May 11, 2008 (Sunday)
This morning I woke up to get ready for church, and I stepped out of the shower and there was a huge cock roach so I had to kill it – so disgusting! Then I went to blow dry my hair and the blow dryer started smoking profusely…the appliances in Romania are terrible. I don’t know what the deal is. Then I went to church which was excellent as usual, and us girls had to go to church an hour early for our first choir practice. The choir consists of the BYU girls and the missionaries. Everyone was singing whether or not they were able to…needless to say we still sounded decent. After we practiced a particular hymn with the group about once we were asked to sing in sacrament meeting – so we did. It’s very fast paced around here…The first hymn we sang had a word in Romanian in it that if we pronounced it slightly wrong it would sound like we were saying the “f” word in Romanian…way to bring the spirit in. It was kind of funny because we all got real quiet when we had to sing that word because we were all afraid we were going to pronounce it wrong.
Church is kind of hard to sit through – we have the missionaries to translate, but I feel bad because the teacher or speaker will stop in between every sentence so the missionary can translate what they are saying. It’s nice of them to do it for us so we don’t have to sit through three hours of meetings only understanding about two words that are spoken, but it’s kind of distracting having several people speaking at once. Elisa (our facilitator) said the missionaries wouldn’t translate for their group when she came a couple of years ago because they didn’t want to – I guess we are lucky.
During church Elisa asked MacKenzie and I if we wanted to go to the hospital that afternoon. We aren’t required to go on the weekends, but apparently we can if we want to so we decided to give it a shot since we hadn’t been yet. After church we quickly got dressed in our bright blue scrubs and headed off to the hospital. When I first walked in I felt like I was in a nightmare. The hospital was horrid looking. The walls were stark white, the floors were broken in sporadic places, glass windows were broken and everything looked and smelled old. I couldn’t believe people stayed there when they were sick. I thought our hospitals were bad. I was scared just walking in there – I couldn’t imagine how scared the children must have been that were staying there. MacKenzie and I were pretty shocked. We just looked at each other and kept following Elisa. She was showing us where to go since it was our first time.
Elisa showed us what to do once we got to the hospital. When we arrive we are supposed to go to each floor and ask the nurses “Aveti copii fara mama?” which means “Do you have kids without a mom?” If they have kids on the floor that don’t have a mom then they show us where they are and we hold and take care of them. The first floor we went to didn’t have any kids without moms so we went to the next one. Elisa dropped me off in a room that had several babies in it. One of them didn’t have a mom, and I picked her up and held her. With the babies we just hold them and then we change their diaper if needed. The little girl I picked up was probably about 4 months old and she was absolutely beautiful. You could tell the poor thing was so sick though. She had snot coming out of her nose and her entire body shook when she coughed. As I rocked her and held her close I kept thinking it’s not fair that these children don’t have anyone to care and love them. It’s just not fair. I softly touched her cheek and smiled and talked to her. After a while she finally smiled back. Some of these poor babies are simply lethargic. They just sit in their cribs all day and are rarely held – they have no one to love them – not even when they are sick except for a few strangers like us…I can’t think about it too much. It’s so sad – the only thing that makes me happy was the small light in her eyes that I saw when I smiled at her, but it was hard - really hard – but I’m grateful to bring a little light into someone else’s life.
The next room over I went to had another baby even smaller than the one I had just held. She was probably about a month old and she had a tube coming out of her nose and a tube coming out of her head. She was tiny and frail. She was also very sick…at one point she started coughing so hard that she turned blue. I thought I needed to get a nurse but then she stopped…Apparently they call her the blue baby. I couldn’t get out of my mind that these poor things have to bear being sick alone – not to mention life – at least for the time being. They are so tiny and fragile. I sang to this baby, held her close and told her everything was going to be alright…I kept singing nursery hymns and primary songs like “I Am A Child of God.”
In both the rooms I held the babies there were several other iron cribs with other children. Some gypsy moms were in there. The culture is very different here. A gypsy mom just lied on the bed with her baby and her baby just played with her chest quite openly…she didn’t seem to care that I was there. At first it was a little awkward, but I just smiled at her baby and she smiled back. The language barrier made it hard to say too much, but I managed to get out a few sentences.
After I laid the babies down – which was hard to do – I went down to switch places with Mindy who was on another floor. Melissa and Mindy had been feeding an orphan boy who was badly burned in a fire. When I walked into the room the site was quite gruesome, but I handled it better than expected. The boys name was Mario and his entire family was killed in a fire. His face was badly burned and so was the rest of his entire body. His nose and hands had been burned off along with other body parts so the girls were feeding him. It will be an image I will never get out of my mind…never… If you would like to learn more about his story the girls who came before us put together a Web site for him at www.teammarius.org
Next to him was another boy who was about 13 years old who had also been burned in a fire, and his name was Florine. His face hadn’t been burned but the rest of his body had. Melissa and I tried talking to the boys in our broken Romanian – it was soooooooooo frustrating trying to speak to them. They could speak well and between the two of us we could barely put sentences together. The boys were good sports though – they just laughed at us and attempted to teach us words in Romanian. I WISH I were better at speaking the language! It was quite intimidating that they could speak well, but I had a blast being with them anyways. It was the most frustrating thing in the world to not be able to ask and say fairly simple things. I basically played charades with them in order to get him to understand what I was doing. I’m going to bring a dictionary with me next time I go….
Florine was an absolutely adorable boy – such a sweetheart. He drew me pictures on a magna doodle and told me what the words meant in Romanian. He has been in the hospital for about 1 month and 3 weeks…we asked the boys what they did all day and they said lay in bed. The thought of laying in a bed with severe burns for that long in the most terrifying hospital I had ever seen made me sick. Those boys amaze me – so courageous. My problems are so so so so so so trivial. Right before I left Florine drew me a picture of hearts and flowers – it was cute. I think he liked me visiting him – I can’t wait to visit the boys again. I’m more motivated than ever to work on my Romanian….
On the way home from the hospital I was a bit overwhelmed…but I will be fine. It’s amazing how people can live in the same world and experience such different things. My heart aches for the kids – but hopefully I can bring some sunshine into their life. I’m trying not to let the sadness get to me too much, but it’s going to be hard, and I have a feeling there are going to be several instances where I’m going to break down and cry over the next few months – which is normal considering the circumstances… being with these kids made me never want to complain about my life – I have no right to. They have nothing and they still manage to laugh. If anyone is reading this please keep the kids in your prayers – they need all the help they can get…
After the hospital all both the apartments got together to have Sunday dinner. While we were gone apparently Mary and Annie had a creepy experience. Some guy had called our apartment and asked if he had reached the “American” girls. Mary said she thought it was some guy in the branch who was looking for us so she said yes. Then he continued talking to her in broken English saying that he had seen us in “the Halla” which is a place where we buy our groceries and that we were very beautiful. He continued to tell her over and over again that he loved American girls. She asked him if he had spoken to us and he said he was too shy. Then she asked him how he got our phone number and he said that he worked for a phone company or something like that…I was like great the last thing we need is stalkers on our hands….SO CREEPY! I told the girls if he called again to hang up – I don’t have a good feeling about it.
After the events of the day all us girls were a bit irritable. We have a lot to deal with right now, and we have to make sure we don’t take it out on each other….today was Mother’s Day, and I wanted to talk to both my mothers so bad! I still can’t seem to figure out how to communicate over the phone. It is quite the process…I really need to talk to my parents! I was kind of panicking tonight. I NEED to talk to someone who is familiar to me. Our apartment doesn’t have the internet so it makes it really hard to get anything done or to communicate with the outside world – quite frustrating. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.
Tonight Elisa told us what rooms we are going to be working in. Every morning of the week I will be working in the orphanage in the Mickey Mouse room with some toddlers and other children who are unable to move. Then on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons I will be going to work with children in the apartments on floor 3 and 7 and on Tuesday and Thursday I will work in the hospital in the afternoons. I think it will work out well…