Monday, January 23, 2006

23 Jan 2006 Chisinau, Moldova

Not until you touch down in a new country do you realize how your mental construct of a place collides with the reality of it. One's thoughts and impressions can be just as foreign as the place itself. Moldova is the first country I've been to in the former Soviet Union. It is the dead of Winter so the city of Chisinau is blanketed with a covering of thick snow, pristine in places, brown and soiled in others. There are the requisite number of Russian cars, women in high-heeded boots, fur coats and hats walking to and from shops and resturants with men in the equally recognizable "Russian" fur hats smoking their cigaretts. And just like everywhere else in the world, all bad things American invade the landscape...Marlboro, Coke, McDonalds, Hollywood, Nike, etc. I think it might be impossible in these times to go anywhere in the world and find a place that is its original unaffected culture. Enough about the American cultural invasion...I came to Moldova to document a population of forgotten and neglected people - a result of circumstances unimaginable to most of us back in the land of excess and plenty.

I met my new friend Jen Gash back in Nashville at the end of last year and heard about her Sweet Sleep ministry. Jen, like other grass roots ministries, has too much work, too little time and not enough woman/manpower to get all the details and tasks accomplished for all the needs Sweet Sleep is trying to meet here in Moldova. I said I would come and be the lens of Sweet Sleep. So here I am. Today, Monday, we passed out EMI donated coats and scarfes to about 150 kids. They were happy to have something to call their own. I came walking into the orphanage classroom hall of Internat 2 and a boy offered in sign language to carry my photo backpack. It weighed almost as much as the little guy did so I tired to decline but he would not stand for it. He carried it all the way to the director's office and smiled so big when he put it down at my feet. I saw all their little or maturing faces through my lens today, said a silent prayer as they stood there staring into my lens...may you be warm and blessed my dear one, may you come to know our Lord, may you grow to love others...and know love.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A recap in pictures...

The transitional living house. I am so excited about this house. We went to see it for the first time to see it since we officially purchased it. It became "real" to me. Tim (far left) will be staying behind for a year to mentor and disciple the boys that will eventually live in this home (Tim will live in the house, too). I really enjoyed watching the older boys bond with Tim. They listened to him like I've never seen before. I know they will grow to love and respect him as time goes on. Two of our team members accepted Christ on the trip...we all rejoiced with them. Brian (above) wanted to get baptized in Moldova. So where else but a FROZEN lake? It was an amazing experience for the whole team. I love this picture because (1) it commemorates the moment, but also because (2) it looks like he's looking up to the sky in complete surrender. How telling...One thing I loved about this time around was my teammates. We had an amazing team - a great mixture of young and old, men and women, people who had been to Moldova and those that hadn't. At night, once we got back to the team house, we would have dinner and prayer time. I really enjoyed that and needed that. Another nightly highlight was the "Tim and Jordan: Unplugged" show. They would sing well into the morning hours...mostly Shane & Shane, but they managed to fit in some other favorites, too. :)

I set out on this trip to find a child for my friend, Mary Anna, to sponsor. Well, it didn't take long. On day one, this beautiful little girl - Angela Vieru - clung to me and never let go. I knew instantly that I had found the one. The only thing left to do was see if she already had a sponsor. It turns out she didn't and neither did her sister. Now, Mary Anna is sponsor to two lovely sisters, Angela and Ana Vieru. This warms my heart to no end!

As part of this trip we had the amazing priviledge of giving out coats to every single child - Thanks to EMI Christian Music Group. This is the group in Falesti with their new coats! I love the fact that they're standing in snow. A trip to Moldova wouldn't be complete without a new Mihai. (For those of you that don't know, I went to two cities this summer and bonded with a Mihai in both). I met this guy on day 1 in Chisinau and learned that his name was Misha. He followed me everywhere and carried my backpack for me. On the last day, I asked him to write his name down (I wanted to see if he was sponsored) and he wrote down Mihai Moraru. I said, "I thought you were Misha?" He nodded his head yes. I was confused. I went and got a translator, who proceeded to tell me that "Misha" is the Russian form of Mihai. "Of course his name is Mihai," I thought. So now I have yet another Mihai!

And last, but not precious, precious Mihai. I was blessed to get to spend 3 days with him. As most of you know, he has been sent to a "sanitorium" called Drochia because of "nighttime urination". The orphanage directors agreed to let him come back to Falesti while I was there. He's the same sweet and vibrant little boy. He's a little shy, though. I don't know if I realized that this summer. Sometimes he won't answer questions. But he's a giggle machine. I took this picture from above while he had his arms wrapped around my waist. I just love it. Check out those pretty brown eyes! If you look REALLY closely, you can see me in his eyes...pretty cool, huh? Before I left, I got to tell Mihai that the same sky, moon, and stars that he the same sky, moon, and stars that I see. So whenever he looks up at the sky, he can think of me. And I told him I would do the same. Tears streamed down his smiling face when I told him this. He loved that thought...and so did I. I think this whole trip was worth it just to be able to tell him that face-to-face. And so now I'm working very hard to have him moved back to Falesti. So keep praying for that...

This trip was incredible, and like this summer, one that I cannot recap with words (although I know I just said a lot!). All I know is that God used this trip to bring me closer to Him...with a renewed desire to devote time to my relationship with Him and to know Him more.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Is it time to go back to Moldova yet???

It was good to see my family at the airport the other night when we got back to Nashville...

This trip was so amazing, but that word doesn't even begin to describe or do justice to our week in Falesti and Chisinau. At the beginning of the trip, I felt like I wouldn't fit in with the rest of the group because I hadn't been able to go to the team meetings because I was away at school at UT Chattanooga and I was one of the youngest people on the trip. I pushed myself to become involved and make myself feel like a part of our team. I quickly realized that I had been on mission trips with some of our team members before, either to the Appalachian Mountains, Brazil, or Moldova so I was worrying about not fitting in for nothing...

Falesti now holds a very dear place in my heart. The first day we arrived I saw the most precious little girl who would by the end of our time in Falesti capture my heart. Ludmila ended up being in the group of children I was working with, and I just fell in love with her and her older sister, Aloina. Every morning when we got there, Ludmila and Aloina ran to me and gave me the biggest hug and until the time we left they clung to me. Our last day in Falesti was a hard one for me. We were singing songs with the kids, and one of the last songs we sang was "Jesus loves me." It was such a sweet moment to hear "Jesus loves me, this I know..." in Romanian and English. All of a sudden, the room quieted down a lot, and with my arms wrapped around Ludmila, I could hear her singing...I leaned down and realized that she was singing in English. It was music to my ears and to my heart. It quickly became evident to me that from now on, that the children in Falesti would be just as important to me as the children in Chisinau. Tripp and I then took the 1st and 2nd graders to do crafts and our Bible study. Ludmila sat on the front row, put her head down on her desk and cried. I went to her and tried to get her to look up at me, but she kept turning her head away from me. I felt awful because I was doing everything I could to help and comfort her but she kept crying and crying...I walked away to help some of the other children with their pictures, when she came over to me and gave me a letter. She climbed in my lap, wrapped her arms around my neck, and held on to me for the longest time. She buried her head on my shoulder and cried even more. I just sat there and held her close until we had to leave the classroom. We walked back to the auditorium, and I walked over the the stage and looked out across the room full of heaven's little bundles of joy...Ludmila had run off with her friends to play, and with tears running down my face, I began to realize that He had called me back to this country for reasons beyond measure. I sat on the stage, looking for this little girl I had grown to love but I didn't see her. Out of no where, I felt these little arms wrap around my neck and I turned around to see Ludmila. She climbed in my lap again and I held on to her as I tried to fight back tears but as soon as I noticed she was crying again, the tears began to fall even more...we said our goodbyes and I made my way to the bus. I was waiting for everyone to load up, when I felt a tug on my coat. Ludmila's older sister, Aloina pulled me down so I would be face to face with her as she gave me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. Ludmila came running up to us, and I held on to both of them. These two little girls took me by storm, and I knew at that moment that I would see these two again...

In Chisinau, I got to spend a lot of time with Eugen and the two older boys my family sponsors...Those are moments that I will cherish for a lifetime. Eugen would hold on to me, and tell me over and over again that he loved me. Everytime I began to cry, Ivan, Dima, Vasile, Artur, Ruslan, and Denis did or said something to make me laugh because they said that if I cried they would cry too...It's moments like these that I will keep close to my heart. The night before we left, I took Eugen to his room and gave him his Christmas presents. My sister, Bekah, had made him a blanket that in the corner had a heart with his name sewn on it. When I explained to him what she had done and told him how much we loved him, a tear fell down his cheek. It was one of those moments that seems surreal and it passed by so quickly. Artur, Ivan, and Dima came to the airport to tell us bye, and somehow I managed not to cry in front of them. Needless to say, by the time I got home Thursday night, I already had e-mails from the three of them...

I haven't even been home for 48 hours, and I am already getting excited about the next trip. I would leave today if I could, for God has heavily laid the children, both young and old, on my heart. I have grown from this trip, and I know God was speaking to me the whole time. So, as I head back to Chattanooga on Monday and prepare for my second semester, I know He will be working through me on campus. I know there will be many trials and tests ahead of me, but with His love and compassion, I am not alone...I can't wait until summer until I can go back to Molodva and see, love on, and share His love with the children who will forever be in my heart...

How great is our God!
~Jessica Beasley

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Home again

Well, I can't speak for ALL of the team that traveled today, but I'm home. Our team slowly began to dwindle as we said goodbye to Steve, Doug, Robert, Jordan and Julie. It's funny how close you get to people on a mission trip. They truly become your family away from home. I will write more about the trip in the next couple of days. Jen, I just wanted you to know we got home safely. I hope you and Tim have a productive day today - you'll be getting up soon, I'm sure. It's 10 pm here, however, and I'm in serious need of some shut-eye. More to come later, but here's a picture for the time being. These are all of the kids in Falesti in their NEW COATS!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Who needs sleep anyway?

Yes, it's 2:45 am here in Moldova, and no, I am not going to bed tonight. Several of us have decided not to go to bed, rather than get 3-4 hours of sleep. Hopefully that will help me sleep on the plane. So what better way to kill time in the wee hours of the morning than blog?! Today capped off such an amazing trip. We handed out stockings to the kids, and we had tons of things left over. It was like the feeding of the 5,000. The gifts just kept multiplying. We left the orphanage and headed to the new transitional living houses. It was my first time to see both houses after being officially purchased by CERI and Sweet Sleep. So that was cool. The snow is still's so beautiful. I can't wait to show you pictures. I'm getting the hang of this "walking on ice" thing. Next, we headed to a frozen lake...yes FROZEN, where Tripp baptized Brian. Men were literally ice fishing on the other side of the lake and walking on the ice. You can read Tripp's blog for a more detailed description. I was so amazed by the dedication of these two men. Brian was literally in shorts in 20 degree weather. We went back to the team house for a nice hot lunch - complete with warm potato soup. After a quick trip to the market, we headed back to the orphanage for our final hours.

I can't really explain how amazing this trip has been. This summer I fell in love with the kids, and became so passionate about them and about Moldova. This trip is a little different. Yes, I am coming home passionate about the kids again. They are wonderful. But more than that, I'm coming home passionate about Jesus and how much He loves us and what he has done for us. God has used this trip to quietly minister to my soul and recharge my relationship with Him. I came here to minister to kids, but I realize that God brought me halfway across the world to speak to me. Maybe that was the only way He could get me to hear him. Our team has been wonderful, and I have enjoyed getting to know each and every person. Thank all of you for your thoughts and prayers. Thank you to my prayer partners...your notes have been so uplifting and I'm so appreciative. Please pray for safe travels tomorrow...actually in just a couple of hours.

Ok, I'm about to go get's time to "get up" now. Mom and Dad, I'll see you later today!

"He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." -Psalm 23:3

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit..oooh watch the ice

Hello to all my family and friends monitoring the blog. Can't wait to talk to you in person. I'm glad to hear you've been following the blogs. It's hard to capture everything that went on in just a few lines. I hope you're getting at least a glimpse of the wonderful experience this has been. Hey, if you're tired of rain in winter this is the place for you around Christmas. The snow hasn't even thought about melting since we've been here and several layers of ice have been added since Jan. 4th.

Speaking of ice...we had a very interesting, uplifting and wet experience today. Two of our team members have accepted Christ as their Saviour - Brian and Julie. Brian wanted one of the two guys with him from our team this summer to baptize him. That was either Bill Bedi or myself. Bill, you were first choice. You should know that. I think you probably would have done a better job than I today, but glad I could enjoy the experience. We literally had to break the ice on top of the lake. Not sure how thick it was but there were people walking on it. The Americans didn't seem to be too shocked by it, but I'm afraid we scared our Moldovan friends a bit. Anyway, back to the story. When I baptized Brian in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we either slipped on the bottom of the lake or misjudged the room. Let's just say Brian knocked loose some ice on the under and floated on me. You know us Baptists...had to go all the way under. What happened next was quick but I dunked him and we celebrated briefly before running to the buses and changing into dry clothes. It wasn't exactly what you would expect to see at BBC but we celebrated nonetheless.

That had to be one of my most interesting Moldovan moments so far. I'm looking forward to more in the future with family and with friends - hopefully not all of them will be baptisms in sub-freezing water! Becky, Gretchen, Van & Connor, your dad is coming home tomorrow. I can't wait to see and talk to you. I love you very much. See you soon.

Tomorrow we're going home!

i am sad to go home but excited to see my family. this has been an amazing journey for me and i don't think i can find the words to expain. the team members i have been with for the last 9 days are utterly awsome people. the children are incredible individuals all with great goals ahead of them to strive for. i have decided to sponsor a child in Chisinau, she is 15 and beautiful. we hit it off on the first day and stayed by my side each time i was at the orphange. this has been a great and fullfilling trip. i never could of imagined how much love one person has to share will all of the children, but it is there. i will be saving so that i am able to come back soon.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Hello from Chisinau-from Maree

What an amazing 2 days in Chisinau. We have met so many children and two very special ones.
Rick participated in a snowball fight with the boys and then got tackled from behind-on snow and ice-but no injuries!

I have connected with a 16 year old girl, Anastasia, who has such a kind and gentle spirit. The first day we met we returned from lunch and she handed me a scroll. She told me she liked to draw and she had made a picture of Joseph,Mary and baby Jesus. It is beyond words how incredible of a talent she has. She mad it in a couple of hours while we were at lunch. Tomorrow she is going to show us her sketchbook-she is truly gifted.

Rick has a new buddy-Peter-he has carried Rick's bag everywhere for him and waits for our van to arrive back from lunch. He is 9 and precious!

It will be so hard to leave Moldova. This is such an indescribeable trip-we-ll have to reflect once we are home to sort it all out. We are missing our children so much and have falen in love with even more and are excited to share their lives with our family

Falesti was really emotionally draining at the end of the day I think because of the conditions the children have that we are not used to. We leave in a little over 24 hours and it will be extremely difficult to leave Anastasia and Peter-probably even harder then leaving Fileste. We love these children and can never replace this experience except for returning soon to our new friends!

La revedere,

Sweet Sleep Journeys

Sweet Sleep Journeys

Well, we're currently on our 5th day in Moldova and it's 12:30a.m. I'm finally getting time on the computer to fill you in on what I've been up too.

The first thing I can say I'm going to do when I get home, is go to the pantry, get out the Charmin and hug it to death. I'm pretty sure that toilet paper manufacturers must be missing a few steps in the process of trying to create a nice comfortable serene experience for the user. It's quite obvious they strip bark from a tree and put it on a roll...OUCH! Our legs are also getting a work out since toilet seats seem to be in short supply as well.

Our first three days we got to spend time with the children in Falesti. There are no words to describe the conditions of the place and what the children go through there. The kids are wonderful and I got adopted by two wonderful boy's in my stay there. Constantine, is seven, though he looks like he is about four,(most of the children are much smaller due to not eating very well). His situation is listed as very bad with both parents being deseased. He has a younger brother in the orphanage as well, but I didn't get to meet him. And there is Andre'. Andre' is a wonderful energetic twelve year old boy who just desparately needs human contact. Both boys would sit with me and play the shakers or the tambourine as we had praise & worship. We got to talk and have fun! Andre' and I even got to sled down a hill on a broken down cardboard box. But unfortunatley, the end of the hill was the side of a building with a pile of rocks...We only hit it once...don't worry mom! All is well, and we had a blast. :-)

It was hard to leave the children of Falesti. Constantine and Andre' carried my bags everywhere and would walk me to the van. I can't begin to say how heart breaking it was to see them cry and wave goodbye as we drove off. I found that not only were our leaving moments heartbreaking, but so were some of our most greatest, memorable moments; like when we got to give each child a new coat. God gave us the gift of being able to enter into their joy as well as their suffering.

The Christmas feast was just that. A FEAST! We were told that they have never partaken of something like that before and it was all I could do to keep my composure and not loose it in front of the children. It was a true privilege the Lord allowed Michael and I to be able, through Mad Dancer, to provide the meal to all the staff and children of the orphanage. I was overcome with gratefulness that I got to be a part of serving the meal as well as watching the children savor the moment. Most of their meal was served and eaten off dirty unsanitary tables and small plates were provided with the main course. The smell of the cafeteria reaked of rotting food and sewage, so people dabbed perfume and menthol under their noses to help from the feeling of nausea. But the kids didn't even notice. They didn't notice the dog and cat running around the room picking up their scraps, they didn't know that their situation was what we American's would call deplorable. They just dug in and partook of their feast. They were grateful for the opportunity to eat, and I was grateful for the opportunity to serve them.

People are waiting on me so I'll shorten it up a bit.

Though a few caught my eye, all captured my heart and I was reminded of how blessed I am that the Lord chose to give me a home and someone to love. I pray that one day these children might be given the same opportunity. to go. Look forward to telling you more later.

Nopte Buna (Goodnight)


What's with the Snow!?

It amazes me that somewhere half-way around the world reminds me of home. I love seeing familiar buildings, faces, restaurants, billboards, and campaign posters in a country most people have never heard of. Moldova is that second home for me, and I can't remember a day that I haven't thought about and missed it since July '04. The team is GREAT. I was worried about how I would click with them, but they have been so welcoming and so open to my own thoughts and ideas that I feel like I've known them for years, and I know I'm taking away new friendships (and it's good to put faces to some names the kids have given me). The kids in Falesti were could tell that they haven't been exposed to as many Americans as the kiddos in Chisinau have. I really connected with some older boys when they approached me about how to say Craciun Fericit (Merry Christmas!) in English. And it's good to see some new and old faces here in Chisinau! We watched the Incredibles today with the kids, and I can't decide if it's funnier or less funny in Russian. Tomorrow is our last day here in Moldova, and I always begin to think that maybe I haven't done enough...but our first full day in Moldova, a certain verse found me before we left for the orphanage, and it has been on my mind all's one of those verses that you don't have to repeat 10 times to just sticks with you the first time.

"They have oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me."
-Psalm 129:2

The Starfish Flinger

Sweet Sleep Journeys
I miss those little girls in Faleisti. I wish I could take them out of this place and bring them back home with me. It is not fair that they have to suffer and scrounge through life they way they do. I spoke with a few group members yesterday evening who were getting discouraged from the overwhelming needs of these children. It's hard when you are trying to help and you realize that what we are doing seems so "little and insignificant." In reality though it is each little "insignificant" hug, Bible story, and prayer that really does make a difference in these children's lives.

I had just received a prayer partner note from Katie Miner discussing this very topic and it placed things back into perspective for myself and I shared it with some of the group last night. Within this blog I would like to share part of her letter with you all and thank her for her inspiring words:

The Starfish Flinger
As the old man walked the beach at dawn, he noticed a young man picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Catching up to the youth, he asked why he was doing this. The answer was that the stranded starfish would die if left until the morning sun. "But the beach goes on for miles and there are millions of starfish," countered the other. "How can your effort make any difference?" The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and threw it to safety in the waves. "It makes a difference to this one," he said. -Author Unknown

Katie quoted Luke 17:21 and said, "The kingdom of God is within you," so do not underestimate the power of one--One choice, one deed, one example, one kind word, one touch, one minute of time, one prayer, one lesson, one laugh, one listening ear.'

Thank you Katie and thank you to everyone praying for our group and the precious children.
This has been an amazing but at the same time a very difficult trip.

When we first arrived at the Faleisti orphanage we were setting up for worship and the third grade class walked in single file line into the room. I quickly walked up to Olga, Christina, Maria, and Aliona to give them hugs. They kind of looked at me blanked faced for a moment and my heart just sunk. I didn’t know if they were mad at me, if they had forgotten me, or what. A few moments of blank stares passed (it felt like eternity) and then a huge smile went across Olga’s face. She wrapped her arms around my waist and I just wanted to cry I had missed these little girls so very much. With exception of Maria, the other girls did the same as Olga and we were tied to the hips for the next three days. Six of the ten children I had really connected with and have been praying for ever since this summer were not at the orphanage. Instead they were at home with a family member(s) for the holidays. I was sad that I did not get to see their little faces or hug them tight, but I’m glad that they have family to stay with during the holidays. Since those children were not their, I was able to spend more time with the four that were there and actually built relationships with five other children as well.

While we were getting in the vans for lunch that day, a team member accidentally slammed the door on my ring and pinky finger of my right hand. Ouch. Thank goodness my hands were in my gloves for some padding. Once we finally got the door open, we immediately put my fingers in the snow and that helped with the swelling and bruising. It looked really bad, but miraculously in a matter of hours they looked so much better and they are fine now.

Two highlights of the trip for me personally was after we passed out the EMI bags and Christmas dinner. (1) After the EMI bags had been passed out I was able to go through Ludmilla's typed list of the children. From that list I was able to read a brief description of why the children were there, if they were "true" orphans, how they were doing in school, their birthdays, what were some of the favorite activities, if they had any brothers or sisters at the orphanage, ect. It was very inciteful and answered a number of questions.
(2) We served the children and the teachers a dinner provided for by Maryland’s husband’s company. I wish you all could have seen their little faces! Even though it looked like they were busting at the seams with excitement, they were very polite and waited for everyone at each table to be served before they started serving each other and themselves. Oh! They were so excited and we all took so many pictures. I cannot wait to tell you more about it when I get home.

The day we left for Chisinau, we spent half a day with the children of Fialeisti. I pulled each of the little girls I have been spending time with one by one into the hallway with a translator (Alena). I let them each pick out a Barbie doll, a pad of paper, some socks, and gum! Oh! How adorable. Even though Maria had basically refused to talk to me (not in a mean way, but she was upset with me because I had left) I gave her the barbie doll that I had specifically picked out for her. The Barbie had red hair (just like her) and was an ice skater. She started crying and apologizing for being mad at me. We talked for a while and we’re going to write to each other. I also pulled three of the little boys aside and gave them race cars and socks. (Mom one of these little boys was Tudor! The very smart boy I had told you about this summer.) Oh they were so cute. I wish I could be with them right now.

Later I spoke in length with one of the older girls named Tania. Throughout the week, she had insistently giving me bracelets, hair ties, drawings, etc. When we finished talking I asked her what her favorite Bible verse was and she said John 3:16. We wrote it out on a small piece of paper and I then we placed it into Peggy’s prayer bracelet. Then I told her about Peggy and her present she wanted me to give to a special girl in Moldova. We talked about the prayer box and bracelet. She wanted me to thank Peggy and give her a hug.

The end of our time in Faleisti came too fast. It was hard to leave, but it was not as hard as this summer. I was able to hold back the tears until I got into the car.

We drove to Chisinau and had dinner at a “New York” restaurant. Later that night I took a shower and was in my bed reading when I suddenly started itching. Then my throat started itching and I had a cough. Next thing I knew small whelps were popping up all over my body and my throat and tongue were swelling up. Jen woke-up Julie, a nurse, and she came into the room to check out what was going on. I was having an allergic reaction…to what we don’t know. My fingers swelled and then my face started swelling (yes my face looked like Will Smith from the movie Hitch, not so funny though at the time though). I took some of Emily’s prescription Benadryl, we all prayed, and we went to sleep. I knew I was in God’s hands and that he would take care of me, but I was scared to sleep because I was afraid I could stop breathing and not wake. Suddenly I felt all alone and then I started to pray again. As I started praying I felt Maryland put her arm over the top bunk to climb up and check on me. I then felt much more at ease. The next morning I took another one of Emily’s pills and slept literally the whole day. Today my eyes are still swollen, but things are getting back to normal. We decided I should stay here for at least a half day. I have to go with the rest of the group to the police station to register with our passports and visas this afternoon, and then we will see whether or not I will go to the orphanage or back here to the team house.

Goodness…I cannot thank you guys enough for your prayers. This has been a difficult trip, but the children are such a blessing. Watching their little faces light up when the saw all the coats and Christmas presents, while we sang with Jordan and Carrie during worship time, while we taught Bible study, and while they proudly showed off their crafts and drawings…it has all just been amazing. I cannot wait to show you all pictures and share more of the wonderful stories.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Chisinau or bust

Today was our first day in Chisinau, and it went really well. The whole team pitched in to pass out coats and that was a blessing. Their faces were priceless. One of the hightlights for me today was praise and worship time. We had Jordan on the guitar, Greg on the keyboard, and Kari on the drums. These kids know more songs and really get into worhsip time. After a couple songs, Brian Sims (Brentwood Baptists minister for the deaf) got up front to teach how to sign "Jesus Loves Me". He taught it in both Russian and English signs. I have never learned sign language before, so I really enjoyes it. And you should have seen the kids...they loved it, too. So we were singing "Jesus Loves Me" in three languages - English, Romanian, and Sign. Once again...a little piece of heaven. We are doing well...looking forward to two more special days. God bless you and thank you for your prayers. Much love to all...

An emotional but amazing day...

Hello all! As many have already heard we are back in Chisinau...When we arrived at the orphanage today we waited outside and I heard my name being yelled but I had no idea where it was coming from. Matt pointed to the third floor of one of the dorms and I saw Ivan, Dima, (two orphans who have graduated that we sponsor), and Vasile yelling for me...just seeing them brought the biggest smile to my face and I went inside to help unload the coats that we would give away today. We were taking the boxes of coats out of Ms. Galina's office when the little boy my family sponsors, Eugen, came up the stairs. I was beyond excited to see him and I could only hope he remembered me. This past summer he was glued to my sister's hip, so I had a feeling that he would not know me because I didn't get to spend a lot of time with him this past summer. I asked him if he remembered me and said I loved him, and he said, "yes I remember you, and I love you too..." I had to fight back tears as he grabbed my hand and held on tight...

After we gave the kids their coats, we had a basketball tournament between the Americans and some of the graduated orphans. As Eugen sat next to me, still not letting go of my hand, he looked up and started yelling, "my Momma, my Momma!!!" His mother had come to the orphanage to take him for the afternoon. He ran to see her and a few minutes later came in to get me because he wanted me to meet her. I walked out of the gym into the hallway and she told me thank you for taking care of Eugen and then they left. At the time, it appeared that she was taking him for a couple of days at least, and I began to cry because I didn't get to really tell him bye and give him all of the presents that my sister has collected for so long. However, later on as we were doing crafts, Eugen walked in, and ran to me...words just can't describe the feeling that came over me when I saw this little boy's face again. He did not leave my side the rest of the night...

So, as I sit here telling you about my emotional day, I know that my sister fell in love with this little boy for a reason, for in one day he has made me fall in love with him too. I can't even tell you what it was like for me to meet the woman who gave this precious boy away for whatever reason...I didn't know whether to be mad, upset, confused, etc., but I smiled and told her that our family loved him very much...These children mean so much to me and to see them, be with them, talk to them, and love on them, gives me the greatest joy...

Dima, Ivan, and Artur say hello and that they miss you...I found a little girl in Falesti that I have fell in love with named Ludmilla, I can't wait for you to see what she looks like...tell Bekah I have a video of Eugen and he keeps asking why she isn't here...

Jessica Beasley

Finally Made It

It's great to finally catch up with our team! We left the States 3 days after the team and have joined them in Chisinau. Our first day has been filled with joyful reunions of hugs and kisses from the kids we met, and friends we'd made during our July trip with Team 3. Our memories from that experience are so fresh it's as though we never left.

Today we gave out new winter coats to all the kids. It was such a joy to see their faces light up when trying on the different styles of coats and finding their right sizes. Thanks to EMI for their unbelievable love and commitment to the kids, and for providing all of the coats.

Worship with the kids is always "high energy" and exciting. I love hearing many of our well-known worship choruses sung in Romanian. We also had a special treat with Brian Sims teaching the kids sign language to Jesus Loves Me. It added a special dimension during that time of worship.

Well that's all for now. We're already preparing for the busy day tomorrow, with more gifts for the kids. It's like Christmas all over again!!!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Faleisti orphanage day 2 and 3

Hello to all of my friends in Christ
Again I say wow--There is so much to say that it is hard to know where to begin. You will see the word amazing used so often by everyone and that is because we cannot think of a word good enough to explain this experience. Yesterday I had the opportunity to hand out coats to the children. This was Christmas like it should be. These children were as grateful as it gets. In the evening we were able to serve dinner to the children, teachers and other workers. They all loved it. This small dinner of fish, chicken, french fries, bread with anchovies and a few cookies was an absolute feast.
Today we spent a half day at the orphanage. I spent most of the time hanging chalkboards. We managed to hang 3 boards. This I considered a major feat since all that we had was a hand saw, screwdriver and hammer. I salvaged the nails and wood mostly from the old chalkboards. The last hour I spent with the children. Within this last hour I met this young girl named Christina who stole my heart. She had been given a plastic bracelet in one of the gift bags earlier in the days. She took it off and gave it to me. Such a simple gift and one I will charish for the rest of my life.
I know this is getting long but I have to mention our translators. These people have made me look at my life and faith in a whole new light. I thought I new about personal hardhships on or about my faith until I met these people. These people have practiced their faith under communism. You hear the stories but it is different when you actually meet the people who have lived it. I am sure that it will happen but my prayer for myself right now is that I never use the words "Why Me God" again. I have met the people who truely live their faith daily and they are my inspiration.
May God shower you in his love every day

On to the next stop...

We made it back to Chisinau today around 5:00 (it is now 11:30 pm). It was really rough leaving the children today. For me, it was hard to leave my translator that I had. She was so sweet. I wish she was going to be at the next orphanage, but we get new translators. I have made several special connections with a couple of kids. All of the kids in our class (5th - 9th grade) really warmed up to Robert, Tim, and me. I think they were excited to have a mix of games, crafts, and bonding. It is amazing how much communication you can do with such a language barrier. I hope that the kids tomorrow at the orphanage in Chisinau are just as sweet. I hope everyone had a GREAT weekend! Talk to you soon! Leslie :)

Today I meet a little girl!

Today I meet a girl how just attached her self to me! When I found out it was me and not just because I an American, I sent some time with her.
I food out she came to the orphanage one year ago with her 2 sisters and her brother.
Needless to say the stole my heart.

From Maree

Hi Samara,Em,Tim,Abbie,Martha Mae and Hughes! I miss you so much! We are having such a great time and I can't wait to show you all the faces of these beautiful children of Moldova and share their stories with you!
Hope you are helping Nana and Pop Pop-Love you-Mom

This Has been Incredible

This has been an amazing experience. We have met so many wonderful people and the children are so easy to fall in love with! It was more difficult than we imagined to leave them in Falesti but we arrived in Chisinau this evening and go to the second orphanage tomorrow. Bittersweet but more than worth it!

Little piece of heaven...

Ok, ok, ok...I know I haven't blogged yet, and all my friends and family are about to have a cow. Let's just say it's been a crazy and amazing past few days. There's so much to say I don't even know where to begin. First of all, there's at least 6-7 inches of snow on the ground, so we're definitely in a winter wonderland. It's beautiful. I know a lot of you are wondering about MIHAI!!! Yes, I have spent three amazing days with my precious boy. He's still the same, sweet and adorable little guy. Although I think I can tell he's gotten a little bigger. I also got to spend a lot of time with his brother, Vasile. Don't worry, I got lots of pictures and videos! Delivering the EMI coats and clothes was amazing...the kids were SO excited. I wish I could have bottled that up to bring home. The last day we had a special teacher time that was really great. We brought them all to the cafeteria and served them hot chocolate. The Americans and translators spread out to talk to them. We had some great conversation and were able to praise them and encourage them and pray for them. They were so appreciative. One of the teachers I bonded with came up to me last night and took me aside with a translator. She began to cry and asked me to pray for her daughter when I got back to the States. I said, "Well why don't we pray now?" This time around has given me more opportunities to have conversations like these...with the teachers and kids. Finally, I had a wonderful goodbye with Mihai. I'll wait until I get back to the US to tell you. It's a tell in person" story. Ok, there are people in line, so I should go. Oh yeah, the title of this post...this place and these kids and my little's a little piece of heaven. Love to all! Keep praying...(sorry if there are lots of mistakes...this keyboard is weird)

Saturday, January 07, 2006


hello great friends, family and prayer partners...etc!

just a quick note to let you all know things are going great! today was coat day....this was amazing.

for those of you who don't know....EMI CMG (EMI Christian Music Group--see more on our website) partnered with Sweet Sleep this Christmas to provide winter coats for the children in both of the orphanages....1,040 coats in total. Praise God...that is so amazing.

the children in falesti completely loved getting new coats. tomorrow we'll post pictures of the event so you can begin to imagine how amazing this was. children were squeeling, jumping up and down, throwing their heads back in laughter and hugging each other. one child was so amazed when he saw the new coats he just dropped what he had in his hands and kept saying, "wow" again and again---his eyes getting bigger each time. it was absolutely wonderful!

brian sims, the deaf pastor of brentwood baptist deaf church, arrived in moldova tonight. tomorrow we'll start to investigate ministry opportunities for the deaf in moldova, including a deaf orphanage in the south. please be in prayer for all the challenges that come with this.

our team is still in falesti and will be leaving a place they've quickly grown to love. please also remember them and the children in your prayers as they leave and travel to chisinau.

monday we'll have our first day at the orphanage in chisinau. we're also planning to distribute coats to the children there. that should be another great day!

thanks for your postings and your prayers.....keep them coming!

stay tuned for more from our team...and, pictures!

sleep sweetly,
the christmas in moldova team

Friday, January 06, 2006

My first trip to Falesti

Good afternoon to my family and friends there in Brentwood! I love you all and thanks for your prayers, prayer letters and support. Becky, Dennis and Lisa, you can't imagine how special those letters are each day and what they mean. Everyone looks forward to getting theirs each morning. Thanks so much for your prayers. They spoke right to my heart the last three days and gave me such a spiritual boost. My first trip to Falesti was a very memorable one but I don't have much time right now. We're about to lose our time here at the Internet cafe. The children were lovely and responded so much to our love. The least little look, touch or smile would completely break them down and they would be all over you. It was a wonderful experience. I wish it on anyone. Good thing I upgraded to that big memory card on Becky's suggestion. Getting the hook by the cafe boss. Got to run. Love to all. Tripp

Falesti orphanage

Wow--This is amazing. For those who may read this this is my first time in Moldova. I truely believe God is working miracles here. If not with the people here then within me. I have read how the Holy Spirit allows people to hear exactly what they need to hear, from whom they need to hear it and when they need to hear it. I have experienced this all day. I have talked to at least 100 children, with and without translators, today and we always manage to understand each other. These are some of the most open and loving children I have ever met. I walk into the room and there they are all over me. I worked with children between the ages of 2 and 6 all morning. Others in my group have nicknamed me Gulliver. By the time I had to leave I was pinned on the floor by 10 or more children. What an experience. In the afternoon I helped the other group with the children between the ages of 7 and 16. They all want so much attention it is almost overwelming. The joy and excitement that you feel all day is nothing less than a gift from God. May the Lord continue to bless us as he has today. God be with you
Hello All! What an experience......sorry for not emailing until tonite, the phone line at the house won't call out for some unknown reason. We came to a Internet Cafe to send this message and say that I am doing fine. We arrived last night to the team house at 8:30 meaning that you figure the time, including the layovers and such my total travel time getting here was about 26 hours! And that's not including my drive to Portland Tues. afternoon. Very tired today, this was our first day at the orphange and it wasn't as bad as I was expecting meaning the smells and such. The children are so adorable and lots and lots of smiles. The airport in Moldova was small and had lots of police and security. We had no problem getting thru customs but when we started getting ALL of our luggage they started coming over and asking questions. I just kept my head down and no one came up to me. As soon as our people came to pick us up, we lucked out and got to walk right thru without even checking out our bags. I don't know if I'll be able to email again, hopefully the internet will start working at the house. We are here is Balti until Sunday and leave for Chisinau for the remaining days. I miss you Josie, Lane and Cody. Mom loves you and can't wait to come home and see you and tell you about the kids. Hi Kylie! I'll see you soon. Love, Julie


Hi from Moldova (8:20 pm)! We finally made it after a gazillion years of traveling. I think it took us 20 hours to get here total, but we all made it saftely. A wise person told me (BB) to make sure you drink LOTS of water on the plane. I had to learn the hard way. I think the most difficult thing so far is rest. We are all a little sleepy and worn out. It was hard to sleep on the plane, but I managed to catch some rest on the hard, cold floor in the Frankfurt airport. I think the traveling is a story in itself. Today, we visited the orphanage for the first time. I was in charge of girls 5th-8th grade. They are very knowledgeable about the bible and the meaning of Christmas. We played games and had a lot of fun! After we got back from lunch, we all got together (1st-9th grades) and sang songs. I had so many cute little girls just clinging to me. They held my hands, waist, played with my hair, and talked to me. I can't wait to see them tomorrow. Don't worry! I got lots of pictures. All these little kids are so cute; I want to pack them all up and take them home with me. Do you think I can get past customs with them? :) I just want to say hello to everyone. Talk to you soon!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Is this the right way?

Good morning to my family sleeping in Brentwood - at least you should be. After winding our way through the Frankfurt airport we are staking out spots for stretching out and getting a couple more hours of sleep.

Everybody is quiet from the overnight flight. I imagine the excitement level will pick up soon. We all enjoyed our first day notes from our prayer partners. I know I did. Thanks, gang. Love you very much.

More posts on the way. Talk to you soon.

wellkommen to germany!

hello all- that's the extent of our german!

Our entire team met in atlanta (from oregon, texas and tennessee) and have just landed in germany!

Our flight was great. Now we're all looking for a place to brush our teeth and something tasty to eat.

Thanks to all who came to the airport-and thanks to everyone else who'll be praying for our team.

We leave for Moldova in 4 hours.

Stay tuned!!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Hey everyone I'm blogging!

Jesus loves the children of Moldova!
I can't wait to meet these littel Angels of God!
Marilyn W.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

In case anyone is counting ...

... we leave in less than 74 hours !!!

Our prayers for the children,
Tata Joe

***(colors of the Moldovan flag)