The Forgotten Children

This summer, James and I trekked to Bucharest. It took nearly 24 hours enroute from Seattle, Washington. It was almost midnight and we were exhausted, yet excited about our adventure. We were met by Eugen who helped cart our bags to his little truck and then on into the city to a tiny apartment we'd been lent for the week.

Starting around 10:00 a.m. the next morning we were met by the pastor's wife, Imogene McAnulty, and immediately driven to their small Church of Christ sanctuary and put to work. Three Sunday School rooms and the entire foyer were filled with boxes of clothing for us to make into bundles for the children. We had been unaware of the largeness of this effort and were astounded at the magnitude of work ahead of us for the next six days. There were 2500 clothing bundles to be created, in varying sizes or age groupings, and then delivered to over 22 children's schools/homes. Some of the schools were orphanages proper, others were state run schools serving the very poor families of Bucharest. Some of the children have little in the way of clothing outside of what is given by Imogene's team.

June 1st is Children's Day, and a significant event for the children there. It is second only to Christmas for many of these children.

Imogene has lists and lists from each school/orphanage with details of how many sizes are required for either girls or boys. We have to sort through dozens of boxes of clothing that has been purchased or donated throughout the year. Imogene spends months in the states visiting churches talking about "her children" and raising funds. She also shops for clothing specials at Walmart, Old Navy, Children's Place, during special sales and picks up clothing at rock-bottom prices.

James and I brought a lot of candy to add to the packages, the children LOVE candy, and found that we only had enough for about two schools! We ended up making a trip to the local candy store down the block, almost every day, to purchase more candy so that each child had a piece along with their new clothes. We bought a lot of candy!

Towards the end of the week we made trips to several of the orphanages/schools and distributed the packages. One of the orphanages had worked with the kids to prepare a show for us. It was so sweet. They were colorful dancing flowers, bugs, and mushrooms all set to music. It was adorable. We hugged them, gave them their candy and packages and then had to go. Every place we visited was full of grateful children. They gobbled up the candy and beamed when they opened their packages of clothes. For some of these children this would be the only new set of clothes they would get until Christmas. They have very little.

Our hearts were sad as we realized the sheer number of children Imogene was trying to serve. Apparently sometimes the donations even get taken by some of the workers and/or parents and then sold. Imogene works hard to make sure that doesn't happen by checking with the children and watching the schools closely. If she finds out that the donations have been taken away from the children, she takes will refuse to work with the school again. Most of the schools are very happy to have Imogene's help and are very grateful. She has formed good bonds with most of the administrators and they love to have her come. Several of the schools we visited offered us refreshments and spent time talking to us about how the children were doing, what their schools needs were. Clearly Imogene's work was a big help to them.

Our hearts were touched by this trip. We hope to continue looking for mission trips such as this where we can affect children in particular. If no one watches for the children, then who will? They are the future and we want to impact that future for Christ.

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