I believe we all have within us a desire to leave this world a better place than we found it. That was my goal and reason for hopping on a plane halfway around the world to help some children in need. The reality of it is that it not only helped in Moldova, but it transformed my life as well. If I could only be more like these children. The lessons we could all learn from them. They are true vessels of God's amazing, selfless love. They remain happy regardless of life's circumstances. They have a smile of innocence on their faces, and a warmth and yearning for God's love in their hearts. The more we tried to do for them, the more they gave back of themselves. We gave the smaller children at the orphanage camp some small toys and candy. They were soooooooo appreciative. They lit up with joy. Yet, what did most of them do with their prized possessions? They tried to give them back and share EVERYTHING that they had. THEY wanted to make ME happy. THEY wanted to make ME feel loved. They were never more content than to have your arm wrapped tightly around them. They grasp you tightly in the hope that you will never let them go. They want to love and be loved. Isn't that true for us all? How is it fair that Igor's mother died 2 years and 3 months ago and his father is in jail for beating him until he broke his skull and was bleeding from his head. How sad that he didn't say 2 or 2 1/2 years, but that he is still counting the months since he lost her. This little 12 year old boy has nothing and no one. No siblings, no family and yet he remains open to love and be loved. He is able to trust again and to love with God's love. It is the same with all of the children here (Nina and Dina and Ruslan and Ilie and Doina... I could go on and on with the stories they all have to tell.) The bottom line is they are all vessels of God's amazing love.
The older boys we had the opportunity to build beds with were very much the same. As we worked side by side together throughout the week, we made true friendships I will never forget. Even with the language barrier, there is a universal language of love. A smile in passing, a purposeful "slip" of a paintbrush, a bump from a foam mattress, a pillow fight, a water balloon tossed from a 3rd story window, a game of frisbee or basketball or bowling...these are all memories that will stick for a lifetime. The most touching memory of all showed us that the trip had become everything we had hoped for and so much more. The last day of work at the orphanage we had to finish setting up the beds. We thought it would be a very full day, as they all had been. As I went to the first building to get an accurate count of what needed to be done, I found the boys ALREADY FINISHING the entire days work. They had arrived EARLY in the morning to surprise us. They were BEAMING with pride in their accomplishments. Our smiles and joy could not be contained! I ran as fast as I could to tell the rest of the group what they had done. When everyone arrived, the boys took the group on a tour of their labor of love. This empty shell of a building suddenly had all of the beds in perfect order. It had been transformed from drab and dreary to a place where Sweet Sleep could be found. It was the boys that had taken the initiative to help all on their own. We were able to see the self worth and self esteem they had achieved. It was a glorious sight to watch them mature before our very eyes. These boys are all "Diamonds in the Rough." If someone would simply take the time to look and see their value. If we could just help cultivate and polish them, they would shine with a dazzling brilliance. I know God cares for these young men and so do I.
There is an extra special place in my heart for all of these I met in Moldova. There is also a very special place in my heart for each and every team member I have gotten to know. I have so many FUN memories of each of you. If you are going to be crammed in together like Sardines, I can't think of a better group of friends to do it with. You are all truly amazing and I have so much love and respect for all of you. It will be very hard to think of anything other than these kids over the next few days. Maybe that is God's plan, to permanently stamp them in our hearts. !
GO TEAM THREE! We will be praying!