As the Sweet Sleep Construction team returns and settles back into Nashville and the reality of the work accomplished here begins to sink in, I thought I might just share a little about the incredible events that occured.
In short, it was witnessing a miracle...maybe a modern day "Loaves and Fishes" story. Here, a few dollars were given by many individuals and then God was able to take those dollars and provide for the building of 180 new beds for the largest orphanage in Moldova.
Children who sleep two-to-a bed suffer from health problems from sleeping on metal bed frames with broken springs which make the beds sag like a hammocks. Inch-thin cotton mattresses are completely soiled -and disgusting, really- from countless years of children wetting their beds. Worn and dirty wool blankets do little to comfort a motherless child.
In just 6 days our team of 17, plus 5 translators, 2 drivers worked along side 12-15 boys (mostly recent graduates from the orphanage...meaning they've been discharged after completing the 9th grade) to teach them various carpentry skills. What we couldn't anticipate was the actual impact the work would have on the lives of our young boys....or our team.
For the first time in most of their lives, these young men were a part of a team. They were respected, accountable, instructed, guided, encouraged and loved. Their faces beamed as they worked. Their gait had an extra strut as they walked confidently from site to site. They worked long and hard hours as they loaded and unloaded trucks, carried heavy lumber, learned to work sanders and drills and saws for the first time and joined in by sweating with people they barely knew, but who they sensed respected and loved them.
Our example of this pride came one day as we arrived at the orphanage and discovered several Sweet Sleep boys (2 current and 1 newly hired) had arrived as the roosters began crowing and worked feverishly to assemble the last 50 beds before we arrived that morning (see blog post "Bed Elves").
Young boys became young men last week--understanding what it felt like to be counted in and counted on. Working together for a common purpose. Taking and giving love. It was a first in so many ways. Our men became unexpected fathers---showing love and respect to children who've not known either. There seems to have been something magnificent in showing a fatherless boy how to smooth out the rough edges of a floor....or maybe their life.
Men and women alike worked hard to give love and then to leave traces of even more love than they could dish out in a week. Because of the willingness to step out in faith and in love, between 180-360 children will have new beds this fall (many children will continue to double up on these new beds so as to not be hurt hurt by old beds). Because of the willingness to do whatever it took, this team replaced and repaired the floor in two bedrooms (because the first step to sweet sleep is a firm foundation!) and now those rooms can be used which will allow living quarters for 12-24 children. Because of the flexibility of this team, a brother of a Sweet Sleep seamstress will now be able to live with his family because our team and Sweet Sleep worker, Vasile, made the necessary repairs to their dilapidated home.
Truly this work has been a miracle from God. Just ask the children whose lives are now changed.
So, to all my laboring friends back in Nashville and Kansas City...Sleep Sweetly tonight.