Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Serving Romania

Did any of you know I used to live in Romania?
Well, I am guest posting {here} today and I think you should check it out to see more of how God made an IMPACT on my life while I was working at a children's hospital in Iasi, Romania.


I once wore a latex glove on my head. 
Why in the world would I want to do that?
Don’t you know the feeling that comes in your heart
when you see a child smile?
I find it absolutely fascinating to see a child 
light up just because I make a funny face
or blow up a balloon?

Imagine this:
You are a child.
A small, very alone child.
You live in a hospital.
You see the yellow curtains and yellow walls and chipped paint off crib bars all day.
You smell:
the daily porridge,
the pungent chemical detergent left by that dirty mop,
the sweat of the child next to you,
and the stench of your own infection.
You want out, you want home, you want parents.
Sad, pretend story, isn’t it?
Well, its just about to get sadder.
This story was/is the reality for many of children we worked with in a children’s hospital in Iasi, Romania.
And, for them, a home to return to was not an option.
Neither was it an option for the many orphans at Section 2, the orphanage building we interned at for 4 months.
What do I mean by {we}?
That’s right.  Jackie and me.  
(And 8 other girls from our BYU program.)
Rewind 7 years ago.
Jackie Sarager (then Fielding) and I stepped off a train in Iasi Romania.  
We were there to serve as interns at a children’s orphanage and children’s hospital.
You can read about the insane dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and why Romania has an orphan crisis here.

And though Jackie and I participated in this service 7 years ago,
I think this video offers a relatively appropriate message concerning the current orphan situation in Romania today.

So, why I am writing about the children of Romania on Impact Week?
Well, after perusing through the facts and background concerning these children and their abuse by the system and/or workers 
and their lack of resources 
and their lack of parents/loving caregivers
 you might think that these children are God forsaken... 
Well.  If you think that, I am here to tell you, you’re wrong. 
God NEVER forgets these children.
Have you ever seen this picture before?
Despite their subjection to abuse, this is how I imagine God watches over the Romanian orphan children every night.
Let me tell you a story. 

One day I was working the halls of the Iasi children’s hospital.
My daily routine was to visit a/some ward(s) 
(there were about 3 wards on each of the 7+ floors)
and ask the hospital workers, are there any “copi fara mama sau tata”?
[children without parents]?
The nurses would usually direct me to one or two or three or more children in their ward whose parents had left for an extended period of time or otherwise abandoned their child(ren) in the hospital.
On a daily basis I was delivered to the presence of the most precious individuals.
Once I was introduced to a lone orphan with cerebral palsy.
Once to a baby on her death bed.
Once to a perfectly healthy 7 month old orphaned boy with a happy smile on his face 
[I called him Charlie].
Once I was introduced to Radu*.  
Radu was three.
His lack of eye contact was characteristic of a disorder labeled “reactive attachment” most often [in case of Romanian orphans] caused by lack of attachment to any loving caregiver.

Radu had been in the hospital for months (at least since he was two years old ) because of a terrible home accident:  He had drunken a bottle of lye he found from under a neighbor’s kitchen sink. 

Lye is something that can cause this
burn to the outside of your flesh...

It is also something that caused
this to Radu after he swallowed it:
Radu survived this condition (before his surgery and surgery stitches) for months.  
without a parent.  Without a loving caregiver by his side.  
And then I found him. 
And the very day I found him [sitting in a puddle of his own pee and poop]
I turned on my tape recorder.
And it played church hymns 
(that was what happened to be in my tape player that day)
and I had the spirit witness to me-
so strongly, without a doubt in my mind-
the spirit told me a message from God:
“This is my son.  
I love him.
I have not forgotten him.”
And at that time I promised Radu-
there and then-
I would do everything I could to help him.
I wouldn’t leave him.
And God loved him.
{note: I told him all of this in English so I don’t think he had a clue the meaning of the words coming out of my mouth}
He didn’t look at me.
He never looked me in the eyes.
He didn’t smile- not that first day.
Not when I changed his cloth diaper and changed all his sheets.
Not the day I brought him commercial diapers.
Not the day I brought him a stuffed animal from home.
Not the day I sang to him, or drew him pictures, or danced with the other kids in the room [he, himself, could not stand on his spindly, little legs].
Or visited him day after day after day.
Not when I asked every nurse and pestered every person in a white coat:
 “when will Radu get his surgery?  What can we do to save his throat?  So what if he is gypsy or forsaken by his parents... find me a doctor now!!!” 
Not until...
one day, he was gone.
He was removed from his bed.
And I begged and begged and inquired of all the nurses, “Where is Radu???”
Finally, with prodding, I learned
“He has been taken to the surgery ward.”
Yes!  Finally!  He will receive surgery!
But once I found him on the surgery ward... I learned there would be more waiting.
Waiting in line- that was the story for a gypsy kid
who had no parent or representative [until me].
But that day (the day I found him in the surgery ward, in a room all alone)
I blew bubbles.  And...
he smiled.
He looked at me....
in the eyes.
And he smiled again.
This is a long story.  
And I could make it even longer.
But I won’t.
I will just tell you:  he finally got his surgery.
And his throat and neck was made whole again.
And they stopped constantly prodding him with a needle in order to find a desperate vein.
And he finally tasted real food.
The food went on his tongue!
And he swallowed it!
And he got better.
And he healed emotionally.
And played with his stuffed animal.
And he colored a picture.
his Dad came.
His Dad came to get him!
And I met Radu’s father.
And Radu went home
we stayed in touch.
And Radu grew strong.
And Radu walked again.
And Radu ate again.
And got plump... again ;)
And Radu had a family... again.
And that is how God made an impact in my life.
He gave me the opportunity to know and see Radu grow
and be saved and be loved and be helped through the service of another spiritual sibling.  

And he also showed me that
No child is left behind.  He loves and cares for, deeply, every single human being.
if you were a child in a Romanian hospital...
 don’t you think it would be funny to see 
a foreign, blonde girl
with pasty, white skin
who spoke an intelligible language,
who came to visit you every day in that deplorable place,  
who wore blue tent-like scrubs on all her visits
who wore a latex glove on her head...
wouldn’t that interaction, that change of pace she offered...
wouldn’t it make 
I am grateful to God that it did 
make so many children smile.
Don’t ever forget these children;
The lost and forgotten children.
Don’t ever.


*Name has been changed to protect child confidentiality.


What I Did Today said...

That is an amazing story CK. I'm so glad to hear that you were there for Radu. We're so often called to be God's hands and I love to read stories about that. I'm so glad that there was a happy ending to this one. I've got some tugging in my heart right now. Those poor babies...

Jenn Erickson said...

Some of my ancestors were from Romania and I've always wanted to travel there. I'm looking forward to reading about your experience there. What an altruistic mission!

scrapwordsmom said...

What a charming little blog you have. So whimsical and fun!!!

Stopping by from Toucan Tribe!!:)


Liz said...

Oh my! My sister in law moved here from Romania when she was 13 or 14! And her eldest brother, his wife and their daughter JUST got their visa to move to the US.

Jocelyn Christensen said...

That was a great post my friend~

Jackie said...

Your post was incredible. So are you.

This blog is in my top 5! I love it over here!

the sleepy time gal said...

no way! my husband served a mission there and my father's side of the family is from romania!!!


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