In March 2017 just before her 16th birthday, Melinda arrived at the orphanage from a small group home in a village. The circumstance of this move is always a little convoluted as we only hear her side. The foster parents are wonderful God-fearing people and have instilled truth in Melinda’s life and she has a good relationship with her foster mother. When she arrived at the orphanage, she quickly got involved in our Bible Study groups. As fall approached, she starting hanging out with a few of the more rebellious girls who would run away for days at a time. She got a boyfriend who would become her son’s father. I remember, so vividly, in May of 2017 after not being at Bible study for 6 months, she came and the girl next to her started asking questions of what it is like in residence for moms. I could see on Melinda’s face that the questions were being asked on her behalf. Not yet 18, Melinda ran away and lived with the boy’s family. They decided to make a go at parenting together, but Melinda told us at the baby’s baptism that she didn’t love him.
In the months to follow their relationship progressively got more and more volatile… both sharing the blame. She would come with her son and stay a few days a month at my apartment; she would say she wanted to be apart of the project. Yet, each time she would find a reason to go back. In August, I gave her an ultimatum that I can’t be her I need a break place; SoarRomania is not a hotel and she had to decide what is best for her son. It took a couple of months, but she arrived on November 13 and she is working the program. She has been faithful to do her devos, meet with her mentor, and go to small group. She also wants to take some courses. Her son Ruben is adjusting well. He is not able to self-soothe, just yet, but he is doing great being with other people and not always being held by mom.
Because I have no kids of my own, more than many say to me, “these girls are your children” (and they are to me and their children are grand-babies), but it is not motherhood…it’s a completely different “hood”…. an Otherhood.
Motherhood starts from the time they are born until (in most cases) you die. Moms are not perfect…a mom may yell, she may get angry, she may not be consistent at times, she may not know how to cope some times, she may expect too much, demand too much, or push too much or she may be too busy or distracted by her own cares so much to the point that she doesn’t see your needs and cares. She may have even been neglectful, abusive or even absent. Or she may be like my mom…a pot-head, alcoholic who was so consumed with finding love that she didn’t love the one right next to her. I love my mom; I trusted her, even though she disappointed me more times than not. It’s a special bond, loyal to the end…a bond from birth.
My relationship with these young women starts with no trust. They have so many scars, not only because of neglect and disappointment, but also the wounds of abandonment, being social outcasts and the jail-house mentality of the orphanage they call home. They believe that love is accepting them the way they are and any attempt to help them grow as a person is met with…you will only love me if I change to what you want me to be not who I am.
Alina who has been in my life the longest and the only woman to truly work the project to become the best mom she can be, still does not have the desire to build a more intimate relationship, that would take her being vulnerable. I pray that God would heal her heart as only He can so she can one day trust someone who has been consistent in her life.
I open my home and pour into these ladies which requires rules, structure and input into their lives that they push against daily. They want your help by doing it for them, not helping by modeling and equipping them to do things themselves.
Jesus said, “ Whoever loses their life for me will find it” – Matthew 16:25. Jesus risked Himself on me. How can I not risk my life on these women? They may not love me back. They may humble me, humiliate me, reject me, shatter my heart, and drive a shard into my soul, but this is not the part that matters. What matters most, is not if our love makes other people change, but that in loving, I change. What matters is that in the sacrificing to love someone we become more like Christ. (Ann VosKamp, in my words). My Otherhood is a series of risks in my life that I do not regret, for the sake of the one (prayerfully many) that will be with me in eternity worshiping God.
While I was stateside I was asked to share at “God’s heart for Justice.” This event sought to bring awareness to the body of Christ of the injustices in the world and God’s heart for the Body to get involved.Jim Martin from International Justice Mission shared testimonies from all over the world.On the panel, there were missionaries working with trafficking in Columbia, in the brothels of Haiti, with refugees in Austria and myself.The coordinator asked me to share an “undone testimony.”It was very emotional for me but it was a privilege to do so. Now, I want to share with you three stories so you will join me in prayer.
‘And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. ‘ – Matthew 13:3-4
Very rarely are we asked to share the “undone testimony” and so I thought I would share with you also about the mom whose story I shared at the event.This mom left our residentional home in October 2017, to return to Germany were her daughter’s father lives. Six months later, she was floundering and asked if we would help her get back on her feet in Oradea…of course we did. We got her into an apartment and she was working at McDonalds.In October, she began failing to keep her commitments, lost her childcare and then her job.She called one of the other moms who came through our program and she sent her money for food even though she is struggling herself.When we hear of this, we stepped in as she was on the verge of being evicted.We came up with a plan of restoration and she was willing to do the work.She agreed that just fixing her financial issues would not solve her problem, but that she has to change the way she deals with life. We were made aware that she had some legal problems in another country, but not the full scope of the situation.Two days later, we h She claims she has to stay there and make restitution.She has yet to produce any documentation from the courts proving this claim.The more we ask for details the more it doesn’t make sense.It seems that every time we make some headway in her case something or someone snatches her away and her daughter suffers.I am not legally allowed to keep her daughter long-term until I get a residence card. Please join me in prayer, we don’t want this little girl to end up in the system that brought her mother to such an unhealthy place.
‘Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. ‘ – Matthew 13:5-6
Valentina left our ministry a year and a half ago.Frustrated with dealing with the other personalities in the residence, she was quick to the aid of her birth mom in Moldova when she fell ill.After that summer she wanted to continue her Romanian education, but wanted to be close to her mother, just in case. It was a good thing she was there, as her mother passed away in the winter that followed.Much like me when I was in my early 20’s, the one thing that we hoped would fulfill us doesn’t last (a relationship).When she wants out of the relationship, she has asked if we would help her if she returned to Oradea and of course the answer is always yes.Yet, thus far, she has not broken away.This week I received a phone call once again and she went to her school to get a transfer, which she was denied. She came for a short visit to clear her head, but returned to finish her nursing degree.She feels so stuck. She is seeking God in this situation so please pray for her. Pray that she can break free from this unhealthy relationship and come back with her darling daughter.
‘Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. ‘ – Matthew 13:7
If you have been following our ministry for any amount of time you know that Alina has been living successfully with her daughter for two years now. Our relationship continues to grow.She has been working as a maid even though she has a college degree.However, the field of social work is so saturated here; you really have to know your stuff to get a job doing it.(I have two friends that are very capable social workers and they aren’t even working in the field.)While I was in The States, it became clear to me that we should do more to invest in her life by equipping her to do a job she would enjoy.She wants to go to cosmetology school and we are now researching to find something that is in the evening so she can go after work.She is still seeking the truth of God’s Word and she has been attending a more traditional Baptist church which she likes.Please pray that she surrenders to the Lordship of Jesus.
‘Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty,
some thirty. ‘ – Matthew 13:8
This past trip to the states was the most fruitful ever.We now have 7 churches behind the work we are doing here.Sue Volpe was able to share at a different church every Sunday as well as several small groups and at the God’s heart for Justice event.The big news is that we received enough one-time gifts to pay a national to be a ministry assistant for the next 14 months.And for the first time ever we have 90% of our monthly needs committed.(Still needing $176 per month to be at 100%).
We have put some feelers out there about our need for an assistant and we are hopeful God with bring us the right person through ministry partners. If not we will place an ad on christian radio.Please pray for the right person who is equipped to deal with our ladies’ trauma.
Alina has an 18 year-old sister who is pregnant.She has toxoplasmosis which is very dangerous for an unborn baby.She is not a christian but she asked us all to pray for her before heading to another city for amniocentesis.The ministry helped with the cost of the test and when I met her to give her the money, I was able to pray for her.When I left her I felt very emotional but in a hopeful sense. Later she called to tell us the baby was normal, and I knew then that the hope and peace I had felt was because of the prayers prayed.Both her and Alina believe it was a miracle.She asked that we continue to pray for her throughout her pregnancy…please join us in that.
Please continue to pray for all the moms that we have had the privilege to minister too. Those mentioned to the left as well as Felicia and her daughter Sofia, Mama “L” and her little man, Alexandra and her son that has been adopted, and Geta and her girls, Rebeca and Abigail.
Finally please pray for me, Sue Volpe, for discernment and supernatural strength.The restoration phase of the ministry is emotional taxing and ministering in a second language makes it even harder.Patience is so necessary to help them see their need to deal with the trauma of being raise in an institution and to see how it will effect their children if they don’t.
The nature of our ministry focuses on orphaned young ladies that become pregnant, so sometimes I am oblivious to other injustices right around me. As I have shared before it is almost impossible for a single mom to survive here because of the poor economy, as well as limited and costly child care. This causes thousands of women stay in abusive relationships. When I returned from the States, our residential apartment was empty and we were praying for whoever God would bring.On December 21st, we got a call asking if we could accept a woman that was being beaten by her common law husband. Although she was not an orphan, it was clear that we should step in.After the call, our pastor and another man from our church went to pick her up and bring her to a safe place. When they arrived they quickly called the police to intervene because the husband had taken away her phone and was trying to prevent her from leaving. The police did their jobs, but not without saying: “you shouldn’t leave” and “you can’t make it on your own.”She was a 30-year-old Phillipino immigrant with an almost one year old. We quickly searched for options that would allow her to stay in Europe if he filed to absolve their union. After a couple of weeks, she started to believe that he had changed and went back to him despite our concerns.We sent her off with a burner phone and some money to hide in case of an emergency. Yet, we still lost contact with her. All the methods we used to reach her have failed. We know statistically abusers don’t change just at their word.
BBC reported in May of 2017 that “The court fined the country after it failed to hold to account a man who attacked his wife eight times.”And “But ‘the overall unresponsiveness of the judicial system and the impunity enjoyed by aggressors, as found in Ms Balșan’s case, indicated that there had been insufficient commitment’ to enforcing them, the court noted.”
In November 2018 Romanian Insider reported.“A total of 36,245 cases of domestic violence had been reported to the police in 2017… By comparison, in the first ten months of this year, a total of 32,696 such crimes were reported.”I have always been aware that only about 25% of women report the assaults, but in this culture I would think it is more because there are so few places for these women to go. We hope that we can do more in these situations.Please pray with us for wisdom and direction in this area.
Alina doesn’t talk about it much and I don’t even know how much she remembers but while she was still in diapers, she was placed in one of the worst orphanages in our province with three of her siblings.It wasn’t until she was 11 years old that she was moved into a placement home with 9 children.That small family environment helped her grow into an educated, functional young woman who knows how to carry
herself.Sadly, child protection does little to deal with the trauma that almost all of my young ladies have suffered as children in the system. So, under Alina’s put together exterior, there is a hurting, little girl.When Alina came to us 7 months pregnant in August 2014, she was very closed off. She did what was required but would not let us in.She even called my church “our church,” yet there was still no meaningful connection and that distance grew as more moms came into the home.As her time in the home was coming to an end and it was time for her to move into independent living, she felt alone and rejected even though there was another mom in the apartment.It seemed that there was a chasm between us.The girls still in the residence would draw her into household drama, she would take-sides and try to defend them. When I told her it wasn’t her concern in the attempts to defuse the situations, she would pull further and further away.All my actions to show her love was viewed as false by her.All I could do was pray.
This time last year the residence was empty for the first time since we opened and I sensed that God wanted me to start afresh with her by inviting her to come stay with me the week of Christmas.So even though she lives only a block and a half away, her and her daughter, Victoria, came and stayed for an old fashion Christmas.We decorated the tree, watched old Christmas movies, baked, cooked, danced, and celebrated Christ’s birth…open dialogue started to happen.As 2018 progressed, our conversation became deeper and deeper. In July, she asked me if I would take them to her birth mom’s place with a cake for her birthday.While we were there, she told her birth mom that I was Victoria’s other grandma. My heart skipped a beat. It is rare within the orphan subculture to to refer to someone as family apart from blood relation. The chasm is a small gap with a very lovely bridge. I cherish these past three months as it was well worth the spiritual battle for relationship. There is a trust…we are friends.
Please pray for me, Sue Volpe, as I am in South Florida to advocate for Soar Romania. Please pray that God will bring more people to partner financially with SoarRomania. This is a short trip since I am limited on the time I can be out of Romania due to my residence card application. Also FYI, once I get back to Romania there is no real time frame for how long it will take to complete the residence process and I will be unable to leave Romania until it is done. Thus the urgency for raising as much support as I can!
Prayer for the funds to hire a full-time assistant. I do my best to offer the spiritual, emotional and physical support to the moms, as well as care for their children while they are at work or school, and I know the moms see Jesus though all I say and do and the gospel is being preached, but it just isn’t enough to prepare them for a life of single motherhood. Parenting, life-skills and biblical instruction are lacking without a national by my side. The ministry needs a $750 commitment monthly to cover a staff person’s salary and taxes (equivalent to the McDonalds salaries). Please pray about how you can make this happen for 2019 and beyond. Every little bit helps. Click here to give then select the SoarRomania button.
Please pray for Iby…she needs healing.Her unwillingness to deal with her issues makes her life a rollercoaster ride of emotional outburst and she is bringing her daughter along this harmful ride.
Pray for Larisa and her little man, see details in the article “In God’s Hands.”
If you didn’t read in the previous newsletter, Larisa left the residence but left her son in our hands until she could figure out what she was going to do.
Little man was at peace…sleeping through the night, waiting for food (instead of screaming for it), playing with the girls; content.She did take care of the birth certificate issues but was unwilling to do the work to relinquish custody. She came and got her son and took him to an extended family member of the father. The father, who was in Belgium, agreed to come back and care for him in a couple of months after making some more money (stealing). This back-fired on him because the boy was hospitalized for a stomach issue and they would not discharge him without parental consent. Larisa is nowhere to be found.He did come to get the boy but he does not have the means to take care of him. He has no money, no place to stay and now none of his family will take the boy.We offered to take the boy back for a season but he refused.We trust God’s protection on this little soul.Please join us in prayer for him as well as Larisa to have a change of heart.
Both Larisa, my current resident, and Iby are still working at McDonald’s.Larisa has been moved up to working at the register which is big, as her ethnicity is Roma (gypsy), a discriminated people group here.Both ladies have been praised for how diligent they are on the grave-yard shift which after 2am is primarily cleaning and they do a great job.
Larisa, who has been with us since March, has decided that she would rather be “on her own” and is searching for an apartment.After a meeting with our pastoral oversight and her mentor, she has made it clear that she doesn’t want to be a parent. The pastor told her that we would be happy to facilitate a permanent placement for her delightful son but she would need to stay until the boy’s birth certificate issues are resolved and she has full custody.She has no desire to do this and is in complete rebellion against the standards of the program.The other moms have been gossiping to me about what she is up, to which I try to shut down immediately; however, what I’m hearing scares me.Please pray for a miracle so this precious boy doesn’t end up in the state orphanage.Her beautiful boy is walking now and catching on to the sign language so he gets what he wants without screaming for it.His first words in english were “all done.”
***Upon preparing this newsletter, there was an incident that caused Larisa to leave the project immediately.She has left little man in our care until the birth certificate is solidified. Please pray that she follows through with this or we will have to hand him over to child protection in September.
Iby is finally in an apartment that is affordable and the landlord is very gracious. It’s a bit far but is right off the tram line.She is still having difficulties as her ID card is expired.ID cards are issued only with a permanent address, which like most orphans, she doesn’t have.So they will only issue her a new one for a year at a time with the consent of the orphanage.When we called child protection in May to see what she had to do, something was either miscommunicated or not understand by Iby.But never-the-less, this week she found out she needed another paper from child protection to proceed. This effects a lot of other things that need to happen for their little family.For example she can’t get a different job that has the same hours as daycare nor can she register her daughter for daycare.Amelya is too smart for her own good…she is so curious which causes a lot of destruction (Today she destroyed an umbrella while I was putting little man to bed…I don’t know how a 21 month-old can do something like that.) She has the best facial expressions and I think she knows it.
Alina and Tori are doing great.As Tori is on summer break, she and her mom are here almost every evening for dinner.It’s nice to see them every day.We had a guest preacher at church last month that both her and Larisa enjoyed and they are now following his YouTube channel. Please pray for her salvation.She doesn’t have the best job but she is making the best of it and not complaining.Tori loves praising Jesus, enjoying gymnastics and zealous for the water.We just come back from a three day getaway at a man-made beach a couple of hours away (hope you follow us on Instagram to see all the pics & clips).