President of Firm Foundations Romania Sarah Vienna is releasing a new album called “Through My Eyes” this month! The songs are written about personal experiences Sarah has encountered while living in Romania. To promote the album (proceeds go to FFR) and to share about Firm Foundations Romania, Sarah and Steffi will be touring in Germany for the next two weeks. Read more
The After School Program is back in full swing! After two weeks of registering kids and getting schedules sorted out, we now have over 130 kids enrolled, from kindergarten to seventh grade. Running this program is our wonderful Romanian team (pictured above, from left to right: Joy, Ioana, Silvana, Petrisor), two returning who worked with us last year and two new teachers. Silvana, who is the Project Manager, is in her third year of working with Firm Foundations Romania and this is Joy’s second year. Newly hired, Ioana was previously a teacher in the Romanian public school system, and Petrisor was in our Teen Program and graduated from high school two years ago. It’s great for the kids to see him in this position and to see the benefits of being in the program and getting an education. With these four great teachers, we know the kids are going to have a wonderful year! We look forward to keeping you updated about the After School Program, and we ask that you keep this program, the kids, and the teachers in your prayers.
Since beginning in October 2016, the Teen Mums’ group has transitioned from new starts and unknowns, to a comfortable, relaxed, support network. Friendships have blossomed between the Mums, the babies, and with us. This past week was another great time together when we had a summer baby pool party! It was lovely to all meet up again since term ended in June and to catch up with the Mums, to relax, and to laugh together at the kids’ enjoyment of splashing in the water! Their joy was contagious!
Since January, the girls have been learning about “Who is Jesus?” from Bible readings and sharing personal stories. They have loved being creative and making various different crafty pieces; and we’ve all learnt lots of new information and skills from Jo, a nurse from Australia, about health hygiene, how to professionally decorate cupcakes with Tina from America, and about health and nutrition from one of the hospital nurses, which the nurse and the girls enjoyed so much they want to do it again! We have also welcomed two new babies to the group and attended a wedding of one of the Mums!
We have five Mums who are attending regularly, and with their now 8 babies and toddlers, we are at capacity for the space we have available. But this has allowed close relationships to form within the group which has been so special.
The group will begin meeting again weekly in September and we are looking forward to sharing more with the Mums and babies together. Please pray at this time for health and safety for all of the Mums and babies over the summer, for faith to continue growing for the girls, for wisdom for us as we begin to plan for the next year and for relationships to continue flourishing.
We have had so much support through donations, prayer and volunteers for this group this past year. We, including the Mums, are so grateful!
~ Sarah Peters, Teen Mums Project Manager
Julia Asmus came to volunteer with Firm Foundations Romania for a few weeks this year. After her experience, she wrote a blog about her trip and she shared this blog with us. It’s a beautiful testament to the work that God is doing in Romania, and that we in FFR are blessed to be part of. Thank you Julia for coming to volunteer with us and for allowing us to share your writing:
In the 20 hours after I finished my last final of freshman year, I packed up my dorm, headed home, and hopped on a plane to travel the 5,000 miles to Romania. I made a point to spend time looking out the plane window and reflecting on all the things God has done in my life this past year of college, and man, there’s a lot, but that’s for another post. For most of the flight it didn’t seem real, and then at some point it simply was: I’m going to Romania and I hope I don’t come back the same.
I arrived Saturday evening and went to church the next morning with the girls I’m volunteering with. The pastor preached a message on the early church in Romanian and one of the volunteers translated into English. In that small room people from all around the world, coming to Romania for multitudes of different reasons, sat together and listened and talked. That evening I walked around the almost empty Brasov citadel in the gentle rain and visited the Black Church in the city center. It was a beautiful, yet stoic building that survived a massive fire hundreds of years ago and took decades to restore. It was built to hold 5,000 people when there were only 2,000 living in Brasov. The makers must’ve had big plans for their cathedral.
I worked my first volunteering shift at the hospital Monday morning. Sarah and I changed into our scrubs and carried over toys to play with the children. The children we visit in the hospital are all sick. Most of them have parents, but their parents may rarely visit them, if ever. Firm Foundations, the organization I’m volunteering with, steps in by bringing them diapers and hosting volunteers who assist the nurses by playing with the children, holding them, feeding them, and changing them when they might otherwise not get the necessary attention they need. I held little Adam* and played with him. I put little shoes on his feet and held him so he could try standing up. He’s nearing two years old and still can’t walk or stand on his own, but he knows how to giggle and loves to laugh. I held Callie*, a little girl who was supposedly left abandoned in a park and another little boy whose name we didn’t know. We handed out at least 50 diapers and changed multiple babies. When I came back Tuesday, little Daniel* sat up in his crib when he saw me and reached out his arms toward me. He sat in my lap and played with the toys while princess Samantha*, a 2 year old recovering from heart surgery, blew bubbles at us.
I’ve wanted my life to be this great big grand adventure. I’ve wanted to do big things in big ways. I want to change lives and impact eternity…and yet this trip has shown me that I am so small and everything I’m doing is so small. Feeding babies, changing diapers, blowing bubbles, holding children, playing with them, and I’m only here for two weeks, what can I do in two weeks?
And then I look at the mountains and think of all the miles I’ve traveled to get here and the sunsets I’ve seen and the bird song I hear each morning and the wild flowers that grow along the road and it hits me that I know the God who created it all, and He holds me and says “I’ve got you covered, I am in control, I love you, I love these children, and I’ve got you in my hands.” And I stare at Him with wonder, the same way the children open their eyes when they awake from their naps and stare at the room and everything in it. “It’s a big world out there,” I tell them as I hold them up to the window so they can see the sky and the sun and the mountains right outside their door. Their eyes grow wide and I smile at them and they smile back and perhaps life and love don’t have to be a grand adventure to be wonderful. And perhaps I don’t need to change the world everyday, perhaps all I’ve ever needed was God and His love and this relationship where He pours out all His life for me on the cross and I respond by letting that love guide me everyday, in the big things, and especially in the little ones.
*Alternative names used
Julia’s blog site: wandering-heart.weebly.com
English is a universal language; but after years of working with volunteers, we’ve learned that some words are not as universal. One example we run into in the hospital is that in America babies wear diapers, but in England babies wear nappies. Steffi, our German, decided to quiz Australia, England, and America to help us all learn a few more words and become more universal in the English language!
What an exciting summer it has been with graduations. We have one more congratulations to give: Andreea Mondoc has graduated from college and is now a certified Social Worker. Andreea is our first college graduate and we couldn’t be more proud of her. Read more
ESTERA GRADUATES HIGH SCHOOL!
According to a recent study, for every 200 Roma children, only 3 will graduate from high school. We are proud to announce that this year one of these students is our very own Estera! Estera has been in our Teenage Mentorship Program for the past few years and has been living in our teenage apartment. Estera has a heart of gold and loves Jesus with everything in her. She is a beautiful young lady and we are so excited to see what her future holds.
Upon graduation, students have to take an exam that determines if they are able to enter college or if they will instead attend a trade school. Estera’s exam will take place in the beginning for July. She has been studying all year and receiving extra tutoring. Please pray with us that Estera will successfully pass the three sections of the exam and that God will guide her in her next step of life.
Students like Estera are why we have our After School Program. We believe that more than just three Roma students should graduate each year from high school. We are working hard with the younger students to get them prepared so they can attend high school and one day graduate! Our goal is to integrate the Roma children into Romanian society and see them succeed in life. We were blessed to have BrasovTV join us at our graduation ceremony and share a news report about the event. Please check out the below news program (with English subtitles, thanks to Leo Hagiu).
The end of the school year is an exciting time with our annual graduation ceremony! The After School Program had 130 children graduate into the next school year. Each class, along with the Kid’s Club kids and the Teen Mums, performed a song or a skit. What a wonderful year for our students and teachers. Congratulations to each and every one of you. We sing proudly that we have the “joy, joy, joy, joy down in our hearts!”
In this exclusive, Sarah Vienna interviews her sister Christine Pasta (Tina) about using her baking talents in Romania. Tina brought her supplies all the way from the USA to teach children and teens in Romania about how to decorate cupcakes. Everyone enjoyed learning how to make beautiful cupcakes, and of course eating them! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how you can use your talents to teach, inspire, and love the children in Romania.
In addition to providing love to the babies in the hospital, our volunteers also provide much needed laughter and smiles! How can you help by giggle when you see these two clowns. Thanks girls for providing entertainment to the kids in the hospital, the staff, and to all of us! You are both amazing!
Str. Dealul de Jos 18A
Braşov, 500080 România
- Germany Tour, October 2017: Sarah Vienna “Through My Eyes” October 5, 2017
- Petrisor and Ioana Join FFR’s Team! September 29, 2017
- Summertime Fun with Idaho and FFR September 21, 2017