The year I turned 17, my dad took me on my first mission trip. He loved
as did my best friend who traveled with us. Both had spent time there before. Not me. This was my maiden voyage. And my first experience with desperate kids. Romania
Andrea, my bestie, and I were invited to tag along to an orphanage one day. They said it was for the mentally handicapped kids. They said it was pretty grim. Little did I know how much that day would affect my life.
I remember a lot of concrete. As we walked up to the metal doors and waited for a mentally challenged teen to open the door, it felt surreal, almost like a horror movie.
Inside we were led up a few flights of concrete stairs. The rooms were lined up, in all their grayness, with different ages and abilities in each. The second room made me freeze. There were 8-10 toddlers tied to potty chairs, just sitting there rocking.
The next room had beds for kids who couldn’t get up. The bed closest to the window was empty, but you could see exactly where the child always laid. The hollow and the pee stains looked old. The girl in the next bed looked like the Toy Story doll without any hair.
Then it was lovin’ time! These girls from the UK would come every day and take one kid, for one hour and just give them attention. How cool was this! They had a room with padding on the floor and a few balls and toys. The volunteers would brush teeth, sing and play, change diapers (very, very dirty diapers) and smile a lot.
I remember playing with one little boy and giving him piggyback rides. He had this piece of string that he would wind around his finger and then hide back in his teeth. After play time was over, they told me I was hanging out with a 15 year old girl. Yeah, a little strange.
Feeding time was another shock to my system. All these little kids needed to be fed quickly I guess, so the orphanage workers just shoveled it in. And then the bowl was handed to me. I sat in front of this 2 or 3 or 4 year old and tried to get the big metal spoon into his mouth. And then my eyes met his and I saw Jesus. I don’t know how, but that is what I saw. Jesus’ eyes were staring back at me. This was one of the “least”. I will never forget that.
Before we left the orphanage that day, they took us on a quick walk around the building. Many rooms with many kids, sitting in beds. I don’t remember much except the empty faces. And giving my Band-Aid and my ABC gum to two excited kids. They had nothing.
It took me days to process what I had seen. Even now, 13 years later, the memories bring deep emotion with them. That day at Siret will always be with me. It has helped shape me into who I am today.