Rachel was born in Newburyport, MA, and raised in a loving, Christian home. Her heart was first stirred towards missions by her grandparents and other relatives who have spent their lives in East Asia in cross-cultural ministry. While a student at Gordon College the doors were opened to join a Servant Team in Romania with Word Made Flesh . This time of intense exposure and discipleship in community among the poor opened her eyes to see God’s heart for widows and the fatherless. In 2002 Rachel moved to Galati, Romania, where she served as Servant Team Coordinator, led worship for the community, and mentored youth at the Community Center and on the streets. In 2010, Rachel joined a team committed to forming a new Word Made Flesh community in the capital city of Moldova. As this team of five began their life together, doors opened for them to reach out to institutionalized children at one of the country’s largest former orphanages. Rachel currently serves as Community Care Facilitator and as arts and crafts teacher for La VIA’s after-school kids program.
Nothing is accidental….
Adriana was born in southern Moldova and grew up in a village not far from the capital city, Chişinău.She graduated high school in the same year in which the Soviet empire collapsed. At this time Adriana was 16 years old as she went through a major transition both in her life as well as in her country. All stability showed its illusory face….
Then Adriana worked as a cultural and language facilitator for the US Peace Corps in Moldova, her first experience with people from outside of her country. In this way, she lived and worked with volunteers in different villages and every year saw the immediate effects of transition and poverty—one consequence being the abandonment of many children by their parents who left the country to earn a living abroad.
Also in this time, Adriana had a journey with and toward God. All that she took from home was the image of the church on a hill in her village, a church she didn’t attend because the Soviet regime wouldn’t allow it. But she also took the image of Jesus from an icon in her parents’ house and later would discover the image of a God who is also truly alive and sensitive. Adriana’s journey has just begun, and her search continues together with all marginalized children and their families.
Magdalena was born in Galati, a beautiful city in Romania. She has a large and wonderful family: 2 parents, 2 brothers and 6 sisters. So there are 9 children in all. Even if during her childhood she didn’t see it as a blessing to have so many children in her family, she now realizes how blessed she is to have so many brothers and sisters. It is amazing for Magdalena to have someone to talk to all the time and to know that she can rely on their help in moments of crisis.
Magdalena likes to laugh, to be happy, to have guests over and to lounge in bed, especially in the morning. She likes to see the beauty in people who are dejected or marginalized, and she likes to help them discover their identity. Magdalena also really likes to see God respond to prayer. She feels so honored to have such a great and wonderful God who is full of kindness and patience for her and is the Lord of her life. She admits that she doesn’t know what she would do without God. She is dependent on God.
For six years Magdalena was blessed to serve Jesus among the poor with the WMF community in Galati. They were extraordinarily blessed years in which God taught her many things.
Three years ago, God made a change in Magdalena’s life, a change that she wouldn’t have believed could happen, and namely, to move to Moldova. It was a difficult decision, taking into account that everything she had was in Galati. But she wanted to be obedient and to leave her place of comfort and safety, in this way being able to experience more of life with God and dependence on God, not people. When Magdalena was still 11 or 12 and someone would ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up, her answer was always the same: to work in an orphanage in order to be a sister or a mother for children who have no one. She didn’t think that this dream of hers would become true after so many years, but the way God leads God’s children is wonderful. Magdalena now works in an orphanage in Chisinau and hopes with all of her heart to continue to be a sister or a mother for children who have no one.
Vitalie has had several different names over the course of his life. His Romanian teacher called him Valerica, and his friends in Galati called him Volodea (probably after Vladimir Lenin), Vitalis (after a brand of corn flakes) and Vivaldi (it’s not really known why because Vitalie doesn’t play any instrument). Vitalie was born on October 25, 1977 and is originally from Ukraine. He went to school in Romania and currently works for WMF Moldova’s local organization, La VIA. Vitalie was born into a family of non-practicing Orthodox Christians, but during his first year of studies he started going to a Baptist church. Currently Vitalie attends two churches—the Baptist church “Jesus the Savior” and the Catholic church “Divine Providence.” In each of them he finds something that enrichens him. He has two brothers, a sister and two nieces. After finishing university, Vitalie worked for 7 years as a Romanian teacher in the village where he was born. He then completed several courses in formation literature translation and then translated several books. None, however, have yet been published. Later, for several years, Vitalie worked as a self-taught construction worker. Now he works as an educator for La VIA in Chisinau. In his free time, Vitalie likes to read and to watch movies. He really likes Philip Yancey’s books, and in terms of movies, “A Good Year” with Russell Crowe is on the top of his list. He is engaged to Rachel Simons, and they are thinking about a wedding.
Violeta Hotnogu was born in southern Moldova into a family of four children. She had a wonderful childhood alongside her three siblings. Violeta came to know God when she was 12 years old and since then has continued to live her life according to God’s will. Her desire to know God even more motivated her to study at the Bible College in Braila, Romania. After finishing college, she gradually got involved in ministry with children because she loved them so much. Specifically, she taught (and still teaches) Bible lessons in camps and Sunday school in church, and then her work grew until she began organizing summer camps. At the same time, Violeta started to study at the University of Education “Ion Creanga” to be a primary school teacher. She finished in 2013.
While she was studying, Violeta prayed that God would give her a job that would allow her to share the love she feels for children. By chance she got to know a few of the people who had come to Chisinau with an organization called Word Made Flesh. She was interested and got involved as a volunteer. Over time Violeta understood that this was God’s answer for her regarding a job. So she is now happily working alongside the children and staff of La VIA. She likes what she does and is glad that she found this ministry.
Annie Keith grew up in various parts of the US, but lived most of her life in the small town of Orange City, Iowa, with her parents, two younger sisters, and younger brother. Annie went to church with her family growing up, and asked Jesus to be in her life when she was little.
After graduating from Northwestern College in Iowa, Annie eventually migrated to Des Moines, Iowa, where she worked for Principal Financial Group for five years. During those years, she became rooted into her local community, officially and unofficially serving the youth and general community of Grimes. Annie began going to Sunday night youth group simply to help her friend—get pencils, talk to kids on the couch, crowd control, etc. Six years later she’d had the privilege of being present and watching Jesus work in the lives of the kids of the community through tragedies, mission trips, and the beauty of every day conversations.
Annie spent a lot of time in college and the years following serving on short-term mission trips, and still desired to serve overseas full-time. A good friend gave her an issue of The Cry, saying “I think you’ll like this organization.” She appreciated the honesty and insight of the writers, and the relationship-based ministry focus of Word Made Flesh. Annie then participated in a servant team in Galati, Romania, desiring to serve and encourage to the children and staff at Casa Vale in 2009. A bit unexpectedly, she found herself committed to serving in this part of the world, especially after spending two weeks in Moldova during her servant team. In January 2010 she joined the newly-formed Moldova team in Chişinău, where she is the Servant Team Coordinator.