“What are you reading?”
Irina, sitting outside a home for the elderly in Dumbrava, Romania, responded in a language I don’t understand. As an avid reader, I was drawn to this woman with an open book on her lap. But Irina couldn’t see to read her book. She could only make out a few photographs.
A caregiver confirmed that Irina had tried, with no success, all the reading glasses I had brought previously. We ruled out cataracts. My new friend Irina needed prescription eyeglasses.
Easier said than done. Even if Irina had the means, there are no optometrists for miles. My heart broke. I was determined to get glasses for Irina.
Back in America, God’s answer came in the form of an I-See Sight Enhancement Kit. We held fundraisers targeting the $950 needed to purchase the kit. Generous donors quickly gave $700. A friend was so moved after hearing Irina’s story that she gave the remaining $250.
Four months later I returned to Dumbrava as a part of my work as an advocate/missionary with Elder Orphan Care. Irina was in bed. When she saw me, she pulled the covers back to reveal the same book I had seen in August.
“Hold on, Irina! You’ll have glasses in April! Hold on!”
Finally the day came when our Elder Orphan Care team used the innovative I-See chart and a lens ladder to perform herexam. There were both smiles and tears as Irina’s new glasses were adjusted to her face.
And then the moment of truth: “Irina, where’s your book? Read to us!”
I couldn’t believe my ears when her words were translated: “I gave it away.” There was no other reading material in the room. But then I remembered a book in my backpack. My friend Gail, who does mission work in neighboring Hungary, had given it to me the week before I came to Romania.
“I don’t know if you’d have any use for this,” she said. “It’s in Hungarian. The title translates ‘You are Precious.’”
“You never know,” I remember saying.
I pulled the book from my bag, “It’s in Hungarian, but it’s the only book we have.”
That’s when our Romanian translator spoke the most beautiful words ever: “Irina is Hungarian.”
And with that, Irina took the book from me and gently touched the cover. Then she opened the book and began reading aloud about the truth that she is precious.
So precious that God provided not only eyeglasses, but a book to read in her own language.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he appointed me to tell the Good News to the poor. He has sent me to tell the captives they are free and the blind that they can see again” (Luke 4:18).