Romania Mission Trips
Part of our Purpose Statement is to “Love One Another”, to love our neighbour as we love ourselves.
To do this we provide opportunities for young people to serve others. This includes the mission trips we have in Romania with Cry in the Dark. 2015 was the sixth time Revival has had a mission trip to Romania in 10 years. For these trips we link with Cry in the Dark, a charity who has been working with young people in the Bacau region with life limiting and life threatening illnesses since 1998. Cry in the Dark organise the flights, food and itinerary for the week we are in Romania.
So, early on Sunday 23rd August we piled into a couple of minibuses very kindly loaned to us by Woodbridge School and headed to Luton Airport for our flight to Bucharest. On this trip were three leaders and seven young people from Revival, two young people from Woodbridge Quay Church and one from St Felix Church in Rendlesham who we’ve got to know as they join us at vision and with our trips to Soul Survivor. We joined with two young people from Revival who were on a micro-gap (two months) with Cry in the Dark in Romania. It was great to see and feel the sunshine when we arrived in Bucharest and although it is then a long five hour trip to Bacau it is a great way to see some of the wonderful countryside.
After a night’s sleep and breakfast we split into two groups. On Monday, half the group went to the building project and the other half visited some of the Casa Albert care in the community patients in the morning and then visited Casa Lumina in the afternoon. On Tuesday, the groups swapped roles. Casa Lumina was the original project set up by Cry in the Dark. Cry in the Dark was set up to build a home for twenty four children and young people who were orphans and had various physical and mental conditions. There are now only twenty young people but Casa Lumina (Romanian for House of Light) continues to be home for them. Some of the more able ones attend a life skills school during term time but their summer holiday is quite long. Therefore, it is great for them when groups come and spend some time at Casa Lumina. We took some colouring and craft activities. One of the craft activities we took on the Monday were where you colour in the picture and put it on the window so it looks like a stain glass window. It was great to see one of the Casa Lumina young people wear them like jewellery. We also played some games with them and one or two like dancing and encouraged members of the team to join in.
The second project Cry in the Dark set up was to build Casa Albert. This was originally to be a hospice for children and young people with HIV Aids but instead the funding received was to provide care in the community for children and young people with life threatening and life limiting illnesses. Casa Albert as a building was not in vain as this is where groups are able to stay when visiting. It also is the base for the nurses and social workers who visit the patients during the week and on the Monday and Tuesday morning we were able to go visiting with them.
In the summer, when groups are out supporting the work of Cry in the Dark, one of the activities is a building project to help one of the patients, maybe a path to help someone who is in a wheelchair. This year we dug out and made a path for a lad with Down syndrome. His father died a few years ago and so his mum is a single mum who had to give up work in order to look after her son and his two older brothers. Earlier in the summer, Cry in the Dark fixed the outside of the walls on her house where the plaster (probably originally mud with horse manure mixed in) was falling off and now we were building a path from the house to the toilet at the end of the garden. When her house was being fixed she said that she had dreamt of someone fixing her house and “now my dreams have come true.”
On Wednesday and Thursday, Casa Albert has a Day Centre where they bring in some of the young people under their care to the centre. The young people might need to see one of the staff, a doctor, nurse or social worker, but basically they hang out together. For some, this is the only community they have. Again, our group was split into two, with half helping out at the Day Centre and half returning to finish off at the building project.
Katy tells us her experience of the Day Centre:
Casa Albert is a day centre for children, which runs every Wednesday and Thursday. Whilst there they get to spend time with each other and receive any care from the nurses that they might need. On the Wednesday we were put in charge of running the activities for the children. During the morning we spent time outside with them on the trampoline and play area, as well as learning how to play Romanian card games. Then the ‘Horse Man’ came and gave the children horse rides, which they all thoroughly enjoyed. We were also left to come up with their ‘Chapel Time’ (bible study). We chose to do Jonah and the Whale, where we acted out the story and then played whale related games and sung animal songs. After they had their lunch and we got some time to have ours and to gain some more energy, we spent more time playing with them and getting to know them more.
Whilst I was there I spent a lot of time with a little two year old girl called Sabrina, who was thought she might have contracted HIV from her mum. Luckily she hasn’t contracted it from her mum, however there is another baby due to come into her family so they want to make sure this baby is lucky not to contract it too. Sabrina was a really cheery little girl, and loved bubbles, as I managed to spend ages blowing bubbles for her to try and pop.
Another thing I spent a lot of time doing during the day was playing a card game called ‘Macau’. It is like the card game Uno but with normal playing cards and with far more rules which I don’t think I ever learnt properly. But what struck me about this was the fact I could hardly speak Romanian and they could speak hardly any English but we could still do lots together, and learn games with each other by using actions and pointing at things.
The whole week was an amazing experience and has made me realise how lucky we are living in England and how much we take simple things for granted.
On the Thursday, the building project was at Casa Albert and extending the concrete base around the back of the building.
Friday morning was a bit of a trek in the minibuses to visit Ungereni. In previous years this was an orphanage and one of the places the young people in Casa Lumina were housed while they were waiting for their new home to be built. This is how Cry in the Dark heard about the people being cared for in Ungereni and it is now a home for adults with various physical and mental disabilities. We went to spend time with them, doing some drawing and colouring, and we also gave then some biscuits. We were shown around the different rooms and buildings so we could hand out the food we had brought. They don’t have much here but they are always pleased to see visitors and the staff give a great deal to do what they can with limited resources. One thing they do with some of the more able residents is the “special Olympics”, presumably some local or national para Olympics. It was a real privilege to witness the pride that all the residents showed when the team returned, some with medals for their achievements.
On the way back to Bacau from Ungereni, we were taken to the sight that the mayor has given to Cry in the Dark to build a children’s hospice. Funding has been secured from Velux to build and run the hospice for three years and it is hoped building will start late 2015 or early 2016. It was fantastic to hear about the next stage of Cry in the Dark’s work and see where it will be. We spent a bit of time praying for Cry in the Dark and for the site of the hospice. In the afternoon, we had some free time and some of us went to a high ropes park.
During the summer, while teams are in Romania, Cry in the Dark run a kids club on Saturday mornings at Negustorului. This is a gypsy village that has no running water and amenities and is up a steep, dirt track. The people here have very little and do not have much sense on community. Cry in the Dark are trying to do things that will encourage community between the families and also have some patients in the village. We planned to do some face painting, colouring and games with the children. However, this was a particularly difficult session as the children did not want to share the things we had brought and instead grabbed as much as they could to take away for later. However, we were able to spend a couple of hours playing games with them.
In the afternoon, Steve, the founder and CEO of Cry in the Dark, took us to the sight of the original orphanage where the young people now in Casa Lumina were found. This was a moving time as the story of the origins of Cry in the Dark was put in some context. As it was a hot day, some then returned to Casa Albert for one last swim in the pool and some had one last visit to Casa Lumina.
And then, the week was over all too quickly. We were booked into an early flight from Bucharest back to Luton and so it meant leaving Casa Albert at 1:30am. It was a busy week, but there were a number of blessings as well, including the pool at Casa Albert which was always welcome after a busy, hot day. We also shared a devotional time together each day that was led by a couple of the young people. All of those who went on the trip found it very moving and we all feel privileged to have been able to go.
Please pray for Cry in the Dark and the guys over there, or you could donate, please visit www.cryinthedark.org for more details.
Please contact St John's Youth Pastor Andy Williams or the Church Office for more information about events & actvities run by Revival Youth.
The people who went on the trip were:
Leaders: Andy Williams, Jackie Foden and Mark Etheridge
Young People: Dan Howard, Sarah Lumley, David Nunn and Sarah Plummer (returning from the 2014 trip), Grace Englert, Harry Jacobs, James Ling, Issy Garrett, Emma Nagle and Katy Jones