A mission to Romania

Inside the clock tower in Sibiu, Romania

Photo from AsUntoJesus.com

By Lisa Morton

Melvyn, Bonnie, and children J.B. Hannah, and Rebekah Van Horn, a Missionary family, enjoyed a nice visit here in Van Horn, where they spoke to the congregation of The Van Horn Community Church. They were guests of the church a couple of weeks ago after Melvyn’s brother stayed overnight in Van Horn.  Pastor Tilley was quick to invite the family of five to speak to his congregation before they set off on a mission to visit as many churches as they can and logging close to 20,000 miles before returning to their home village of Jdiora in Romania.

The Van Horn’s first stay in Jdioara was for only 2 weeks in 2014 and recently spent another year and a half there.  Romania is a small country about the size of Oregon with over 20,000,000 people.  It is located in Western Romania and borders Ukraine at the Northeastern portion which borders Russia.  The closest village with a high school is Lugoa 20 kilometers away and there is city an hour and a half drive away called Timisaora which has a McDonalds, KFC and a mall.

There has not been much activity in the way of refugees fleeing into Romania as it is a very poor country with few resources.  The annual average income for a college educated Romanian is only $300.  College is very affordable.  Not many people drive as gas prices are closing in at $5/gal.  Food and housing, on the other hand, are reasonable with prices about the same as our US prices.

Jdioara is a very poor town and the missionary family’s main focus is with the children Boraca, the local Christian orphanage, and with widows and outcasts.  “Some are not true orphans as their families are so poor that they are unable to properly care for their children and surrender them to these facilities”, said Merlyn.  There are 21 orphans from age 4 to 18 in the facility and most are not adopted as adoption is closed to other than Romanian nationals as there was a severe problem with human trafficking and the locals are too poor to adopt these children.  English has become the second language there since the fall of Communism in 1989 and only the older generation does not speak English.  This makes communication easier for the Van Horn’s.  Orphans will help translate with their visits with the elderly as they minister throughout Jdioara.

Once orphans graduate from high school, the Mission helps to them become independent by sending them to a transition home in the city of Arad, two and a half hours away for the village.  Girls get help finding jobs at a factory there, placing them in apartments with other girls with the goal of setting them up for success.  Recently a few of the boys, who are more like brothers, moved to the city of Timishuada after graduation.

For the orphans of Boraca, classes at school begin at 8 a.m. and are dismissed at 2:00 or 3:00.  Homework takes about 3 or 4 hours, followed by dinner and maybe some free time to watch a movie or play outside.

Behind the orphanage is a skate park that Germans came and donated and built, along with a basketball goal and soccer field.  Last summer a large team of missionaries from a church in Illinois called Speranta, which means hope, came to donate their time to this particular orphanage and built a playground along with donating supplies.

The orphanage has good water and electricity but the same is not available to widows who are not provided the luxury and have to be extremely resourceful.  Most will own a least an acre of crops basically to sustain themselves.  The villagers are a very giving people who want to share what little they have.  Boraca has a scheduled Clinic and Dental program in the orphanage where doctors come and donate their somewhat limited time to anyone in need of the free services.

J. B. and Hannah explained Christmas traditions of Boraca.  The night before Christmas Eve, the children go to a certain spot in the village and burn a bonfire of old tires all night they’ve saved all year long.  Around 6:00 in the morning, everyone in the village comes together to light a tree on fire and the children go door to door singing a native chant specific to the village,  basically asking for sweets handed out by the locals.

Although Melvyn and Bonnie struggle a bit speaking Romanian, their children greeted everyone at the Van Horn Community Church in Romanian.  Boraca, for the most part, is like going back 100 years but the Van Horn’s do have Wi-Fi and noted that many locals have smart phones and use Facebook so they are not completely disconnected from the outside world.  It is not unusual to see a shepherd in a robe reminiscent of biblical times, on a cell phone with major traffic jams come from the flocks crossing the roads.  Cattle seem to know where their homes are and wander the village at will.  Still. Bonnie says the village moves at a much slower pace and most mothers stay at home tending to the daily lives of the family.

Melvyn shares a story with The Advocate about a 14-year-old boy named Bogdan who loves cars.  On a recent trip to the city, Bogdan prayed God would let him see a green Lamborghini, which to everyone’s amazement, they saw. The driver allowed him to have his picture taken sitting in the luxury sport car.  Melyn’s message to Bogdan was that God doesn’t always answer our prayers like this, but this time God was particularly showing Bogdan that he can answer prayers and this was one he would never ever forget for the rest of his life.

The Van Horns ended the interview with a big prayer request for their need for a better home in Boraca that they currently share with visiting missionaries, and to continue their work bringing the word of God to the people of Boraca, Romania.  The Van Horn’s missionary site can be found at AsUntoJesus.com.