Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why the Bridge of Love?

So Mason...you have your crazy adventure, and your crazy idea to help out kids on the other side of the world, but, why? Why Romania and why Bridge of Love?
Well, dear reader, I will tell you why.

From 2009 to 2011 I lived in Romania. I was a missionary serving for two years for my church. I spent two years living with the Romanian people, learning their language, learning their culture, and falling in love with it all. I still feel very connected to that place. In fact I really was rooting hard for the Romanian gymnasts in these recent Olympics. So far...bronze all around and gold for the vault. That is cool. 

One of the people I met in Romania was a man named Alin. He is a gypsy, or, more politically correct, Roma. Alin was the nicest and happiest man I ever knew. This was something that always surprised me because he was also homeless. He had a recent falling away with his family and decided to move to the big city. Sadly he found no work and no place to live. For shelter he constructed a small hut out of garbage in the middle of a large dirt field. This field was a "community" of people in similar situations. He made his "living" by picking through garbage looking for old metal he could sell to junkyards. It was a heartbreaking situation.
Alin and I
To make it even worse Alin had two children, Alin Jr., and Denisa. They were the cutest little kids on the face of the earth, and neither was more than three years old. I remember one day I got invited to visit Alin. He was out in the field chasing stray dogs away and his kids were running around in the dirt. Little Alin Jr. was stark naked, barefoot, and all muddy. It was a deplorable and unhealthy situation for those children. Despite all of this Alin did everything he could to keep custody of his children, to keep them out of the orphanages. The thought of his children going there was terrifying to him, so they continued to live their sad little existence.

My mission President and his wife Scott Lundberg and Laurie Lundberg, had started the Bridge of Love organization years before they were asked to serve in Romania. It is a great organization that has helped many of the abandoned or orphaned children find a better life among foster homes. In fact, their youngest son, Josh, is a native Romanian who they had the rare opportunity to adopt.

At the end of my mission my family and another missionary's family, came to visit us before we returned to America. They coordinated with the Lundbergs to bring supplies like coats, shoes, school supplies and such to the Bridge of Love foundation. We got to deliver these much needed materials to the foundation and spend a day with the kids and their foster families. We had games and activities. The children looked happy, and healthy. They were connected and had a greater hope for the future than Alin Jr. and Denisa did. Things were different than they had been. The kids had homes, they had toys, they weren't sitting alone in cribs banging their heads on the wall like they were when the Lundbergs first visited Romania. Things were good for them.

I got to see for myself the difference that the Bridge of Love has made for these children. I love the Romanian people, and I would be honored to be able to do something, anything, to help them. This cause is near and dear to my heart. I'm grateful for what I can do to help the Little Alins and Denisas who don't have anyone right now.  

My mom, Tanner carrying a bag of clothes, and my
little sister in the back
My little brother, my mother, and I with a group
of the kids
One of the Romanian boys
One of the Romanian girls 
Playing games
My little brother playing with the kids

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