Monday, August 21, 2006

Team 3 back in America

Team 3 has returned safely to Tennessee and I think the team breathed a collective sigh of relief as we cleared passport control/immigration in Cincy Sunday evening. No one wanted to leave Moldova, yet we were glad to have survived the long flights and grueling customs agents and lines. Actually the lines were not very long, the shortest I have experienced.

Just wanted to update everyone that we were back! If you see one of us you may want to prepare for a lenghty conversation, we all have tons of stories, pictures, and memories to share.

Thanks to all of you for your support


Saturday, August 19, 2006

So thats Moldova......

Well our week is done. The team leaves tomorrow morning, but I will be staying with Tim until Wednesday when we will fly back together. Dima, one of our translators starts college at Fresno State on the 28th. It turns out that we will be traveling together all the way to JFK in New York. Everyone is like, "what a coincidence, who would have thought you would be on the same flight." I say bahumbug to coincidences and see that God is sovereign and knows best. I do not know why he is on our flight, and maybe I never will. Maybe Dima will learn something from Tim and I. Maybe we will be the ones learning from Dima. Maybe it will just make the transition to a new life that much easier for Dima. Who knows. All I can hope to do is play my small role in the script that was written before I was born and receive the blessings that come with it. Sasha, the man who we are staying with here, has provided me with some things to think about, and part of how I feel about Dima has come from it. As we had our last meal together tonight, Sasha spoke a few words to us, and in that he told a story a preacher had told him.

A man is standing in line at the market behind and old lady. She is buying bread, but is counting her money over and over again. He wonders if he should help her pay for it, but he hesitates, he starts to think about it. He wonders if she has just lost some of her money. Or maybe she has the money but didn't bring enough. Maybe she is just having trouble counting because she is so old. He continues to think, and eventually he thinks long enough to get back to his original thought of maybe he should help her pay for it. Just as he is thinking it, a young man comes and helps her pay for her bread and she is overwhelmingly grateful. What Sasha said next will stay with me for a while. He explained how if the man had just thought quickly and done what he knew he should do, he would have had the blessing and the honor of helping this old lady. Instead he thought about it instead of acting, and his opportunity passed. The other young man received the blessing of helping her. When we do deeds of service, we are being a blessing in someone else's life, but our lives also receive a blessing.

That old lady got what she needed to get, and that is what mattered the most. But it doesn't always work that way. What if we act too late? What if we assume that someone else will help so we won't have to? How many people will miss out because we hesitated? Sure we eventually got around to helping someone, or someone else eventually did it, but what about the period of time that is not accounted for? How much more could have been done? It makes me wonder how many times that I have sat with someone or added prayer requests to a list or heard prayer requests from others for a need and prayed that someone would meet that need, when in reality I can meet that need for them. Instead of praying for someone to be an answered prayer, what if we started becoming that answered prayer when possible? How much more could we accomplish for the kingdom of God? I am thankful for Sweet Sleep and Jen and all those who do work over here. God is using them to answer prayers and lives in Moldova and are being blessed as well as their own lives.

This has been a valuable lesson to learn. I hope that I will seize those moments to bless others and that I will receive the blessings that are intended for me through those moments if only I am aware enough to grasp them. Others are seizing those moments and Moldova is different because of it.

Team Flex

A few weeks before we began our trip, we learned that things were changing with our trip. Our original planned work projects were already changed. Things remained this way throughout the entire trip. Each day it seemed we were evaluate our work load for the day. This team became Team Flex to me, because of the ability to adapt to whatever the situation called for.

Tonight after dinner we were sharing about impressions from the week. One thing that has been clear to me was how much this was a construction team in an unusual form, it was all about building relationships. Throughout the week I was able to see interaction between Jennifer, Brian, Joe, Ame, and several others with their "kids". It was amazing what a difference love can make.
So often we take for granted the little things , such as a hug. Yesterday we went to "dirt camp" and these kids clinged to each of us . One little boy was not out of someone's arms the entire time. I carried him for about 40 minutes, Jeremy and Mark also carried him and I saw him clinging to Leslie, and Jen a few other times. He is a sweet little guy that just needed to feel a touch of heartfelt love.

Lives changed? Without a doubt, now our task is to pass along what we learned . Also the most important thing we can do is make the change last in our lives and make life better for the ones we come in contact with.

Tomorrow we leave on a very early flight and will have much time to reflect on all that we have seen God accomplish.


A Week With My Girls

The past 7 days in Moldova have been a dream come true for me. I have gotten to spend 6 days with 2 of the most important people in my life, Lena and Lily Lungu! Let me tell you the story of God crossing our paths. 4 years ago when I first heard of and visited Chisinau, Moldova, God blessed me with beginning a friendship with these 2 sisters. Never did I dream what He had in store. I came to see these girls at camp 2 years in a row while they were still young enough to be in the orphanage. We communicated through translators for 7 days while at camp each of those 2 years, but that was all. They were discharged from the orphanage 2 years ago, as they were too old to continue living there. Over the past 2 years, God has further enriched and deepened our friendship by allowing us to communicate through direct emails, as Lena has learned alot of English and continues to learn more each day. It has been amazing to now keep in contact with them year round. Last summer and this summer, I have been able to return to Moldova on the construction trips with Sweet Sleep in the city where Lena and Lily now live. This week as we've been working at the orphanage, they have faithfully come each day to see us and work with us. On Tuesday, they took me into their world here with a visit to their flat here in the city and to a dance class that Lily takes weekly. It has been indescribable and I'm so thankful to God above for this opportunity to be with them and grow closer in our friendship and sisterhood as sisters in Christ each day! These girls are so brave and so gifted! Lena is studying at university to be a teacher, and Lily is studying to be a nurse. Their future is bright and their joy is contagious! I'm so glad I've had this week with them to encourage each other in the Lord! I didn't see them for a day and a half the past 2 days, and I missed them so much. It's going to be very difficult coming home knowing that I likely won't see them for at least a year! I will miss them tremendously! Jennifer Phillips

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Best day yet

Wow,what a day! We laid a floor today in dorm 3 and no one really knew how when we started. Thank goodness for Jack. He was the man! It was like herding cats in the beginning but he got us squared away and we were off to the races. Ten hours later we were finished and the head teacher of that floor just cried when she saw that it had been completed. She had checked on us several times during the day and may have been crying out of sheer relief that we had not left her with major destruction! My biggest concern was that we not burn down the dorm nor the dumpster(that we turned over in the fire we had started) as we tried to dispose of the rotten flooring . That was a mighty hot chunk of metal that we had to man handle up from those flames. We have not been known for taking the most direct approach to some of the task we have undertaken here. Lack of equipment,long waits for construction materials and the language barrier have made for some interesting situations! There was a dinner and program tonight with both the TN and TX teams along with some of the graduates. Most of us had tears in our eyes by the end of the night after hearing so many of the orphans here tell us their stories. It is truly amazing what a sponsorship of $35.00 a month can do here for these kids. We are off to Felesti early in the morning to put new beds in the dorms for those kids. I have been told after bounce of the ceiling ride I may no longer be so tall. Guess we will see!
Rob, Andrei really liked the jeans and blue shirt you sent! I shared your other clothes with some of the guys I have meet here. We play here in Chisinau Saturday and will have that one last day to share with these boys that we have come to know in such fun and special ways. God is truly blessing this trip and our prayer continues to be that we will be an example of His love to these kids. Please continue to join us in that prayer!

The Never Ending Work

Our work is never finished, a thought that has been on my mind for a few days.
Today was an awesome work day. We "finished" up at the school (orphanage).
Actually a few members of our team stayed behind late to finish working on a floor they couldn't leave unfinished. We set up the clothes closet today to give the boys that worked with us some newer clothes. They were very excited.

Tonight at our dinner with the Texas team, Steve Davis (CERI Director) made a very profound statement. He said that the Moldovan kids that spoke tonight, have probably witnessed to more Americans that most of us. SO much truth to that staement. That's a great challenge to strive to change.

Tomorrow we will visit another camp and deliver beds.
Hopefully someone else can fill you in on the rest of today's events.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Love Hurts

The last part of our day was spent at camp (Intranet II). I heard my name being yelled from the pool area as we walked toward the cabins. The boy I sponsor, Sergiu T. came running to meet me. It was greats eeing him again. He told me about trying to write to me and missing me from June. I noticed some deep cuts on his arm and he told me he had cut himself because a girl he loved chose another guy over him. I tried to exlpain that it was not wirth it, that he would meet and fall for many other girls, yet he said he loved this one. He did acknowledge he was not doing the smart thing by harming himself.

Sergiu later told me about his friend that had gotten into more troble and was not able to attend camp anymore. Most of the rest of the evening was great fun, even when Doina (a translators) tried to get one of the boys to help throw me in the pool. Luckily I grasped enough of her Romanian to figure it out!! LOL

I am seeing so many life stories unfold, too may to tell now.


Hold on for dear life

Halfway through the week and more thoughts and memories made every step of the way.

Today after working for half of the day in the orphanage and taking the boys out for lunch, we drove up to the camp. All of the children welcomed yet another group of Americans into the camp, and welcomed us with the new games and tricks they had learned as well as the biggest smiles and the looks showing you how much they want to be loved.

At the camp today the city prosecutors challenged the boys "camp team" to a soccer game. The reward if the boys won, besides beating a team twice their size and three times their age? How about a brand new TV for the camp? While watching the game, several of us had kids hanging onto us like a hair in a biscuit. They were everywhere you looked, asking to wear your sunglasses, asking me (us) if they looked cool or good. In the middle of the second half of the game, a little one came by me and started tugging on me asking for attention. Well I gave it to him. I quickly picked him up and copied what my dad did and what I've seen many other dads do, I put him on my shoulders.

From what the group told me, the little boy had a smile from ear to ear. He couldn't have enough as i moved my head from side to side as I watched the ball go from side to side. I can tell you this, the little boy may have been smiling but he was digging into my neck and chin, holding on for dear life! I gave him a view that he may never experience again, atop a tall American, a view that he never expected and was scared of at first.

I tell you that to tell you this, hold on to your families. Hold on to your loved ones. But most of all hold on to Christ. He will put us in places with views we are scared of. He will give us a view that we didn't expect, but once we trust Him and put our faith in Him, we can let go, put our hands in the air, and enjoy the view, a view we might never have again.

Let you hands go, and enjoy the ride!

Oh...the boys tied the men, with two goals.
The list says its my turn to give you thoughts of my day/week/whatever I want to do with my "bloc" time. So here it goes.

So I stick out a little bit here in moldova. The kids are all skinny as rails, on average much shorter than me, and their heads are shaved. I am not skinny as a rail, I am 6'3, and my hair hasn't been cut in many many months. So first we must get over appearance differences. And then there is the whole language thing. I can now say "fart" in Romanian and something to the effect of "whatever...I don't care" in Russia, you know the important things to know when traveling. I find myself speaking with an accent when talking to them, but I know deep down that English with an accent is still English and they can't understand.

I have learned a lot about myself this week. Mainly I've learned what tools Scott is not good at using. The list includes most of them. I bend about a third of the nails I try to hammer and I haven't cut myself with the saw, but I gave it up shortly after trying knowing that I liked my fingers more than the ability to tell people I am good with tools. I made myself bleed using the drill, not badly, but the fact that I broke skin tells you how handy I am with that as well. The good news is I can lift things.

Today I worked with Jack and Cergio in a different building than the one we have been working in. We went in to tighten beds and were asked to fix one small thing. Then we fixed one more small thing. Well, we played the just one more thing game for about 12 rounds. She was very grateful though. I was glad that she thought we all did equal amounts of works and had equal skill levels. It made me feel good, regardless of the fact it was a lie. We burned through most of the day working for Ms. Maria. We knew we had to go rip up a floor in the next building, but she just kept bringin stuff. We talked about that, but I figured hey, Jesus fed 5000 with some bread and a few fish, surely we can finish all of this small stuff and rip up a floor with his help. Well he sent help in the form of adolescent orphans from Moldova. We had 30 minutes before it was time to leave when we made it to the room we were to destroy. We figured we would move the stuff out and rip up a few boards to see what we were working with. Once the boys got there however, it was as if they finally found what they were created to do. I believe they were put on this earth to destroy rotten floors in orphanages. That's what they did, and they did it with a smile on their face. They were talking the whole time and I didn't understand a word of it, but in my mind I think it was something to the effect of "Guys, we are really good at this. When we get real jobs, I hope its ripping up floors because we are quite possibly the best at this in all of the land." And they would be right.

We went to the camp where they live after lunch to watch them play soccer against the prosecutors of moldova. Its not only a good team name, its what they do for a living....They are lawyers. I realized that what I was watching was a Disney movie waiting to happen. The raggamuffin soccer team of orphans playing the government men who spend more on a car than the kids will make in ten years of fulltime manual labor. All the other orphans are standing around cheering them on as their friends play a team of men twice their age. They are playing a game they love, not for money, but for pride (and if they win they get a TV, but that wouldn't be part of the movie). I'm thinking mighty ducks meets soccer, where everything is super "euro".

I've enjoyed being here and I've enjoyed especially a translator named Dan. He is kid my age who is just very funny and nice. I enjoy our talks and (right now I feel like I am kevin costner in Dances with Wolves writing in my journal) hope they will continue through the end of the week. I got caught looking a ta girl out of the van window today, but I noticed he was looking too and immediately diverted it to him. He knew he was busted and just said, "I thought it might be my cousin" We all laughed and then he informed us that it was not his cousin afterall with a slight grin on his face. I'm glad he's my new friend.

Holding on for dear life.

Hello to all back in the United States. Well we are smack dab in the middle of the trip, and today was another day of experiences for all of us. We spent time working in the orphanage for the first half of the day, then on to the camp.

The camp was quite a site. There were kids of all ages that welcomed yet another group of Americans with their new tricks they had learned from the team working with them. They also welcomed each and everyone one of us with big warm smiles. The camp soccer team had a deal with a group of city prosecutors that if the camp team beat them, they would buy a television for the camp. It was the highlight for the day for all the camp, as well as big even for us. All the boys we worked with seemed so much more welcoming, not only because we all ate lunch with them and talked more, but I think becasue we were on "their turf" which had to help. However what was really fun was seeing the entire camp sit and watch the soccer game, cheering on their fellow campers as they challenged the other team twice their size and three times their age. It was good fun. Every single person had campers all around them. The boys hung on us guys like we were their heros, without even knowing us. It just shows that when you show love, love is received, especially by those starving for it. At one point in the game I had a little boy on my shoulders, watching the game. As I was told, the little boy had smiles from ear to ear, holding on to dear life, as the tallest person in the camp gave him a view that he probably had never seen. I am pretty sure the scratches on my neck and chin show evidence, that in the beginning, he was holding on for dear life.

I tell you that, to tell you this, hold on to your loved ones. Hold on to your parents and family. And most of all, hold on to Christ for dear life, as he takes you to new heights and places you may not want to be, and are probably very scared of. Hold on...but when you put your total trust in Him, well, you can release your hands, see His perspective, a view you probably never experienced or imagined. Let those hands go, and enjoy the ride!

Those that have blessings similar to my own, well I promise you this, you don't thank the Lord enough for each of them.

This is Brad(Not Mark) Part II

Sweet Sleep Journeys
First off, it is great to see the second timers build on previous relationships. Jennifer last night got to go to dance class with two of her girls. It's amazing to see those girls and how they lookd up to her. Today was great. I was supervising Demas, one of the interpreturs, and Andre as were nailing trim to the wall. There was one corner that had several difficult angles and I wondered if we could to it the hard way or do it easy, the hard way looking much better. They really suprised me on what a great job they did. It looked amazing. I then went to another building and help Joe fix some broken slats for the beds and some drawer nobs for some of the dressers. After we finished up we to them to what we call a Moldovian meat and three. I think they really enjoyed being taken out to a restaurant. We then went to the camp where the children stay during the summer, up to this time we have only seen about ten boys that come work on the orphange with us. It was great to see tons of kids peeking out the doors in anticipation for the bell to ring telling them nap time was over. They all came running out to us and introducing themselves to us. Miller took Jeremy and I on a tour of the facilities and one of the boys tag along and became our guide. We firs saw the line of facets over a troft where they washed their hands. Then he showed us the showers, it was an enclosed concrete slab with a line of shower heads. Next was the worse thing I have seen in probably my life, he showed us the "comodes." They were just holes in the ground that the kids had to stand over to use the bathroom. It stunk to the high heavens and I had to go. The boy then took us to his room and showed the beds to us. Not to impressive, the had not been changed out like the beds in the orphange and when I sat on it I pretty much sunk to the floor. How someone sleeps on that night after night, I will never know. Next we headed to the soccer field where the kids were playing. The prosocutors, sort of like our DA's, challenged the boys to a soccer match and they would buy the boys a TV if they won. The prosocutors played a lot harder than they were supposed too but it ended up in a tie. I bet the boys will still get the TV for the camp. I made friend with Radu during the match and he laughed and laughed as I tossed him in the air. It was amazing to see all the smiles that they had just because someone paid attention to them. It was a great day and I already know it will be hard to leave. So good night because it is 10 here and it will be a long day tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Reminder of Our Mission

Today I got a real reminder of why we are here. Last summer we removed all the old nasty pillows and mattresses. We found out they somehow reappeared. As we were removing the old ones we didn't really want to touch them, then we realized kids sleep in these each and every night. Seems we are so spoiled as Americans , we sometimes forget how good we really have things.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow, we will spend a few hours in the afternoon at Intranet II camp. I am looking forward to seeing some more of the translators and some of the kids we bonded with in June. I will also get to see Sergiu T. , the boy I sponsor.

Well, many are waiting to get on the net. Thanks for the prayers, and emails of encouragement.


Andrei has arrived!

We were in the midst of throwing out the nastiest old mattress's you can imagine when Scott said I needed to see Jen downstairs. As Andrei was not on the boy's van yesterday and I had been told it would be closer to the end of the week before he would arrive I suspected nothing.As entered the room Jen was in she was so serious when she said there was someone she wanted me to meet. As I looked to her left there was my handsome,smiling Andrei by her side! Several team members who knew that he had arrived had gathered round to witness the first meeting.Whether he wanted it or not he found himself on the receiving end of a really big hug. Considering he hugged me back and smiled and said in English"nice to meet you" I think he liked the way he was greeted. We chatted with one of our interpreters,Dan, for a few minutes and them I headed off to hang more wallpaper and he begin laying flooring with the men on our team. He is really a good worker! We had a good chance to visit at lunch time. Roma handled the interpreting for us at that point. He is a year older than Andrei so he was most helpful with the conversation. For those of you who know how much I have looked forward to this meeting be assured I will tell you more about him when I return home. I will also have lots of pictures for you to see! We are haveing a great trip thus far. We have laid lot of new flooring,wallpapered several dorm rooms and repaired countless beds. We are making progress with the teenage boys we have come to work with. They were very tentative with us yesterday but today were much more engaged with us. It is late now and we have been on Tim's computer a long time so I will close this. Continue to remember us in prayer. We are giving it our best shot with these guys. We are planting the seeds and trusting that God will bring them to the harvest.


Marshrukata! I know you are all thinking what is a Marshrukata? It is part of the public transportation. While some of the other teammates where working on the orphanage, Jennifer, Tim, and I went to go buy some light bulbs for the orphanage at the Hubo, a local construction store. Our way of transportation was the Marshrukata. It is a Mercedes van with about 12 seats. There are bars on the ceiling to hold onto and people cram in there. There is no limit. They said that sometimes they pack them with at least 30 people. There way of stopping the Marshrukata is by throwing your hand out in a karate motion or Chicago style as Tim would say with a little jazz fingers while standing on the side of the street. The bus automatically stops and you climb on. It cost 3 lei a person. 13.30 lei = $1.00. Of course Tim would say he is enraged at the fact the cost of the Marshrukata has gone up. We could have bought a couple packs of Hubba Bubba (gum) from the grocery store with that extra money. It was an interesting experience.

Our second adventure coming back from the HUBO was the plaza under the street. They have little shops all under the streets. They are really small but include all kinds of stores. One store that was open was a shoe repair store. The one we went through was small but some are the size of a small city.

These are just two of the great cultural experiences I have had so far. I am looking for more great experiences to come!


This Is BRAD(Not Mark)

Well after five minutes of being unsuccessfully logging in under my own password my lovely friend Mark let me use his password. I don't really know if I'm supposed to talk about my whole trip thus far or just today. So I'm just going to talk about today. It all started with me hearing the wondeful voice of Jen Gash and I noticed many more right after that. I immeditaly looked at the clock and noticed it was 7:30 and we were leaving a 8:00. I woke up Roger and we went and ate breakfeast. We headed out to the orphange. We started out laying the rest of the uncut laminent and pasting it to the floor. Tim, Boris, and I headed to the store to buy more screws for the beds. Hardware stores aren't like the Home Depot's and Lowe's of the world. The prices are set per screw and not per box. Most people just come in and buy a few screws here and there. Most things here are built out of concrete and not trees so that may explain why. We went back and did a couple of things around the orphange before lunch. Tim, Joe, Roma, Boris, and I went to see if we could find some trim but to no avail at the two stores that were closest to the orphange. We headed back across town to a store that was the closet to Home Depot that I have seen and we decided after all that just to use the trim we already had. I don't know what that's supposed to mean but things work differently here in Moldova. People aren't in a rush to do anything. I really think we are getting through to the boys what it means to work. Some of the guys work hard and other do not. Some of them want to develop a relationship and others do not. They took a lot less breaks today and worked really hard. The interpreters are awesome, really amazing guys. It's really good to see what God is doing in their lives. Just pray for us and our relationships. I got to clown around with a couple of boys and Mark got to have a good talk with one of the boys. I miss you all and see you soon.

Janssen doing time.

Well it was our second day here with the orphan boys. They do work hard when you have things for them to do. We found out that the food we have for them at lunch makes their stomachs hurt. They say they would prefer soup over ham sandwiches. The interpreters are the hardest working people here. Plus they will eat the food we offer freely. They are a lot of fun to get to know. Some of their knowledge of America comes from American movies, they also listen to a lot of American music. My time here is great. I feel for the orphans here. It is so hard for them to make a living here out of school. Family is important here in order to succeed in their eyes. One boys story hit me hard today. I will probably offer to help him out tomorrow. He needs it. I am very glad that I came and will take back a lot of memories with me forever. Mom, Dad and family I love you very much.

Monday, August 14, 2006

My Second Home

I'm not sure if anyone has blogged about this yet...most of the team was laughing at me Saturday in the Cincy airport for "chasing down" an aging rock star. Everyone wanted to kow if it was him and so I set out on a quest ;-)

Speaking of quest: returning to my "second home" has been really cool. I have met up with many of the familar faces and have met new ones. This trip always amazes me in many different ways and never gets old. I have arranged for everything that people sent with me to be delivered and have passed along all the messages as well.

The only quest I have unfulfilled is the quest for the elusive scented kleenex pack. I will find at least one and bring it back to Brentwood for the one that must have it LOL Okay, actually a friend asked if I would bring a pack back if I spotted one, however you know everything to be is an adventure :-)

Today was our first workday and things went well after the typical slow start. Most of the older boys from the orphanage that helped us did great work. Many of them remembered me from previous trips , so it was good to renew those friendships.

We have an unique work schedule this week. Three days will be at the school (orphanage) , one day at a different orphanage and the other day at camp.

The big question on everyone's mind id what color will Jen's toe be tomorrow? It's a nice shade of purple at the moment, so we are places guesses as to what will be next. Read Miller's post to see details of that event.

It's getting late and we have an early start tomorrow. I feel we will have a great week ahead of us. We got a good jumpstart on projects today and team members are already bonding with the guys.

Stayed tuned........


Day 3 - It's Toe Time!

OK, this is Miller writing this post - I've forgotten my password, so Jack said I could use his login.
So...I walked into the dorm this morning to see Jen Gash down the hallway surrounded by a small crowd. Her hands were covering her face, and nary a peep was coming out of her mouth - which is weird if you know Jen Gash. Everyone was looking at the floor and pointing.
So as I arrived on the scene, I looked down to see a foot with a misplaced pinky toe. Maybe not so much misplaced, but rather bent in the wrong direction - as in perpendicular to the rest of the toes. It turns out that Jen had run into Eugene in the hallway, and a dislocated toe was the result.
And as we're standing there, Jack's telling me how it all happened and casually remarks "Someone ought to yank that thing back into place." He then nonchalantly reaches down and snaps Jen's toe back to normal - then just as nonchalantly turns back to me and finishes what he was saying.
Meanwhile, Jen yelps in pain and comments "I think I'm going to throw up" - to which we responded by quickly ushering her to a chair by the window in one of the children's rooms. Because seriously, who wants to smell Jen Gash's vomit in the hallway of a Moldovan orphanage?
Long story short...Jen now has a fresh bruise and a fun story that will go down in the annals of Moldovan mission trips as one of the best!

Havin' fun in Moldova,

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Halfway around the world

Well as you now know, we are here, safe and sound. All is well in the construction Team base camp. A couple carryon pieces of luggage were "misplaced" but I am sure they will show up. Airport to airport it was 24 hrs, for those keeping score.

It is pretty powerful to arrive in a country that in my own lifetime was under communist rule. Yet I am connected to the internet, typing on a laptop, letting you all know we are here and are excited about doing some hard work at the orphanage as well as sharing the Word with boys and young men. Awesome...just awesome! The team is great, and we have had many laughs already.

I am really excited to start sweating tomorrow, moving furniture, tearing up floors, or whatever else needs to be done. I look forward to kicking the "football" around with the teens sometime soon as well, hopefully recalling some long lost coordination!

Thank you all for your prayers, please think of us as the easy part is done now, and the real work begins. I ask that you remember how fortunate and truly blessed we are to be in the United States of America, enjoying the freedoms we have, especially the freedom of religion. Embrace that right, use that right, much was sacrificed for that right and all the other freedoms we have. Godspeed.

The Journey ... The Arrival Into Moldova

We have successfully arrived after a nearly 24 hours of travel ... Nashville airport to Chisinau airport. The Lord has a hand on our shoulders throughout the journey and insured that the team remained in good spirits despite the lack of quality sleep. We have a number of jokesters among us which will cetainly add lavity to the week. Upon our arrival into Chisinau we were met by CJ, Boris and Steve and were quickly wisked to our host family ... Sasha and Lucia ... for a great chicken and mashed potato dinner. Before arriving to Miller provided each team member with an inspiration note from our prayer partners. The thoughts of these individuals are inspirational and reinforcing of the good we are hopeful sharing with the older boys starting tomorrow morning. I am personally looking forward to having a chance to share the word of God and being a witness to these boys. The inspiration of the team is also proof the Lord is present.

I had several firsts on the first leg of our journey. One first I never imaged having was sleeping on an airport floor ... while in Frankfurt.

I deeply miss my wife and four daughters and their love. It is my hope to return home with a strong focus on the Lord's teachings and sharing with others. Praise the Lord! Please keep our team in your prayers.

We're here!

We must be living right. We arrived 30 minutes early and that was with security checking every single piece of carry on luggage in Frankfurt! I am now in my 32nd hour without sleep so this will be short and sweet. Chisinau is like no city I have ever seen. It seems to me that I am in a war torn country. Broken sideswalks with grass growing thru them,lots of concrete buildings(many under construction), worn out appartment buildings everywhere. Makes me so grateful for my home in Brentwood. We were meet by the CERI staff at the airport with lots of smiles and hugs. Am looking forward to working with them this week. We meet the boys in the morning and start ripping up old flooring to replace with new. We will be taking beds to Felesti on Friday.
Keep us in your prayers. This place needs it and so do we!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Team 3...Chisinau Construction

Where would we be without those who have gone before us....both on the fields of gold (Moldovan sunflower fields of gold, that is!) and those who have petitioned our Father for the work we are doing. Thank you to each of you who pray, give, go, read and who are a voice to this ministry and to the children. Please pray for our team during August 12-20th.

Back Row (L): Jack Wolf, Scott Drennan, Miller Hancock, Jeremy King, Brad Johnson, Roger Sigmon, Mark Janssen, Brian McKay

Front Row (L): Jennifer Phillips, Jen Gash, Leslie Garrison, Ame Satterwhite, Nancy Nelms

Not pictured: Joe Swing

Be sure to read the two previous posts from team members. We'll see you at the Sweet Sleep Summer Report August 27th at 5:00 pm in the Brentwood Deaf Church on Concord Rd!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

High Alert...but a Higher calling at work

Well amidst the news of the foiled bombing plot out of London, we are all on high alert, just like the rest of the World, and certainly all those in the United States. Am I worried? Not even one little bit. My concerns? I guess I won't have my Nalgene bottles of water with me on board for the flight across the pond.

It is Thursday, 8/10, and I have been asked numerous times about the security of travel, will our trip be cancelled, are you scared, etc. This is natural. But for those of us with faith in Him, He is much greater than the plots of terrorists, and the sheer intimidation of terrorism as a whole. The Lord will protect us, make no mistake about it.

Moldova awaits our arrival, and I am excited to be on the journey with the others in my group. I anticipate much from our group, as we seem to all get along and I think there will be lots of smiles, and just as many memories as we share the Gospel with the children and teens in Moldova.

The real beauty of trips like these, is that Christ works in miraculous ways. Not only will we be sharing the good news with the kids/teens, Christ will also be working on our hearts. The hearts of a group of people brought together to do a wonderful work. I am thankful for each individual who has made the journey to Moldova before us, to prepare the "field", and for those after us who will continue to care for the "field".

The anticipation is building, for an event that will impact my life (our lives) forever. Godspeed.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Departure ... The Journey

The departure date for our team is August 12th, which is just around the corner. The energy and excitement continues to build. I find tremendous comfort and peace with the members of our team. Some have been to Moldova on past mission trips but there are several neophytes leaning on the leadership of Miller. As one of four older males (not exactly sure of the age break point for "older"), I look forward to working with the teenage boys and hopefully being able to contributing to their spiritual walk.

A neighbor called me after hearing that I was traveling to Moldova to share the message of two missionaries from Russia who spoke at his Franklin church. The prominent message was about the need for Christian outreach to the children in their country. At the service, these missionaries passed out lapel pin printed in Russian the words - "Love the Children." The Lord is definitely at work with all aspects of Sweet Sleep and CERI.

The packing for me is the start of the journey. I anticipate the journey will forever change me and influence me on my spiritual walk ... a life long journey for the glory of God. Please keep our team in your prayers and heart.