|January/February 2007 Newsletter|
The House That Faith Built
When I asked my father where we were going on a particularly frigid Tuesday morning, he smiled and said, 'we're going back to Plopenii Mici.' Since I had already been there the previous summer, and there were a few new projects I wanted to visit, I shrugged my shoulders questioningly, and asked 'why?'
'There's something I want you to see' my father said, 'it's the house that faith built, it's the only way I can describe it to you.' We took a few food packages along for good measure, got in the car and began making the drive to Plopenii Mici. Along the way, my father filled me in on the story of a brother by the name of Istrate, who heard we were helping his cousin built a home, and came asking if we could help them as well. This Istrate family has five children, and until recently they lived in what could only be described as a mud shack.
'I told him we didn't have any money set aside for another building project,' my father went on, 'and I explained to him it would be some time before you returned from the States, but he wouldn't take no for an answer. Finally seeing that he would not relent, I asked how much faith he had. Smiling he looked at me and said, 'enough to build a house.' I explained to him there would be no money,' my father continued, 'but that we would be willing to give him any excess construction materials from the other building projects we were currently undertaking. With a big smile on his face, Istrate said, 'that will be more than enough.'
As we crossed the bridge into Plopenii Mici, I saw the house for the first time. Evidently the excess construction material had been enough, the house having been nearly complete, to where it was now livable.
"It was the strangest thing', my father said, 'We had some extra cement from the Stauceni church, then some bricks from a home we had built for a family, some wood beams from another, and it quickly added up. A few builders from the village offered their services for free, and within a month, by faith alone brother Istrate had a new home.'
When we walked into the house, the man's beaming smile was contagious. 'Even though we believe, even though we have faith,' brother Istrate began, 'sometimes God still surprises and amazes us, He is a good God. Come, let me show you the house, let me show you what God has done for me.'
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.
The Hand of Help Orphanage
It doesn't take a keen or perceptive eye to see that we are growing, and rapidly so. Just in the last month ten new children have joined the Hand of Help family, and each one was welcome by the others, as though they were long lost siblings.
Every time I walk into the orphanage, there is at least one new, never before seen face, staring back at me in the dining hall, immediately turning to their neighbor inquiring in hushed tones who I am. 'Oh, that's Mike,' is always the answer, and not really understanding, they nod, and return to their meals.
The newest additions to the family are the Suc siblings, comprising of two boys and one girl. I happened to be at the orphanage the day they were brought to us, and like most all the new children their tattered clothing and unwashed faces spoke of a less than acceptable home life.
Tabita, Daniel, and Samuel are not orphans, in the literal sense of the word. Their parents, Ioan and Domnica are still alive, but both suffer from mental disorders, and psychotic episodes, rendering them incapable of holding down a job, or caring for their children. They lived in a two-room apartment, which was crumbling down around them, with no running water or utilities, until one of the neighbors, concerned for the children's welfare called the Child Protective Services. Once it was ascertained that the conditions were unlivable, and there were signs of physical abuse, they came to us, and asked if we would be willing to take them in. Upon answering in the affirmative, that yes we would be willing to take the three siblings in, the representative of the Child Protective Services simply said, 'I knew you would, we'll be there within the hour.'
Since every child is unique, every child needs to be approached differently when they first arrive, but the one common denominator, the one thing that every child is shown at the Hand of Help orphanage, is love. To many of them being loved, being shown kindness is new and unnerving, but as every child is want to do, they take to it quite readily. The Suc children were no exception, and within a few days they were laughing, and playing with the other children, the things they had suffered such a short time ago, momentarily eclipsed if not altogether forgotten.
Please keep the Hand of Help orphanage in your prayers, as we continue to grow, as new needs arise, and new challenges are met. Thank you for your faithfulness and prayers toward this work, and may He who sees all reward you for all you do.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.
A Desperate Plea
My name is Gabriela, I am twenty-three years old and I live in Botosani. My husband Adrian is twenty-five years old, and together we make up the Dragutu family. We were married on July 4, 2004, after knowing each other for some six years. Shortly after our wedding, I became pregnant, and it seemed all our dreams had come to fruition; there was nothing more we needed or wanted out of life.
We counted the months, then the weeks, and finally the days until we would meet the fruit of our love, until we would meet our child. Everything seemed perfect. The doctor we visited regularly assured us that we would have a perfectly healthy little girl, and that there wasn't even the hint of any irregularity in the ultrasound she performed on a monthly basis.
Time passed, and the long awaited moment arrived. We were the happiest people on earth we were about to become parents. I was in labor for eleven hours, but I considered it was worth it since I was about to give birth to a human being which had been growing inside me, and which I had awaited with such love.
On March 6, 2005 at 9:45 am, in the maternity ward of Botosani hospital, Maria Elisa, our daughter, came into this world, not knowing that life here on earth isn't always the way we would like it to be.
Once I saw her, all the pain I had gone through simply vanished. I felt however, that something wasn't quite right. Maria didn't start to cry like I had heard newborns always did. Finally after what seemed like an eternity I heard her high-pitched cry, and I thought the worst was over.
The nurses allowed me to kiss her, then took her away, informing me that she was in need of oxygen. I was still in the same room where I had given birth, when the pediatrician came and told me that our daughter had been born with a malformation on her spinal column. I felt as though my heart had shattered into a thousand pieces, I couldn't breathe and I began to cry.
After I recovered the doctor came in and explained that the malformation was known as spineabifida, a hole in the spinal column due to the fact that it did not fuse properly during the pregnancy.
The pediatrician recommended a specialist at Iasi children's hospital, and on the night day of her life Maria went into surgery. They informed us that there were risks, namely that she might be paralyzed, but the risks were very minimal, almost nonexistent. After the surgery, everyone was anxious waiting for Maria to come out of the anesthesia, and when she finally woke up, I noticed something truly terrifying. Maria could not move from the waist down. Our worst fears had been realized, and Maria was paralyzed.
It was a truth that was very difficult to accept. In my mind there were only rhetorical questions, the kind everyone asks in times such as these, namely 'why? Why her? Why us?'
I called the doctor, retaining the slightest bit of hope that perhaps it was a passing thing, but he confirmed that the surgery had not gone as planned, and that Maria was indeed paralyzed.
It is very difficult to see your own child suffering and helpless, knowing that you are unable to do anything to help. Every doctor we visited gave us the same curt answer, that in Romania it was impossible to do anything for her.
In my desperation I began writing to clinics outside Romania, among which was one in Beijing, China, and after sending them all the pertinent information, they informed us that they were able to perform the surgery Maria needed and had scheduled us for April 16, 2007.
It was hard to believe that we were able to get a surgery scheduled so readily. That was when we realized that God had neither abandoned nor forgotten us. We were able to sell what we owned, and put together a little money, but not nearly enough to cover the $20,000 it costs to perform the surgery.
You are our last hope, and all we ask is that you consider helping our daughter have a normal childhood. With every step she takes Maria will be grateful, and we thankful to God. Thank you for taking the time to read my letter, and may God bless you.
The black poplar tree that stands watch at the entrance of the Sculeni senior citizen's home, has outlived many generations. To hear some townspeople speak of it, it has been around for well over three hundred years. It stood, patiently so and watched the continual progression of the patch of land that was to become a home for the abandoned, and unwanted.
Once upon a time, the building that houses over forty senior citizens was a grand edifice, having been built as a dance hall for the king and his entourage while Romania was still a monarchy. In the early 1900's it was remodeled, and made into a hospital for terminal patients, and with time, seeing as most of the patients were getting older, it was turned into what it is today, a home for the elderly, who have no other place to go.
We first heard about the Sculeni home, oddly enough, watching the evening news. They were doing a special report on senior citizen's homes, and the deplorable conditions therein, when an elderly man identifying himself as a resident of the Sculeni home, came on and said that although he hadn't eaten in two days, he was thankful to God for what he did have.
Sculeni is a border town, the last stop before one enters the Republic of Moldova, once part of the Soviet Union. It is a good three hour drive from our headquarters in Botosani, but after seeing the disturbing images, we wasted no time in putting together some food packages the next morning and hurrying off to Sculeni, to offer some temporary relief, and see what we could do to help.
When we arrived, it turned out to be worse than we expected, the smells and the peeling paint adding texture to the pictures we had seen the night before. The residents of the Sculeni home, are a mixture of war veterans, some amputees, others with mental disorders, terminally ill patients, and several who are painfully lucid, remembering vividly the betrayal of offspring and family members, when after having signed away their homes or apartments were summarily brought to the steps of the home and left there. Once great men in the eyes of the world, and the simplest of farmers, were now on equal footing, at the mercy of a system that seems to have conveniently forgotten about them.
Although their stories broke our hearts, their gratitude and thanks for what we had brought, warmed our hearts in equal measure. The packages we put together consisted of non-perishable food items, as well as some oranges and bananas, which some of the patients had not eaten in years. We also included a bar of soap, some toothpaste and a toothbrush in every parcel, something the staff was exceedingly thankful for.
There is much need in this home, and as we were speaking to the director, a man who was obviously as heartbroken about the situation as we were, he said, 'we are doing all we can, but we have limited funds, and with a minimal staff there hasn't been much progress.'
When we asked what their needs were, he smiled warmly and said, 'I don't know where to begin, but if you're looking to do something immediate, we need some refrigerators since the residents keep the food they receive under their beds, it spoils, and we have to deal with the aftereffects of them eating the spoiled food.'
After consulting with our accountant, and seeing we had a little extra in the account, we ordered ten refrigerators, one for every dormitory, and the first week of January they were delivered to the Sculeni senior citizen's home.
There is still much that is needed, from the most basic things, like bed linens, clothing, and food, to building supplies such as cement and paint. We have committed to helping as much as we can, for as long as we are able, knowing that if we do not, chances are no one else will. As the man we had seen on television said as we were getting ready to leave, with tears rolling down his face, 'I knew God would not abandon us, I knew I had placed my faith well.'
Visiting such a place, and hearing such stories brings into perspective our own lives, and the true measure in which we have been blessed. Often, we take for granted the greatest of blessings, such as having a family, having someone who loves and cares for us, or merely having a place we can call home. May we be thankful to God for the great things, but also for those small, seemingly insignificant things, whose true worth we realize only when they are no more.
Hand of Help Staff
Parents For A Week
This year the staff at the Hand of Help orphanage decided to do something different, and although it was unexpected it turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. After conferring with the entire staff, they decided that for the holidays each employee would take home two or three children from the orphanage, and keep them until the first of the year. When asked if we would be willing to take two children as well, my wife happily replied that we would. This is how Ana, and Petronela came to stay with us, and if I learned one thing, it's that parenting is not easy.
As it happened the day she arrived, Petronela began to cough, and it turned out it was the flu. For four days my wife was by her bedside making her tea, and giving her cough syrup on such a precise schedule, that one could set their watch to it.
All the children enjoyed their experience, being in a family environment and some even learning to appreciate the life they have at the orphanage. While in the home, all the children were treated equally, even having to do chores, wash dishes, and take out the trash, things with which some of them were not accustomed.
The day before they left, the children also put on a recital, quoting scriptures, singing carols, and reciting poetry, having been allowed to invite a child from their class to attend. Since their parents accompanied most of the children, it was a good opportunity to witness, and speak of the love of God, and the birth of Jesus, the savior of mankind. A round of applause followed every song, and while they were leaving, some of the parents even had tears in their eyes. Sometimes a child more readily moves a heart, than an entire army. The experience in its entirety was a positive one, and we have already decided that we will do likewise this coming year.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.
Although parts of this article were previously posted on our website, I felt it was necessary for me to include it in the newsletter as well. Although the events taking place throughout the world are captivating and interesting, we must look a little closer to home for the truly relevant occurrences as pertains to the children of God. Indeed, we need look no further than the church itself.
I say this with a heavy heart, but it must be said, the hour is coming, it is fast approaching, when those of the house of God must choose a side. Every one of us, claiming the name of Jesus, every one who calls themselves children of God will soon have to choose between being the persecuted or the persecutor. I realize the statement is shocking, but it was not intended for shock value. It is merely a statement of fact, one that is clearly visible taking into consideration the current events unfolding within the modern day church.
When one of America's most influential evangelical leaders can make the statement that Jesus Christ is not the only way to God, when we are willing en masse, to abandon core beliefs, and fundamental doctrine for the sake of the world's acclaim, it is inevitable that those who choose not to compromise the truth, those who choose to stand on the Word of God, will face the wrath of the compromisers.
The modern churches of compromise, and the world, have something in common dear friend, in that they both consider those who remain faithful to Christ, those who choose not to flirt with the world, and sell themselves, a stumbling block in the way of progress, an obstruction in the way of the perfect world they are envisioning, wherein we all serve the same God just by different names, and the deity, relevance, and necessity of Christ is nullified.
Lest we forget, Christ himself warned us of this soon approaching season, wherein the world, and those of the world would hate and despise us for His name's sake.
Luke 21:12, "But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons and you will be brought before kings and rulers for My name's sake."
Matthew 24:9, "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake."
To those that insist on quoting scripture contextually, and think that I just picked two random verses that fit my view of what is about to unfold in the Christian world, please note that both of the aforementioned scriptures were within the context of the end times, they were the words of Jesus when speaking about the end of days, and His glorious return.
Yes, the true followers of Christ, will be hated due to the fact that they are unwilling to go along, just to get along, because they will valiantly continue to claim the ultimate truth that Jesus is the only way to salvation, that Jesus is the only way to God, and no man goes to the Father but by Him.
Very soon the true believer will be seen not only as a hindrance, but a hindrance that must be removed, and those illegitimate children, those who believe they know God, but whom God does not know, will mount a campaign against anyone bold enough to stand in the way of their agenda.
The time has come to choose a side, to know where we stand, to know what we believe, and know why we believe it. The time has come to prepare our hearts for the inevitable fallout, and persecution against the true children of God, to purpose in our hearts, as Daniel did, that we will not defile ourselves, that we will remain faithful, and continue to proclaim the truth no matter the consequence.
Those things which have been foretold, the selfsame things that so many scoffed at not so long ago, no longer seem so impossible, but rather very probable. I know that some are rolling their eyes, saying in their hearts, this could never be, but the times are changing, the shape of things is becoming clearer, and above all else God is not a liar. If we do not heed the warnings of Christ, if we do not prepare ourselves that we may be steadfast in the face of persecution, we have no one to blame but ourselves, for we have been warned.
The promise to the faithful remains true throughout the ages, in that if we confess Christ before men, He will confess us before His Father who is in heaven, but so does the warning, that if we deny Him before men, He will also deny us before His Father.
Today for the sakes of our very souls, we choose with whom we stand. If it be with Christ, and in Christ, know that although in the eyes of the world we may be in the minority, in reality we are in the majority. If it be that we choose to stand with the world, know that although we may have bought ourselves some comforts, and may have spared ourselves some persecution, the price we chose to pay was too high indeed.
I for one made my choice long ago, and echo the words of a mighty man of God in saying, that no matter what may come, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.
If contributions exceed the amount needed to help a family, the extra contributions for that project will be used to help a family in a similar situation. It is our commitment to you before our Lord that we will be faithful in the disbursement of all contributions that we receive.
The Hand of Help Staff.