January 2024

Personal Note from Mardie:

On November 15th my sister, Wanda, had a bone marrow transplant. I was considered a perfect match and so was honored to be able to donate life-giving stem cells. We both want to express our sincere gratitude for the prayers and well-wishes that have encouraged and sustained us throughout this time. As difficult as many moments have been, we know that God was creating miracles within Wanda’s body and throughout the extensive procedures and treatments.

Wanda received and will continue to receive excellent care from the teams of medical personnel who attend her. She returned home on December 6th and is progressing well. Her blood counts are now within normal limits. Pray that she will gain strength and that she will continue to recuperate to full capacity.

Ukrainian Refugee Stories told by Vera

Vera Katsel is our Bucharest International Church representative working with the network of churches (UBC) who are bringing aid to Ukrainian refugees in Bucharest. She has worked with 1000-1200 individuals personally over the last ten months. Vera received sponsorship in 2023 from the Emergency Relief and Development Organization (ERDO) of our PAOC mission.

"My kids"

One day, when coming to the center, I was approached by a few of the teenagers. They told me they want to have a serious talk with me about their life and future. When we went to a separate room for the talk, they told me they want me to help them to find a job for the summer and to decide what they should do regarding studies starting in the fall.

I helped them find part time jobs and started looking for study opportunities for the boys. Since then, we have become very close and one boy, David, even asked me jokingly to adopt him. Now I have five teens who, jokingly or not, call me “mom” from time to time.

David's little sister Eva

David's parents came to Bucharest from the Ukraine to visit him right before his 18th birthday. They took with them his 3-year-old sister. As we were standing outside and chatting with his mother, Eva started shouting: “Look, look! There is an airplane!” Her mom explained the reaction: “She is amazed to see the airplanes flying. Actually, she has never seen an airplane in the air back home. It would be something very bad if she would see one. You know, Vera, we went out today with David to see the city center. We sat on a bench right next to the fountains in the main square in Bucharest and I felt so much peace here. I know you say the traffic is so busy and loud, but you know, back home I have always the awareness and the fear that in any moment I'll have to run and flee the country. This is such a blessed place!” And she thanked me again for taking care of David and helping him with everything.

Vera helping David learn Romanian and apply for study opportunities

Vera participating in one of the many gatherings held for the benefit of the Ukrainian refugees

Reaching Out Romania update with director, Iana Matei:

anti-human trafficking effort

“God is doing a work,” says Iana. “I often pray for the girls as I walk down the hallway in the shelter and when I pass their rooms. I pray for their protection at school, I pray away the temptations, I pray that the girls will come to know that they are the same wonderful person that God created.” Six of the girls in the home have now made a choice to place their faith in Jesus and have been water baptized. They still have arduous challenges to overcome, but this is a definitive action step that provides a foundation for their life.

Christmas vacation was an occasion for the girls to enjoy the carefree aspect of being a child in a loving family. Games, gifts, good food and fun at the fair were all part of their Christmas experience.

Bucharest International Church

There was standing room only as more than one hundred Nepalese gathered for their Christmas celebration. Three years ago, three people asked if they could use the office at our R10 activity center to sing songs in their own language. Now, a vibrant community meets each Sunday and continues to reach out across the city and to the nation.