Since I'm not sure how much of Thursday and Friday will be covered by everybody blogging tonight, I'll just say that words cannot do justice to either day. For those of you who have been around for a last day of camp departure, you know how emotional this day can be. You form quick friendships with the children - many that will hopefully last a long time - and pray that you were able to plant some seeds for future groups, volunteers and CERI staff here to harvest.
I sincerely believe that there were some lives changed here this week. I could tell a difference in several kids in the group led by Laura M., Marilyn and I (5-7th graders) by the end of the week. I know other team members felt the same about their group. While they still face intense peer pressure from the older boys in terms of how they treat the younger kids and the girls in general, there were several who appeared to respond to our message of respect and seeing value in their lives through the eyes of Christ. My hope is that we reach the younger boys soon enough to reverse the cycle. For those of you reading, I have several names of boys who would be great candidates for sponsorship or could at least use the encouragement and prayer to lead a changed life. I got to know them this week. It's amazing how much they responded to hugs and attention.
As I said before, last day of camp is hard to capture in words. You're sad at leaving the kids but fired up about how you saw God move in the lives of the kids during the week. It's a shame that there isn't a team coming in right after us as I'm confident another week or two of attention would really make a difference.
Thursday should probably be left in the capable hands and fingers of my fellow bloggers - David I hope you're covering the Salem witch trials angle - but I will add a few thoughts. We had a great day with the kids and it culminated with the big bonfire we had been planning for some time. We had two huge bags of sausages (they don't call them hot dogs over here kids), lots of soda, chips and biscuits (jumbo size Lorna Doone's). I spent about an hour with Alisa, the older girl we sponsor, in helping her decide which school she should attend in the fall and working out her living arrangements for the summer and fall so I missed the building of the fire pit/Salem witch trial recreation.
Those of the team fortunate enough to witness the building of this bonfire (we have video by the way) used such words as burning teepee, open pit from hell, etc. Suffice it to say that with a center post measuring more than 12 feet tall, small trees leaned up against it and a litre of gasoline, the coals were so hot once it settled that you couldn't get any closer than 10 feet away before you started to roast. I think I still have part of my "sunburn" left and have some hair missing on one knuckle to show for it. The Boy Scouts we were not, but we worked it out with our Moldovan friends and got all the kids fed. Top it off with Ruslan (one of the older boys we've worked with for a couple years) singing a Turkish disco song or two, Ms. Gallina doing the polka and you have one heck of a night. You will have to see the video to believe it all.
Hello and lots of love to all my family and friends back in the States. Looking forward to seeing you in a few days. I love and miss you all.