|December 2007/January 2008 Newsletter|
Trip to Romania
Liliana had no idea when she woke up that God had heard her cry and a Hand of Help was on the way. This particular day was extremely cold and windy. When we arrived Liliana's two children were warming themselves by the burner on their propane cook stove. The room was full of propane fumes. If it weren't for the large cracks in the walls, they might have been asphyxiated. Liliana didn't even have a jacket. We asked the pastor of the nearby church who led us to her house if she could sleep at the church until we could buy a woodstove, and firewood for her, which he readily agreed to. With some warm clothes, some food, and the news of the woodstove and firewood, Liliana had a beautiful smile and praises to God flowing from her lips.
When we visited Anisoara Danilet last May she told us she was applying for a job, but was concerned about walking the 4 kilometers to and from the village where the work was. When we saw her in October she shared with us that others had offered money 'under the table' to get the job, but she had turned to God in prayer. There was an exam given to the applicants and she received the highest score and was awarded the job. She has been paying a lady for a ride to work and was thrilled when we offered to buy her a new bike. She's very happy that she is now able to provide for herself and her two sons. Her husband left her as a result of her becoming a Christian.
Five families came to Hand of Help from the small village of Baranca (on the border near the Ukraine) seeking help in having a well dug for them to share. They were walking about 300 yards to the village well numerous times each day. After the well was dug, we went to visit and take pictures. These families met us with tears in their eyes and praises to God on their lips. They said, "We have no words to express the joy and gratitude that's in our hearts."
There is just as much joy in our hearts as there is in theirs for having the opportunity to be empty channels through which God's love and life could flow. To drive off with smiles on faces and arms waving brings more fulfillment and joy than our hearts can express. What a blessing it is to be a blessing to someone else.
Dave, Cheryl, and Hosanna Edman
Miracles happen every day, if we choose to see them. Often we overlook the myriad of small miracles that occur all around us, waiting, hoping to see the big one. Whether desiring to see an amputated limb grow back, or one rising from the dead, some just can't be bothered with the small miracles that enrich the lives of so many, and occur on a daily basis.
If we would open our eyes, and truly see the lengths to which God goes, the abundance of works that He performs in our daily lives, perhaps we will attain a greater appreciation for our Savior, and all that He does on our behalf.
One cold and dreary morning we decided to visit the Vladeni-Podeni nursing home, and be a blessing to some whom the world has all but forgotten. This facility is by no means a retirement home, the likes of which some in the twilight of their lives aspire to live out the rest of their days in, but a minimalist, unfinished old home left over from a long forgotten era, that has been somewhat retrofitted to house those whom all have abandoned.
If for some growing old alone is one of their biggest fears, for the men and women at the Vladeni nursing home, these fears have been realized, and then some. While some have had the misfortune of outliving all of their blood relatives, others more pained still have sons and daughters that have chosen to forget them altogether. As one of the gentlemen so aptly put it when we arrived, 'you have children so you don't grow old by yourself, so you don't die alone, and it happens anyway. They're too busy to be concerned about the old man who worked himself ragged to put food on the table, who gave up everything so they could have something.'
Although the staff and the director of the Vladeni nursing home appreciated the food and clothing we brought, for the patients our very presence was the real treat. Seeing us hauling in sacks of food, taking the time to talk to them, to hear their stories of being widowed thirty years ago, of having their home taken away by unscrupulous developers, of not being visited by their own children in years, made them realize that they were not alone. They realized that God still remembered them, even if all others had forgotten them, and there were still some in this world willing to take the time and be a blessing.
As we walked through the hall, looking at the single beds with the wood frames, covered with blankets, the director pointed to the smiling face of an elderly woman who was standing beside a table. "You see her? She hasn't smiled since she arrived here eight months ago. This is the first time I've seen that woman smile."
If we don't take the time to see them, we can miss out on the miracles taking place right before our very eyes. God is faithful in showing us the majesty of His love on a daily basis, He is faithful in revealing His grace and mercy to the innermost being of our hearts, if only we would open our eyes and see. A handful of senior citizens received a miracle that day. God had shown them His compassion, reminding them that though others may abandon them, God never would.
For many a soul this ministry is the miracle that they've been praying for. It may not even be in the sense of the material, a new home, or a new cow, perhaps just a few minutes of fellowship, of having another human being listen to the cry of your heart, and seeing compassion in their eyes. Thank you for being a miracle to so many, whether by your prayers or support, unlike man, God does not overlook your kindness, and in due season He will reward it abundantly.
Michael Boldea Sr.
Preparations and Expectations
The Christmas season is upon us once again, and the children at the Hand of Help orphanage are excited. Although most of the year it is the adults who minister the gospel to those hungry for the word, the celebration of Christ's birth is the children's chance to witness and minister in their own special way. They do not take this responsibility lightly, and far in advance of the special services we will be holding in the Messiah church, the children's choir is rehearsing songs and poems, which have the birth of Christ, and what His birth meant for mankind as their central theme.
For the past few years, the children's choirs, as well as the adult choir of the Messiah church, have built up a reputation in the city of Botosani and the surrounding communities, for the carols and poetry they sing and recite. Hearing eighty children sing 'silent night' can make even the hardest of hearts melt, and it allows the children to share their hearts. The last few services at the end of December are always packed and overflowing. It is a wonderful opportunity to share Jesus, to speak of His truth and His life, and church members as well as the children invite friends, acquaintances and colleagues to come and hear.
The sincerity, with which the children sing, the innocence with which the young recite Bible verses, and poems, does something special in the hearts of those that for too long have been mired in routine, tradition and ritual. They begin to realize the hollowness of lighting a few candles on a given day, or listening to a man in flowing black robes stammer through yet another reading absent of passion or conviction.
Our duty as children of God is to present the gospel, to the best of our ability, fueled by our convictions, our love and our joy, and let those in the audience make up their own minds, on whether they will heed the call of Christ and repent, or continue down the path they've been journeying on for so long.
We prepare with expectation, because we have seen the fruit of our labors in past years. We have seen the flowing tears, the bowed heads, the reverence that becomes evident on the faces of those hardened by time and circumstance. Not all return to give their hearts to Christ, but some always do, and this knowledge keeps us motivated to do better this time around.
Young or old, it is the responsibility of every believer to share Jesus, to speak of His love, His mercy and His grace. We have tried to instill a sense of urgency in all that we do for His name's sake, knowing that one chance is all we might get to reach a lost soul, to pluck one out of the darkness, and help them find their way to the light. We are making of this season, what every Christian should, an opportunity to reach the lost, the hurting and the hopeless, to be bold in our convictions, to speak the name of Christ, and show the world that there is a better way.
Hand of Help staff
Mending Broken Dreams
At times we can look through the window of our life, and see our future, and God's will for us clearly. We are comfortable that we've grown to know our Savior and that our eternal inheritance is sealed. All of a sudden the unexpected happens, our faith is tested, and resting in Him and accepting His perfect will becomes out of our reach. We wait patiently for answers but they tarry to find their way to us. We try to figure things out, on our own, leaning on our own understanding, and it only gets worse.
It is only when our strengths run out, draining from us to the last, and we grow weary of leaning on our own understanding that God intervenes. A glimpse of the cross is all we need to remind us, "Through His wounds we are healed, He bore our sins." God allows us to go through these experiences to sensitize our hearts that we may see those broken and in need. Not all who have eyes see, not all who have ears hear, and I have witnessed countless souls, retaining all five of their senses, passing by the broken, the hurting, the desperate and the dying as though they were not there.
The death of my mother was the hardest event that I have, or will ever have to go through, but the restoration that the Lord has brought to my heart is much greater still. He has given me a new heart for those in need and even after her death, my mother's testimony continues to speak to me. What I've been pondering for quite some time, are the following questions. Do we have to be broken to understand the broken? Do we have to hurt in order to comprehend pain? Is compassion a lesson that can't be taught without trial?
I pray that we are all sensitive to those who are broken and in need of answers. May we strengthen the hands of the wounded, and the weakened eyes of the hurting, that they may catch a glimpse of the cross of Christ.
The following two stories have impacted me, humbled me, and made me aware of how blessed I really am.
Maura Pascaru is a young lady in her early 20's that was full of passion for life. She enjoyed helping her mother grow flowers and helped her sell them in the local markets. Driving was one of her passions, so she often offered to help out anyone in need of a ride. This is what had happened, on a crisp spring morning in 2000 when a group of her friends asked if they could get a ride into Suceava, to the train station. Maura agreed, not knowing that it would be the last time that she walked to her car.
On the way back, one of the passengers asked if they could drive, and after some convincing Maura pulled over and let her friend drive. Within a mile they got into an accident that paralyzed Maura from the waist down.
It has been years and Maura's answers still tarry. I believe however that through your prayers and support we can restore a fragment of Maura's dream.
Her father surprised her a couple years back by fixing her old Dacia and placing hand controls on it so that she could drive on her own, and relive one of her great passions. The car being very old did not hold up. My prayer is that through Hand of Help, we will soon be able to provide a reliable vehicle for Maura, a vehicle that will serve not just as a means of transportation, but as a daily reminder of God's love for her.
Please keep this need in your prayers, and if the Lord moves upon your heart to help in this regard, know that it is a worthwhile cause. A reliable vehicle, with hand controls currently costs around $5000.
Emil Azoicai has always set high goals for himself. As a little child the calling that God had on his life, namely the preaching of the Word was evident. Even through dental school, he was compelled to attend a Bible college, and take time to seek the deeper things of God's truth, to acquire wisdom, and understanding in regards to all that the Bible entails. Life however was anything but simple. Coming from a poor background and having to attend college 18 hours away from home, put a strain on his studies. Emil found the strength to press on, amidst all the hardships, but the trials in his life were only the beginning.
During college after a two-year battle with leukemia, his twin brother entered eternity at the tender age of 21. It took much time for him to refocus and carry on with his life. Emil completed both degrees, but without a dime in his pocket he was forced to travel to Italy and work construction hoping that he would soon put together enough money for a dental chair. Yes, men with doctorates plow fields, pick strawberries, clean lavatories, because life is hard, especially on the young and the old, and everyone tries to survive the best way they know how. Emil did not mind the hard labor and rejoiced at the opportunity he had to share in various Romanian-speaking churches, in Italy, on the weekends.
In the early spring of 2007, he received a telephone call informing him that his mother had just come out of surgery, and if he wanted to see her living one last time, he should rush home and be by her bedside. Emil and his youngest brother immediately started driving toward Iasi Romania, which was eleven hundred miles away from where they were presently residing. When they were only two hours away, the car spun out into a thirty-foot ditch, leaving Emil with multiple vertebrate fractures and his brother with a displaced vertebrate. Emil was quickly rushed into surgery, and his brother was put into a body cast.
All his dreams and ambitions suddenly came to a standstill. Months and months of physical therapy and extensive medical treatment went by, and Emil made an amazing recovery. Doctors were shocked and admitted that they had never seen such a turnaround, and only God could do such a divine work.
The road to complete recovery is still long, but we can rejoice in the progress he has made already. We can wholeheartedly "praise the God who gives and takes away." Join with us in prayer for complete restoration of Emanuel's body, a sound mind, and boldness to declare what God has done for him. Also remember the need for a dental chair that he can use to treat others, and share the testimony of the only true healer.
A Growing Family
It is impossible to look into the eyes of a child and turn them away. Some people go an entire life without getting a clear picture of what they were meant to do on this earth. They wander to and fro trying to find that something that gives their life greater meaning or fulfillment, never quite achieving that eureka moment when the truth concerning their life, and why they are here is revealed. For many years now we've known that our duty, while here, was to feed, protect, defend and raise, in the fear of the Lord, those who had no one to turn to. We have been faithful in doing that which God has called us to do, and a once small and fledgling work, has grown over the years.
Just when we start growing comfortable, God stretches out our faith again, because His desire is for us to always be growing in faith, in trust, and the knowledge of Him. The constant trials are meant to keep us focused on Him, and seeing His faithfulness time and time again, causes us to embrace dependency of Him in our lives, and in this work.
Just as we'd finished reworking the numbers, trying to stay within a shoestring budget while taking into account the fall of the American currency, and the growing prices for such necessities as electricity and gas, we received a telephone call from child protective services, that five more children were in need of a new home. Even though we are at capacity, and stretching our budget further has become impossible, we could not help but tell the case officer to bring the children as soon as convenient, and we would be glad to take them in.
The five children come from two families, both with histories of hardship, betrayal, addiction and violence. It is not easy gaining a child's trust after he feels abandoned and betrayed by his own mother and father, but with God's help we shower them with love, and eventually, inevitably, they begin to see that their new home is safe, and loving.
The first two children come from the Lascu family, Ana Maria, who was born on August 11, 1998, and Ilie Cosmin, born on June 14, 2000. The Lascu family lived in the city of Hunedoara, for some years, the father an abusive alcoholic, and the children forced to beg on the street from an early age. After some time the father abandoned his family altogether, and the mother moved into a relative's home in the city of Botosani. Not having any means of income, the children were once again forced to beg on the streets, and being made aware of their presence, the child protective services went to investigate the situation. They deemed the removal of the children necessary for their own safety and after taking them they contacted us. Although the children are seven and nine respectively, they never attended school, and so we enrolled them both in the first grade after the first few days at the orphanage.
They've warmed up to the orphanage and the staff already, but since they've spent most of their lives on the streets, one still hears comments such as, "I'd rather sweep the whole orphanage than write the alphabet," or, "I don't see the point in washing every day, and changing into pajamas at night."
The other three children come from the Arama family, which has eight children in all. They live in the Santa Mare community in Botosani County. Due to poverty, or as she put it, a lapse in judgment, the mother was implicated in a theft, prosecuted, and sentenced to a few years in prison.
The father is absent, dropping in from time to time, but never long enough to take care of his children. What was surprising is that although both parents are gone, the children upon first inspection were clean, dressed, and well taken care of. This was due to the oldest of the siblings, a twelve-year-old girl who took care of them and watched over them.
Because the youngest child is under two, we found a Christian family to place him with, since we cannot have children under two in the orphanage, and the three youngest members of the Arama family were brought to the Hand of Help orphanage. We brought the children with us the day we saw them, because the case officer for the child protective services, confided in us that they didn't even have any clothes, never mind beds for the Arama siblings. Arama Ilie Robert was born on May 9, 2000, Irina Elena, was born on July 19, 2004, and Dumitru Alexandru was born October 13, 2005, making him the youngest member of our ever growing Hand of Help family.
Please keep these children in your prayers, and as always thank you for your support. You make it possible for us to do what we were called of God to do, and as such one day you will share in the Father's reward.
Hand of Help Staff
A Final Report
Well, it seems that time has caught up with me. Only 4 more days left in Romania! It's gotten very cold here the last few days. Two days ago we had sunshine, yesterday it tried to snow, and today more sunshine! But always cold! So we have been very busy trying to get to more villages before the bad weather sets in. That won't stop the local team, but it will sure slow them down.
We first visited Liliana and her 2 sons in this home on October 13th, but I was so upset over the conditions, I forgot to take a photo of the mother. But, now I have photos � along with a good report!
The tiny section of space directly behind the porch is where a mother and two children live. The rest of the house is falling down � literally! When the home was built, there were no steel supports of any kind used. Most of the home is full of large cracks.
The photo on the right shows how cold it was inside. We had to stay bundled. They were trying to heat with the small gas stove. When we went inside, the gas smell was so strong, we could hardly breathe. We had them moved into the sanctuary of a nearby church, until we could get safe and proper heating installed. It was only through God's protection that they were not killed from the gas fumes.
For about $500, we were able to buy the wood stove you see on the left, have it installed, and buy them a winter's supply of firewood! We thank God for sending us to Liliana's family in time. The home will not last another year, but it will now keep them safe and warm for this winter. Hand of Help will do whatever possible to help her rebuild next spring when weather allows. Many parts may be re-used, but the home will have to be leveled to the foundation.
There are many other reports on the work of the Hand of Help Mission in Romania. The following are just a few brief photo reports.
A new well, from which they struck good water at only 10 meters (35 feet). The water level has risen to 4 meters from ground level. We are always concerned about shallow wells with outhouses, but wells are located in such a way that they are not likely to be contaminated. Then we pray! That is much safer than carrying water from a community well 1-2 miles away. A new cow was purchased, the cost of which is about $700 in Romania now. This cow will supply all of the milk for her children, plus plenty of cheese. If the cow produces extra, well, this woman may even be able to sell some cheese at the local open market! That would help buy much needed food. Of course I have many more stories like these to tell, but it is never ending.
My late wife and I worked with them quite extensively from near the beginning, in the mid-80's, until my wife passed away in early 1996. In the 2 months I have been here, I have found that their heart is still the same: to help the poor, however possible, and to reach the lost for Christ! There is no higher calling!
From Our Perspective
We thought it might be helpful for those of you who send clothing to be shipped to Romania to know the following information.
The people in the villages are hard working farmers. The women wear long dresses or skirts. The need is for durable, warm modest clothing. Shoes and boots also need to be durable. The government of Romania requires that all shoes need to be new to avoid disease.
The need is not for the latest fashions or fads, but for practicality. (We were at homes when the clothing bags were opened for distribution and we were saddned at what we saw. There were see-through items, clothing with holes, as well as T-shirts displaying the world's thinking.)
As we have prepared for our trips to Romania, we have felt God leading us to buy and take only clothing that we would wear ourselves. Even though we buy second-hand, we select only items that are like new or new. It is a real joy to give the needy 'new' clothing. When we give to others, we are giving to the Lord. He wasn't pleased with the children of Israel bringing the blind and maimed animals to be sacrificed. It greatly helps to ask the Lord what is acceptable in His sight.
Thank you for your love and concern for the orphans, widows, and the poor.
Dave & Cheryl Edman
Luke 2:6-7, "So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."
The manger scenes are already up throughout every town in America. Plastic depictions of a long ago time, show a mother and her newborn huddled together while the animals breathed on them for warmth.
Especially during this time of year, some tend to forget that the defenseless baby, who was born in the lowliest of mangers, did not remain a defenseless baby. The baby Jesus grew up. He became a man, He walked on water, and He raised the dead. He preached repentance and walked among mankind with a singular purpose, to restore their right standing before the Father.
During this season of family and warmth, of carols and sonnets, we must remember not only the birth of Christ, but also the life of Christ. We must remember the examples He set forth in word and deed, the teachings and instructions He left us that we might one day join Him in His eternal home.
Yes, the baby Jesus grew to be a man, He fulfilled His ministry on this earth, redeeming all who would receive the gift of salvation, and now stands at the right hand of the Father, His rightful place.
He is no longer defenseless, He now commands the armies of heaven. He is no longer hungry; He is the bread of life. He is no longer thirsty; He is the water of life. He is no longer weary; He has become our rest. He no longer weeps; He wipes away our tears. The fullness of Christ is humbling, convicting, exhorting, encouraging, and empowering. The fullness of Christ is that all would not merely call Him Lord, but know Him as Lord, ought to experience on a daily basis.
This season we rejoice not only because Jesus was born in an insignificant province in the Roman Empire named Judea two thousand years ago, but also because He was born anew in our hearts. We rejoice because we are His, and He is ours. We rejoice because we have been forgiven, we have been redeemed, and we have been brought unto salvation.
The newborn baby, wrapped in swaddling cloths, will soon return, and it will be on a white stallion, sword in hand, to claim what is rightfully His, and bring judgment upon the sons of disobedience. He is no longer helpless, He is no longer defenseless, and soon men will no longer be able to ignore Him as they have done for so long.
"Behold He comes" we sing with enthusiasm, but many are not ready for His return. The hour is late, and the Christ prepares for His triumphant return, may we live accordingly. From all the Boldea family, both here in the United States, as well as in Romania, we extend our warmest wishes, and sincerest prayers for you and yours during this time of reflection and celebration of Christ. May your heart overflow with joy, may peace surround you, and may Christ guide you in all things.
Luke 2:13, "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 'Glory To God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!"
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.