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June » 2005 » Hope 4 Kids International Blog


Eastern Europe Team Update – Saturday June 25, 2005
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The team is travelling today to Budapest and then back to the United States on Sunday. 

The photo album has been updated with photos from Friday.



Friday, June 24, 2005
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Our last day in Romania was an amazing day for our team. We started by going outside of Oradea to a home for pregnant women that is supported by Hope 4 Kids International. Michelle (the founder and director) and her husband were back in the United States this week, so we didn’t get to meet with them, but we did get to see all the crops that they’ve planted to feed their residents, and we spent time with some of the women and children in this home. This is an impressive ministry because not only do they provide temporary housing for women as they go through their pregnancy, but they also teach them parenting skills, provide a solid foundation of Bible study, and give them vocational training so that they will be able to provide a livelihood for their family when they leave this home.

It was at this farm where we saw a man demonstrating the famous Russian proverb that Tom likes to use: “The reed that doesn’t bend in the wind gets cut off by the sickle.” Tom even took lessons in how to use the sickle as he tried cutting some of the tall grass and reeds on the farm.

Pastor Teo had invited us to a picnic lunch at the farm/greenhouse property of one of his families from his church, and we were treated to the best barbecued pork we’ve ever had. The agricultural development of this property was impressive, and we spent several pleasant hours walking through the fields and greenhouses filled with bountiful crops of tomatoes, green beans, peas, watermelon, and many other vegetables. They provide a great deal of the food supply for this part of Romania, and it was an remarkable thing to see. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in the countryside as we ate outside and were cooled by the gentle breezes.

We then went to the village where Pastor Teo’s church is planting a new church, and for many of us, this afternoon was the highlight of our trip. We walked through the village, creating pipe-cleaner flowers and glasses and hearts for the children, passing out beanie babies, playing soccer, and teaching kids how to blow bubbles with the bubble gum we gave them. Ben?s grandmother had knitted beanies for the babies and fancy scarves for the little girls, so Ben, Holly, Tara and Uncle Tom had a great time passing those out. Uncle Tom also had candy duty as he passed out Hershey chocolates to the kids, and he brought smiles to many faces.
We drove quite a distance to get out to the village of Ceica, where our translator, Adi, was playing in a Christian band at a Friday-night crusade. Adi’s band was excellent, and we were so thrilled to watch him perform.

Unfortunately, we have more bus stories. Just as Vasile was parking the bus, we noticed the smell of wire burning. In a very short period of time, Vasile realized that the alternator had burned out, which meant we would not be able to use any of the electrical things such as lights or air conditioning. So this meant that we needed to leave the crusade early so that we could get back to Oradea before it was totally dark.

When Vasile dropped us off at the hotel, we knew we had to say good-bye quickly so that he could get back to the church before it was completely dark, but it was so hard saying good-bye to this man that had driven us everywhere we needed to go throughout Romania. He had handled every challenge and crisis with strength and calmness, and we had been so blessed by his gentle spirit. Even though he couldn’t speak English, we developed a close bond with him, and we know we’ll miss him.

We also know that saying good-bye to Ema, Diana and especially Adi will be heart-wrenching. We have grown to love them as family, and they have made our time in Romania truly special.

Tomorrow, we leave for Budapest, and Sunday, we head back to the United States. We have had an amazing journey, filled with challenges, excitement, adventure, joy, laughter, tears and the assurance that God was holding us in the palm of His hand. Thank you for your prayers. We are now praying that God will begin to move in the hearts of others to be a part of a mission team like ours, so that some of you can experience the joy, excitement and contentment that we have experienced throughout our journey here.



Eastern Europe Team – Thursday, June 23
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At 8 AM, we met for breakfast in the hotel restaurant, then brought all our bags down to the bus after our family time. We loaded up the trailer in the rain, and began our journey back to Oradea. It rained during much of our journey today (it was a 6-hour drive), so our luggage got a little wet in the trailer, which is simply covered with a canvas tarp.

We knew that today was a travel day, so didn’t anticipate any opportunities for ministry. However, when we stopped in the early afternoon to buy food at the grocery store for our sandwiches, there was a little girl in the parking lot begging for money. What a smile she had on her face when we gave her some bread, cheese, and an orange Fanta for lunch.

Then, later this afternoon, we stopped to take pictures of a stork in his nest on top of a telephone pole, and some gypsy kids came running up to beg for money and candy. We hung out with them for awhile, and when it was time to leave, we gave them oranges that were left over from our lunch. They were thrilled with this treat, and waved and smiled as we drove away.

Holly has been telling us the story of Flat Stanley, who has joined our mission team. Mrs. Brown’s second grade class at Lookout Mountain Elementary School sent Flat Stanley with Holly (Mrs. Brown is Holly’s mom) so that he could have his picture taken in Hungary and Romania. Flat Stanley is a fictional character from a children’s story. He was flattened by a bulletin board, and now gets to travel around the world (and even into outer space), with anyone who has room for him. And who wouldn’t have room, because after all, he?’ flat. He’s brought a touch of whimsy to our trip.

Tomorrow is our last ministry day in Romania, so even though we are looking forward to the opportunities, we are a bit sad at the same time.



Eastern Europe Team – June 22, 2005
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We slept in a bit before getting on the bus to drive to Turnu, where we were meeting up with George. George was taking us to one of the foster-care homes where his sister-in-law works so we could see the new vision that the government has for taking care of their orphaned and abandoned children in a more family-style setting. This particular foster home is funded by an American foundation, and we were very impressed by the quality of care that these children are receiving. We brought in bags and bags of ministry supplies for them to share with these children as well as other foster homes in the area.

Our big adventure today was when Vasily (our bus driver) tried parking in an underground garage, which turned into a real test of his skills. After we got through the extremely low clearance of the entrance, scraping the top of the roof of the bus just a little, we realized that the clearance for the exit was even lower because of the way the ramp was on the incline, which would have made it impossible for us to exit that way. So Vasily had to back the bus and trailer up, backing the trailer into a very tight parking spot, and he pulled off the tightest of u-turns (which we know would have been a challenge to complete in our own personal vehicles!). And he did all this as others were walking and driving and honking their horns waiting for him to execute the turn. It was a thing of beauty to watch his skill.

We continued driving through the gorgeous countryside of north-central Romania, and eventually arrived in Sighisoara in Transilvania, the birthplace of Dracula. We toured through the museum as we climbed to the top of the clock tower. It was a breathtaking view of this old town with the German-style architecture, and we then climbed the 232 steps to get to the top of the hill overlooking the entire area. We went into the old Lutheran church at the top, and we climbed down into the catacombs where they had buried the dead in the walls?.this was also the place where the Christians would secretly meet during the Communist era. What a feeling of awe as we stood there where the heroes of the faith had stood to worship our God.

This evening, Florin met us at our hotel so we could provide lots of clothes, toys, beanie babies, pipe cleaners and other ministry tools for him to use in the orphanage and children’s ministry that he oversees in the Sighisoara area.

So far, our electricity and our water are all working, so we?re looking forward to a great night with those taken-for-granted luxuries.

We can hardly believe that it’s already time to leave this area and head back to Oradea tomorrow. Time is flying quickly. Thank you for your prayers during our travels. We feel God’s presence every step of the way.


Eastern Europer Team – June 21, 2005
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Before our journey began, Tom told us about the old Russian proverb that says, “The reed that doesn’t bend in the wind will break.”

We are really learning that to be true as we’ve had a number of experiences that have challenged us to bend in the past couple of days. Last night, at the hotel in Beclean, they shut off the water at 11 PM and it didn’t come back on until almost 6 this morning. Tonight, the hotel we’re staying at in Bistrita (aka Transylvania….Dracula country!) suddenly lost their electricity, which also meant that the water pumps couldn’t pump the water. So we had no electricity and no water! The good news is that today is the longest day of the year, so we still have hours of daylight left before we won’t be able to see anything in our rooms. There are no internet facilities near our hotel, so we took a taxi into town to send out this update, and thankfully, their electricity is working. I’m typing to the “untz, untz, untz” of the American-style music that’s throbbing through the internet cafe.

We were at the orphanage in Beclean today. This morning, we went for a tour of the facility that has changed drastically since Tom was here three years ago. It used to be a very large “institution,” with dorm-style sleeping and large eating halls. Now, it has all been renovated into apartment-style units, with approximately 8 kids per apartment, which includes a living-room area, a kitchen, and double bedrooms. It was very impressive listening to Rebecca as she explained that even though they now have more funds for making things more pleasant, the people who work with the children here still have the same love for these children and passion for their work that they did when funding was extraordinarily tight. We could see that people like Rebecca have made an impact in the lives of these children who have been abandoned. We know that the university students come back to the orphanage on the weekends, because this truly is their home and they still feel like this is their family.

We walked down the street from the orphanage to buy cold cuts and bread and cheese for lunch, and then walked to the park for a lovely picnic before heading back to the orphanage.  We spent the afternoon playing with the kids while Tom and Margaret interviewed the potential university students for the Uni-Fund. The soccer games, volleyball games and basketball games were great fun, and the kids loved blowing bubbles with the bubble gum we brought. Polaroid pictures were a great delight to the kids, and our photographer, Ben, had a lot of fun taking those photos. We sang together, laughed together, and in a few short hours, grew to love these children at the orphanage in Beclean.

We feel your prayers, and are so privileged to be here on your behalf, sharing God’s love with these children (and adults) who are so special to Him.



Eastern Europe Team – June 20, 2005
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Our drive to Cluj-Napoca was a bit more eventful than we had anticipated.

Because our bus was just a 17-passenger bus, there would have been no room for all our luggage, so we rented a trailer to pull behind the bus. After driving for about an hour, we heard a loud noise and realized that the left tire on the trailer had blown, and that the spring was broken, causing the trailer to sit directly on the wheel.

Our bus driver worked for quite awhile on the wheel and axle while we sat out in the field alongside the major road to Bucharest. We ate a picnic lunch, played soccer and Frisbee, and even considered the horses in the field as an alternative means of transportation.

Eventually, they were able to prop the trailer up on blocks so they could remove it from the bus and  then they drove the bus into town for a replacement tire while we waited by the trailer. When they returned, they put on the new tire, hooked up the trailer, and soon we were on our way.

The rest of the ride was beautiful as we drove up into the mountains on our way to Cluj. The scenery was lush and green, and it was a lovely drive. We arrived at the hotel just in time to put our bags in our room and meet up with the university students that we would be eating dinner with.

These young people are from the orphanage in Beclean, and several years ago, when Margo Peterson from Wisconsin came with Tom on a mission trip to Romania, God gave her a vision for making a difference for orphans who had no hope for their future. She began a “UniFund” project for which she has raised money to provide for tuition, housing and books for some of the teens from the orphanage. With this special program, they are given the opportunity to obtain an education and graduate from the university with possibilities for a successful future.

The students were so excited to meet us, and they all wanted to know if we know Margo–she’s a real hero to them!!! What a special night we had with them as we ate pizza and got to know each other better. Because they are in the middle of final exams, we had to send them off early so they could study, but our hearts were full as we said good-bye.



Eastern Europe Team
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The photo album has been updated with photo’s from Saturday and Sunday.

David – webmaster

Gypsy villageNormy Jema hand paintJoe painting4Mission team hilarity


Eastern Europe Team Update – June 19, 2005
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We celebrated Pentecost this morning worshipping at the Biserica Penticostala Tabor. They are on an Tom preachingeastern calendar, so their Easter and Pentecost are later than ours, and it was awesome to be reminded of how the Holy Spirit works in our lives.  We have definitely seen evidence of that during our journey here. Tom preached about letting the joy and power and excitement of that first Pentecost described in Acts II be a part of our lives today, and we were challenged by his message of praying for more power to be a kinder person today than we were yesterday, a more generous person who seeks to give rather than take, a bolder Christian who willingly shares the gospel with those we come in contact with, and a people who will let the light and love of Jesus shine through us wherever we go.

After church, we headed to Felix, which had been used by the party leaders during the communist regime as a resort area because of all the hot springs in the area. We ate a delicious lunch there, and then went to a gypsy village to see where Hope 4 Kids is looking to partner in ministry with a Romanian outreach to make a difference in the lives of the Rromi (gypsy) people there. George and Alena are a young couple that Tom has known for many years, and they explained their vision for this village, which parallels the same kind of vision that has guided H4KI in our ministry in Uganda. We are excited about the prospects of bringing health, joy, love and dignity to this village over the next several years.  


It was great fun playing with the children in the village, and we had shrieks of laughter and delight as we learned some of their games and sang songs together.

In the evening, we worshipped at Biserica Penticostala Betania, which is Pastor Teo’s church. Tom again shared a compelling message challenging us to tap into the power of God’s mercy and grace as He takes us out of our comfort zone and into the world. After his sermon, there was an opportunity for people to come forward to receive a fresh touch of God’s love and the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Tom prayed with a number of people, and one couple approached Tom after the worship service to tell him that God has put it on their hearts to go with him on one of the teams to Uganda. What a delight that was to see the power of God’s Holy Spirit at work in this place.

We finished the evening by a late-night stop at McDonalds on our way back to the hotel. We all agree, McDonalds tastes much better in Romania than back home (or is it just because we enjoyed the luxury of American food in the middle of our mission trip). Because it was Joe’s 11th birthday, Tom treated us to “birthday sundaes” as we celebrated Joe’s Sunday birthday.

In the morning, we leave for Cluj-Napoca, and we’re not sure what our internet connections will be like there. Even though we hope to be able to send out daily updates, it’s possible it will be very sporadic, so just know that we continue to rely on your prayers as we continue in this mission that God has called us to.


Eastern Europe Team Update – Photos
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I will post more photos to the photo album late this afternoon.

David – Webmaster


Eastern Europe Team – Saturday, June 18, 2005
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The adults were dropped off at the hospital to complete our work projects from yesterday, while the youth went with Tom to the youth conference where Tom would be speaking. They had a great day listening to an excellent speaker (Tom!!!) and playing football, volleyball and games with their new Romanian friends. Joe, who is our 11 year-old team member, has been mowing lawns and saving his money for the past 3 months so that he could purchase soccer balls and pumps to give away in Romania. When he went to the store in Washington to purchase them before we came, the manager at the store was so impressed with this young man?s vision that he gave him a huge discount, so he was able to bring 10 soccer balls plus needles and pumps. Joe was delighted to give away one of those balls today. Ben took photos of Tom speaking at the conference while Adi translated for him.

Back at the hospital, Jema had a buddy (Norby), who stayed with her while she painted the accent paint on the door jams, and he showed her his handprint on the wall. Then Norby worked with Michelle cleaning up the wallboard adhesive off the walls. In spite of the shunt in his hand, he was delighted to be part of the work team.

Margaret felt like Martha Stewart as she completed the wallpaper border project, and Joe, Uncle Tom and Damon were thrilled to not only finish painting the blue room, but also finished the wallboard project as well. Dawn spent a lot of time taking care of the details for today?s lunch and dinner, and also did the clean-up in the rooms that we needed to put the hospital beds back into for the children who would be arriving this weekend. 

Our time on the fifth floor of this pediatric hospital was really special as we helped brighten up this place that would be home to children who are dying of cancer. It was hard to say good-bye to Carrie and her foster-son, Adi, who is undergoing chemotherapy for his aggressive form of cancer.

This evening, we are heading to the home of one of Dawn’s friends in the village, where we will enjoy a Romanian dinner in the forest.


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