Beginning my Second Year in Romania, Christina Semon
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 res ponsibilities 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 s olve. 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
June Newsletter 2010: Missionaries Floyd and Ancuta Frantz
Dear Friends and Supporters,
Greetings! I hope that this finds you well today, and in good spirits.
Today is Saturday, and I am at the St. Dimitrie Day Center, just getting a few things caught up, and thought that I would like to write a short summary of our week. It has not been an unusual week, and going over it will give you a glimpse of our usual activities.
We started out on Monday with Fr. Iulian Negru of Iasi. He and I were making some arrangements about my helping him to do a training course in addictions counseling for a group of priests up in Moldova. It is a part of the work that I do in support of the “National Anti-drug Program of the Romanian Orthodox Church”, which we call the “PNA”. While there, I will go to the Republic of Moldova and do a training under the PNA over there as well. I’ll write more about these programs in a later newsletter.
Also, early this week, it came to my attention that one of our ladies, Iulia, is still having a lot of problems with open sores on her arms. We have been discussing with the staff how we can best help her. It’s a difficult situation. We have taken her to see the doctors at Policlinica St. Pantelimon, and to the dermatological hospital. None of the salves that they give her seem to help. I believe that part of the problem is that she lives in a place with no running water and so she is not able to clean herself properly. She has a disability pension of about $80/month, but this is not enough even to buy food. Perhaps as a blessing in disguise, she is getting evicted from this place by the mayor of Cluj, as it is kind of a public building. The bright side is that they are offering her a place in a hostel, where there would be hot water. When she came into our program she was a beggar on the street, and addicted to any kind of drug that she could get. She has changed a great deal, although she remains an independently-minded lady, so she may not accept their offer. For her it would be like going to jail. Please do pray for Iulia, as this is an especially difficult time for her. We are concerned for her, as she has been clean and sober in our program for about 4 years now. Giving up hope, giving up on life is not an option for Christians, but we do get tempted sometimes.
In midweek I met with the manager of the psychiatric hospital where we have a program, at Borsa. They would like for us to do more programs out there but we lack the funding, and so do they. We signed an agreement to collaborate with them to seek funding for our joint efforts.
Also this week, our missionary priest, Fr. Cristi, who was assigned to us by the Archdiocese, was transferred to a parish. However, we were then assigned a new priest. Well, he will be a priest when they ordain him, which hopefully will be in the next few days. I’ll send you a picture.
On Friday, Christiana Semon and I cut the grass at the Protection Center and around the area where we play croquet, in Savadisla. Ancuta appreciated this, as did the patients in Savadisla, as they love playing croquet and, because of the rain, the grass was too tall. Actually, there were several floods here in Romania last week as well.
The high point of the week was on Friday night. It was our monthly anniversary night for the 12 Step recovery support group. We had one 5 year, one 3 year, and one 1 year anniversary. We actually refer to these as “birthdays”, and mark the length of time someone has been clean and sober in 12-step recovery by giving sobriety “tokens”, and having some desert. I had written about the fellow that had 5 years in a previous posting, but they all have stories that I will try to share with you over time.
There were also three or four “monthly” recognitions, one of whom was a fellow who is truly a miracle. He is a professional beggar, blind in one eye, mostly lame, homeless, and really in difficult times. He has been sober for two months, and we are trying to get him social insurance (as strange as it may seem, he does not have a disability pension) and a place to live. Please do pray for Mircea, he has come a long way in two months.
Not as dramatic perhaps, but very important, was a fellow there picking up a one month chip. He was sent to us by a priest in Floreti, a village next to Cluj. He has a job, works, is married, and has a house. But he is also on the verge of losing it all because of alcoholism. In later newsletters I’ll speak more about what it is to be middle class in Romania. Please pray for Radu, as he has made some important decisions about his life, but has a long and difficult journey in front of him.
This newly emerging group of “middle class” alcoholics is important to the continued growth of our projects, and the 12 Step groups in Cluj generally. They will eventually give the support needed for our project to continue after OCMC is no longer involved. Our goal is to have all of our programs 100% financed and managed by the Romanian Church, and its supporters.
Until that happens, I still need to ask for your support. For several months our donations have been at about 50% of our operating budget, and we need your help. It is not yet a crisis, but we have had to cut back on our staff positions, and some of the time that we were spending in places like the TB hospital in Savadisla and the psychiatric hospital in Borsa. Please do help if you are able; and please know that even a small donation is multiplied as the loaves and fishes when given by a loving hand. We are grateful to you for your help and partnership with us here in Romania.
Well, in an effort to keep things simple I will close for now. Next time I’ll write something about our staff here at the St. Dimitrie Program. I do thank all of you for your support, for your good words, and most of all for your prayers.
In His Love,
One day at a time,
Floyd & Ancuta Frantz