Sunday, March 22, 2009

A week later, and l want to go back! :D

Well, it has been a week since I have returned from my trip, and I think I am falling more and more in love with Moldova with each passing day! My experience was something that I will never forget!

It is hard to express this experience in words- whenever I think about it, I become overwhelmed and speechless. As soon as I arrived in Moldova, I remember thinking, “Where have I been my whole life? What have I been doing?” I knew right away that I was made for this- this is what God has created me for. Meeting those kids and bringing joy and hope into their lives made my heart swell more than it ever has in my whole life! Leaving was very hard to do, but what I am learning now is something that is very important. When I got back to the States, I almost felt displaced because I felt like my heart was still in Moldova, but my body was here! I am learning that it’s OK to leave part of my heart there- and I know that it will always remain there.

We had some incredible opportunities to minister during our week. Being able to work at two different orphanages was amazing! All of the children were incredibly sweet, and one little boy- Lilian- especially stole my heart. You might remember me talking about him in previous blogs :)

Lilian is six years old, and the result of a mom and dad who were addicted to drugs. His mom died when she was 19 (she had Lilian when she was 16) of a drug overdose. By this time, his dad was nonexistent, so his grandmother put both Lilian and his older sister into orphanages, and he has been there ever since. I could not completely tell what conditions he has, but I could tell that he understood when we talked to him. He even tried responding a couple times. His speech is slow and quiet, but our translator was able to understand a few times. Whenever I would touch Lilian, he would get this look on his face and he would lean into my touch. I know that he does not get touched and loved like he should, and it breaks my heart! I have included a picture of my precious Lilian, and I ask that you pray for him and the other orphans. My heart’s cry is that they experience the love that they deserve and so greatly want!

After the trip was over, I knew that it was the end of the beginning for me. The excitement for the future is evident in my everyday thoughts! I am so excited to see what God has for me, and where He will lead me. I’m not sure what exactly He is calling me to, but I know that my work with orphans will continue. For now, please pray that I remain content in finishing school and that I don’t try to jump ahead of God.

Isaiah 55:9 says, “Your ways are higher than my ways- your thoughts higher than my thoughts.”

This is my continual prayer- to live for my Jesus, and to remember that He is always beside me! God knows what I need much more than I do, and I want Him to be in control! I remember one time I was talking to my dad, and he said, “If you could see what God sees, you would pick His way every time!” That is so true, and I pray that you implement that not only in your decisions, but into your daily life.

Even though this particular trip to Moldova is over, the work there is far from being finished! The blog below is about Moldova’s upcoming elections, and specific things to pray for. During my week there, I learned a lot about the corrupt government and the horrible things that the communists do to stay in control. At the beginning of April, they will be holding elections for a new Parliament. It is VERY important that the communists do not have majority in Parliament because Parliament elects the new President! Included is a note from Valeriu Ghiletchi asking for your prayer. His son, Eugen, was one of our translators for the week and they are an amazing family! Please be praying for them. :) These elections are very important, and I ask that you continue to pray for Moldova and its people.

If you (or anyone you know) would be interested in going on a Sweet Sleep trip, there is an upcoming trip to Moldova in May and another to Africa in July. I greatly encourage and promote these trips because I have seen first hand the amazing ways that God uses those who are faithful to Him. If you step out in faith, and follow God’s plan for you, your life will never be the same!

To God be all the glory and all the praise!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Prayers For Valeriu Ghiletchi, Moldova Elections

Please pray for Valeriu Ghiletchi, Bishop of the Baptist Union of Moldova. His term as Bishop is expiring and he is running for Parliament. The President of Moldova, Vladamir Voronin, has served his 2 consecutive terms as President and is now required to step down. He is threatening to try to change the law or force his way into the Prime Minister position where he can continue to run the country. He is the leader of the Communist part, which most people want out of leadership. Young people who have left Moldova are allowed to vote but only at Moldovan embassies, which are few. When asked to open more polling locations, the government, controlled by the Communist party, denied the request since older people, the majority left in Moldova, are loyal to the Communists. Parliamentary elections will be held April 5th. The President will be elected from the party with majority control in May. This election is crucial for Moldova. Please read this note from Val and join us in praying for him during this time.

Thanks for praying for Val and this country we love!

Sweet Sleep

Dear friends,

Greetings from Moldova. My second term as the Bishop of the Baptist Union comes to an end this summer. About two years ago I started to pray for my future ministry. After this time of prayer and reflection, I have decided to run for the upcoming Parliament elections, that will take place on April 05.

In spite of many difficulties and obstacles I see how God is blessing this campaign. At the same time there many challenges. At the end of last week I was attacked by the mass media controlled by the Christian Democratic Party as well as two of our pastors who went on a TV show broadcast from this party accusing me that as a minister I am involved in dirty politics.

Please Pray:

  • for fair elections, for a victory in these elections, for a change in the government (we have a communist government now),
  • for the protection of myself and my family during this campaign and recent attacks,
  • for me to be salt and light in the midst of a dark political realm,
  • for God's wisdom to give a correct and godly answer,
  • for the unity among evangelicals,
  • for a spiritual and material well-being of the country,
  • for strength to continue in spite of all the challenges,
  • for the financial support of the campaign.

I will try to keep you updated of how things go with the campaign. I am very thankful for your prayer support.

Valeriu Ghiletchi

Saturday, March 14, 2009

the journey continues; my heart? stolen...

To me, and for many who have grown to love this country, the journey of helping orphans here never ends. It's not just because I have the privilege of serving with Sweet Sleep full-time, but God has called me, as he has all of us, "to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27) A few years ago, orphans weren't even on my "radar" and now, "looking after" them has literally consumed my life. And I'm so, so thankful today.

This trip has been wonderful. It was so great to meet the precious, precious, smiling, sweet and un-jaded pre-teens and teenagers that call the orphanage in Ivancea home. I'll never forget these children and I hope to be able to return to visit and maybe even provide a few more beds there soon. As we were leaving, the director was so thrilled with the beds, he mentioned that while they didn't want to ask us for so many beds, and were going to save and use the best of the worst beds, he would love for every child to have such a beautiful, comfortable place to sleep. I hope I'm a part of that someday soon. These children, most of whom have heart problems, have stolen mine.

If you're sitting there wishing you were or could be a part of this, you really, truly can. You can tell all your friends about these forgotten children - living outside villages around this country, gated off, lonely - forgotten. You can join our cause on Facebook and tell your friends to read this blog and become voices for these children. But some of you reading this right now know after reading these blog posts, God is calling you to GO. You can't possibly sit by and hear about the injustice - you must GO.

It is for those of you that God is speaking to right now, that I pray. If you feel led to join us, we're headed back to Moldova May 22-31 to build beds for some sweet children in Straseni, Moldova, who have various developmental delays. They are sent to this orphanage, out in the woods, and their beds are badly broken and need replaced. They wake up each morning in their sunken, saggy beds with back pain - unrested - trying so hard to learn and to overcome their learning delays so that they will finally be able to drop the stigma of being "slow" and moved to an orphanage for "normal" children. If this draws your heart towards this place, please visit and read more. You can download an application and e-mail it to Our deadline for applications and deposits is this Monday, March 16th. Let us know also if you want to go but need to mail your check, etc. We truly pray you'll join us on this amazing trip.

Tonight I pray for the children in Ivancea and the boys in Orhei who are about to crawl into their beautiful, comfortable new Sweet Sleep beds. I also pray for those in Straseni tonight - that God will keep them safe and in peace until we can bring them new beds in May. Thank you to each of you who read our blog along our journey and prayed for us. Your prayers were felt and God's mission and His purposes were most definitely accomplished here. May God richly bless you today and keep our team safe as we return to the States.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The End of an Amazing Journey

This is actually me, Lauree-NOT Dan. Today we wrapped up at the Orhei orphanage.  Today was more about spending time with the kids than making beds as we worked so hard yesterday.  This picture for me sums up the joyful experience that God blessed me with.  This young man was so excited and wanted his bear.  He almost jumped right out of his chair in his excitement.  This orphanage was difficult for me and more relaxing for me.  Why?  It can break your heart and heal your heart to see so many children in need of so much.  Relaxing for me because these children have already been claimed by God.  This experience has been so rewarding that words leave me to describe it and that is hard for me to believe.
You cannot come to a place like this without it changing you.  There has been a subtle shifting in my heart.  To come to a place that has so little, to go to orphanages that have even less and see the joy in their eyes when we are with them is truly priceless.  It has had a profound effect on me and I just have to say thank you to Jen.  I am so happy that God blessed you with driving this mission because it led to an "opportunity" (that's for Anita!) for me that has only made my heart feel more complete and my relationship with God grow stronger.
We had such a great time interacting with the kids and just loving on them.  They love the attention, most loved to be touched and they love singing.  Their smiles will light your heart in ways that only can be from God.  They want to touch you and they love the eye contact.  Wow!  They love playing games with you in the gym and I am so thankful Dan finally realized where he needed to be and that was in the gym doing what he does so good-playing with the kids.  His 2 foot of love was precious.  I have a few kiddos that really made an impact on me, one of which was an autistic little boy in purple-he was precious.  He had to play in the gym and noise really bothers him.  He would run up smile and as soon as I would smile he would make this pained expression, do the "shhh" with his finger and then cup his ears.  He did this continually.  I felt bad for him but I was told they have to learn how to handle the noise, etc. and I'm sure I'm saying this wrong.  I wish I knew more about autism and it makes me think.....
The "older" boys were a different story, but just as wonderful.  They so wanted to help us in everything!  They carried the beds, made the beds, danced and loved having their pictures taken.  LOVED having their pictures taken.  They really loved the attention from the girls.  too cute.  Sergei, a 29 year old, even went to lunch with us yesterday.  He is wonderful and was an absolute wonder at helping us.  Not sure why he is there-they say a seizure disorder.  He seems to be pretty understanding of everything but I think his socialization skills are not where they should be-the problem of being institutionalized in a special need orphanage.  He paints, he is a true artist.  I only have one picture with him in from on one of his murals, I wish I had the rest of them.  He is absolutely amazing-gifted.  He says his talent is from God-wow!  LOVE it!
We wrapped up our day doing a little sight-seeing and you can read about that in Dan's blog.  We are decompressing, acting goofy, relaxing, playing games-much needed downtime together!
Dan organized volunteers from our Church to write letters to us for each day and to pray for us while we are on our trip.  I cannot tell you what a gift this has been for us.  We did not know who these people were so it's been great trying to figure it out.  We get to find out tomorrow and I am so excited.  I will tell you I am pretty confident that I know who my prayer partner is (I've been praying for them as well but in a more generic fashion) as of today.  I cannot wait to invite that family over for dinner to thank them and tell them about this amazing adventure and the way that God has had His hand over this whole trip.  I will tell you, prayer partner, that each day your letter was an encouragement to me and such a God-thing in your theme-you just cannot imagine and I can't wait to share with you!  It was wonderful to see these letters each morning and knowing that a specific person was praying over this trip and for us-thank you is not enough, but thank you.
Thank you for your prayers, thank you for the encouraging words.  I thank God for putting this mission on my heart and thank Him for forcing me to listen!!
I'd like to leave you with a passage in the Bible that my prayer partner wrote for me:  "If I speak in tongues of mean and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that an move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  Fore we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes the imperfect disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man I put childish ways behind me.  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  And now these three things remain:  faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love."  1 Corinthians 13
Much Love, Lauree

Casa de Copii!

This is what I felt like this morning- Ha!

Yesterday and today have been some amazing two days! We spent all yesterday at Casa de Copii in Orhei, which is a special needs school for boys. Some of the boys are orphans (most were brought by their parents or family to receive treatment, and then never got picked up!), while others have families but they can’t take care of them. Sweet Sleep has been working with them for 3 years now, and in the past two days we were able to give them ALL THEIR BEDS!!

Yesterday was the “work-as-fast-and-as-hard-as-you-can” day! After we got back from lunch, we were told that the rest of the boys that were to receive beds had gotten so excited they had cleared their rooms out. Which meant that unless we gave them all beds, they wouldn’t have anything to sleep on!! Oh, goodness! So everyone had to move super fast and work super hard. With the help of LOTS of volunteers, we built 107 beds!! Holy smokers! That a record : ) Yah, you know. That’s how we do it here in Moldova! : )

So yesterday was great fun, and so much so because the famous MARTIN GOT HIS BED!! See below blog for tons of pics : ) Yay for staying up until 1:15 AM to get those puppies up!

Today we went back to mainly just hang out with kids. Jon, Eugen and I walked around and took some fun pictures of some kids! These children are just so amazing, and such a blessing. I think it was yesterday- some of us were talking about the salvation of these children. I believe that God has claimed these children and raised them up in His name! I am so thankful for their loving and caring hearts! It is so hard to see some of them in these conditions. Some of them were even born typical, but something happened to handicap them. I love that we can make their everyday life better by giving them beds! : )

(A bunch of the volunteers from the church in Orhei)

(The boys were so excited- these were their old beds)

(Cutest little boy in the gym area- he loved the camera!- the blue/green stuff is medicine)

(This is Lilian- cutest little boy EVER!)

(This dude was also funny- he loved getting his pic taken. He would come up to me and make act like he was taking a picture- hilar!)

(This picture makes me want to cry just remembering him! This boy was put in the middle of this circular foam thing. His sweatshirt and pants are tied at the bottoms. I guess so he doesn't bite his hands and feet! But he LOVED human interaction, and you can tell that he doesn't get even close to what he needs)

(I loved finding these boys because there is a picture of them from last year. They are still in the same bed, in the same position!)

(Boys getting their beds!!!)

(CJ playing with a little boy in the gym)

(Martin made this! He was SO PROUD!)

(He also made this)

(Back to Lilian! I am so in love with this boy! I did NOT want to leave him there- he loved human touch. Whenever you would touch him, he would lean into your touch. SO CUTE!)

(This is the look on his face that he would get when you would touch him- it was like he was so focused on that touch because it felt so good. Oh, man. Hey mom and dad, could we adopt him?!)

(Saying bye to Martin! So sad to do, but we are so happy that they all have beds!)

Thank you Jesus for that opportunity! Please protect them and keep them safe. Wrap them in your loving arms and show them how much you love and care about them. Thank you for these wonderful beds that they can feel warm and comfortable in! You are the only one worth living for!!

It was so sad leaving these children, but I feel so much better knowing that they all have a new Sweet Sleep bed, and they all have a comfy pillow to lay their head on! : )

We headed to lunch at KFC at mallDOVA (that is their new mall here in Moldova! For serious! Hilar.) So that was pretty exciting. After, Jon took us to Central de zi Speranta (Hope Day Center) which is a place for special needs children to go and get treatment. It is so amazing because they work with local special needs orphanages to help get capable students ready to go into regular school. It is part of this movement to de-institutionalize the orphanages. SO amazing! We were all incredibly impressed by this place!

After, we headed to another Monastery that was so beautiful! It was a little rainy, so the pictures aren’t as pretty as they could be, but I think it actually kind of added to the mood.

(Eugen took this one!)

Right now we are playing Phase 10 (best game EVER!), and just hanging out. Tomorrow we are going to the Art Market again and then to the church in Orhei that has been helping us all week. They are making us lunch! So exciting. Hope everyone is having a fabulous day : ) I am still weirded out that it is almost 10:00 pm here, but almost 3:00 pm Central Time. Craziness!

To God be all the glory!

For Me, This Says It All !!!!!!

  They say that a picture is worth a 1000 words; well lets see because I can't come up with the words to explain today's experience at Orhei. I can say this after a long talk with Stuart last night, I was banned from all work and told go be with the kids and have some fun. I hope that these let you know how my day went (sorry I can't provide any names, NO ROMANESTE (I don't speak Romanian)).      
Now I'm not sure when this picture was taken but well it speaks for itself:  
OK, after we finished hanging out with the kids, passing out teddy bears and loving on the kids we headed back to Chisinau and MALL DOVA (yep we went to the newest thing here, a mall where everything is written in Russian). Guess where we ate? 
  Yep, Kentucky Fried Chicken.
After chicken and fries, it was off to Manastirea Capriana (Monastery at Capriana): 
OK, that's our day. Yes it was full of fun and relaxing but the best part was this morning just hanging out with the kids. Tomorrow we are going to the Art Market and then to the Good News Baptist Church in Orhei (home of the fabulous volunteers that helped make our trip here a success). The ladies of the church are fixing us lunch and we are all looking forward to spending some time with them to thank them for their help.
Remember this, one more day then it's a 20 something hour journey back to Texas. Thanks for the prayers and support.