Well here we are close to the 1st of March. We have been allowed to partner with so many wonderful people since we have been here this trip. We started out on this adventure thinking we were here for the purpose of walking people through our ministry and encouraging them in how to be stronger in their walk with God. Well, it seems that was only part of God’s plan.
A big blessing has been spending a lot of time working at the gypsy village of Lazareni. You can see from some of the pictures that we have been able to help with a wood shop to teach men a trade that will give them hope in finding work and learn to make a living using their skills. With the help of many of you, we have been able to buy some really nice tools. They are just getting to the place where they can make different wood projects that they can sell at markets. In this way they can pay for the material they use and make a little money while learning.
The wood is a little hard to work with for furniture. We have only been able to find rough sawn lumber. It takes a lot of shaving with the table saw and using the belt sanders to get it usable. We hope to get some help getting a planer to make this step easier. Before we leave this time, we would like to supply the wood shop with an ample supply of wood to stack in the shop. Then it can be drying and give them a start in making an income. An example is the picnic table you see in the picture. It costs roughly 150 lei which amounts to $39. Try that in the states! That includes wood, stain, varnish, belt sanders, and screws. Then we hope to be able to sell them for 300-400 lei ($75 to $100). This would allow money to replace materials and give them some income. We are looking for a planer, vise, and a biscuit machine to joint wood together.
Now about the ladies and one of the men who love to sew. Finally after trying many different forms of knitting, sewing etc. we have found what they really love and have a talent for. It is embroidery. So far they have made pillows, and they are now embroidering squares that our friends Robin and Arnies Arts and Crafts have sent us in a box filled with wonderful craft items. With these squares, we bought bright colors of fabric. They are going to make beautiful hand sewn quilts to sell. I can’t tell you how excited they are now. They didn’t even want to take a break for lunch. (And they don’t have a lot of food, so it’s always a great thing when we make them lunch!) Here you have really poor people without even running water, and they are laughing and singing as we sew. It’s like this month brought a turn around and a bundle of new hope and excitement with the reality that they can actually earn money and improve their lives and the lives of their children.
A Valentine Party for the kids was a fun highlight in February. The children enjoyed egg salad sandwiches , and over 100 pretty decorated Valentine cookies with juice. It was so much fun, because our gypsy sewing group decorated with hearts and balloons we brought with us.
If you could only see the difference that love makes in their faces. When love touched their lives, they were filled with songs and thankfulness and know how to give it away to others also. If you could hear some of the stories of how they were raised and the trauma and pain they endured, you would be amazed like we are at how sweet and kind they are having gone through so much. Sean and Adina, a young couple we have been training to take people in the village through healing of their hearts, have started adult classes to teach a group of them in the village to read and write. One of the men came back to the woodshop to show Bob his writing and how proud he was of it. Hope is abounding in the village and wonderful transformations are flourishing.
Another activity we really enjoy is being with and being able encourage the Romanian young adults we love so much. For Valentines we also cooked up some French dishes and decorated our apartment up with candles and hearts and invited 3 young in love couples over for a romantic dinner by candlelight.
Some other fantastic news is about the dental unit we got for the village, because their teeth are so bad. When the dentist in town came, we found out we are missing two connecting parts we will try and get in the next few weeks. BUT…the great news is that Cornel was in Brazil where the international Bookafes have headquarters. A lady dentist told him she is willing to come to Romania and work in the village for up to 3 months to fix people’s teeth. What an amazing answer to prayer! Instead of a town dentist coming once a month, we will have someone there enough time to really make a fabulous difference in people’s teeth and general health.
They will be starting to fix a kitchen in one of the buildings where they have fixed up an assembly room where they can have meetings and Bible studies and church. Our dream is to buy a stove and get enough basic equipment like large pots and baking dishes etc. to make it operable. We found a stove we can buy for about $250 that would be awesome. You use it with bottled gas. So we have a lot of dreams with not a lot of money to see them come to pass. BUT…God is good and he is bringing people like the dentist here. We are praying and hoping God will put it in people’s hearts to help make these dreams become reality. If you could pray with us to be able to get the tools and wood and the kitchen items we need to get it up and running and to become self supporting, that would be awesome!
New Life Church continues to feed the hungry at Bookafe every Saturday morning, and we got our turn again in February. We cooked up a huge pot of taco soup with rice and cheese. Adina was making the tea, Bob grating cheese, and Sean and I cooking up the soup. So you can see this month has been a busy one for us. Busy but so rewarding!
Thank you all for praying for us and being an important part of what we are seeing come together here. We don’t have an address here to get mail, but we love to receive emails. Bill and Becky Herb are taking care of our mail and FTCM finances in Seattle. FTCM 4104 Beach Dr. SW #3 Seattle WA 98116
Many Blessings, Bob and Joan