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Romania mission is a gift

Staff writer

Judi Stewart knew about the Heart to Heart International mission to orphanages in Romania but never imagined she would have the opportunity to be a part of it.

The organization was established in 1992. It recruits volunteers to provide medical education and deliver medical aid and crisis care in numerous countries around the world.

Stewart is planning to travel March 25 to Romania, where she will spend five weeks working in several orphanages.

The 68-year-old retired schoolteacher has a friend, Jennifer Schroeder, a fellow teacher who spent a couple of summers in Romania and has been there full time the past 11 years.

It sounds ironic, but Stewart’s opportunity to go to Romania is directly connected to the death of her husband, Ron, in November.

“This came about because of him,” she said.

Ron was dying of cancer in late October and was under hospice care when hospital personnel requested to put him in a nursing home. He was weak, and they were no longer able to care for him. Neither Ron nor Judi wanted that.

The Stewarts asked their friends to join them in praying for guidance as to what to do.

The next morning, friends Lee and Charlotte Love of Mount Pleasant, Texas, called and prayed with Judi. When they heard her concerns, they said they would come the next day to help Judi care for Ron.

That night, Ron woke in the middle of the night and asked Judi to go to the bank and withdraw a certain amount of money to give to the Loves. He asked her repeatedly until 9 a.m. came and Judi was able to go to the bank and fulfill his request.

“He was very insistent,” she said. “It was not at all like him.”

Ron was visibly relieved after Judi gave the money to the Loves when they arrived.

The Loves were perplexed. They had received money before to aid them in their involvement with various mission outreaches. However, this time, they were not actively involved and did not know what to do with the money.

“You keep it until the Lord shows us what to do with this money,” Charlotte Love told Stewart.

Six days after the Loves had arrived, Charlotte told Stewart,

“I know what to do with the money. It’s for a trip to Romania.”

“That is so exciting,” Stewart said. “You are going to love Jen.”

“You don’t understand,” Charlotte said. “This money is for you to go to Romania.”

Stewart said she sat down and cried. That evening, Nov. 6, her husband died peaceably in his own home, surrounded by family and friends.

“This trip to Romania is a gift from him and the Lord,” Stewart said. “It has softened the blow.”

The people of Romania are very poor and cannot give proper care to their orphans, she said.

Children are grouped in orphanages based on their ages. Stewart looks forward to caring for infants in an orphanage full of babies. She said the babies normally are never held or touched and have no emotional bonding to caretakers.

She hopes to teach older orphans basic living skills, hygiene, and so forth. She plans to teach lessons on friendship and also direct craft activities.

“The children are so appreciative,” she said. “They have so little and are hungry for love. So that is our job — to let them know that we care about them.’

Charlotte Love will accompany Stewart to Romania. They will go with a team of people from around the U.S. The team will stay in one location and travel from orphanage to orphanage on a team bus, accompanied by an interpreter.

They are collecting supplies to take with them to Romania, such as baby wipes, balloons, crayons, and tacky glue.

“I never thought I’d be doing this,” Stewart said. “The Lord has provided everything I needed — travel money, a passport, and praying friends. I will be touching lives, and that’s the whole point.”

Last modified Jan. 27, 2011

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