You might call it a ritual. I’m snuggled in bed with my laptop, my pup, and a cup of coffee. I’ve read scripture and journaled my confessions and hopes and dreams. Outside of the tapping of my fingers on the keyboard and the birdsong outside, it’s quiet. So very quiet.
There are suitcases to be packed and itineraries to be printed and reminders to be emailed. But right now, in this moment before the moments, I simply ponder what it will be like to dance with orphans again.
This time, the orphans are Romanian. It’s a land I don’t know. A language I don’t know. Gosh, I’ve never even met the people on my team. But it feels so familiar already – it feels like home.
Romania has the largest orphan population of any country in Europe. The history of neglect in the country is heart-wrenching, and though some steps have been taken to turn the tide, there are still far too many kids in institutions. Add to that a high rural poverty rate and far too many kids being raised by moms who struggle to provide food and shelter, and the picture becomes clear: Romania needs help.
This past year, I watched as several Texas churches made a commitment to love Romania. Each of the churches had done work independently, most working through a nonprofit organization that made sure time and money were being used for good causes in the country. The nonprofit then felt led to shift its focus away from Romania; the churches didn’t. And they did something beautiful. They worked together, forming an alliance called Red Page Ministries. Leaders from the churches prayed together and planned together.
Walls for the first floor of House of Joy.
Because of their commitment, a place called the House of Joy is becoming a reality in the small village of Susani. It will be a place where kids can play, where people can learn, where communities can receive care. In May, a team of folks will travel to build a basketball court. In June and July, teams will go to help with construction.
Pastor Ovidiu Petric.
And tomorrow, I’ll join a team that will work with teens at a camp led by two amazing people, Ovidiu and Adina Petric. This Romanian couple is passionate about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the House of Joy was their vision years ago. Though it’s too cold and snowy for us to work on building the physical House of Joy, our team gets to work with the Petrics on building small “houses of joy” in those kids.
I know I’m going to fall in love. In fact, I think I already have. I know I’m going to want just one more day. I know I’m going to want to adopt one (or more) of those teens. And I know my heart will be stretched, shattered, and grown just a little more.
I pray there’s a next trip to Romania for me. And I pray on the next trip, you might want to come too. Building the House of Joy just might build little “houses of joy” in both of us.
Thanks for your prayers for our trip, and for the kids we’ll serve. And if you would, please pray for internet connectivity along the way, so we can share stories, photos, and prayer requests from the journey.