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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

windows and doors

Our one room house became a wood workshop. Lau is building the doors and the windows for the second level. Because it is cold outside, he needs to glue the wood at the room temperature. 

December update

Last week we shared during our morning chapel time about what most Christians around the world are celebrating now: Advent. Last year we spent the Advent traveling, while on our Sabbatical. So for the four Advent Sundays (as it is in West, celebrated by Catholics and Protestants; the Orthodox Advent starts earlier, and lasts for 40 days), we were in four different churches: JPUSA, Presbyterian, Catholic and Methodist. Even if their way of celebrating and awaiting was different, they all focused on the same event: God entering humanity.
The word Advent comes from Latin (adventus) which means coming or arrival. It is the same as the Greek term parousia. During this time Christians all over the world focus on celebrating Christ’s birth and wait His return as Jesus the King at the Second Advent. It is the celebration of God revealing Himself through the incarnation so that the whole creation will be reconciled with Him. The God of the Old Testament entered the human history through the incarnation. Through the incarnation He entered human history (our history) in order to live history with us. The advent reminds us not only of God identifying with humanity, but also of the fact that He is present with us today through the Holy Spirit and the fact that there is hope that He will return with power.
Reading the Scriptures of Isaiah 40:1-11; John 1:6-9, 15-16, 19-23 we prayed and continue to pray during this time that God will show us the wilderness and the deserts where we shall have hope, where we shall prepare the way for our God. We are also praying that God will discover the lowly places in our lives and around us where He is revealing Himself, where He comes.
We believe that God is present and He is working in the Valley of Galati, our city (Isaiah 40:2). Please pray together with us to see where He is present and where He is working.
In community, we discover that for most of the children that come to the Valley House, their homes can be a wild and dry place, a place where they go through dehumanizing experiences that sometimes leave deep wounds. The children share with us about the sad and unjust experiences they go through in their families. R, an eight year old girl tells us often about her father, who gets drunk, sometimes cries, other times he beats her mom, but the next day he is the kindest man in the whole world. Many of the children tell us what alcohol addiction does to their families (especially to their fathers). So often we hear the children praying: God, help my dad to stop drinking, and to stop beating my mom! Let’s join with them in this prayer.
You can also pray for all the events we plan for this month. As we meditate on what we celebrate on December 25th, we wish that through our activities to incarnate the good news, through affirming words, through acts and deeds full of love.
We plan the following activities this month:

-          A party for the children’s parents and siblings. The children that come to our center will offer a present to their brothers and sisters, a present they worked for at the center, according to our methodology.
-          A party for the 1st-4th grade children from a public school. About 50 children, classmates of the children that come at the Valley House will come to this event, to hear the good news and to get a present.
-          The staff and the children will go caroling at the children’s families, and to some of the people that support us.
-          After all these events presented so far are done by the staff and the children we serve daily, on December 25th we will have a party for the children. We have developed a good tradition over the last ten years, where we set aside this day/night for them, and we want to affirm their identity and their dignity as human beings created by God. We will do this through special words, and all the activities we are preparing (worship, games, art, dinner, presents).
We wish and pray that God will bless you during the Advent with the joy of His presence, and may it be that He will reveal to you those lowly and desperate places where He is at work.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Our Human Togetherness

The Enlightenment creed taught that every individual was free to pursue his or own happiness, irrespective of what others thought or said. (...) people do not take others seriously - they do not need others.
To heal we need to break the grip of the spurious doctrine of autonomy and retrieve what is essentially human. We must reaffirm the indispensableness of conviction and commitment. 
We need to retrieve togetherness, interdependence, ”symbiosis”. The individual is not a monad, but part of an organism. We live in one world, in which the rescue of some at the expense of others is not possible. Only together is there salvation and survival. This includes not only a new relationship to nature, but also among humans. (...) human existence is by definition intersubjective existence. here lies the pertinence of the rediscovery of the church as Body of Christ and of the Christian mission as building a community of those who share a common destiny. (David J. Bosch, Transforming Mission, Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

october update

For the past month I spent some time each day with eight children in the third and fourth grade. I took on this responsibility in the absence of my colleague Anca, who just got married. (Please pray for her and her husband Eugen as they make this big change in their lives). The children in this group are at different educational levels, which made it more difficult to know the best way to help them with their homework or with catching up where they’re behind. With every day I spent with them, we struggled and tried new methods of studying. But I felt how our relational connection grew deeper, as between two friends, who get to communicate with each other in many different ways (verbal and non-verbal). I can say I am in love with them. To spend time with the children and to have a relationship with them is our community’s prime way of helping. I was encouraged and deeply moved to see in all of us our human need for appreciation and recognition, which is so often expressed in a competitive spirit.
C. is a girl that lives with her aunt and uncle, because her mother, who, after being abused, lost her mind and wasn’t able to fulfill her parental responsibilities anymore. They all share a small room in the cellar of a house full of people –  a room that it is dark even in the middle of the day for there are no windows and they do not have electricity. In these difficult conditions, C. is a fourth grader and is a good student with good grades – this is a rare example among those in vulnerable situations. She can even do her homework by herself. We were blessed even more by our Father through her when we see how she is encouraging the other children that are behind her with their education, and especially, the practical ways she encourages and takes care of another girl in fourth grade – a girl that is suffering of an eye illness, which is one of the causes for her being behind in school.
In our many discussions, we, as a community have about how to do education, what is our guiding purpose for all we do, we are often led by the Holy Spirit to help the children we serve to know who they are and to learn new ways/skills of behaving (different ones from those they learned as a reaction to their dysfunctional context they come from). So, for us it is a miracle from God when the children’s faces shine when they are encouraged to just be who they are and when they feel safe.
We are thankful that you are praying for us. One reason to be thankful is that we managed to organize our summer camp this summer, at the end of August, despite our limited financial resources. This is something that worries us, as we struggle and trust in God. I was deeply impressed by the way God challenged me once more through my relationship with the children, about that unless we “turn and become like children, [we] will never enter the kingdom of heaven”(Matthew 18:3).
Through all the planning, the changes and the discussions we had since the start of the new school year in September, our desire is for our community to be organic. Our main purpose is to create the programs and activities that serve people/children, and not the other way around. Pray for us, the staff, to be creative and full of energy and to have an open heart and an open mind to learn all that our Father wants to teach us, either through our relationships with the children and with their parents, or through our relationship with one another and with different people God is putting us in contact with.
The start of a new school year meant we could have 12 new children come daily to our Community Center “In the Valley”, ages seven to twelve. Pray for them, and for all the children. One particular prayer request is related to them and their families’ issues about being consistent in going to school and coming to our Center, especially knowing that this is a pattern (the lack of personal commitment and of being consistent) in dysfunctional contexts as well as the low attention that education in general gets.
Please pray for all the activities and events we will plan in the next two months (November and December) that through all these events we will let God lead us.
Eugen, Anca’s husband, worked with us as a volunteer for most of the last year. His desire is to join us, to serve together. He needs people, like each of us on staff, that will support him in prayer, and people that will support him financially. Pray that he will understand clearly God’s call, and pray that God will send the financial resources for this.
Also, in November we will host some good friends that will visit us. We pray that we together, as a community, will make them feel welcome and well taken care of.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Acknowledgments for Sabbatical

For most of our Sabbatical, we traveled a lot, and learned what it means to be a guest. We want to use this chance and thank the communities, families, persons, that made this Sabbatical possible for us. All of you helped – praying, offering us a place to rest and food, providing for our financial needs.
First of all, we want to thank our Cuvantul Intrupat community (David, Lenuta, Paul, Ana, Fani, Anca, Claudia, Bogdan, Oana, Nicoleta) for creating this time and space for us, and for sending us into this Sabbatical. Without this community, we will have no chance.
Also, thanks to the community from Moldova, for their moral, financial and spiritual support.
Lots of thanks to our families, that helped us a lot – you had a room for us, you shared your food with us, you helped us financially. Thank you to Stefan’ family from US – Nelu, Olivia, Evi, Samuel, Daniel and Nadia, to Stefan family from Italy – Danut, Cami, Oliver and Ianis, to Mustiata family from Vienna, Austria – Dani, Bogdan, Rebeca and Nati, and to Archip family from Vienna, Austria –Estera and Diana.
Thank you to everybody that hosted us, all over England, Scotland and USA. We will like to mention Paul and Marcela Wainwright from London, Jill and Glenn Mills form Ardingly, Will and Catalina John from Eastborne; Frank and Ann Summers, Phil and Gemma Summers, Neil and Kate Summers. Thanks to all our friends from Wolverhampton and Perton, that took their time to know us, to share memories, experiences, to encourage us around the table – Eleine, Sue Gange, Val and Jeff, Eric and Betty, Alan and Eric, Bradleys. Thank you Katy Daniels, and to your church and pastor from Dundde, Scotland, David Clark, and his wife, for giving us the opportunity to share with your church about our call, also to the Emslie –Smith Family, Tori Mayers. Thanks to the Berea United Methodist Church, to Keith and Darlene Wasserman and the Good Works community from Athens, Ohio, for the way they welcomed us; to Jordan and Angelique from Dundee, Michigan – thank you for having us and introducing us to your families; to Josh, Robin and Lukas Fowler from Indiana; to Joel, Monica, Simeon and Abram Klepac; to Erin and Evan Schlossberg –( special thanks for moving to New York, so that we got visit you); to McAvaddys  from Omaha, Nebraska – Ron, Audra, Gavin, Avery, Kira and Collin; to Daphne and Caleb Coppock, in Omaha, and to all our friends there in Omaga – Jonathan Starkey and his family; Oanh Vu Heiser; Seth, Kari and Irene Allgire; Chris, Erin, Keyara and Elijah Harrell; Matt Harrell and his wife; to Elisabeth Day, Teri and Catalin Ispas. Thanks to Matt and Becky, and to Jesus People USA community from Chicago. Thanks to Bela, April and Sophie Ispas in Redlands, California. Thanks to Monica, Johnny and Zach Hanneman from San Jose, California.
Without any of you, and of others like you, our Sabbatical will not have been possible. We felt so blessed by and through all our friends and family, and by all the people we met during this time. You all left your mark on us, and enriched our lives.

Monday, July 9, 2012

what's new!

Three months had past since we returned to our community ( Lau and I),after being absent for nine months, when we had our Sabbatical. This time, (quite a long time, we recognize that) had been benefic for myself and for us, time we put aside to meditate on the past 12 years of service among those that are vulnerable. It has been a time when we sought to rest and to experience God in new ways- when I wanted to self-define my own identity not through my activism, but through who am I. Even if it is a long process, God is continuously teaching me to self-define my own identity based on what I am as a human being, created in His image.
In April we started our coming back transition into our community, and gradually we got involved in our community’s activities, while praying for discernment regarding taking over our responsibilities.
If for Lau the transition back was somehow easier, for me, Vali, it has been quite difficult, because I am trying to find a way to put together my desires for my life (to continue my education), my thought about who I am (wounded as I am) and what is God calling me to be. Even if I already got some of my responsibilities back, I still have a few months ahead of me to discern the position I am called to serve from.
Being back into community meant jumping into the last three months stream.
 In May, as we do every year, we as community had our community retreat. This year was a regional retreat for the Europa-Africa Word Made Flesh region, where our community from Galati, the community from Chisinau, Moldova and the one from Freetown, Sierra Leone, met together for times of solitude with God, and for sharing what God was speaking to each of us. This year retreat topic was reconciliation. We are all grateful about how we all confessed and witnessed how God’s Spirit was present working among us, bringing light into our broken relationships, into our discrimination toward other people living next to us,…we are praying that God will continue to work in our lives, in our communities and in the neighborhoods (countries)  where He called us to serve.
In June, when the summer school holiday started, we planned this summer’s activities, for they look different than during the school term. We are praying that God will lead our planning and realization of those activities. What we want is to bring the children and their families closer to their Father, to be aware of the signs of His Kingdom among us –staff, children and their families.
Eight months ago our community opened a new daily center, in a large village named Tudor Vladimirescu, with a lot of help from our board of directors president, Adi Buhai. In April, Mariana Camenschi joined us as staff, coordinating this center. There are many way to pray for Mariana, from developing good relationships with the children and their families, to obtaining all the paperwork needed for properly running this center.
In June we had a team of 12 (10 students and 2 leaders) from George Fox University, Portland. They served together with us for three weeks – one week in Chisinau, Moldova, and two weeks in Galati and Tudor, Romania. They brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm into our community, through their zeal and energy. God encouraged us by the way they got involved into our activities – doing almost everything, and by their testimonies on how God had changed their lives. We are praying that the seeds He planted into these young peoples’ hearts will grow, as well as the seeds planned into our hearts by what these young people did and said.