“Do not let who you used to be,
stop you from becoming who you are meant to be.”
~Al Fox

It was a lot of hard-work, but two years later they had a small branch in their small town of Deva on the edge of Transylvania. The work didn’t stop there, it was just the beginning. The majority of Transylvania is very powerful Protestants. All the members had to put in so much work to help, Claudia had three—sometimes four callings at a time. She loved every moment that she could feel the spirit.

Many members did not get support from their families and friends, Claudia was no exception. She was abused verbally by her family members and physically attacked by her mother. The pain, suffering, and abuse did not stop Claudia from attending church. It was a time of hard work, sorrow, yet the joy that she felt could not be compared—even some of her happiest times in her life.

Claudia found that as she found solace and peace in the church, many came to her for advice and help. “They sought advice from me in any situation. They always said I embraced the Gospel so fast and I acted and understood it like it was part of my life for 30 years. But I was only 19.  The new missionaries that were transferred were eager to know me because the one that left would leave behind notes that would say, ‘If you have any problems, questions or need help call Claudia.’”

Claudia felt like she belonged somewhere—she had a place, friends and felt love that she hadn’t felt in a long time. “This work built my self-confidence and helped with my anxiety and depression, and brought the biggest blessing.”

“I’m choosing happiness over suffering,
I know I am. I’m making space for the unknown future
to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises.”
~Elizabeth Gilbert

One day, Claudia got a call from a missionary who had finished his mission and gone home. They began dating and were married only three months later. After they married her husband Ion told her that he was very attracted to her testimony, faith, and hard-work. Together they later learned how much as a couple they needed to rely on their faith and testimonies, and even hard-work. Others told her that they felt she was the mother of the ward, even though she was one of the youngest.

Ion and Claudia lived in Bucharest for one year where their first child Adela was born. They moved back to Deva where her husband served as the Branch President for eight years and they had a son David. Trials were prevalent in their life, but they did their best to work hard and stay faithful. They moved several times from apartment to apartment and struggled to keep their ward active. They worked very hard to help the branch grow, did missionary work, served in our callings, and visited members. We continued to be the only family in the Church for the whole time and that was hard.

While Claudia was pregnant she began to feel many promptings and spiritual experiences convincing her that something was wrong. Anxiety became an unwelcome companion. Her doctor assured her that her baby girl was fine and not to worry. Claudia had her baby at 37 weeks and was not a girl, but a boy.  “Daniel felt to be the perfect name for him. But when the labor was done and they moved me to another room to get some rest I could have no rest. I felt somebody was looking at me. I instinctively looked at the window and saw a dove. He stayed for a few seconds with his face turned to me and then he flew away.”

Anxiety was at a high and the promptings continued. One day a thought came to Claudia. “Your son is like Felicia’s daughter.” She was shocked, at the thought. Felicia had a daughter who was born with disabilities and there was no reason, or evidence for her to think that.

Daniel never slept and cried all day. Claudia finally found that if Daniel was in the swing he would sleep, but she had to swing it herself. Daniel was not crying, so she did what any mother would do and sat up all night swinging her baby. He was finally diagnosed with an awful diagnosis: Microcephaly, severe delay, low life expectancy. He was put on medication, but there was no difference.

“The first three weeks were horrible. I cried my heart out. I felt my body cold like life was leaving me. I throw myself on the ground and begged the Lord to take it all away. I begged him to take my pain away. In a short while I stood up and I locked the pain away somewhere in my heart and started to work hard again. The Savior gave me strength to wipe my tears because I had no time to waste. I had to fight for my little angel.”

Claudia also spent many nights holding Daniel so he would sleep. The effects on her body have been long lasting even years later. She suffers from terrible headaches, migraines, and anxiety and panic attacks due to the lack of sleep. The bones from sitting have been affected as well.

“I don’t know exactly what’s next,
But I’m stepping forward with grit,
Anchored in Grace.”
~Julie Graham

Life continued as best it could—even with the loss of a baby and many other trials. Ion and Claudia moved to Ploiesti. Ion became a district leader for church and Claudia continued in her own callings and taking care of her children. They have traveled a lot—which can be difficult with Daniel, but their children are learning a lot. They have found the blessings far outweigh the hardships.