Hi, my name is Tigger! Well, only if you know of my friendship with dear Mona, would you understand my greeting. See, when Mona and I worked together in the Oradea, Romania we were like Tigger and Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh.
She was well organized, for example, bringing over enough spices from back home to ensure she could make whatever recipe she fancied, and I was just elated to be there, taking it one day at a time. However, like any good friendship, our original and repeated misunderstandings turned into a strong bond of which I passionately say is one of the most proud treasures in my life. We shared a time in our lives that can never be precisely repeated only cherished as a memory.
My memories vary from Mona's although some foundational similarities we shared.
I too volunteered to go to Oradea through the ministry, Children In The Son as an intern. I too am forever changed by what I witnessed, felt, and lived through. Oradea, in the last 10 plus years has surely developed beyond how I remember it. Bright green grass. Dark grey bumpy roads. Dusty unlevel sidewalks. Lots of pedestrians. Street beggars. Greasy taxi drivers. Scary stray dogs.
Feeling so confused because I did not know the language, dangers, or who to trust at the outdoor market. Those are the little specks in my memories to set the stage.
What I remember more clearly is how I felt while I was there. So close to God. So sensitive to His voice. In-step with Him and doing what His heart was for; the orphaned, the abandoned.
Tell them I love them. Tell them they are not forgotten. I know every hair on their head. Even though no one is there to pick them up and hold them when you cry, I am there. I hear you.
That is why I was sent to Oradea, Romania. To tell the babies in our care and on the 6th floor of the Hospital De Copii that God loves them.
The turnaround moment for Mona and I from estranged acquaintances to forever friends was our joint visit to the Hospital De Copii. The babies were like statues in their steel cribs, bundled so tightly so they could not move. The air was stale as you can imagine being on the 6th floor, no air conditioning, and the windows were closed shut. We began picking up the babies, quickly loosening their wrap, and sneaking over to the window, cracking it open, and taking turns of letting the babies feel the breeze on their faces. That visit and the one that followed are both easy and difficult for me to remember. This is not a story; it is a memory with real faces. (I had forgotten that)
I could write a book on all the disturbing things we saw but there was one thing we could actually do something about. When I say 'we' I mean 'Rabbit.' So this is a little of how the conversation went:
"Mona, this is so sad. Their ears are full of wax, they are dirty, and haven't had a bath probably ever!"
"Let's go shopping then. Come back and do it ourselves" she replied. And that is exactly what we did.
We returned with a bag full of baby shampoo and q-tips. Unfortunately, the hospital did not have hot water so we had no choice but to bath them in a shallow sink of cold water. We bathed probably 4-5 babies and went through a whole box of q-tips! Each baby cried through the bath time but then we saw for the first time, smiles. I know how yucky I feel if I haven't showered and then feel so much better once I do. We were able to bring this good feeling to a place where I do not shy away from describing like hell on earth.
Not everyone can go to Romania but we can connect with what Mona is doing. Because I also have seen firsthand Mona's passion and desire to continue to reach out to the babies, my husband and I support the work she is doing. There are so many not-for-profits doing good things. However the difference with Mona's is it is directly affecting the babies. They literally do not get held all day, so she sends Alina to pick them up and sing to them. The nipples on the bottles they use are cut; the formula drops down their throat, so Mona makes arrangements for proper nipples to be used so all babies do not miss out on the developing stage of sucking a bottle.( When the hospital allows it.) They literally sit in wet cloths all day, so she raises money to buy diapers, befriending the skeptical staff to ensure it gets used for the babies.
The children are as unforgettable as the friends I made. Many of you know and may financially support, like we do, the work Alina is doing by way of Mona's ministry. I can tell you in full confidence that Alina's character and purity of heart is a rare find. She is so selfless, loves Jesus and sings beautifully to each baby as she cares for them like they were her own. In a way they are. (This is so true!)
I am so grateful to participate in what Mona is doing. These babies truly are not forgotten because we back home not only remember them, or feel like we know them through Mona's visits, but do something about it.
And that makes Tigger not the only one!
Thank-you Tigger! That was beautiful! Love, Rabby