Sunday, August 3, 2008

Romania, part one: baby hospital

So for a week, I have been going over and over in my mind how I can express to you my experience in Romania. Any of you who have gone on a missions trip, probably understand that.....there is so much to process. But I have decided to take it in sections and put it in several posts and see what happens.........

The first place we visited after arriving in Romania was the baby hospital. It was a normal hospital for sick babies and children, but the 3rd floor was for orphaned babies. This was probably the hardest and most rewarding place for me. We made 3 trips to the baby hospital. The last trip was not on the schedule, but Karen and I gave up our sightseeing day to be able to have one more chance at holding those babies.......I am so glad I did........I would not have been able to experience something I have wondered about!!

But first, let me set up what it looked like. We walked up the stairs and came to the 3rd floor. Straight in front of us, we ran into a break room of sorts where all the nurses were sitting, smoking and visiting. To their left, through a locked door with bars, was the toddler room. There were 6 kids in there with no adult supervision, all stuck in their cribs. Several of the kids were mentally disabled and had bed sores on their ears and heads because they had not been moved or touched. The walls were painted bright from Livada (organization we went with) workers. In one toddler room, there were two rocking chairs....one completely broken and almost unusable. There were a few broken toys and a TV with videos running non-stop. The Livada workers have told me they take toys,etc up to the hospital, but they end up disappearing.The infant room, those not walking yet, was down the hall and around the corner.....again, no adult supervision. Not even a baby monitor that I could see. But these babies, especially the little ones, just lit up when we came in the room and picked them up. They ate up the attention and love. They loved being played with and we had many of them just belly laughing in no time!!This little girl (we think was a girl. they had so many clothes on them and all their heads shaved that it was hard to tell) above, was so sweet. She looks to be about 4 months old when you look at her size and the fact that she is just starting to crawl....rocking on her knees. She is actually 14 months old. Most of the kids are severely delayed. She had the sweetest smile, but when she did, you noticed that her tongue had a large scar on it, like it had been riped. There is no telling what caused it. Many come from abusive homes, some from homes where they just couldn't afford to take care of them. Most of them are gypsy children.
This little guy captured your heart the minute you walked in. Unlike most of the others, he was a chunk!!! And had the most contagious smile you have ever seen. Karen worked and worked with him and at the end of the week, had him taking a few steps!!! You don't realize what a big deal that is, but they are not only delayed due to abuse and neglect, they don't get the opportunity to walk/crawl around and learn those basics things.

This next little girl is Anika and she completely captured my heart and showed me a part of God's character I wondered about. You see Anika is mentally disabled and blind. Her muscles are so stiff and tight that you can not get her to bend her legs. She can not speak or walk. She probably weighs all of 20 lbs and she is four years old.....

The first day, they would not let us pick her up out of her crib. The second day, LeAnne picked her up and held her and she smiled and smiled. But she would not bend her body at all. They tried to work her muscles and bend her legs, but she was too stiff. The last day we were there, we got to spend the most time with the kids. I picked Anika up out of her crib, she had bed sores on her ears from laying so long on them, and took her to a rocking chair. I started stroking her face and talking to her and her face just lit up with a smile (that is the first picture). As I rocked her, she started melting into my body and relaxing. I was able to get her to bend her legs all the way up to her chest!!!

I started singing Jesus Loves Me to her and an amazing thing happened.........every time I said the name Jesus.......she smiled the biggest smile I have ever seen!!! I ask Karen to take a picture and watch to see if it was just coincidence or if it really happened..........this is the picture!!It amazes me even now as I think about it. I have always wondered how God relates to children or adults with mental illnesses. How can they understand a relationship with Christ if they can't be told? I know without a doubt that this little girl knew Jesus! He has somehow put His name in her heart.

Today at church we sang a song that talked about Jesus being all we need. It broke my heart to leave this little girl......to know that there isn't a mom to hold her and sing to her.......but today in church as I sang this song, her face came into my mind.....

........He is all she needs!!! I have to say that gives me comfort as I think of her alone in her crib......she is not alone....

..........she certainly will not be forgotten.



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3 comments:

shell said...

Oh Sara I just loved reading that. I love that you chose to go back and love on those kids!! I want to go and play with them!! It sounds like you had an amazing trip! Are you ready to go save all the orphans with me? :)

Christine said...

Sara, this brought be to tears. I don't have the words...the picture of Anika's smile at Jesus' name leaves me in awe. Absolutely astounding and yet....of course! Of course she knows! It should not be such a surprise to me! He is awesome!!
Thanks for sharing.

Why 2nd Cup of Coffee? said...

Sara, I am nearly speechless. I have so many thoughts, and a few memories of my own, that I am now processing. I KNOW that you were being Jesus to Anika. She recognized him in you. Someday she will be whole and will know you in heaven. I could say so much more, but what if it sounds trite or churchy? That's not how I feel; I feel very humbled and touched and honored to read this. And inspired. Blessings on you.