed away in 2014. Each one was special.  It was a wondrous thing to see how the need for winter wood was met.  We bought wood as the funds came in...and as always it was enough.  These precious elderly in the Widow's Mite program are so thankful for the food every month but they are always the most thankful for wood.  We are buying more medicines than we were and again it is loaves and fishes!  The Ball family helps in Arad and Vlad is faithful in the Timis area.

The program continues at the detention center every Thursday evening. What a wonderful opportunity to bring the gospel to these children that would ordinarily be skipped over. We want them to know that The Lord has a plan for each and every one of them.

The Vinga church, Seedtime and Harvest, is doing fine. The Saturday program for the children is very poopular. Spencer and Lynsey Ball as well as Bogdan and his mother are so faithful. They are building relationships with these kids and the children know they are loved. After a dry period with the Vinga teens the group is now growing again.  It is truly amazing. It really shows - don't give up. If we are supposed to do a ministry - just do it the rest is up to God..."and God gave the increase". Last Friday night I think we had 17 there. I have taken in a new supply of bibles for them and Bogdan will start going through the New Testament - chapter by chapter.  I would like to plan a fun event or outing for them in the Spring - funds permitting.

The 2nd chance project is faltering right now. It is very expensive to get these kids back and forth to school as well as provide the supplies. God knows all this and we wait on Him. Several of the boys who attended have found some employment.

Elizabeth and Sarah are involved in several groups. They are 16 and 14, what can I say?  Phases come and go at this stage.  I do remember the teen years and I would not choose to repeat them. They are a joy to my heart and I look forward to seeing the plan of the Lord worked out in their lives.

The next big thing on the agenda is the the Grain Game Roma conference in Feb.  After last year's conference we were able to do one camp and Callum and Bogdan are following up. Spencer will be joining the team.  I am hoping we can do 3 camps this summer and have 3 new kid's clubs up and running by mid-fall.  Reaching the gypsy kids is very different from others. It is not an easy work...but oh so worthwhile!

Thank you all for your support, both prayer and financial.  Without you I would not be able to be doing this ministry. May 2015 be an awesome year for us all and may we all work together to build His Kingdom.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Last but not least...

The church in Vinga, Seedtime and Harvest, is growing. We have many more children now. The Saturday program staffed by Spencer and Lynsey as well as Bogdan and Delia is awesome! Many of these children are now coming Sundays too. They often have music prepared for us.  Elizabeth often goes on Saturday so she can accompany them with her guitar. It is time for us to have an activity of some sort for the teens, we haven't done anything for quite some time with them. Bogdan is the faithful leader of that age group.

Our young boys with their prepared song
We have 7 teens in the 2nd Chance school program this fall. The State is thinking of closing the program but we pray that they won't. This gives school dropouts a 2nd chance for a diploma.  Seed Time and Harvest pay the school costs for these kids and in several cases have provided clothes and shoes. I do not think these teens have much of a chance in life without education. The culture of their families is such that there is no emphasis on getting an education and so many are allowed to drop out. The Saturday program at the church addresses this as well as other areas besides the bible program.

Mocrea is going well.  We are hard pressed to find a different craft each week.  I think tomorrow we are making hedgehogs out of dried leaves (if I get outside soon and collect the leaves!)  The people in the mental hospital at Mocrea bless us. Scott and Carolyn, Edith and Traian are faithful to help each week. Some times really comical things happen - the patients can be pretty unpredictable. One of us will comment to another "well there's one that won't appear in a blog or fb!"  The patients rush to the windows and call out greetings, many only get out of a locked room when we have them to the program or for meals.

Elizabeth turned 16 this month. It is hard for me to believe.  She got new Converse shoes and the cartridge in her upper ear pierced as her gifts. Sarah can hardly wait until she is 16.  On your birthday you get to choose the menu, I'll cook or you can go to a restaurant of your choice. Elizabeth wanted stuffed baked potatoes AND Mexican food. In addition to the potatoes and all the fixings I made 3 pans of enchiladas, tacos, burritos and refried beans.  We had the party at Spencer and Lynsey's because they have a long indoor hallway that could accommodate 3 tables end to end.

Elizabeth's friends surprised her

Happy 16th Elizabeth!!!!

 This week I was blessed to have part of a World Race team come for a work day at my house. They are staying out at Sistarovat and Callum is scheduling their time.
Lots of painting

Fence mending and rebuilding of animal shelters

Hopefully they were well fed!

This next week it will again be time for me to visit the children's facilities where we sponsor. I hope to have all the updates sent out by November 15.

The Pre-Placed Child Development Program at the hospital is really going well. Right now we have 6 babies.  The hospital knows they can count on us to be there every week day and the staff often tell us how much they appreciate us.  I think the only way we can truly explain our favor and success is that The Lord went before us!

We are still helping many individual families with their needs. The needs will always exceed the funds but I am blessed that so much is getting done, widows visited, orphans cared for and the Word being preached!

More of what has been happening

Marius and his lovely wife Elena have been doing a wonderful job at The Kids Club (called Jesus Generation) in Sanicolaul Mic.  The group is growing and more kids and teens are coming to learn to play instruments and sing as well as learning the Word and how it applies to their lives. I am so blessed that I added on to the building when I had the funds, do we need the room now!

Widow"s Mite program has recently lost another of our elderly.  Ghita went home to be with the Lord this month.  He was really special, well I guess they are all special to me - he will be missed but I am happy he will not have to withstand another winter.  The program was blessed because I contacted the family through Bogdan and asked if I could have all the wood back as the program had purchased it and Bogdan and Scott had cut it and stacked it. This type of request is unheard of here, a neighbor had already posted a notice to try and sell it. The sister said I could have the wood so we moved it to others in the program in Dud.  God's provision is an awesome thing and I am waiting to see how He will provide for the winter for those in this program and this wood is part of it.
See you in heaven Ghita

Summer Camps

Elizabeth and Sarah spent 3 weeks up at Sistarovat at summer camp.  Elizabeth wants to join the ministry of Grain Game and go on Euro trek in the summer of 2015. She will need to raise her own funds and we are kicking around ideas now. Things that kids can do to earn money in the States do not work here so we will need to be creative.  Sarah had a wonderful 3 weeks and was very helpful at camp - she is a good little translator too.

Sistarovat 2014

We did a 2 day VBS in the village of Dud with a large team here from Saint Louis, Joy FM.  The plans were to do it outdoors but it poured the second day but we were able to get the keys to the community center and I went around the village picking kids up.

Dud 2014

Some of the Joy FM team

I can't believe I have no pictures of the carnival that this team did in Vinga. There were games and prizes, snacks and a lot of fun. Over 300 kids attended from Vinga. This is the problem - I forget to take pictures. This stuff is my life and I don't think at the time that many of you would like to see what has been happening here in my ministry. I would say something like  "I'll try to do better..." but I know I have said it before.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A quick catch up

The music group from Sanicolau Mic joined us in Vinga one Sunday to do the praise and Worship. For any of you that have visited with us there in Vinga know what a big blessing this was. Marius and his lovely wife Elena are doing such a great job with the kid's club.  It is such a blessing to those kids and my ministry as I can no longer pay Marius but they continue on.
 Sarah's 8th grade graduation. Good job Sarah!!!!
Dressed up for a program the evening of the graduation. Good grief but they have grown up. Elizabeth and Sarah are a joy to my heart.  The next picture down is the graduation party after the program.  The Ball family as well as Vio and Rici joined us. Everybody had a great time. Don't know why I can't put text in between all of the pictures...oh well. The 2nd picture down is Sarah getting her graduation present - yup that's pink hair!  Elizabeth wanted me to be sure and say that Sarah is wearing heels and she is not (Elizabeth is still taller, which is important to her!)
 The finished product is next picture. Sarah is a happy camper...The religious here are in shock  of course.
Bogdan, Lilli and Max after church. Max is growing so much and he is a delight to his parents and grandparents! 
We finished the first summer camp for Roma kids. It was held in a almost finished camp in a tiny village of Cralovat. A 13 member team from Mt. Vernon ILL came along side Ruben and Karen Popet - they have an orphanage here. Their 13 children plus 20 kids from Pesac came to camp. Bogdan Galea  and Callum King were superstars! Their hearts for these kids is amazing - it is a very difficult work but they give it their all. A regular monthly kids club will begin in September.
Well these are some of the highlights of the last 30 days. The program at the hospital with the babies is going really well. Lynsey Ball runs the training and scheduling of volunteers. She has gained great acceptance and the respect of the staff at the hospital.  We pray over each child and I really believe that it makes a difference. For the last 30 days or so we saw a drastic reduction in the number of babies that needed our care! What a joy.

The Ball family is helping with the Widow's Mite program in our area, this is a real blessing to me as well as our widows.

Edith Bond has been staying with Scott and Carolyn's girls for the last 2 months but will be returning to my house next week. She is faithful helper at Mocrea and also attends church in Vinga, accompanying me to Saturday prayer there. Speaking of is really amazing the way the patients join in.  They love the song and prayer time, we have added an occasional bible quiz game with rewards of extra cookies for the right answers. To so many of the patients we are the only family they have. No matter how tough things may seem to me when I arrive there on Tuesdays and they are at the windows yelling for me it warms my heart. I know I am really going where Jesus would go.

The summer camps are beginning this next week in Sistarovat with Matt and Lorraine Marshall. For the last several years my ministry had been able to sponsor around 60 kids at camp - not so this year. ITHM is sponsoring the girls from Osana and I can cover a few from other places myself.  On one hand I am very saddened not to be able to get these kids to camp but on the other hand the kids programs are going so very well in Sanicolau and Vinga that I know the message of Jesus is going forth to the kids and their families. We will have some day activities this summer for both groups though.

I think this summer will be truly awesome!  I am expecting the Lord to move  in many areas of the ministry. We have a large 4th of July party planned with our small group at the camp in Sistarovat.  Reach Beyond (Dave and Beth Jolly) will do a huge event in Vinga in July.  Elizabeth and Sarah will be at the camps in Sistarovat for 2-3 weeks. Elizabeth is helping with praise and worship as a leader and Sarah helps in the kitchen and cleans. I have seen Sarah blossom as a real servant - she jumped right in to help at the camp in Cralovat - what a joy to see that!  Awesome Sarah!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

2 month UPDATE!!!!

OK here we go - two months since I updated. I actually had scheduled to do this this weekend and while shopping I got a text from my dear friend Anita reminding me to do it!

One of my great joys in working with the "Pre-placed Child Development Program" at the hospital is helping to avoid babies being abandoned.  We have received great favor with the staff and now we are able to be involved with helping these precious little ones return to families when possible. Above is a little girl who was identified as abandoned...but she wasn't really.  We were able to communicate with the family and return her home as soon as she was healthy enough.
Above is Vio helping me to return twins to an extended family. The family is shown below.  Are the living conditions great in these cases?  No, but many times they do not really want to renounce their children and a family that wants them is better than a sterile hospital atmosphere any day!. Sometimes they just need a mediator or some temporary help to get over a rough spot.

Hard to believe Sarah turned 14 on March 21.  
My dear friends George and Anita Ford and Barbara Rose came to Romania to spend 3 weeks with us. On March 4 Anita, Barb and I took off to Sibiu and Brasov. This is the 3rd. such wonderful trip that they have given me!  We had a great time!!  We left George alone in a Bed and Breakfast and the owner was appalled that we would do that and had a hard time understanding. 
George did a wonderful 3 week series of messages at Vinga about The Inconvenience of Being Christian. Mark, Scott and Gabi as well as Bogdan loved having George here.
George also did a lovely Good Friday Service. I noticed the way George and Bogdan  had a pretty color co-ordination with the alter cloth! Impressive!
 Elizabeth is introducing George to the Easter egg traditions here in Romania.
On Palm Sunday we had the dedication service for Maximilian Simion, Bogdan and Lilli's baby boy. We had 2 sets of Godparents. There was a very nice celebration dinner at Bogdan and Lilli's house afterward.
Had to have a picture of Anita, George and Barbara. These two wonderful friends do not intentionally dress alike, but it often happens.  That's how it is with such long term great friends. I miss them.

All the ministry programs are chugging along: Vinga church; Detention Center; Mocrea; Widow's Mite; Orphan Sponsorship;  and Saturday kid's programs at Vinga as well and Sanicolaul Mic. God has blessed the ministry with new hands to help. Spencer and Lynsey Ball live next door and are involved in several ministries.  They are a blessing here. They fit so well in to village life, their kids can chatter like little Romanians.  Edith Bond has arrived from New Zealand  and is not only helping me but is involved with the Scott and Carolyn's program that ministers to young ladies in jeopardy here, in fact she is house mom for a couple of months.  Scott and Carolyn are faithful Mocrea helpers. The Lord has been pretty pointed in communicating to me that I need to slow down (OK - I admitted it - does it make you happy??? Yeah, you know who you are!) and has provided help!  Accepting some of my limitations has not been easy for me.  Boy there is an understatement! The girls are learning more about pitching in to help too. We will have some relief in the schedule this summer I think. Thank you for following my blog and please pray for us here and the work that the Lord has set before us.