Thursday, June 30, 2005

Noapta Buna

Hello y'all, you guys, etc....(politically correct for yankee's and southerners)

This trip has been awesome. We are almost done with the beds, finished two room floors, visited the infant orphanage and spotted the elusive Moldovan Rickshaw(photos to come later, yes... you have to come back). We have really worked hard and are planning to have a little fun with the boys before we leave. Hopefully our scores will be better for bowling than for golf. We hope He fills us with the wisdom, strength and energy to make the rest of our journey as great as it started. Hope to see you all very soon!

Out with the old, in with the new...

We had breakfast at 7 am this morning...pancakes, cereal, fruit, yogurt. We are not short of food here at Sasha and Lucia's house. I can assure you of that! We headed out to the orphanage to continue working on our 180 beds. We finished assembling most of the beds and began carrying mattresses and mattress covers over to the dorms. As we were carrying the new bed parts inside, two orphanage employees were carrying the old beds out. That was so neat to see. I can only imagine the look on these children's faces when they walk into their rooms in September and see these beautiful new beds. The new design even has a drawer to go underneath. That may not seem like that big of a deal, but to kids who have no space of their can mean a lot. No more banana boxes!!

It rained for the first time since Team 2 has been here. That has been such a blessing because a lot of our work has been outside. We wrapped up at 4 pm today, and Bill gave the boys a Philippians 4:13 talk. It was really great - I've never seen the boys pay that close of attention to anyone. I pray those seeds are watered. We left Internat and headed to Strasheni to another orphanage for smaller children (18 mo - 11 years). We took beanie babies, candy, and clothes. We just sat and hung out with the kids for about an hour. It's always nice to stop and take time to spend with these kids. Again, they are so innocent and precious. When we arrived, there was a little boy sitting by himself - Tudu - obviously alone in the world. We tried to get him to open up to no avail. But then Jen gave him her camera, and his whole world changed. It's so neat to see how these kids light up when they see their pictures. I wonder why that is? Is it using a fun camera? Is it getting to see their own face? I can't help but think that when they look at themselves, they're getting a glimpse of God. I'm so glad God created smiles - they're one of my favorite things in life.

We got home and sat down to dinner. After a few minutes, we were delighted to find that Dima, Artur, and Ivon had shown up (three of our bed builders who have graduated from the orphanage). At first they wouldn't come in, but after some encouragement (friendly force), they joined us. It was fun to sit around a table like a big, happy family with these great guys. They taught us all how to make roses out of our napkins. I think the men in the group will benefit more from that. =)

As life gets closer and closer to winding down here in Moldova, I'm not sure how I feel about it. I have so many thoughts and so many emotions...I don't even know where to begin. Each day brings different experiences and new thoughts. I treasure each one. When I don't have the answer, I just fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of my faith. He is bigger than any challenge, any auestion, and any fear. (Hebrews 12:2)

Love to all...keep praying!


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Miss Moldova 2005

Hi, this is Ashley. I'm posting under Emily b/c I don't yet have a subscription to this blog stuff. So, this has been a really great week so far. Our team is kicking some construction booty. I know today we completed around 120 beds, which is well over half of our goal. We've been sealing the wood piece by piece: headboards, footboards, sideboards, etc... and we've discovered that red seal is not the way to go when trying to cover 200 beds in 5 days. It takes way too long and its not the easiest to work with. Our final paint was nice, very natural looking, just what you'd want a wooden bed to look like.
Some of the older boys from the camp have been helping us, which is a great treat. To watch them try to learn something new, to see them respond to constructive criticism, and to watch them smile when they finally get the "good job" from Bill or Tom or Tripp. It's really cool to watch.
Yesterday we had an ant line all the way from our workshop area down to the far dormitory where we started putting the beds together. So, after moving hundreds of pieces of wood from one place up to the third floor of another, we are all tired and beat and ready to sleep sweetly! I'm sure we are growing in ways we don't yet realize, and I see the truth of this coming out all around me. It's exciting to be a part of a team. For me, it's been a while since I really had that kind of experience. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to work alongside such fun, amusing, honest people! you know who you are :)

So tonight, Jennifer Phillips and I were invited to the Miss Moldova 2005 pageant by one of the orphans who has left the school b/c she is 19. After a hard days work, we went out of friendship rather than interest, although we did realize we were in for a treat! After being in this country for any length of time, you know that their definitions of style and fashion and even talent are, well, different from our own. Bless their hearts, I just never know if what they are trying to wear as an outfit is a joke or a genuine attempt at looking cool. Forgive me for being superficial, b/c i'm definately not one to talk about outfits matching or being "in", but I do think I have an eye for outdated or neverdated wardrobes.
We found our seats and began enjoying the loud music, flashing lights, and smoke billowing out of the sides of the stage as 21 women dressed in what looked like space outfits came prancing across the stage. For the next 2.5 hours, there was utter chaos before our eyes. The contestants would recite poetry with little success, sing Moldovan songs off key, and show their skills in other mysterious ways...all the more mysterious b/c it was in Romanian! But the best parts were the in-between skits (good things always happen in the in-between parts of life, by the way). There was this Bon Jovi meets Mickey Mouse Club group that did this totally cracked out dance where they threw their fellow dancers around like potatoes. Poor girl, she didn't see the floor coming until her friends didn't catch her and she landed rear end first on the hard stage. Wow, it was Hi-larious!
Then there was the dancing martian man. He was mixing around on stage with the contestants who were dressed in way too few pieces of clothing, shimmying around without synchronization. They were accompanied by these totally dressed-in-black, biker dudes, riding around in circles ON MOTORCYCLES on the stage. People, it was so wrong and obscene and yet so funny b/c of it's randomness (and the randomness of me being there to see it all unfold).

Thus, the sun sets on another day in sunny Moldova. Don't you wish you were here? We'd love to have you!

Ashley Lovell

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Fields of Gold

Although it's after one in the morning, I feel a need to be able to share with everyone possible just how beautiful a thing is happening here in Moldova. Of course, I'm keep that in mind.

As team one was preparing to leave we visited the largest orphanage in Moldova, which is where Sweet Sleep began and is still working to provide a bed for every head. Usually when we walk in the orhpanage our senses are met with somewhat pungent smells. However, that evening we walked in and smelled fresh beds....wood and varnish, it was great.

The newest batch of beds our Sweet Sleep boys had finished were lined up in the large hallway and the site became somewhat overwhelming to me as I stood there with so many of my new friends who all had prepared so hard back home and now were a link in the armor. It was so good. I didn't get to express it to my best ability...and don't imagine I can do that on a blog, either. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I praise God for bringing you to this place. I pray for God to be continuting the great work He placed on your hearts in your time here.

Team Two shares in your excitement, although it is in a far different way. You'd not believe the way they have come together to get so much accomplished. Yesterday the orphanage director showed us a floor with holes that needed to be repaired to be used for first graders. Today Bill and Tom took that floor up and laid down the most beautiful lumber (tongue and groove...I've learned a little something today). It's incredible. The room glows. I told them the first step to Sweet Sleep is a firm foundation! =)

The other team members are working with about a dozen boys from the orphanage, most of who have just graduated and who will soon have no place to live. Sweet Sleep has much work to do here as we commit with each of you to meet the needs of these young men desperate for hope and opportunity and love and guidance.

We've been staining the headboards, footboards and side rails for two days now. Looking out over the courtyard the pieces lay out to dry in the sun....truly it is a field of gold. It's the most incredibly exciting site to take in. Nothing could out do it except for the proud faces of the boys as they are complimented and praised for their great work or for the beaming joy and pride on the faces of Artur and Vasile as the took us to a dorm room to show us the completed version of our revised beds. I wish you all could have seen the face of what this looks like. It made me cry. I'll probably never forget it...and, I'll probably never not tear up when I think about that moment. It was....golden.

Sleep Sweetly,

Good progress...

Team 2, Day 2.

First of all our last two team members arrived safe and sound last night. We got an early start this morning. Bill and Tom (Bill & Ted's excellent adventure anyone?) started on the floor in one of the rooms. Jen went to get more stain, brushes, gloves, etc as we set up for the day. When Jen got back, we headed to the camp to see the kids...always a treat. I've befriended yet another Mihai...what is it with that name? I noticed this little boy the other day. He was very shy and stayed alone most of the time. He just seems so hurt and alone to me. So I went and sat next to him and did all of my stupid human tricks that break the language barrier (a must over here). So today he latched onto me - such a sweetie. We did worship with the kids and then left as they headed out to do crafts or recreation, etc. The rest of the day was spent painting the beds and putting in a floor. We finished painting over 100 beds and moved 60 of them to one of the dorms. They're all ready to be assembled tomorrow. I'm excited to see that part. We brought several of the older boys from the camp to help us today. It's fun getting to hang out with them. They're such great boys, and all they need is a chance. And chances are hard to come by in this country.

One of the best parts of the day was watching Jen use a power saw to cut the last piece of wood for the new floor. She's a natural - watch out, Bob Vila! They went to buy the wood for the floor yesterday and estimated they would need about 27 pieces of wood. They decided to get a couple extra pieces - 29 total. It turns out that's all the store had. Jen laid the last piece today...piece #29. God sure knows what he's doing!

We actually finished early today and had a chance to go look at a couple of possible transitional living homes. These will house orphans who have graduated and have no where to go. We've had several conversations with the boys this week, and many have no where to go, and they're scared. But Jen is working to find a place for them, and we keep reassuring them that if God takes care of the sparrows and the lilies, how much more will he take care of them? The houses were beautiful (although unfinished) and they have amazing views. Please be praying for open doors and guidance during that process.

Ok, I'm about to go whoop on some of the boys at Phase 10 and then it's dinner at 8 pm.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Varnish or Tarnish?!

Well, everyone, Team 2 finally arrived last night...minus two members. John and Laura were using free miles, so they went a different route. They had to spend the night in Budapest...oh, darn! Jen and Dorel are on their way to pick them up now. Yesterday, Jen, Shawn, Christina, Mihai, and I...and some others (I'm being lazy) went to the Jesus Savior Baptist church. It lasted 2 hours as all Moldovan services do. I learned yet another local custom...people get married on Sunday mornings DURING church. There was no sermon; instead, they did the normal things - prayer, songs, offering - and then here came trumpet voluntary! Very interesting to say the least. After church we grabbed a bite to eat at McDonald's. PS - I've eaten McDononald's more times in my 10 days in Moldova than I do in a year in the US. But when you're in a hurry, it just works best. From there we headed to a monastery, where I saw some of the most beautiful countryside I've ever seen. We stopped and took a bunch of pictures. We hiked up to the monastery which was tucked away inside a cliff. There I saw my first (and probably last) monk ever. The most inetersting thing to me was this elaborate altar with candles and icons, etc. There was a door in the back with a curtain, and evidently women aren't allowed to go in there. Being an American, this concept was really weird to me. "What do you mean I can't go back there?" The view off the cliff was beautiful - I took a bunch of pictures standing on the edge of the cliff to scare my mom. =) Then it was off to the airport for Team 2 and to New York for dinner.

This morning, Team 2 got their first lesson in Moldovan...nothing starts on time or goes as planned. But hey, that's ok...we still got everything done that we needed to. We spent the first 1/2 of the morning scoping out the week's projects. Then it was off to grab a quick bite to eat. Now where can someone get a quick bite to eat in Moldova? You guessed it...McDonald's! Hey, I'm lovin' it!

The second 1/2 of the day was spent staining the bed pieces with varnish (or tarnish like I kept calling it). It was fun getting to know everyone on the team and laughing together. I have a feeling there will be many more laughs this week. Or maybe it was just the decide! God opened a door today. Tripp and I were painting on the end, and one of the orphanage workers started talking to us - Sasha. He started asking questions about "baptists" and rules and forgiveness. It was so neat to answer his questions. He is definitely seeking, so be praying for Sasha this week...that God will open his eyes to His amazing grace. That's the real reason we're here. Tomorrow, we're going to work for a while in the am and then head to camp for worship. It's important to see the kids who will rest their precious heads on these beds. We'll also be painting more "tarnish" and repairing some floors in the orphanage. I have to say I miss my kids from last in particular. =) It feels weird to still be in Moldova and not with those children. I told Jen that if I turn up missing, I'm in Falesti!

Well, I guess I'm going to head to's 11:30 pm here. That's actually the earliest I've been to bed since I've been here.

Love to all...keep praying!


Saturday, June 25, 2005

Team #2 - headed for Moldova 06-25-2005 Posted by Hello

Friday, June 24, 2005

Goodbye's, new sites, and covert operations...

Hello all! We left Falesti yesterday about 1:30 pm. We were all very sad and so were the kids, It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. But I have so many wonderful memories...I go to bed at night with those children's faces and voices in my mind. The last thing my Mihai said to me was, "I'll pray for you." I told him I loved him, Jesus loves him, and I would pray for him, too. What a gift God gave me yesterday! We traveled 3 hours to Chisinau, where we checked into the lovely national hotel. =) We had dinner at the Irish pub with another team from Texas, which was fun. I forgot I was in Molodova. There were several orphan graduates there who gave their testimonies and thanked us for the work we were doing. It was such an encouragement to us - it can be overwhelming at all the things there are to do. It was nice to get a glimpse of some success stories. This morning we left the hotel about 5 am to take Team 1 to the airport. They headed off to Amsterdam. Shawn, Jen, Christina, and I headed back to the hotel to get some more sleep. We ran errands, ate pizza for lunch, walked around a park, and then headed to the CERI office for some email and laundry. Granny, I finally got to hang my clothes to dry. =) Then we headed to the Internat II camp, where the Texas team has been working. Jen got to see all of her little kids. What a different setting from Falesti. We're headed back there for the day tomorrow. So then came the covert operation. Shawn, Jen, Christina, Dorel, and I headed to Trosini (sp?) to "kidnap" Mihai. Not really, we asked permission. This is how things are in Moldova...we just head to this town to drive around searching for him. We were about to give up when Jen spotted his jacket. Success! I was so happy to get to meet Mihai. He's even cuter in person...and such a sweetie. We went to dinner with some Dorel, Olga, Sergei, and Constance and some of Shawn's "boys". We went to a place called New York...then we went bowling. Oh yes, my favorite! It was a lot of fun...a nice break. Tomorrow we're headed to the camp for morning worship. We'll probably do some more laundry and who knows what else? It's a moment by moment world out here. Meanwhile, Mihai is with us for the weekend. We're headed to church and then to a monastery on Sundaym so stay tuned for that. We look forward to Team 2...we'll be praying for safe travel. Love to all!

In Him,

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


That's "hello" in Romanian! It's Rhonda! It's my first time to blog on here. I have 5 minutes left on my computer and it will take 4 for this post to upload. Just wanted to say hello to everyone and thank you for the prayers. We have so many stories to share and pictures to show off! I am missing everyone but am having a wonderful experience. Many more stories to tell later......the mosquitoes in the internet cafe are about to pick me up and carry me off. Please pray for the kids' hearts for tomorrow is our last day to affect them. Oh, they are much more spiritually "smart" than we thought they would be. They even know a couple worship songs. OK gotta go!!!! See you soon. PLease pray for safe travel also. Love you all!


Until the cows come home...

I feel like that's how long it takes for this internet to come! It's so slow, and we're being eaten with mosquitos, so this will be quick. We are having a wonderful time, but we're definitely learning patience and flexibility. Tonight we brough 160 pizzas to the camp for the kids (it takes almost an hour and a half). They got there, the kids saw them, and then the nurse decided they couldn't eat them because some had mushrooms on them. But don't worry, the teachers got some! That's just the way things are in Moldova. On the way home one of the buses (carrying 150+ uneaten pizzas) stopped to feed some people on the side of the road who were "waiting for the cows to come home"! They fed several families pizzas and prayed with them. We know that we serve a big God who's ways are better than ours. I guess those families needed the food more than the orphans...maybe they were headed home to nothing. We have all found a special child (or many!) that we have fallen in love with. Mine is Mihai. He's 10 years old. He has a little brother Vasil, who is six. Their mom died a year ago, and their father abandoned them. Mihai bcame my shadow yesterday and hasn't left me since. He's so good and sweet. I'll tell you all more later and show many pictures when I get back. It's funny...when you find the one, you find the one! We all love you and miss you. We're all well. We're eating well (lots of potatos and chicken, tomato, bread). Please pray for will be VERY hard to leave these kids. Pray for us, the kids, and for the teachers who will (hopefully) comfort them when we leave. I take comfort in a devotion Lois (Louise!) gave yesterday. These things we see are only light and momentary troubles that are achieving for us a glory that far outweighs them all! Love to all...see you on the flip side!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Moldova, Moldova, Moldova!

Hello all!

We're sitting in a Russian Internet cafe with loud techno music, smoke, no lights and a broken Russian I hope this email blog is worthy of reading!

The children are incredible. They are much younger than we were anticipating and they have pieces parts of shoes and clothing. They have big smiles and are always so excited about everything we say and do.

We've had rain both days. Yesterday was a downpour and it made dirt camp, mud camp. Today it sprinkled a "fair' amount. It's a big mud hole.

Top news...the Prime Minister is coming for a visit to the camp on Tuesday....we're all planning on making him lay on the nasty beds and use the potties the children have sitting outside their rooms in the nature and then see what he can do for them. =)

We've had to be flexible with everything that has happened, but the team is great and is rolling with all of the odd things that come our way.

Tomorrow we'll have a great day as we focus on teaching the children how to pray and why to pray. It's going to be great.

Today we had a bday party forthe kids....and we took pictures of each of them, so stay tuned to the site for 140 more children to sponsor and love!

Thinking of all of you,
Jen Gash

A miracle!

I don't know if anyone noticed, but I stopped blogging very quickly last night. I said it was because I had no time, but I actually looked down at my arms and saw that I was having an allergic reaction. For those of you who know me know that I had a bad one in February. I got very scared and headed back to hotel, where I had my medicine. I am so thankful for this team. They immediately surrounded me with prayer. They prayed with such faith, which I really needed. I showered, took some medicine, and sat to read my bible for a while. I started crying b/c tomorrow night, I'm speaking to the kids about the Mustard seed story in the bible. I thought, "how can I teach this story on faith when I'm completely lacking it right now?" But that's what my teammates were for. I went to bed truly believing that I would wake up better. I woke up this morning, and the reaction was GONE. Praise God! No, really PRAISE GOD. He proved faithful to me, and I can't wait to share that with these kids. I guess I had faith as big as a mustard seed last night. Thank you, Jesus, for this lesson; thank you for healing me; thank you for my team; and thank you for these kids! Thank you to all of you who are praying...keep it up! I'd like to ask for prayers for the teachers...that God would open doors for us to minister to them, too. They are the ones that will be with the kids when we leave. Until next to all!


Happy Birthday!

Today was great - we started off with breakfast, consisting of cereal (KosmoStars - seriously!), hot tea, juice, bananas, yogurt...not bad considering previous meals! Then, we went to church at a local Baptist church. It was great - the entire service was in Romanian - lasted 2 hours, but it was fantastic! Alexia (one of our team members) sang Amazing Grace, and the Moldova church members just loved it! Then we had the Moldova version of pizza for lunch - remind us to tell you what "pepperoni" looks like over here!!! Now for the best part...we went to the camp after lunch and decorated the cafeteria with balloons, streamers, all sorts of fun stuff - then had all 140 children come in for a birthday party! The director of the orphanage said itwas the first birthday party they'd ever had- They really seemed to love it! We served them cinnamon rolls, sang songs, gave them gifts, did some face painting, etc. The kids and the teachers all seemed so happy and appreciative - it was so good to see their wonderful smiling faces. It's so hard to believe that these precious little children have no one to give them these type of celebrations that we all take for granted. I'm just so glad we were able to share some joy, hugs, and love with them.

Enough blogging for now - we all miss our support folks back home, and are more mindful than ever of the blessings that we take for granted every day. By the way - Happy Father's Day to my dad - the very best dad in the world.


Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Eagle Has Landed...

Hello everyone! It's 9:15 pm in Balti, and we found an internet cafe!! Everything went well getting here...just a LOT of flights, but it gave us more time to get to know each other and to SLEEP! I am actually not that jet lagged because I got so much sleep on the way here. We made it here with only 2 bags missing, and those will arrive tomorrow. Customs was a breeze - thank you for your prayers on that! Moldova is beauitful. It actually reminds me a lot of middle TN with the green rolling hills. We go to our hotel in Balti last night about 8-9 pm. We ate, unloaded our 500 bags of supplies, got the supplies ready for today (more to come on that later), and FINALLY showered and went to bed. I went to bed at 12:30 am, but I can't speak for the rest of the team. We had breakfast at 8 am this morning and then loaded the vans to head for camp. And when I say "loaded" the vans...I don't mean with supplies. I mean with us. Oh yes, we forgot the supplies for today! I guess we were so excited about seeing these kids that we all thought someone else was getting them. Luckily Christina talked about flexibility in our morning devotion, and we had our "Flexi cookies." It turned out fine without them, and it only gives us more fun things to do later in the week. When we pulled up to camp, the children came running up...and it all began. Lots of love! More to come later...running out of time. We're wonderful (a little heartbroken, but ok!). Keep praying!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Team 1

Team 1
Originally uploaded by emily_borders.
Team 1 is gearing up to leave tomorrow - the day is finally here! After these past few months of preparation, I am so ready to GO. Here is a picture of Team 1 taken at our last team meeting: (front row) Colleen Long, Jordan Trent, Calle Griffith, Emily Borders, Rhonda Walsh, (back row) Missy Trent, Lisa Sykes, Brandy Ginsberg, Meredith Hupp, Chris Meece, Alexia Counce, Gloria Jones, and Jen Gash. Not pictured: Shawn Pierce, Christina Gandy, and Lois Hupp.

24 hours and counting...

Yeah, we leave tomorrow!