Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Bag Of Macaroni

Another amazing day in Moldova. There are so many things I could write about tonight. Lunch, dinner, the zoo, shopping in the world's most disorganized street market, Petrica getting car sick. But, instead of all those, I want to focus on what we did this morning.

This morning we went to Metro (sort of the Moldovan Sam's Club) and bought food for about 50 families. I don't know what all was in each bag, but I do know each bag contained a bag of macaroni and some cooking oil. We took the food to an apartment building that is occupied by deaf people and their families. In Moldova there are very few opportunities for people with any kind of disability, so these people are very poor, even by Moldovan standards. On the way there, D'Ann and I explained to Petrica why we were going there to pass out this food. We told him that we were doing it because God loves us, and a part of receiving that love is to go out and share it with others. We told him that by giving this food to these people, we would be sharing God's love with them. After we arrived at the building, we sorted all the food items into each sack and headed inside to distribute them. There are three girls from the orphanage who live in the building, so they led us around and told the people through sign language why we were giving them the food, and also helped us find out how many bags we needed to leave on each floor for those who were not home.

We were on the third floor before I had an opportunity to give my bag of food to someone. I handed the bag to a woman, and she smiled and signed "thank you" to me. I smiled back, unable to communicate anything else to her. After we had given out all the food for that floor, everyone turned to go back to the stairwell and head up to the fourth floor. I was the last one on the hall, and just as I started to go through the door, I stopped and turned back for a moment. The woman I had handed my bag to was standing there. When she saw me look back, she put her hand over her heart, looked me in the eyes, and without signing a word to me, told me how much our kindness, God's kindness meant to her. I cannot begin to express the emotion that came over me looking into that woman's eyes. I thought about what Jesus said about doing things for the least of those among us, and in that moment I was truly standing face to face with Jesus. I don't know how I managed to maintain my composure while we finished up on the fourth floor, but somehow I did.

I've thought a lot about that woman tonight. I've thought about what a perfect example this day was of what it means to be a Christian. I've thought about how much of my life has been spent doing all sorts of other things besides sharing God's love with the least among us. I've thought about how much this place has changed my life in just a few short months and two trips. I don't know how long that bag of macaroni and bottle of cooking oil will last for that woman. Not very long I imagine. But hopefully what will stay with her (and me) long after it and we are gone is that there is a God who loves all of us more than we could ever imagine or deserve.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Wow, what a day. We started out today going to the orphanage and meeting with Ms. Galina. She talked with us about several different things. She talked about how long she has been working at the orphanage (she calls it an "institution") and how the work is wrecking her health. She's been there for 18 years, and the comment about her health may be a bit of an exaggeration, but then again, maybe not. She also told us that she knew visits from people like us are a blessing from God. That was really good to hear. The most important thing she talked about was how the government of Moldova is trying to close all of the "institutions" like Internat II in hopes that it will somehow help Moldova get into the EU. She made it very clear that she's not a fan of the idea, and even remarked that no one has invited them into the EU, an no one outside of Moldova seems particularly interested in them joining. We talked for a good while about all of that and asked a few questions. All I'll say about it all is that I shudder to think what might become of these kids and all the others like them that will just keep being born into this country in the years to come.

After meeting with her, we went to the gym to hang out with all the kids for a while. We talked, laughed, and had some devotional time with them before leaving with our kids for lunch. We took them to a pretty nice restaurant and had a nice lunch that everyone seemed to enjoy. After lunch we got back in the vans and D'Ann started the Petrica sugar fest with a few Hershey's kisses. I should mention that Petrica had ice cream twice yesterday. We took the kids bowling at a place called Ice Bowling. Now we all thought that the name indicated that ice was somehow involved in the bowling, but it turned out to be just a regular bowling alley with a strange name. We had a great time though. I think most of the kids had never been bowling before. I know Petrica hadn't, and he had a great time. He did really well too, breaking 100 in both games. Late in the second game I realized that he was doing so well that I should try to make sure he won. I was trailing him by only three pins in the last frame, so I decided to throw a couple in the gutter and celebrate his win. I didn't want to be too obvious, but I got the first one in the gutter with no problem. I then stepped up to throw the second gutterball, but it slipped from my hand before I could intentionally throw it across my body, and I threw a perfect strike. I guess it was actually a spare in this case, but either way I beat him by a few pins. I felt really bad, but he hardly seemed to notice. I hope that doesn't keep me up tonight.

After bowling, a few of us had to go to the airport to pick up the bags that didn't make it with us on Saturday. I remind you that this is now Monday. After we got back to the house Jen noticed that there was a red tag around the handle of one of her bags that read "rush". Truly hilarious. While we were gone to get the bags, the others that didn't need to pick up any bags went downtown to walk around with the kids for a while. Someone had the great idea of taking them to a pastry shop. D'Ann said that Petrica got some sort of thing that was just pure sugar. Then, he started pouring packs of sugar into his Sprite because another kid was putting sugar into some coffee drink that they got. To top it off, he then started eating packs of sugar. After all of that, we all met up at a pizza place for dinner. After his dinner, Petrica had an ice cream sundae. We were laughing and joking about how much sugar he had had today, and how he would probably be up all night. He told us that he would probably throw up tonight. I asked him if it was worth it and he said it was. Good times.

D'Ann and I are just so happy to be here sharing these experiences with Petrica. While I was gone to get my bag, D'Ann taught him to say "I love you" in English. With a little bit of prompting he said it to me in the van on the way to dinner. It may not have been completely spontaneous, but I know he meant it, and that's all that really matters.

Tomorrow we plan to take the kids to buy food and then to distribute it in the deaf village. That should be a really good experience. D'Ann and I will also have our conference with Ms. Galina to talk about Petrica. I'm really looking forward to finding out whatever she can tell us about him. Stay tuned.


Sunday, October 29, 2006


Joyful is my word for the first day. I really did not know how I would react to the sights, sounds, smells of this world and the children for which this is their reality. But today was joyful. We started off the day meeting our children for church. I cannot fully describe how wonderful it is to sit in church (even for the two hours that it was) and listen to a packed house of people speaking a language I do not understand praise the same God I know. The singing was beautiful. It was truely joyful.

After church we took all the children to McDonald's for lunch. Petrica had never been and it was fun to watch him eat most of his icecream before his meal. We then walked around the outdoor art market. Petrica is such a sweet and shy boy that he will hardly tell us what he needs or likes. While in the market he was fascinated with a man playing a wooden flute. He just kept turning to watch him. It was joyful to hear Petrica play the flute we purchased. While in the shops he finally told us he needed a cap. Here you have to look in every stall to try to find what you need. We finally found one for him and although he was hesitant, we finally convinced him to pick one himself.

After a short trip back to the team house, we met up with the children back at the school. We had movie and pizza night. There were about 80 kids there tonight and you would not believe how quiet the lunch room was during dinner. Anyone who has visited their kids lunchroom lately would have been amazed.

After a wonderful day together, it was time to load up the van to come back to the house. When I got in the van, Petrica kept coming to the window and holding his hand up to the glass and smiling that Petrica smile that just melts me. A great end to a great day.

When Stuart first came home this summer he said he did not know if I could come because I would just cry. While I am not promising that I won't cry for months and months after coming home, here I am joyful to have this time with these amazing kids. In their eyes you can see joy and hope, and you can see that they are making the best out of what life has handed them. I am so blessed to get to share a small part of their life.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Chisinau Sponsor Trip Is Underway

Well, after about 20 hours of travel time, the Chisinau sponsor trip team is on the scene. We arrived tired and a little stinky, but glad to be here. Our trip was pretty uneventful. We did have a few bags that didn't make our last flight into Chisinau, but we should have those tomorrow. The only big deal about that is that Jen only got one of her three bags, and the one she got didn't include any of her toiletries. I guess we'll have to loan her some stuff or else no one will want to sit next to her at church tomorrow.

We got to go to the orphanage for about 45 minutes this evening before coming back to the team house for dinner. It was wonderful to see D'Ann get to meet Petrica. He's still the same sweet, shy boy I met in June. I saw a few other kids that I meet in June too. They were all really glad to see us, and we were really glad to see them too. Of course our time with them was too short, but we'll have lots of good time with them this week. Tomorrow we'll take our sponsor kids to church with us and then spend some time in the outdoor market before heading back to the orphanage for a pizza and movie party with all the kids. It should be a great first day. That's all for now I guess, but stay tuned for more updates in the coming days.