We selected a school in the village of Poduri to donate furniture to. Now, Poduri was built in 1916, and when we first went inside the school seemed like everything was original, from almost 90 years ago! No one was sure precisely how old the desks were, but all the adults that we met in the town told us that they had studied at those same desks. When some of the eighth grade students helped us unload the office furniture we donated, they could hardly believe that they were actually going to be sitting at those modern desks.
At a children’s institution for severely mentally handicapped teenagers, we donated beds. The teens there had been brought up in awful places, one of those Romanian horror story institutions where they slept on bare plastic sheets and sat around all day in cement cells. (Thank God that particular institution does not house children any more!) But the damage it did to their lives takes a lot of time and love to even begin to overcome.
Our contacts in Austria got some more beds for these handicapped teens which we were now delivering, as it turned out, on my birthday. While I was talking to the director outside, some of the staff members put one of the beds together. One of the handicapped kids, a 15-year-old girl, saw the bed, and though she could not speak very well, she understood perfectly when they told her that the bed was for her. She started jumping up and down, smiling, jumping on to the bed and saying "Bed, me! Bed, me!" It was the best birthday present I could have gotten.
After some research, we decided to set up a Free Store for needy families in the community of Plopana. This is truly a very poor area, with no running water and no employment opportunities whatsoever. There is not a single shop, business or industry in the entire community. The local school, where we temporarily set up the Free Store, only teaches up to grade 8. The closest secondary school is 40 km away, and there is no transportation available for high school students. They would need to board in that city at the families’ expense – a monthly fee equivalent to two weeks’ wages. Needless to say, very few students get beyond the eighth grade.
At the Free Store, people were able to freely select the clothing and other items that they needed. We prayed that the 22 cubic meters of goods, along with the 600 kg of rice, which we had brought, would be sufficient. We had planned to give each of the 100 families that we expected 6kg of rice per family, in addition to clothes, linens and so forth.
At the end of the evening, we tallied up all the signatures and found that we had served over three times the number we anticipated having supplies for, 305 families, each family an average of 5-6 people each. We must have given out 1500 kg of rice from the 600 kg we brought! We were likewise amazed that the clothing did not run out until the very end of the evening, when everyone had been served. The Lord had sure answered that prayer, and multiplied the fish and loaves for the multitudes!