Every few weeks in this space, a board member or director shares about the heart or philosophy behind the ministry. Marti Carroll is a physical therapist who has been involved with RCE for nearly two decades.
I met 6 year old Florin (Flor-een) way back in 1999 on my very first trip to Romania. Back then he was one of many abandoned children living in a state orphanage in Arad. A year later, RCE’s Darius House opened and Florin would leave the orphanage to live there with six other children who had special needs just like him. I was on hand as Florin ate real food for the first time after years of orphanage mush. As a six year old he had never eaten a banana, something he moved around inside of his mouth for a long while before he felt it was safe to swallow. Later on, at the official opening of Darius House, I held Florin in my arms as he proudly displayed his eating abilities by attempting to ingest the microphone held by a Romanian TV station reporter who wanted an interview for the evening news.
On other trips, we worked together to refine his walking, improve his coordination and get him stronger. Florin had also started school. First at RCE’s Sunshine School for special needs children and eventually attending a school in the city. At some point along the way, I heard Florin had taken up the violin. Simply amazing, I thought…from state orphanage to violin lessons! Having a few years of violin under my belt, I thought it might be fun to check in on my friend. We spent a few minutes playing together before Florin dismissed me as well as my technique. He did let me stay and listen to him play a few simple notes, trying desperately to show me the ‘right’ way to play the vioara (vio-ara).
Long since adopted into a family in Arad, I saw Florin many times over the years on my visits to Romania. He finished school, was living with his Darius House brother Ionica, and was proud to tell me that while he spent some time with his violin, he realized it wasn’t for him in the end.
Last August I saw Florin on RCE’s campus and realized he had become a man. He toiled in the hot sun alongside other RCE folk who were taking down buildings so new ones could be put up. As Florin pushed wheelbarrows full of building material back and forth, he looked strong, happy and was smiling and laughing, as always. When we see one another, he always puts up his arms as if to play an invisible violin, his way of asking me if I would like to play with him again. Florin is 21 now and he put down his violin twelve years ago, but that happy memory persists. We can’t speak to one another with words, but can communicate in ways even more meaningful. From orphanage to violin to wheelbarrow, a living miracle he is.