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Church Youths Fulfill Mission to Romania

July 24, 2002

The youth program at McLean Presbyterian Church took two trips to Romania to help the youth of the country through constructing a house, entertaining the children, and leading a sports camp.

The first trip lasted from June 22 to June 29 and the second began June 30 and ended July 8. During the trips, the youth led by volunteer leaders and the director and assistant director of the youth program at the church did a variety of activities from constructing a home for a family to teaching children how to play baseball.

The trips were a part of the Romanian Christian Enterprises (RCE) which aims to help the disadvantaged youth of the nation. The church became involved in the program years ago because several members of the RCE board are also members of the church.

THE CHURCH TAKES three to four trips a year. Every summer the youth go on a trip and this year, they went to Romania. In past years they have visited the Dominican Republic among other countries.

Generally the senior high youth go internationally, while the junior high youth stay national, youth director Chris Bear said. He is unsure if the youth will revisit Romania next summer because the calendar has not been finalized.

For each youth to go, they had to raise $1,200 each. That cost paid for all expenses including a financial gift to the children in Romania. The youth held a car wash to raise money as well as sending out letters to the community in hopes of receiving a donation.

Many of the children who are helped are orphans, ill, handicapped both mentally and physically, or facing some other special need. The children are up for adoption and the church and RCE help in the adoption process.

During the first of the two trips, seven of the church youth, led by assistant youth director Jessica Mendoza along with three other leaders, helped to construct a home for a family that adopted orphaned children. They also spent time with the children through a picnic and other activities. They went to Arad, Romania for the week, three days for construction, and two days to play with the youngsters.

On one of the days they played with the children, they went to the Darius House sponsored by RCE. They spent time with eight children who were handicapped. They "spent the day playing games, [having] water balloon fights, and just having fun," said Mendoza.

The Darius House is home to eight orphans who are taken out of the state orphanages and put into the house, funded by RCE. Mendoza believes that the house offers a better environment for the children partly because they receive around-the-clock care. "[Darius House is] kind of a family for the kids [and] hopefully [they'll] be adopted." Mendoza said.

The last day they were there, they had a picnic with the orphans with handicaps who came from state orphanages.

DURING THE SECOND TRIP, the youth led a summer camp in which they taught baseball and played other sports with the children. "They'd tackle each other and it was fun." said Jon Tonkowich about the children they taught baseball to. Bear led this trip along with nine others.

Tonkowich said that he had a great time on the trip and really enjoyed helping the kids. Last year he got a friend to go on a trip and now they have become involved with the church as well. "Well, I've been on all the other mission trips and I love mission trips." said Tonkowich, explaining why he goes.

"It was pretty neat just to see [and] experience that with the kids." said Mendoza.

The church website is www.mcleanpres.org.