A little disclaimer. With minor technical difficulties on my account - probably self-inflicted - I'm writing under Emily's blog account.
It would be impossible for me to offer my reflections on the entire week tonight. I know it will take at least a week to process everything, but I do want to get down my thoughts on today as it was an important one for me.
With the hard work over for the week, we were able to celebrate today with a lot more time with the boys and at camp. Looking back on the day, it was very bittersweet. Every other day, when the kids asked us if we were coming back tomorrow we could say yes. Today, only some of us fortunate enough to stay longer could say that. It felt very empty to say I'm not coming back tomorrow but probably next summer. The goodbye hugs were longer and more frequent. Departure time was definitely way off schedule.
It was great to be in camp again. I didn't have much space on my camera card so the handstands and cartwheels went quickly instead of for nearly 30 minutes during my previous visit. I was able to spend a lot of time playing volleyball with the kids. Surprisingly, our team kept winning. Maybe that was because we kept serving to Jen. Known more for her bowling, let's just say her heart wasn't in volleyball today. The kids kept rotating out and moving from team to team so we got to meet a lot of new kids and at least act like we knew what we were doing by showing them how to play. Tom and I also got to show off our 2-inch vertical leaps. Thanks to John and Laura, we had plenty of gifts to hand out - pencils, stickers, necklaces with crosses, etc. I hope we had enough to go around.
After dodging the police checkpoints and a commandering by Ms. Gallina on the roadside, we headed back to town for lunch and a little shopping and haggling at the market. A visit to the Moldovan meat and three was nice -envision a much cleaner Sylvan Park with food you can't pronounce - but we might all agree that they had nothing on Lucia's cooking all week.
We kept the highlights rolling this afternoon with a little "drama" and then finished strong with a great experience at dinner. A visit to the Irish pub (don't worry Scott it was just for dinner and we have proof you ate there too!) was nice and so was the opportunity to hear from Dema, Ivan, Denis, and Ruslan about their experience this week and how they ended up in the orphanage. There were a lot of tears around the room and I must admit from me as well. Miller brought us all in for a time of prayer and laying on of hands on the four boys - thanks to Dorel for translating all of that - which was a very moving and amazing experience. The waitresses all stayed in the room while we were praying over the boys and we found out as we were leaving that one of them was a Christian and had been struggling with a way to witness to her co-workers there. With the teams coming there and praying at dinner and over the boys, it gave her a chance to answer questions they had about her faith.
Yours truly got all choked up talking about the boys and how great it was to work with them, play with them and try to mentor them this week - especially hearing Denis talk about working with Tom and I this week and showing him how to put the beds together and work with other tools. I hadn't realized during the week what kind of impact we had on the boys. To hear it from them cut straight to my heart.
What mission trip would be complete without a visit to New York for some Moldovan bowling? All of the team plus the four boys, our translators, Boris, and a few friends tried our hand at bowling. Ruslan and Denis had never bowled before so we had a great time bonding and trying to break 100. If we can ever convince them to not throw it so hard we might consider ourselves a success.
After giving some gifts to the boys and the translators, we had some very tearful goodbyes - plus more drama - and promises to see the boys soon. I can't give you too much on those as I still can't believe we're already leaving in the morning to go home and they were far too tough to say.
All I can say is that Moldova has a big piece of my heart now and I won't let it or the boys go. Off for now.