Saturday, July 24, 2010

ten year old boys

Toward the end of my time in Romania, I spent one exhausting day surrounded by ten year old boys from three different orphanages... fourteen 10 year old boys!

While their aches and pains are real- the consequences of abandonment, hurt, and even abuse- these little boys couldn't help but bring a smile to everyone's face.

I've come to believe that most ten year old boys have some similar characteristics...

For instance, ten year old boys love to climb trees:

They take games very seriously:

They run with abandon:

And they will stop everything to wrestle:

Ten year old boys love gadgets:

They can be serious when they need to be:

But they never miss an opportunity to clown around:

Ten year old boys- no matter what country they live in, what language they speak, or what clothes they wear, all love super heroes:

Enjoy the ten year old boys in your life- and remember to say a little prayer for some of these ten year old boys growing up in orphanages in Romania!


Thursday, July 15, 2010


14 kids from 3 different orphanages arrived three days ago at our make-shift, backyard camp.  The tents were
pitched, the firewood stacked, and lots of food was waiting to be consumed.  The smiles were bright, the laughter loud, and the competition during the games was mostly friendly. 

I've participated in many a Romanian camp over the years.  I've played tag to my heart's content, made more friendship bracelets than I could ever wear at one time, and endured so many goodbyes with the kids that I was pretty convinced this camp would be the same ole' same ole'.

Of course I was wrong.

I hadn't anticipated seeing this face:

Mihaela is around 12 years old.  She looks maybe 7.  Mihaela is a tiny princess, with dainty features and a round face that is quick to smile.  She knows her manners- says please and thank you- and is considerate of other kids around her.  She has seven brothers.  Six of them are older and live in the orphanage with her while the youngest is home with their mother.  The story is that their mother wrote her phone number on a piece of paper, handed it to her children and dropped them off on the steps of the orphanage.  You would never know this child has faced such stark abandonment from her demeanor though.  Throughout camp, Mihaela would crawl into my lap, or ask me politely for a friendship bracelet.  As I was taking photos, she peered through my camera, with the strap around both of our necks.  She leaned her back against me and would sweetly peer up at me whenever she took a photo.

Then there's this face:

Marga is 11 years old.  She and her brother have lived in the orphanage for most of their childhood.  They have been fortunate to have been kept together and are very close.  Marga decided I was 'her person' at camp.  I'm not exactly sure how it happened- one minute I was running crafts or calling the kids to dinner, and the next minute I had a little girl wrapped around my waist.  Constantly planting kisses on my cheek and never out of reach of my hand, Marga followed me around during camp.  Our last day of camp, we swam with the kids at the Team House pool.  Marga's tiny voice was constantly calling, " Anna!  Watch me swim! "  "Now watch me swim again!"  "Did you see me??"  I 'bravo-ed' and 'forte bined' as much as I could and she would look up at me with that crooked grin.  After swimming, she climbed into my lap and pressed her cheek against my face.  She wrapped her tiny arms tightly around my neck and refused to release me.  When I finally pried her fingers open she glanced mischievously up at me and then buried her face into my shoulder.  As the time for the kids to depart drew nearer, Marga became even more weary of letting go of my hand.  She kissed me repeatedly, and continued to subject me to more gut-wrenching hugs.  We finally made it out to the van where we deposited her bags in the back.  She kissed me again, and hung from my neck as I lifted her off the ground in a bear hug.  She took her seat in the van and immediately buried her face in her hands as fat tears streaked down her cheeks.  In the commotion of loading the other kids, I couldn't get back to Marga for a few moments.  In those moments, I realized that once again, my heart had broken for a little Romanian girl.  The crowd at the van calmed down a bit and I was able to lean in, give Marga one last kiss and tell her goodbye.  As they drove away, Marga chanced one last glance at me and offered a tiny smile.  I made sure to stand in the road and wave until the van turned out of sight.

Tomorrow a new group of kids will come to camp.  Same ole' same ole?  I don't think so...


white t-shirts, blue RIT dye, a bunch of orphans

Someone donated boxes and boxes of plain white t-shirts to H2H... boxes and boxes!  As they were unloaded from the container, many of us wondered what would become of all these shirts.  Really, how many XXL white t-shirts can an organization that works with orphans really need?  Thankfully, they were not all XXL- but a pretty good mix of sizes...

But anyway, tie-dye was the inevitable path that many of these shirts were to take.  Our camp theme was Under the Sea so out came the boxes of blue RIT dye.

Three boxes of dye, a couple dozen t-shirts, and many blue-handed orphans later, we had a great craft, a new article of clothing, and a great memory to share... all because of a seemingly strange donation~

Sunday, July 11, 2010


News Flash!  Anna is in Romania!  I know, I didn't give any of you any warning that I was traveling again... and my blog has been sorely neglected for quite awhile.... but here I am, back in Romania.  I was part of an all-girl team that  held camps for teenage Romanian orphaned girls.  It was a life changing experience for me and hopefully for the girls that came as well.... here are a few of my thoughts from our last session of camp... a few 'stories.'

Her name is Ionella...

With fire in her eyes and a contagious smile, she is quick to laugh and even quicker to skip around the room like a little pixy.  When forced to sit still for a moment she folds her legs under herself while her hands are constantly in motion- playing with her hair, twisting a blade of grass into a braid, or waving at passer-byers.  But despite the constant motion and impish expressions, Ionella is eager to share when asked about her life, her fears, her desires.  She seeks out approval but still answers honestly.  She has a boyfriend, but boys are still a mystery to her.  She knows all the right answers to questions about God but is hesitant to affirm a relationship with Christ.  Her bright spirit remains innocent, but the time is quickly approaching when she will have to make very real decisions about her future.  Though she forced a laugh when saying goodbye, tears still glistened at the corners of her eyes.

Her name is Mariana...

She comes from a difficult place- an orphanage of all girls, left to fend for themselves with barely the basic necessities met.  After a childhood of living in the orphanage, she is behind in her basic education and will probably struggle her entire life to survive in Romanian society.  Quiet and withdrawn, Mariana spends most of her time in the shadows, always watching.  After a day of pampering with professional make up and hair styling, Mariana's smily finally shone through.  Her outward beauty was radiant... now if only she will come to recognize the same radiant beauty inside of her as well.

Her name is Ani...

She has spent years measuring up to other girls and always falling short.  She has never been the brightest, the most beautiful, or the one with the most sparkling personality.  And after years of trying so hard, she has become self-critical and resigned.  She quietly makes comments about her figure, her hair, and her face- that they are never good enough.  After four days of reiterating that her worth comes from her Creator, we finally witnessed a crack in the self degrading exterior of Ani.  For a moment, she peers into the mirror in admiration, only to quickly return to the criticisms of her appearance.

Her name is Ana...

She is tall and elegant with dark hair that cascades down her back.  Her sweet personality and loving attitude outshine any exterior beuaty though.  A year or so ago she realized her need for a Savior and has since spent her evenings reading Scripture and her days asking questions.  Because of her decision, her future holds promise and the hope she has is envied by other girls in the orphanage.

Her name is Ioana...

She is petite in all the right places, beautiful, and looked upon with desire.  Her looks snagged the cute boy at the orphanage and she now strives to please him in order to fill the hole in her life.  She has heard all the Bible lessons and knows the right answers, yet she continues to seek relationships, stylish clothes, and attention.  Is it possible the words spoken at camp about purity touched Ioana's heart?  Will the truth that God is enough for her sink in and change her life?

Her name is Anda...

A tiny girl with a broad smile, Anda is never the center of attention but still manages to stay in the 'cool group.'  Though 18 years old, she is extremely impressionable.  When hearing that God desires a relationship with her, Anda was eager to learn more.

Her name is Monica...

Always in stylish, form-fitting clothing and a very poofy hair style, Monica places external beauty above all other things in life.  She is always eager to have her photo taken in a variety of poses.  While she fluttered her eyelashes and fluffed her hair during our discussion, I wonder if the truth that beautiful people have no more worth in God's eyes than anyone else penetrated her heart and head.

Her name is Claudia...

She is astoundingly beautiful but completely oblivious to this fact.  She too has grown up in an all-girl orphanage with sub-standard living conditions and has survived by staying in the shadows.  Once the cute little girl with over-large eyes, Claudia is now a stunning beauty who is often endanger of attracting the wrong kind of attention.  Will she recognize that God created her for a purpose and that He promises to never leave her- no matter what befalls her as she continues to mature?

Her name is Estera...

Her strong features and athletic build are easily overlooked by her strong voice and continuously running commentary on life.  Often the middle of a joke, Estera is always looking for a laugh.  She entertained everyone but was compelled to fall silent when the discussions turned serious.  She discovered that she needn't not constantly entertain to receive positive attention while staying with us, but she still managed to keep a smile on most of our faces most of the time.

Her name is Elena...

Extremely shy, often just mentioning her name is enough to turn her pale cheeks a shade of dark scarlet.  Years ago she committed her life to Christ, and despite the unpopularity it has brought her, Elena spends her Sundays in a tiny village church all on her own.  She has chosen to make her faith her own and is eager to grow deeper in her relationship with Christ. She is sweet and considerate- and made sure to hand write notes of appreciation to most of the team working with the girls.  When she delivered my note, she thrust a folded piece of paper into my hand and quickly disappeared before I could take a second look.