Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Update on Floyd and Ancuta Frantz in Romania

Greetings, and I hope that this finds you well today, and in good spirits on this most blessed of days.

First of all, please do forgive me for not sending out the articles as I said. A very nice priest, Fr. Adrian, came to us over the weekend and will be with me for two weeks in order to receive training about addictions. This was scheduled so is no surprise. Next week we will go to Iasi to visit with Fr. Iulian about the National Anti-drug Program of the Orthodox Church (PNA), and then down to Bacau where Fr. Iulian and I are helping the diocese of Bacau start a counseling center. Actually, I spend quite a lot of time these days doing these sorts of trainings through the PNA. When I am not here, my staff keep the fires burning in Cluj. Fr. Adrian's being here has kept me busier than I anticipated. Plus, one of my staff is on vacation so I am having to do some evenings by going after the food for the social cantina. It all adds up, and my days go by very quickly at times.

Also, today I was moved by something that I would like to share with you, and then will finish by putting in a small article about our work in Savadisla.

I went to the funeral of a friend today, a nice fellow, who had been very active in his church. Lots of people came, maybe 200 in all. At the funerals over here they will usually give some cups of wine and some bread after the burial. What happens is that usually there are a few beggars who show up and get in line for the wine and bread. It is nothing unusual, and no one seems to mind.One of them asked me for money for cigarettes. (If he would have asked for any other reason, or even for no reason, I would have given him something.) There were four others there getting the wine, and it was obvious that they were very alcoholic. Their faces, their defeated attitudes, and obvious discomfort at what they were doing was obvious to all. I know them, and have tried to help them more than once. They are very nice, and very addicted to alcohol, refusing any offers of help by coming into our group. The family was of course cordial, and offered them wine and bread as they did everyone else. They came back for seconds, and then went on their way.

What got to me was the attitude of the people there towards them. I mean, the people were very nice and all, but as the beggers left the scene, some of the people standing around were saying how sad it is for the beggars being alcoholic. But it was said as if they were talking about people with no hope, no chance of regaining life again. This is probably the greatest challange to us here in Romania, changing societies attitude about people with alcoholism. In the States, most people would say something like, "Why don't they get help for themselves?"

You really cannot blame the Romanians, as over here, for the most part, there simply is no help for people with alcohol or drug problems. Indeed, those who are lost in the addiction of alcoholism have a difficult struggle if they are to survive in an already very difficult place to live. Even in developed countries like the United States alcoholism cuts 10 or more years off the lifespan of the alcoholic. What really concerns me is the raising rate of drug use over here. The Romanians simply are not ready for the impact it will have on their society. I'll write about this at a future date. In the meantime I'll pick up the thread about our projects.

Occupational Therapy .......In both our day center in Cluj and in our day program in the Tb hospital in Savadisla we try to have our folks involved in occupational activities which will lift up their spirits and give them a sense of community and involvement in the recovery groups. For last Christmas and for this Pascha they have been painting icons, making candles and decorating crosses. These activities help them to explore their hidden potentials and to discovery and develop their spiritual interests. These objects are usually distributed for sale in local parishes to help sustain the programs activities.

This small cross with oil lamp [Ed. note: this is the item pictured above] was made as part of our occupational therapy group. It was actually something that they came up with and designed themselves. Glory to God!!

That's all for now. I'll send another hopefully tomorrow, and hopefully much shorter.

In His Love,

One Day at a Time,

Floyd & Ancuta Frantz, OCMC Missionaries to Romania

Please do feel free to pass along our email to others who you believe might be interested in our work here in Romania.

If you would like to contact us through email, please use: Stdimitrie@yahoo.com for myself and the St. Dimitrie Program, or Ancutafrantz@yahoo.com for Anca and the Protection Center.

Please also go to the Orthodox Christian Mission Center web site at www.ocmc.org to read online about our missionary activities here in Romania.

We do thank you for your interest in our work, for your support, and most of all for your prayers.

In His Love,
One day at a time,
Floyd & Ancuta Frantz, OCMC Missionaries

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Another Gaither Vocal Band Video - Search Me Lord

This is a delightful toe-tapping Gospel song with a little bit of a jazzy feel.  Enjoy.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Southernmost Russian Orthodox Church

It would be natural to imagine that dealing with the fierce climate in Antarctica leaves little time for religion. But as RT found out during a visit to the southernmost continent, that is not the case.

­Perched atop a picturesque, rocky hill overlooking the sea, sits a typical and tiny Russian Orthodox church. The scene, which looks like it was taken right out of a Siberian picture-book, is in fact one of the views of Russia’s Bellinsghausen Polar Station.

So far, this is the only Russia’s Antarctic station that has a church. This makes the Trinity Church the southernmost Russian Orthodox church on the planet.

Read more here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Update on Floyd and Ancuta Frantz in Romania

A daily meal at the "Casa Alba" day-center for those in need

Greetings, and I hope that this finds you well today, and in good spirits on this most blessed of days.

Well, yesterday I said that I would keep it short today, but it is history day, so not very short. Some of you know the story of our beginning, but as we have a 10 year anniversary this year I wanted to give a brief history of our project.

Beginning in 2001 the St. Dimitrie Program began working with the Orthodox Church in Cluj, Romania to develop specialized services to help people in the Cluj archdiocese who were affected by alcoholism or addiction. The program began in an office at the Policlinic St. Pantelimon, wherewe started a counseling program, and were hosting AA and Al-Anon meetings. I am a counselor by profession, so this was not a great task.

About this same time we were invited to start a counseling group in a local psychiatric hospital, and then were asked by a priest to help him by starting a counseling program in a local Tuberculosis hospital. We also began doing some work with a nun who was operating a soup kitchen. This led us to much of the work that we currently are doing with the homeless. Today we actually have a daily meal at our "Casa Alba" day-center for those in need. Social Cantina

Soon after this we started having requests to do counselor training in the disease model of addictions. Other archdioceses began to hear of our work, and soon we had priests coming from other cities to learn more about our work with alcoholics. Given that Romania is 85% Orthodox and that there are very few resources to help alcoholics in Romania, the priests continue to be interested in our programs. Actually, it was the bishops who would send the priests to our training pro-grams because the priests were asking them about how to help their people who had drinking problems. By God's grace allof our projects have developed through the activities of the Church and we continue to work closely with the Church to further develop our projects and training programs. It is worth noting also that the work that we are doing in Romania is serving our Church also in Alaska, where I am giving a few classes at St. Herman Seminary.

Well, that's the long and the short of it. Tommorow I'll fill in some of the blanks about our current work. Thank you for taking the time to read our postings, and for your interest in our work in Romania.

In His Love,
One Day at a Time,
Floyd & Ancuta Frantz, OCMC Missionaries to Romania

Please do feel free to pass along our email to others who you believe might be interested in our work here in Romania.

If you would like to contact us through email, please use: Stdimitrie@yahoo.com for myself and the St. Dimitrie Program, or Ancutafrantz@yahoo.com for Anca and the Protection Center.

Letting One's Kids Grow Up - by Clint

My kids in 2007

One thing that I have learned the hard way is that fathers worry about their kids. Now, I am not a "worrying" type of guy, and have always considered myself fairly impervious to circumstances, just rolling with what came. Then my daughter was born in 1997, and things changed.

Suddenly, I worried about diapers, food, bugs, and pretty much anything else that came along. The birth of my first son in 2000 did nothing to slow the worrying down. All of this was highlighted by a trip to Estonia in June, 2001. Our son was 9 months old, our daughter was 4, and Debbie and I went on a "survey trip" to Estonia, scouting the region out, to determine if we would want to move there as missionaries. Plane tickets were pretty pricey, so we decided to let our daughter stay with her grandparents for the 10 days, while we took our son, since he was so small. We were flying out of Dallas, and the grandparents lived in San Antonio, so we dropped her off and began the drive to Dallas. I made it about 5 miles and had to pull over, weeping. I was terrified that something might happen to her and I would be 8000 miles away, helpless.

Of course, I don't normally resort to such breakdowns - that was a fairly abnormal situation. But I do still worry about them all the time. Since our third child, another son, came along, I figure that just gives me another layer of worry.

So what prompts this post? Last year, our daughter went to Camp St. Raphael for the first time. Can you believe that she would be in Oklahoma, while I am still down here in Texas? So far. So many things that could happen, without me nearby to "fix" it. This year, not only is she returning to camp, but our oldest son is going, too! Imagine the fear that has crept into my bones! They will be alone (that is defined as being further than 10 miles from me).

But the reality is that our children grow up. I did it (at least physically). So did you. Our parents had to let us grow up and face the world on our own. I still get shudders thinking of what my parents must have thought when I got a drivers' license. I can not always be there to "fix" everything. In fact, I can't always "fix" everything, even when I am right there with them. They have to learn to be independent and make decisions, without my immediate input. That is life.

My kids, Christmas 2010

I guess my analysis of this is that I have a control issue. I actually think I am in control of my surroundings. Of course, that is hogwash. I once spoke to Father Matthew MacKay (Memory Eternal!) about my fears in this regard. He laughed and told me to get a clue - I am not in control anyway. He was right. My fear has much less to do with my children and much more to do with me. I have to remember that I am no more in control than my children are. I just have more experience at it. The reason I have the experience is because my parents let me. I should do the same.

Ultimately, I have to trust that my wife and I have taught our children well, equipping them to make good decisions and to face life head-on. I must trust that God IS in control and that He loves my children. Plus, they will have a great time at camp, with other Orthodox kids, making life-long friends.

I'll still worry while they are gone, though. I look forward to the day they get back!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day 2011 - Clint Version

Charles Buck Hale - He went by "Buck"

OK, this is a day late. My dad would not have minded. I don't think he gave days like this much thought. He liked Christmas and Thanksgiving, and Independence Day was a great time, but stuff like Father's Day or Arbor Day, etc. didn't rank very high.

He has been gone for 15 years now. He died at the age of 54, due to several serious health issues. In many ways, it seems like just yesterday that I was able to pick up the phone and call him. In fact, I did that for a couple of years after his passing - nothing like being 3/4 of the way through the phone number when realizing that he isn't on the other end.

It has been long enough that I think I have a healthy perspective on it all now. Not that I have it all figured out, but I am no longer overwhelmed with emotion, but it hasn't been so long that I have forgotten too much.

So here is what my dad taught me (well, a few of the things that the taught me):

1. Be tough. Dad didn't subscribe to the modern "sensitive man" junk. If there was no blood (and I mean LOTS of blood) or a fever over 103, then you were not hurt nor sick. Get up, go to school, be a man. Tough it out. One of dad's favorite lines, and I heard this a bazillion times (only a slight exaggeration), was: "I have had worse places on my lip and never quit whistling." The funny thing was that he was being honest. He was pretty wild as a young fellow, and got in some scary scrapes. He told me about a few of them. I wouldn't have messed with him, when he was young.

2. Love your family. Yeah, my dad was pretty tough, but he also loved his family. He did things that made him uncomfortable, because WE wanted to do it. I have a younger brother (3 years younger) and my dad, from my 5th grade year, through my brother's senior year of HS, missed exactly ONE event in which we participated. He missed one of my brother's football games, when my brother was in junior high. Of course, the reason he missed it was because the game had been rescheduled to a time when it conflicted with MY game. So dad went to mine, and mom went to my brother's. Dad wasn't a hugger or touchy-feely, but he consistently showed us he loved us with his actions.

3. Love God. My dad was almost illiterate until he was in his late 20s. He was a slacker in school (his own admission) and had fallen through the cracks before dropping out to join the army at 17. But when he was about 28 or so (right after I was born), he decided he wanted to be a minister. He also knew he needed to go to school to do so. He couldn't read nor write better than about a 3rd grade level. So he went to seminary anyway and just worked hard. He didn't graduate with honors, but he did graduate and began a successful ministry that lasted the rest of his life. Everything he did from then was rooted in his love of God. He worked as hard at serving God as he did at learning to read and write to pass his courses.

4. Love people. This past week, my brother and I posted Dad's picture on facebook and did the yearly "I sure miss dad" posts. Every time we do that, the comments come flooding in. People that we have not seen for years post comments, saying how much dad meant to them. His funeral was barely contained in a building designed to hold over 600 people. My dad made a difference in many lives. The impact is still being felt, as evidenced by the continuing comments.

5. Pray. I admit that I wasn't the greatest "Christian" as a young man. In fact, I was at best, a "Christian" in name only. Maybe not that much, to be honest. But my dad never quit praying for me. He didn't tell me that. Other's did. I later heard of the heartbreak that he felt because of my life's choices. His response was to give it to God. Guess what? It worked. I am grateful that dad had the chance to see me "turn it around." I had just finished my first year of seminary when he died. I am convinced that it was his dogged devotion to prayer for me that kept me from going too far in the other direction and eventually coming back to God.

6. Enjoy life. My dad knew how to laugh. He knew how to enjoy himself. Honestly, he was probably the funniest guy I have ever known, though he didn't always show that side to us. He was our dad, and that was serious business for him. But he did tell a great story, and when we were in groups, he could be the life of the party. My mental images of him are full of smiles.

7. Die with dignity. This one is pretty hard to say... but Dad had worst places on his lip....
My dad had a rough last few years. There was little dignity in being early to mid-50s and no longer able to care for yourself. He needed help in the bathroom, taking showers, eating, etc. I admit that he didn't smile as often in those last years. He talked less. But he didn't frown or complain. He endured. I don't think he was ready for awhile, though his body was failing on him. He lived long enough to see me in seminary, both of his boys married, and his first grandchild born (my niece). He spent those last years in pain, but still serving. I saw him roll to the front of the church in his wheel chair, raise himself up, leaning on a table, and preach his sermons. He never whined that life had treated him unfairly. He just continued to live the best life he could, being as godly as he knew how to be. I hope to avoid the health issues, but if I can die with the dignity that my dad did, I will be happy in the end.

So.... 15 years... Shoot. I miss you as much today as I did the day you died. I look forward to a reunion someday (but not too soon). I love you dad.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day 2011

Col Cleland E. Early, USMC (Ret.) 1919-2004  (photo taken around the mid 1950's)

You took me to baseball and football games when I was a little boy, giving me a lifelong love for each sport and honoring me with your attention.

You helped me earn my Cub Scout badges.

When I was just too worn out to prepare the papers to throw on my afternoon paper route, you helped me.  You even drove me on the route when it was raining or I was just too tired.

You drove me to school every day and helped Mom with transporting me to band concerts and all my other activities.

You let me borrow your pickup when I needed some "wheels."

You drove me to Austin and back when I was in college and wanted to come home and see you.

You wouldn't let me wimp out on getting an engineering degree when I was tired of math and science. (And it has worked out well for me).

You came to visit me at seminary and came to my graduation, even though you had been opposed to me going there.

You loved my children like they were your own.

Even when I made decisions that you didn't approve of, you always in the end said that you were proud of me.

You taught me right from wrong.

You taught me to always do the best I can in everything I do; "pretty good" is not good enough.

You were a great father, and I was blessed to have you in my life for 36 years.  I love you and miss you. 

I hope to see you again some day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Little Summer Baseball Silliness

My daughter Beth made this video of us (sort of...) on a website called Jib Jab.  Enjoy.

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Random Encounters

Metropolitan Stefanus, of the Estonian Orthodox Church

It often seems that our lives are full of random encounters. For example, my family and I just returned from a nice vacation, where we visited Dodge City, KS; Cawker City, KS (world's largest ball of twine!); Omaha, NE (to see a play); Canton, OH (Pro Football HOF); Mammoth Cave, KY; and Memphis, TN (Graceland). One of our first choices was the trip to Kentucky to see Mammoth Caves. I visited there when I was a youngster, and my wife and I wanted to do something that the kids would really enjoy (turned out they enjoyed it all).

Anyway, as we were driving from Omaha to Canton, we stopped for lunch in some out of the way little town on the interstate. As we entered the fast food joint (we were getting it to go, trying to get to our destination as soon as possible), we found ourselves in line behind a man and his son, both construction workers, taking a lunch break. It turns out that folks in rural Illinois are very talkative and friendly. The line was pretty long, so we struck up a conversation, talking about everything from the cost of fast food franchises to recent remodeling in this particular establishment. He asked if we had recently moved to the area, but I told him we were just on vacation, elaborating about where we had already been and where we were going.

When I mentioned Mammoth Cave, he told me to make sure to call ahead and reserve tickets, as he had been there twice, but was not able to get in, as it was packed and they only sell a limited number of tickets. That was something we did not know. We had assumed that you could just show up and go in. So I got online that evening, and reserved 5 of the last 6 tickets available for the tour we wanted.

Random Encounter. Fortuitous encounter. It would have been quite a shock to drive all the way to KY to find out that we couldn't do what we drove there to do.

Granted, it is a small thing. Had we not seen the longest hole in the ground in the world, I am sure we would have survived. But the reality is that our chance encounter benefited us.

Sometimes the benefit is life-changing. In 2002, as newcomers to Estonia, my wife, our missionary teammates, and I were told that a new person wanted to join our language course. Understand that there are hundreds of language schools in Estonia. It just so happened that this newcomer to our class (which had been designed specifically for us) was Metropolitan Stefanus, of the Estonian Orthodox Church. I have spoken of that encounter elsewhere, but it is another example of how an unplanned connection can affect where we go with our lives and what we do with our time.

Whether it is being able to complete a planned vacation, or finding Orthodoxy, God places people around us every day. Those people have something to offer, as long as we are willing to pay attention and listen.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

June Update from Floyd and Ancuta Franz

OCMC Missionary Ancuta Franz at the Protection of the Theotokos Family Center

Greetings, and I hope that this finds you well today, and in good spirits on this most blessed feast day of the Ascension of our Lord.

In previous newsletters I have promised to write some things about our other OCMC program here in Cluj, the Protection of the Theotokos Family Center (the PTFC). Essentially it is a project devoted to helping very poor mothers to care for their children so that they will be willing to have them if they are pregnant, and to not abandon them after giving birth. These mothers come from some very difficult places, and in this newsletter I would like to share about one of them. Her name is Monica, and her case in unusual only in that she is married to the father of their children. I will speak some about Radu, her husband as well.

I first met Monica in 2001, when some of us were feeding a group of the street kids here in Cluj. She was about 14 at the time and had been living on the streets since running away from the orphanage a couple of years earlier. Monica's mother had abandoned her to the orphanage when she was 6 years old. During these times the institutions over here were very rough, and if a kid over about 12 ran away there was not much concern from the authorities. Her now husband, Radu, was in about the same boat. He was from a Roma family (Gypsy) had ran away from home at age 13 due to abuse and neglect. He had not been required to attend school, and is close to being illterate.

Neither of them has a very good education. Monica was essentialy illiterate at the time that she came into our program in 2005 with her first child. As part of our agreement to accept her and her child at the PTFC, we required that she attend a program called "2nd Chance" to learn basic things like math, and how to read and write. Over the past few years she has remained in school and though it is at a basic level she can now read and write. She actually will graduate from the first level (about the 4th grade) this summer. We do not believe that either of them have "organic" disabilities, but rather that the circumstance of early lives has made learning more difficult for them.

We now have her and her second child in our program. Both of the children are bright, and we are optimistic for their future. Our staff taught her basic parenting skills and Monica is taking very good care to keep them clean and dressed properly. The four of them live in a one room flat, and he is doing some part time labor work. The Protection Center helps them by giving them extra food each month, baby and childrens clothing as we have it available, and by paying part of the fees for the public kindergarten. The children were taken into our day-center when they were too young for the kindergarten.

Her husband Radu can only find part-time day work, which is very low paying, less than $10/day. Romania has been very low since the beginning of the economic crisis but by God's grace times will be better for his people here in Romania.

I'll close for now, thank you for taking the time to read our little newsletter. Our next newsletter will be about the St. Dimitrie Program.

In His Love,

One day at a time,


Please note that all of the expenses related to our work through OCMC, and also our personal support must come through your donations. If you have not donated lately, please consider doing so now, it would be of great help to us at this time.

If you send a check, please mark it "Frantz/Romania" and send it to

220 Mason Manatee Way
St. Augustine, FL 32086

To set up an online donation, please call the Orthodox Christian Mission Center at 904 829-5132 and they will help you to do this. Even a small monthy donation would be greatly appriciated.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Just for Fun: Satisfied

I received several positive comments (through Facebook and email) about the Gaither Vocal Band video that I recently posted, so I thought I would post another one.  These guys really can sing, both individually and together.  This particular song is a lot of fun...so much so that I even sang it with one of the gospel quartets that I was in many years ago.  Enjoy.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

OCMC Missionary Department Announcement

The Missionary Department of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) is pleased to announce that six new Missionary Candidates have been approved in the spring of 2011. Michael and Lisa Colburn plan to serve in Kenya, assisting with translation work and serving other OCMC Missionaries and Candidates in linguistic consulting. Kurt Bringerud, Faith Young, and Joseph and Alexandra Sima plan to serve in Albania as part of the Church's ongoing educational efforts. Blake and Pam Dilullo plan to serve in Kodiak, Alaska. Blake will initially work in construction as Pam home schools her own children and helps with other children’s programs. OCMC Missionary Candidates spend several months travelling to churches and meeting with individuals who will partner with them financially and support them in prayer during their time of service. Please pray for these Missionary Candidates as they begin to build their support teams and as they train to help spread the Light of Christ overseas! If you are interested in having a Missionary Candidate speak at your church or organization, please contact the Missionary Department at 1-877-463-6784 or by e-mail at missionaries@ocmc.org.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Abba Macarius Defeats the Devil

When Abba Macarius was passing one time through the wadi to his cell, carrying some palm branches, the devil met him on the path with a scythe. He tried to strike Abba Macarius but was unable to, and said to him, "You are powerful, Macarius! I can't do anything against you! Look - what you can do, I can do too: you fast and I don't eat anything at all; you keep vigil and I don't sleep at all. There is only one thing at which you're better than me."

Abba Macarius said to him, "What is that?"

The devil said to him, "It's your humility. On account of your humility, there is nothing I can do to you."

And when the saint stretched out his hands, the demon disappeared and Abba Macarius continued on his way, giving glory to God.

St Macaraius the Spiritbearer
Coptic Texts Relating to Saint Macarius the Great
Translated by Tim Vivian
SVS Press 2004