This experience was wonderful and life-changing, and I truly appreciate the opportunity that I was given to do God's work.
The landscape passed slowly outside my window while I stared at the distant rolling hills and desolate cropland. As we drove over coarse roads that were lined with ascetic, barren trees, I searched my mind, in hopes of preparing myself for our week’s work. I was unsure of what to expect upon arrival at the orphanage, and my uncertainty was unsettling.
Our van soon pulled up to the orphanage, whose white, run-down buildings stood in stark contrast to the vivid, blue sky. As we piled out of the van and began unloading our supplies, a few children’s heads peaked out from behind a curtain on a first floor window, and children slowly crept out of the orphanage and stood on the outskirts of the playground to reticently observe us. Upon seeing the children, my apprehension was suddenly intertwined with excitement, as I realized the amazing opportunity I had been given to minister to these children, and this nervousness completely dissolved when dozens of children began approaching me, requesting to help us stain beds. With smiles on their faces and an intense desire to help, the children quickly began assisting us. They spoke in Romanian to one another, and I could occasionally decipher the word “American,” as the children spoke about us, casting clandestine smiles and glances our way. Although I could understand little of what was being said that day, I had no doubt that the children were enjoying themselves, perhaps for the first time in a long time. On the ensuing days, as we arrived at the orphanage, a handful of children consistently stood outside, eagerly awaiting our arrival, and the rest of the week was spent removing old beds from rooms and installing new ones. After completing the beds, we prayed over each bed, and often, the children would come by our side, inquisitively looking at us as they also folded their hands in prayer. As I prayed over the beds, a tear rolled down my cheek when I reflected on the children’s life after my departure, but I was comforted knowing that these new beds would provide the children with a renewed comfort and hope for the future.
Insights into the Lifestyle at the Orphanage:
When I first entered one of the dorms at the orphanage, I scanned my surroundings, hoping to truly understand the lifestyle of these children. The foyer was small and slightly darkened, for electricity was not utilized during the daytime. Directly ahead of me stood a concrete staircase with uneven steps and a thin, unsteady, metal railing lined each side. To my left, a broom that was no taller than two feet laid against a light-blue wall. The discovery of this small broom, purely a simple household item, instantly revealed to me part of the daily life at the orphanage, for it reminded me of an object that would have been employed many decades ago, rather than in the 21st century. Observing the broom, the steps, and the sunlit walls of the building, I felt as though I had been transported back in time, to an age where individuals made a living with very little. Throughout the entire trip, as I observed numerous situations (i.e. antiquated beds, horse drawn wagons, and old metal cookware) I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was experiencing a lifestyle that had long become extinct in the United States. The antediluvian materials that were used daily at the orphanage continually reminded me just how little these orphans had.
Experiences with the Children:
Incessantly smiling and staying by our side, many orphans assisted us for countless hours each day, yearning to help with even the smallest tasks. Whether we were assembling bed frames or putting sheets on the mattresses, there was never a dearth of young, willing hands, and the children’s excitement continually impressed me. Throughout the week, I observed a transformation in many children. No longer did their eyes reflect a dark and heartbreaking soul, but instead many of the children’s eyes sparkled with a renewed life. One child’s eyes in particular dramatically changed when she showed me a gift she had received from another member of our team. Her entire demeanor had transformed; a true smile appeared across her face for the first time that week, and her eyes sparkled in the sunlight, reflecting a revived anticipation of the future. The face of this child, along with many of the other children, will always be remembered
I relish in having the opportunity to interact with these children and touch their lives in a small way. While I will never know exactly how large of an impact I had on these children’s lives, I pray that in some small way I changed their life, for they have certainly changed mine.