Give Me Your Heart for the Ones ForgottenJuly 2nd, 2013
The title comes from the song “Give Me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath. It’s a line that has been my prayer for the last two years – ever since God called me to be a missionary and gave me a heart for His children in Romania.
My call to become a missionary came when I was a junior in college. In the spring of 2011, I was studying abroad at Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Austrian campus. People who had studied in Austria had always told me that the semester would change my life. I never expected that the most radical change would come in the small farming town of Turt, Romania.
My first trip to Romania happened when I joined the mission team about a week before we left. As I look back, it was definitely in God’s plan that all of my plans fall through and I come to Romania. As soon as we got to the orphanage and the kids came running at us, I fell in love with everything about it. Throughout the week, we spent about half of our time at the orphanage and the other half helping Fr. Remus Ghiran in his parish. I remember telling then 5-year-old Codruţ that I would be back to see him one day, hopefully soon.
Kevin Kacvinsky, my friend and the founder of Missions of Hope, came to me shortly after I returned to the United States asking if I knew of anyone who would want to be a missionary in Romania. Kevin actually didn’t know that I had been to Romania when I was abroad. Without even a second of hesitation, I told Kevin that I would do it and he looked at me with a look of complete shock and said, “Really?!” I laughed and told him that I had been to Romania just a few months before and I wanted to return as soon as I possibly could. We then worked out the logistics for almost a year and in August 2012, just 10 days after I graduated college, I moved to Romania to be a missionary.
I was in Romania from August-December 2012. The first day I visited the orphanage in August, some of the older kids remembered me. It was not too long after I got there that Codruţ came outside to see what the spectacle was. It took him a couple minutes of looking at me to remember who I was. I could see on his face that he remembered seeing me before but he wasn’t sure where. Then, it clicked. His face lit up and he jumped into my arms and wrapped his arms around my neck exactly the way he did in this picture from the mission trip. It was then that I knew this whole missionary thing was right.
The kids at the orphanage are amazing. They are so young and most of them have been through more than most people will ever go though in their entire lives, but they still manage to find joy each day. Their laughter is my favorite sound in the entire world. I can be having the worst day and a smile from just one of the kids can change the day.
A few weeks ago, I returned to Romania for a 6-month stay. Just before I left, a friend asked me if there was any job that would make me give up my mission work. I told him that at this point, absolutely not. Being a missionary is exactly where God wants me and I have no doubt about that. He has asked me to love His children forgotten by the world. I’m not about to say no to that.
“I’m not here to eliminate poverty, to eradicate disease, or to put a stop to people abandoning babies. I’m just here to love.” –Katie Davis, missionary in Uganda