So I said ‘yes’. And then I panicked. What had I got myself in for? Running a summer camp in a village? I didn’t even speak Romanian! What was I thinking? I was no dance, music or art expert and I had never ventured into village life since moving to Romania.
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
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 email@example.com to see how you can use your talents to teach, inspire, and love the children in Romania.
We first met Ana Lagoy at the Benefit Concert help in The Woodlands, Texas, in May 2016 which raised over $20,000 for FFR’s projects. The theme of the concert was “unWANTED”… the emphasis being on WANTED because FFR’s goal is to make every child who may feel unwanted to instead feel wanted and loved. Ana attended the concert and felt led to share her testimony with Sarah Vienna. Ana was a Romanian orphan who learned that she is not only WANTED by her adopted parents, but also by the Heavenly Father. Ana has allowed us to share her testimony so that others can understand how important adoption is and how powerful God’s love is.
Unfortunately at this time international adoptions are closed in Romania. Please join us in praying that laws will be changed so the over 60,000 orphans in this country can finally find loving homes and families. Many kids like Ana want nothing more than to feel WANTED.
Melanie Gray, a returning volunteer at Firm Foundations Romania, invited Sarah Vienna to speak and sing at her church’s Women’s Breakfast. Sarah had the opportunity to share her testimony of how she followed God’s calling which led her to Romania. The event was meant to inspire and affirm the women in England to follow God’s calling.
Melanie Gray has made numerous trips to Romania in the past few years to volunteer with FFR. She has a passion and a heart for the children, and she wants to share more about what FFR is doing so she has organized for Sarah Vienna to present at her church’s Women Breakfast. In Melanie’s own words, here is a description of the event:
An invitation if you want to find out more about the beautiful country of Romania, what motivates me and many others to volunteer and, most importantly, what it is like to be a disadvantaged child in Romania today. Sarah Vienna has been living and working in Romania for over 12 years leading Firm Foundations Romania and she will be in my church – Guildford Baptist, Millmead – on Saturday March 18th from 9.45 – 12 noon talking about her work and her music. You are all very welcome.
If you need any more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can put you in touch with Melanie. We hope that you will spread the word to anyone who is in the area and we look forward to seeing you all there!
This year the theme of the Alliance for Romania Without Orphans conference was ‘infinitely more.’ Two of our volunteers attended the conference, which focused on the verse James 1:27, ‘Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.’
While not everyone is called to foster or adopt, the aim of the conference was to discuss adoption and fostering in Romania and how it can be encouraged. The best option for a child is to be raised in a family, not an institution, no matter how small the institution is. The conference included social workers, foster carers, adoptive parents, members of NGOs, church leaders, political figures and experts in the areas of supporting children who’ve experienced trauma.
It was very encouraging to hear how progress is being made across Romania, such as a new law being implemented reducing the time a child is in the system before they are adopted and plans to build up more creative profiles for the children placed for adoption who are recognized as hard to place. There is also evidence of various adoptions arising as a result of the conference and the alliance raising awareness across the country. However, there are still many areas to that can be improved including: ensuring legislation is implemented properly, increasing the number of people with specialist expertise in the field, and creating a plan for children abandoned in hospitals with no identity.
A big part of the discussion was the role of the church in this. In Romania, as well as worldwide. It was commented that if every church in Romania adopted 2 children, there would be no more orphans in Romania. Ideas were shared about how members of a church can be involved in adopting a child, whether it be helping to make dinners for a family who have adopted, offering to babysit for the family or offering financial support to the family, or simply sharing more information about adoption in the church. And also how churches can support NGOs, and vice versa with NGOs offering expertise and churches offering nurture to children and families.
The parting message of the conference was how we can all do exceedingly, abundantly more than we can imagine according to His power in us.
Would you consider how you can support adoption and fostering? This Sunday is Orphan Sunday across many areas across the world, including Romania. Can you help us share this?
~ Written by Sarah Peters
On Friday night, Texas folk enjoyed an evening of music from Sarah Vienna and Dallas String Quartet. FFR’s first Benefit Concert was a huge success! We are thankful for those who helped and participated, along with those who came to the concert and donated. We know not everyone could attend so please enjoy some highlights of the event.
If you are interested in hosting a concert in your area, please let us know!
Firm Foundations Romania is hosting its first ever Benefit Concert. The event is on Friday night (May 20) at 7pm in the Woodlands, Texas. Tickets to the concert are $25 each and all proceeds go to support our projects in Romania. Please join us for an evening that will be encouraging and inspiring!
Our goal for the concert is to raise $30,000 that will go towards increasing our After School Program. If you aren’t able to attend the concert, you can still partake by making a donation here.
Please spread the word!
- We are looking for someone to volunteer 3 to 4 hours a week to assist Firm Foundations Romania with social media needs such as website modifications, blog posts, newsletter editing, and fund raising marketing.
- We are looking for individuals to come and help renovate our Support Center, located on the hospital grounds, where we have meetings, store donations and diapers, and plan to make an office space. Projects include plastering, painting, plumbing, etc.
- We are also looking to employ Romanian-speaking individuals for our After School Program, our High School Mentorship Program, and as a Den Mother. These is a full time paid positions which include Carta de Munca.
If you are interested, please contact us at email@example.com. We ask that you pass this message to anyone who might be able to assist in one of these areas, and we look forward to hearing from you!