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August » 2007 » Hope 4 Kids International Blog


A Day in the life of Romania: Love, Fellowship & Chocolate Cake
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Today, we had another amazing day! We barely stopped to catch our breath. We started the morning by attending Audie’s church again. We love their worship and we couldn’t wait to return. Tom had Beth and I got up to say a few words about our work in the Gypsy villages and an update on our Unifund students. Not only is Audie gifted at speaking, he is an amazing worship leader. We all felt like we were at a concert! Alina and Flore also sing with the worship team. Gabby and Cornell translated Audie’s message. He told a story about a race during the Special Olympics. A runner had tripped and fell down during the race. Another runner turned around to help the fallen runner and gave him a hug. The others caught up, held hands and finished the race together. Audie made correlations that sometimes we feel abandoned and wonder where God is in our sorrows. And the answer is, is that He is with us all the time. Alina may have wondered where God was during her car accident. But He was with her and protected them both from the crash. She and her baby were fine except for some minor bumps and bruises.

After church, we went to McDonald’s for a secret birthday party for Kim. Lucia made another one of her famous chocolate cakes and we all sang Happy Birthday. In the afternoon, we spent some time with abandoned babies and special needs kids at the Oradea hospital. The team enjoyed holding the babies and passing out Beanie-Babies. This really touched our team members and many of us were surprised that people could give up their precious babies. The staff was very helpful and very protective of the children.

Next, we went back to Lazareni for a party for the children. More chocolate cake! The kids were already hyped up on fun. Throw in a little sugar and it got crazy! Lookout! We had plenty of smiles and sticky fingers everywhere! They were actually very well behaved. Alina had a Gypsy translator come in to make sure the little ones understood to behave. We played with balloons and passed out toothbrushes and Beanie-Babies. The team had just as much fun as the kids! In the evening, Cornell invited us all to a farewell dinner with George & Alina, Audie & Flore. We had another secret party planned! This time it was a baby shower for George & Alina. Carla & I managed to find a baby store all by our selves in Clug, while Renata & Marley had gifts for them, too. We ate like kings & queens outside under a covered patio. Our dinner was highlighted with a fantastic thunderstorm. After dinner, more chocolate cake and fellowship! Cornell treated us all to dinner including our translators. We felt like one big happy family. After breaking bread together for over three hours, we were saddened that it was time to say our final goodbyes but thankful for the long-lasting relationships we formed. We’ve all fallen in love with the Romanians!



A New Roof for a New Faith
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Angie writes:

One of the things I wanted to do yesterday was hunt down one of the little girls in Lazareni named Pamela that I put in our brochure. Pamela has this infectious smile and your heart just melts when you see her. She couldn’t be any cuter with her two front teeth missing and a little pink barrette holding her hair back. I pointed her out to Marianna in the brochure and minutes later she found her for me. Marianna proceeded to tell me a story about Pamela’s mom. Pamela’s Mom came to Marianna asking her for a new roof. Marianna said she didn’t even have a new roof and it didn’t matter. Pamela’s Mom needed to ask Jesus, not Marianna for a roof. Pamela’s Mom was not a believer, so this was the perfect opportunity for Marianna to share the love of Jesus. Marianna told her she must pray to Jesus for a new roof. Pamela’s Mom said, “ I listen, but I don’t understand. How do I pray when Jesus is in the heavens and I am here?” Marianna sat with her awhile until Pamela’s Mom gave her life to Christ. The following week, Marianna received a phone call from a missionary from Denmark. He was there earlier that month and called to ask Marianna how much a new roof would cost. He had connected with Pamela’s Mom and wanted to buy her a new roof! Just like that, God answered her prayers. The following week, Pamela’s Mom confirmed her faith and got baptized.



Needed! A van for Mishu. A car for Alina!
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A few days ago, we learned some bad news for the Lazareni church and school. The school van Mishu had been driving was no longer available. A couple from Austria was gracious enough to let Mishu drive their van for awhile even covering the taxes every year while he drove it. After almost two years, the couple picked up the car yesterday leaving the school and church with only one vehicle. Mishu lives almost an hour away picking up each teacher everyday on the way to school. Sometimes, he makes two trips costing up to $30 dollars in gas. With school starting in two weeks, everyone has been praying for a new van for Mishu. Today, Gabby gathered us all together to inform us that Alina was involved in a car accident yesterday in the remaining school vehicle. We were all extremely concerned especially because of Alina’s pregnancy. Alina was making a u-turn and a car that was speeding smashed into her passenger’s side. Fortunately, no one else was riding with Alina. Alina escaped the crash with a few bumps and bruises. She went to the doctor and she and her baby are doing fine. She cried to see the baby moving around during the sonogram. Tomorrow, she will find out at 1:00 to see the results of the accident. The police take the easiest route in deciding the fault of an accident and do not always weigh both sides. Alina may be responsible for some of the damages and her license may be suspended up to 6 months.

We arrived in Beclean mid-morning to pick up our Unifund kids for lunch. Alex greeted us wearing a bracelet that translated to “The Clug have soul.” He told us that there is a petition in the city of Clug for special needs kids. Mental ill hospitals receive almost no money from the government because special needs hospitals are looked at as bad investments. After signing the petition, people receive their bracelet. They will present the petition to the government on behalf of special needs hospitals to help them raise more money. I asked Alex why there are so many special needs foundations, he said because special needs kids are forgotten. Nobody cares about them. Alex is a visionary and he will draw upon his experience to do great things. Alex gave us a quick tour of the orphanage. Beclean orphanage used to be the largest orphanage in Europe housing 600 kids. Now, the orphanage is a transition house hosting 80 kids until they can be placed into foster homes in the upcoming year. Alex gave us a lot of insight to the orphanage and the kids. Most of our Unifund kids have been in the Beclean orphanage up to 16 years. This has been their home and their family. Many of them are apprehensive leaving the only place they have ever known. When a student becomes 18, they must leave the orphanage. Enrolling an orphan in the Unifund program becomes vital for their success in life. Up until they are 18, they do not have the life skills to become successful and they become vulnerable to drugs and prostitution. Our Unifund students all have bright futures. Most of them are getting their degree in social work focusing on special needs kids and the elderly. They are all intelligent, clever and full of life. They are very loving and look out for one another. Throughout our afternoon visit, the students warmed our hearts with their little sayings. Ramona said, “ I used to be crazy. Then, I went to the doctor and he said ‘You are SO okay!’ During lunch, Tom and I interviewed Alex on video while other team members formed deeper relationships with the kids. Emil even gave Earl a foot massage! That is so not natural. We laughed and laughed all afternoon! Please pray for Mishu and Alina. Lazareni desperately needs transportation immediately. It is vital to their village. Please pray for Alina that she can relax and stay worry-free for her baby.


Happy Birthday Kim!
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Today was our excursion day and we celebrated Kim’s birthday in the heart of Transilvania at Dracula’s house. We departed from Clug to historic Sighisoara (sigGy-shora) several hours away. We passed rolling green hilltops and sunflower fields as we entered the thousand-year-old city. The city streets were filled with inlayed cobblestone and the skies were filled with staggered rooflines and multiple chimneys. Every window was left wide open with draping colorful flowers hung below. We immediately walked up the pavered steps to the famous Clock Tower that overlooks the old town city below. Inside, we toured museums filled with antique relics and outside we took in breathtaking views of the city.

Dracula, or Vlad the Impailer, ruled Sighisoara in the mid 1400’s. They city prided itself on being the safest place to live. If a crime was committed, Vlad would drive a stake vertically through the offender’s body and set it in the ground for everyone to see. Sometimes, there could be field of people on stakes for the people of Sighisoara to see.

We all went to the bathroom in Vlad’s house which is now a restaurant, just to say we did! “This one time in Romania, at Dracula’s house…..” :P Afterwards, we toured the local cemetery there. Built in a hillside, the multi-level cemetery was covered in lush green foliage with sun beams piercing through the treetops above. We also toured the torture chamber museum. Now, that was creepy! Tom managed to get himself into a noose while Kim pretended she was in a device that stretched herself in two. Original chains and devices still filled the room. Later, we enjoyed walking the city and picking up Dracula souvenirs along the way. There are not many people that can say that they spent their birthday in Dracula’s house! Happy Birthday Kim!



Romania-thurs-Aug 16
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George & The Gypsies

Our days here in Romania always begin with amazing stories during family time. Some of them are from years past while others are still be written by the hand of God. In 1998, Tom brought a team to Romania including a container to set up a medical/dental clinic. In the evening, they would sing and fellowship together. A woman in the hotel heard the music and followed it up to their room. Her name was Maria and she was a Gypsy. The team invited her in, told her about Jesus and fellowshipped together. She was very receptive because other Christians had persecuted her in the past because she was a prostitute. The next day they invited her to work with them in the clinic until George, the director of the church, came by for a visit. He told Tom that she mush leave because she was a Gypsy and a prostitute and Jesus would not want her here. “If Jesus would allow me here, then he would allow her here,” Tom said. The team had been witnessing to her, but George did not listen. As guests of George’s church, the team could not lose sight of their mission. After many tears, Maria went along her way. Two days passed and George came up to Tom again only this time with regret. He said, “We have not slept in two days. We were wrong. Jesus would have wanted Maria here with Him.” George shared the news with the team and they began to heal. A week had passed as the team ventured out in the evenings to find Maria. The night before they left, they found Maria. She was upset and offended. They tried to repair the damage by praying for her and giving her a bible and the team went along their way. They never heard from Maria again.

Tom mentioned that George was in a conference in the States during our stay in Romania. After family time, we departed for Clug, a three hour ride away. We went to meet the Unifund students we sponsor in a restaurant for dinner. After circling the hotel multiple times like a scene from national Lampoon’s European vacation, we got settled in and enjoyed time in the historic city. Tom ventured out alone to find a place to eat when a man tapped him on his shoulder. He turned around to look and it was George! George was on his way to pay his electric bill, looked up and saw Tom out of the corner of his eye. In a town of a half of a million people, Tom knew about three people here and one of them was supposed to be in the US. They greeted each other and reminisced it had been almost five years since they had seen each other. Tom asked how the clinic was doing and George replied it was doing well, staying busy, but that wasn’t his main focus anymore. His main ministry was for the Gypsies. He had a new love for the Gypsies and he had to help them. Tom said that we were here for the Gypsies in Lazreni & Cheresig. “We are improving their living conditions and built a school for the kids.” George invited Tom & Hope 4 Kids to see if they would like to help out in his village. What an encounter!

That evening we loved meeting and getting to know each of the eleven Unifund kids we sponsor. They are all bright, loving and very clever. Almost of them are getting their degree in social work focusing on the forgotten- special needs kids and the elderly. They all grew up in Europe’s largest orphanage, Beclean orphanage. When Hope 4 Kids started visiting in 1995, 600 orphans and abandoned kids lived in this orphanage. When they would open their eyes, there were kids everywhere. Soccer fields were full with not enough place to play. Now, that Romania is joining the European Union, they are dissolving all of the orphanages and placing kids in foster homes. Now, the orphanage has only 80 kids that are in the process of being transitioned. Through education, love and support, these Unifund kids are now filled with hope. They are becoming the leaders of Romania and we are so blessed to be a part of their lives!




Tues Aug 14
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Oh the joys-or not of overseas internet. Angie finally was able to get through so here is her report:

H4KI picked up 25 new kids in their sponsorship program 16 of which
are new babies. Carla, Angie, Marianna (Mishu’s wife) & Paula (their
daughter) went out on foot through the village of Lazareni to visit
these babies and deliver hand made afghans that Marley brought with
her. An Aunt from someone in her church knits an afghan for every
year of her life and then gives them away to charities. This year she
had to knit 93! As we visited the new babies, we photographed them
and registered them for our Sponsorship program.

In March of 2007, a group of missionaries from Holland came to this
village to install concrete floors for the Gypsies’ homes. Rats were
coming up from the dirt floor and biting the children. The Dutch did
not consult Mishu to begin with the homes with the greatest needs
first. They installed floors down the rows of homes and when their
two weeks were over, they went home leaving many disgruntled Gypsies
in the villages. The missionaries promised to come back in September,
but the Gypsies do not believe.

Carla and I were some of the first non-Romanians in their village
since the Dutch left. We could feel the effects all around and we
were in for an adventure. A requirement for adding new kids in the
program entails us to photograph the child, their family and their
village. We walk around the village and sometimes enter homes. In the
village of Lazareni, we had some hurdles overcome for several
reasons. There are a lot of vicious dogs around. They hide under
buildings and growl as if they want to bit your face off. Another
thing, Marianna is finishing her nursing degree and she administers
the vaccinations to the kids within the community. So, kids would
begin to cry when they saw us thinking they were going to get a
vaccination. Finally, we had some concerns of the Gypsies that had
some hostility from the concrete floor situation. Many Gypsies do not
want their picture taken. When you throw all these ingredients
together and you get a recipe for an unsuspecting day filled with
lots of excitement and adventure! With our translators present, we
ask permission whenever possible to take pictures of the Gypsies. The
first two homes we visited were open and receptive to our arrival.
The ladies were friendly and they were really happy about receiving a
warm blanket. However, the next homes we visited were quite the
opposite. Angry women gathered together outside their homes yelling
in their own Gypsy language. They voiced their concerns about not
getting the concrete floors for their homes and did not want any
pictures taken. They said we were taking pictures to say we installed
the concrete floors and then we would ask for more money in the
states. Others mentioned we would sell pictures of Gypsies to make
money. One woman was so upset that she did not receive a concrete
floor that she did not want her child to be part of the Sponsorship
program. “You did not give me help, so I do not want your help now,”
she says. Marianna and Paula explained over and over that we were
there to take pictures of the babies to send back to the sponsors in
America but they did not listen. An angry woman continued to yell at
us and she followed us from home to home but became quiet after
another woman told her to leave. All and all, after escaping a few
angry dogs, almost getting run over by a cow and evading some
disgruntled Gypsies we had a great day! We successfully delivered all
the blankets and registered all the new babies for our Sponsorship
program unscathed.

After we returned we had a birthday party for Mishu! Alina bought a
delicious chocolat cake to share. Mishu carried it on a stand and
danced around the room as we all sang Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday



Monday, August 13 in Romania
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Today’s blog is written by Beth Baird:

At today’s family time, we talked about different things we have seen and experienced since we have been in Romania. We discussed the unique and refreshing style of the church we attended yesterday. We also talked about having our fist encounter with the gypsies yesterday at the Agape House. Everyone started to get anxious and exited when Carla was sharing the plan for the VBS at the Gypsy school. As she is going through the schedule Tom notices the rain pouring from the sky.

Praying that the rain lightens up by the time we get to Lazarine, we hop onto the bus and drive 45 minutes to the school. When we arrive, Alina is waiting for us along with 3 other translators; Gabby, Don, and Lucha. Unfortunately, it is raining harder now so we must improvise when it comes to games that we will play. Just as we were clearing the desks and chairs out of the classroom, the first few kids started showing up. With them came Michu, the pastor and bible teacher at the school, and seven of his eight children. Michu as well as his family are a family of genorocity and compassion for every person they encounter.

In Romania, it is almost unheard of for Romanians to interact with the Gypsies. There is much discrimination and prejiduce toward the Gypsies therefore making it hard for them to get medical attention as well as other basic necessities. When Romanians such as Michu, his family, George, Alina, and all the others begin to care for and assist the Gypsies, it makes it possible to aquire things that wouldn’t be available to them.

As more and more kids began to come and fill up the classroom, we just began to improvise. While some of the children were decorating canvas backpacks others played with a hackey sack in a circle that took up more than half of the room. Another thing that the children enjoyed was getting their picture taken then seeing it on the digital camera. Some did silly poses while some just smiled but either way their eye’s lit up and were filled with delight. After a while of playing games such as duck, duck, goose, and a variety of hackey sack games, as well as a few others, Marley told and acted out a several different bible stories.

After story time we took a break for lunch. We as well as the kids finished our lunches quickly because we were eager to continue our games and crafts. The next craft that the kids got to do was decorate a reusable cup that they would get to use to hold the milk and tea that the school provides for them. Because it was still raining outside we continued our games inside the classroom. We played with a parachute, limbo, jumprope, even a 3-legged race! We quite possibly had more fun than the kids did.

After saying our good-byes for the day we loaded back into the van, while it is still raining quite a bit and headed back to the hotel. When dinner time rolled around we met up with George and Alina as well as Fluine who is also a long time friend of Tom’s at a beautiful restaurant for dinner.



Sunday, August 12th
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Here’s another update from Angie:

We always start our day with Tom leading us in Family time where we come together and share stories. Tom shared the highlight of his life was Sept 5, 1991 at the Moscow Gospel Music Festival where he and his team gave away 1,000,000 Bibles. He spoke about Jesus and helped thousands of people come to Christ including members of the KGB & Parliament inside the Kremlin. He told stories & techniques how he would smuggle Bibles and other anti-Soviet literature into the country.

Our Romanian church that we attended collected an offering last year for the Africans. They raised $1500. With their monthly incomes, they figured out that it would have been equivalent to raising $220,000 in America. He told Pastor Wilber (Africa) that they should do something special with the money and they put on a roof on the new boarding school with the offering they raised. This last April, the Africans commented on how generous & supportive the Americans are as well the Romanians! Tom is hoping to bring some Romanians to Africa within the next few months to dedicate the roof and give the Romanians a first hand look at what their donations help accomplish.

The Romanian church was exploding with energy and unleashed an excitement that can be felt the moment you walk through the door. There was a fire for Christ burning in each heart of 200 young people that attended. There, we met Audie, Alina & George, translators that have been with Tom for 15 years. The church band was amazing… alternative, passionate, full of zeal. They played all contemporary Christian songs that were familiar to us; only they were in Romanian. Tom gave another amazing message this morning on “Don’t Waste Your Life” that moved everyone in the room. There was also another offering taken up for the project in Africa. A handful of Romanians raised their hand that they wanted to go and serve the Africans!

After church, we visited a small town called Baile Felix to meet Alina & George for lunch. It was very charming area with many brightly colored buildings around. There were many new housing development in the area. We called it the Romanian Bubble for Romanian Bubble- just like Anthem! We spent the afternoon in the markets visiting all the vendors. We also visited a beautiful pond that was filled with water lilies.

On the drive back to the hotel, we stopped at The Agape House. In this house young unwed mothers come and stay when they have no where else to go. There are usually 2-4 mothers that will stay in the house from the time they are pregnant until after they have their baby and get back on their feet. Nick & Fiore help the girls find jobs and new homes and to trust that God will help them raise their child while they have no one else. Nick & Fiore are amazing people that give hope and inspiration to these broken girls. They adopted their son Nicholas after finding him in a trash can when he was a baby. While visiting the chicken coop that is in the back yard of the Agape House we noticed three gypsy children in a small gypsy village adjacent to the house. As we played with them through the fence that separates the properties more and more children began to come to where we were. The children were so exited to take pictures and act silly however the most joy came from seeing their pictures on the digital cameras. It broke our hearts to see them living in the horrible conditions but when their faces lit up with a gigantic smile, for that moment, everything was good.

After returning to the hotel and getting cleaned up, we walked down the street to an Italian restaurant our driver had suggested. Because the menu was written only in Romanian we had a fun time trying to translate the meals on our own. I guess you could say it was a surprise in terms of what you would end up getting. Luckily none of us received any kind of breaded brains. When our stomachs were full and our eyes were heavy we walked back to the hotel to get a good night’s rest before waking up and traveling to the gypsy village for VBS


Saturday, August 11
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Angie said she’s having a little trouble with the internet in Romania. I was there last year and it was terrible! So please have patience with her as she’s trying to get things to me as she is able.

Here’s what she said about Saturday:
Tom led us in Family Time this morning in lounge of our hotel. We
discussed a lot of the background of the people in Eastern Europe
like the Gypsies. We learned about the three classes of gypsies:
street gypsies, peasant farmers and the affluent business people. Tom
brought us back to the time when he started out smuggling Bibles and
other Christian literature into Russia & Romania. After Family Time,
we all loaded into a van and headed to Romania five hours away.
Before we crossed the Hungary/Romania border, we stopped off at a
charming cottage that our driver Marian recommended to us for lunch.
Bear & fox skins hung on the wall and we loved the extensive picture
book menu. The serene countryside along the way was filled with
sunflower and corn crops. We witnessed several beautiful women
standing along the highway waiting for truck drivers to pass and pick
them up. Tom shared that many professors or even doctors become
prostitutes because the earning potential is so much greater. Our
Hotel Continental in Romania has been updated and renovated over the
years eliminating the Soviet image that once held over the hotel. We
ventured across the street to Piccolo restaurant for some Breaded
Brains & Pizza! We passed on the brains after someone mentioned Mad
Cow disease. Cornell, one of Tom’s translators, came to greet us at
the restaurant. He has been with Tom over 15 years and has now
started a non-denominational church with other friends of Tom’s.
They have created an environment that embraces people that are often
persecuted by other Romanian churches.
This compassionate progressive church is very refreshing considering
decades of observing rigid order and doctrine. Tomorrow we are very
excited to visit this church for Sunday worship.

After Piccolos, we took an evening stroll through Oradea to find some
ice cream at Marco Polo Gelaceria for some mystery flavors. Although
there are remnants of Soviet architecture though out the Transylvania
region, authentic Romanian buildings still remain. Some of us
continued down to the Oradea town square in the drizzle where Tom
described the time when crowds of people up to 50,000 came to
celebrate the fall of Ceausescu on Christmas Eve, 1989.



The team in Budapest!
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The team flies into Budapest and gets to enjoy this beautiful city before traveling on to Romania. The blog today is written by our Angie.

Romania- Aug 10

Our trip to Romania started out with lots of laughs at the Dick Clark restaurant in Sky Harbor airport. We could already tell this was going to be a fun trip! However, our laughs were short lived when we missed our connection in Amsterdam. We made the most of it and enjoyed our favorite lattes upstairs at the coffee bar. The whopping huge team of ten and Beth (& luggage) finally arrived together in Budapest. Bruno, the bellhop & ‘colleagues’ helped us check into our rooms, but not before he informed us they were finishing work at 11 to go dancing! Haha. We were anxious to get settled and walk down- not run, scooter or skip to the ‘walking street’. Shops and cafes filled the hopping streets that were paved with beautiful cobblestone and magnificent architecture from many periods. We went up to the famous Fatal restaurant where Tom has continued coming since the seventies for some Hungarian goulash. After dinner, we ventured down to the Danube River that separates the two Hungarian cities of Buda & Pest that connect through the Chain Bridge. Historic Buda sits high above the river and illuminates Pest down below. Some of us returned back to the hotel, while a few others went out to enjoy more of the city. Tom took a couple of us to see Historic Buda in a taxi driven by a crazy Hungarian. We were living the Bourne Identity! The views overlooking the Danube River from Buda were absolutely amazing. The entire fortress was illuminated and you could still see damage to some of the buildings caused by canons from WWII. Walking back we got caught in a rainstorm and had to take coverage in an outdoor café. We drank coffee and listened to the heavy rainfall and chairs blowing down the narrow windy streets. Does it Monsoon in Romania? We eventually gave up and ran back to the hotel anyway….not exactly dodging puddles along the way. Our first day on the trip was nothing short of an adventure!


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