Doamne ajuta! (May God help us!)
First I want to acknowledge that I would not be here another year if it was not for our communication through prayer, and God’s love and mercy for us. Through your sacrifices and offerings my ministry can progress and adapt more into the Romanian life. I am touched in my heart through your participation with me, especially those supporters who have committed to monthly donations to make it possible.
After Pascha my goals had slightly changed their focus, as learning about the culture and doing ministry are now on par with each other. What this means is that I decreased my language lessons to three days a week and increased my ministry work.
In my first year in Romania, I was learning and assisting with minimal responsibility at the Protection of the Theotokos Family Center (PTFC). It was crucial to remain free from any heavy responsibilities because I wanted to focus on learning the language and local customs so that I could understand Romanians by actively integrating into their way of life. But this takes a life time as well. I am trying to do the best I can. Now that I have entered my second year of my first term, I have moved to the St. Dimitrie Program while still offering some service to duty at the PTFC. This program is a daytime social services and addictions counseling center targeting the homeless and impoverished in and around Cluj-Napoca. It is also very involved in doing trainings for other archdioceses so that they can start similar programs.
Even though I don’t have a background in social work, God put me in an area where there was a need. Through the help of my supporters, I bought a used car in August 2009, and I have been furthering my services to the St. Dimitrie Program by using it for driving to various hospitals, a prison, and even to the local mall to pick up food packages for the poor. I also travel with staff members to conduct group meetings and informational groups. In the midst of this driving, I am organizing recreational activities at a tuberculosis recovery hospital for the patients that come to the 12 Step group meetings. I like what I am doing, and I am using every bit of the language skills that I have acquired during my first year. I am humbled when I interact with Romanians because I still have so much to learn about both the culture and the language. I hope to keep the attitude of a student as long as I am in the missionary field, and throughout my life.
Usually, the toughest part for me is to get patients motivated to participate in the activities. We play ping-pong, croquet and badminton, and mount icons. I was told by Floyd Frantz, the Director of the St. Dimitrie Program and Missionary Field Team Leader, that a very good thing is to get them to laugh and smile. Many of the patients have problems that we cannot solve. We can, however, help them along the way as they solve their problems on their own. We do this by providing positive activities, including involvement with the local Church and the priests. This gives them a new sense of hope and strength as they strive to help themselves while working on their recovery from addiction or alcoholism.
Through the grace of God and your prayers, I hope to continue my second year as a servant of Christ in my missionary ministry. I am praying to the Holy Trinity and Mother of God for guidance about what will happen next, after I finish my first 2-year term. Please pray for this with me from now on, and that especially when it comes down to the moment of decision making, I will be attentive to my heart and hear God’s communication within me to chose the journey that would lead me to an even closer relationship with Him.
OCMC Missionary to Romania