Saturday, June 06, 2009

This Team Amazes Me

It’s difficult for me to even begin to summarize this trip or craft any final thoughts about the team and the work we’ve done. This week has simply been extraordinary. The children were wonderful, and the team has been more than I ever imagined it could be. Our group is comprised of nine new high school graduates, one new high school senior and three adult YoungLife leaders. I said this to the team just a little while ago, and I’ll say it again here; I have been on many great mission teams in Moldova, and none have exhibited any greater spiritual depth than this group has. I did not expect this from a group with so many young people on it. Their love for Jesus has absolutely blown me away. And as a result of that love that they have for Jesus, they have exhibited great love for his children in Straseni, Moldova. They have been amazing ambassadors for Christ to 120 kids this week, and I know the children’s lives will forever be impacted by what this team has done.

Two days ago Jerad presented the concept of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross providing us all with the opportunity for eternal life with Jesus. At the end he prayed a prayer and asked the children to pray that prayer with him silently if they wanted to accept Christ as their savior. Yesterday during the birthday party, he asked if any had prayed the prayer and asked Jesus to come into their hearts. I didn’t count them, but at least ten kids came forward and said they had accepted Christ! What an amazing moment! It’s incredibly meaningful and fulfilling for me to see kids like these receive their new beds and to know that they will sleep in comfort because of the work we have done, but to see kids desire a relationship with Christ and accept him as their savior is beyond any words I can use to describe it.

There really are just so many thoughts swirling around in my head right now that I think I’ll just stop here and post more another day when I have had more time to process it all. I consider myself lucky to have been here with such remarkable young men and women, and I’m so grateful for the incredible ways God has chosen to use them this week for his purposes in Moldova.

Thanks to everyone who made this trip possible with their prayers and financial support. We could not do it without you.


YongLife Team - Day 6

Today was a very fun and exciting day. In order to avoid anymore tears and reopening of painful cuts our group embarked on a tour of Moldova. This proved to be very educational as we went to an old Moldovan monastery that was carved into a sheer cliff. The beautiful view was breathtaking and it could easily be understood why the monks had chosen this place. At one point in our in exploration of the mountainous holy place we split apart from the group and had quiet time just to talk to God and pray for the children that each of us had touched. This small, insignificant prayer was a great finish to a very impacting week. Our next stop was the marketplace. It was fun to see all the girls going from vendor to vendor in order to find the best deals possible, and being able to witness the true culture of the Moldovan people.

Looking back on all the things that I have experienced this trip has really been amazing. I have learned how to act like a kid again. It feels like with these kids there is no need for stress or anxiety but just joy and laughter. Whether it is playing games, doing skits, or just joking around with these orphans, it has really shown me that life is too short to be serious all the time. Also, I have realized what compassion and love really are.

I had the opportunity to become very close to one of the kids at the camp, Victor. He would always be at my side throughout the entire trip and it almost felt like there was no language barrier between us. This was much unexpected because I didn’t think I could become close to someone in such a short period of time. I really didn’t understand the depth of this relationship until our final goodbye. Seeing a very tough and strong 14 year old boy basically fall apart in to my arms for one final embrace was gut wrenching and heartbreaking. Then I watched as he began to cover his eyes and hide the tears from his other classmates (because to show any sign of emotion or any vulnerability in Moldova is considered weakness) as we pulled away in the bus.

The time spent here in this country has truly been special and I am eternally grateful for all the prayers and gifts that got me here, and can’t wait to see you soon.


William Ball

Friday, June 05, 2009

YoungLife Team - Day 5

Hey heyy to everyone back home! Today was very emotional for most of the team and even for the children. It was our last full day at the orphanage, and we kicked off our morning with a birthday party. It was so awesome to shower all the kids that we’ve grown to know and love with princess crowns and baseball caps, soap, toothbrushes, candy and more.

As much as I would love to detail the events of today, I have something bigger on my heart that I shared with the team tonight and I would like to share with you. Before we left for the trip I spent a couple weeks testing my faith. For all of you who don’t know me, I spend a lot of time (willingly) by myself. Whether it is in the car or just at the house, I like to enjoy time on my own thinking about life and praying to God. Recently, I have enjoyed running. I run down to where the bridge is on Moran Road (more commonly known as the road that the rope swing for the Harpeth River’s on). This long and winding road is where I see God. I run until I make it to the bridge, then I stop to walk around, take in His creation, and pray. What I’ve been praying for, for these past couple weeks is for me to learn that Jesus is really all I need in life.

Our faith in God is really a day-by-day choice. What I think makes it so hard to have faith is the fact that we are holding on to something that we can’t physically latch on to. God, yes He is everywhere, but you can’t see Him, you can’t touch him physically, you can’t look Him in the eyes and talk to Him and hear Him answer directly back. Because of this, I have really wrestled with feeling that Jesus is all I need. I knew in my heart that it is the truth, but I have really wrestled in believing that He is all I need in life. So in little ways to test myself, I have done things whenever I feel alone not to look for earthly comfort (such as texting people for no purpose or watching T.V. because I have nothing better to do), but instead pray to God to show me how He is all I need.

The devotion for this morning was the “always trusts, always hopes” portion of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a. It was so fitting because I have trusted that the Lord is all I need and I’ve been hoping in some fashion or another He would prove it to me. And let me say, He did just that. To quote Lauren, “God is never afraid to blow our minds with the power that He has.”

My biggest fear about coming on this trip is that our week in Moldova wouldn’t be enough time to leave an impact on these kids. I had a sense of hopelessness whenever I thought about what the kid’s lives would look like after we left, because in all honesty they are set up for failure. But all throughout the day today I never felt sad. At first I felt bad because I wasn’t crying and other people were, but as the day went on I realized why I felt so content with life and the timing of our leaving. I felt comfortable, like this was supposed to happen. To me, I feel like everything is gonna be ok for these kids. With what little time we had, we showed them God’s love. We gave them Jesus, and that is all they need. If all a kid in an orphanage has to his name is the love of Jesus and is completely fine and destined for an awesome life because of it, then I know that that is all I need too.

The director of the orphanage told some of our leaders today that they talked to the kids about this past week and what it has meant to them. One of the kids shared that because of the joy they have seen in the Americans and the happiness that comes with knowing Jesus, they don’t have to live like their parents. (A brief incite to what Moldovan life is like: no one here smiles at people passing bye. It’s very unlike their culture to ask “How are you?” The only person you express your feelings to is your closest friend). They can live a life shining in the light of the Lord. Our mission was accomplished and my prayers were answered.

God is good and has truly blessed me through this experience and for that I am thankful.

Much love,

Beth “Elizabeta” Browner

How do I even put into words all the different emotions and feelings from this week? Right now, I am feeling overwhelmed. Today was a unique day where we did not have our usual schedule of building beds and arts and crafts. Today we threw a birthday party for the children at the orphanage. Even though we do not speak the same language, the look of joy on their faces will always translate. I was overwhelmed with emotions today. The love that my team has for these precious children mixed with the sadness of saying goodbye was truly exhausting. Even as I type, I am trying to process this week.

For me, this week has been unexpected. I was surprised how quickly I fell in love with the children at the orphanage. I did not think that in one week, I could be so attached. I was amazed at how building beds could bring so much hope to the children. It was such a great picture to paint for the kids about how building beds and Jesus’ love go hand in hand. My favorite saying to tell the kids when we were in their rooms and praying was to tell them when they got in bed and had the covers wrapped around them, it was like a big hug from Jesus.

Saying goodbye to the kids today was difficult, but I have hope for them now that we are gone. This morning Cody said something to the whole camp that was so precious I have to share it with y’all. He said that he was excited when he got to Heaven that he would not have to have a translator to talk to them. I loved leaving that with them and it made it a little easier to say goodbye.

It is getting really late here in Moldova, so I need to wrap this blog up, but I look forward to many conversations and many pictures from this trip. I know when I leave Moldova, I will be leaving my heart here as well. I am forever thankful for this experience.


Rachel Frey

Thursday, June 04, 2009


I just wanted to post a few pictures for your enjoyment. Thanks to Marty for the pictures.


YoungLife Team - Day 4

We're still borrowing internet from the neighbors, so here are the posts from today's bloggers, Cody Taylor and Anne Martin.

Today we finished putting all of the beds into the kids’ room. It was so awesome to see the excited and grateful faces of these kids as we put brand new beds in their room. I am so blessed that I got to share with these kids a little bit about why we were building these beds for them. They seemed to put it all together and really take a heart for our message.

The best thing about these kids is their attitude. These kids are orphans who have poor living conditions and wear the same clothes every single day. I never saw one frown in all of the days I have been at the orphanage. Their eagerness to help us build the beds was amazing. Anytime they could lend a helping hand, they did. It is a refreshing spirit that you just do not see a lot of in America anymore. These kids have really given me a greater appreciation for my parents and family.

The other day Vasile (the smallest, cutest six year old Moldovan you have ever seen) and I were playing tag. I was running away and he tripped and scraped his knee. I went over to him to comfort him, but he refused to let me see him cry. Since they have no parents, they have been taught to show no emotion. When this happened, it really broke my heart. I thought back to when I was a six year old boy, and I put myself into his shoes. If that had happened to me when I was six and didn’t have my mommy to run to who would kiss it and make it better, I don’t know what I would have done. Vasile didn’t have that mommy to run to, he had to deal with it himself. No child should have to be so tough at such a young age.

Today when we had club, we gave each of the kids a plain white t-shirt. We gave them markers and told them to write on each other. It was so awesome to get a chance to write these kids encouraging messages, and then to have them write on us. I got to write on their shirts “Jesus loves you. You are a precious Lamb of God. You are so beautiful.”

There are twelve Jon’s at the orphanage, so we came up with little nicknames for each. There is one in particular that we call “Mexi Jon.” He is this big, quiet Mexican looking kid, one of the older boys. At first, he was of course too cool for the Americans, but as the week wore on, he began to play basketball with us and come to club. While we were writing on each other’s shirts, he came up to me and wrote a big long part, taking up the entire shirt. He wrote “Jesus loves you. I think that you are a best friend for all of these little kids.” This message really touched me. This kid just got exactly why we had come - to show that Jesus loves all of his children.

These kids are so precious, and I don’t want to leave them. Saying goodbye tomorrow will be truly difficult because in only a few days I have made a relationship with these kids. I’ve made memories with them, and have grown to love them. It is as if they are like my own brothers and sisters, because they are my brothers and sisters in Christ. Tomorrow is not goodbye - tomorrow is see you later. I know these kids; I have felt their spirits when Jerad presented salvation to them. Even though I may never return to Moldova, I will see these kids again. I will. One day when I enter the kingdom of Heaven, I know I’ll see little Vasile giggling his head off. I will see Andrian flexing his muscles, and Jon dancing to “Live your Life.” There will be no need for translators or “I don’t understand you.” It will just be pure joy, all given because of Christ’s amazing grace.


Cody Taylor

Hello everyone. It’s hard to find words to say when I find myself sitting here speechless. What can I say to capture the emotions of overflowing love, satisfaction, yearning, heartache, and exhaustion that I am feeling? How can I possibly convey the physical nausea I get when I realize that tomorrow is the last day we have to spend our time in the orphanage and that in two short days, we leave Moldova for good?

I expected to have my heart changed on this trip to Moldova, but I was not ready for the reality and intensity of what God had in store. It just makes me laugh how I keep on trying to put God in a box and predict everything that I thought I would feel, think, and see in Moldova, and He always proves me wrong. You’d think I’d give up by now…

What did I think I would feel on this trip? The word that sums it up is satisfaction I suppose. I didn’t think that I would connect with the children all that much nor desire or enjoy the hard work we would be doing each day. What have I felt now that I am here? Ha. Wow. Um….well seeing as I’m crying as I’m writing this (this being the SIXTH-yes sixth its serious- time for me to cry today!) I have felt immense emotional attachment to each and every one of the children I have come into contact with. I have loved building the beds for these children who are so selfless. Today was our last day of building the beds and some of my team and I were literally complaining that we didn’t have any more beds to build. I have felt the absolute exhaustion of waking up at 6:30 I think it is (I’m not sure- there aren’t many clocks around here-I think that’s a good thing), working a full day, and not being able to crawl into bed until around 11:00 or 12:00. I would not trade that feeling of exhaustion for anything. What if we were not tired? What if we were not drained? What if we were not put to the test or emotionally stimulated? It just wouldn’t be real, and it definitely would not be the life-changing and unique experience that this trip has been to me.

I was going to write on about what I would think and see on this trip and what I actually have thought and seen here, but I can’t! For one, I just realized that my blog is already longer than some others’ were (I’m new to this whole blogging thing - I’m more blogging just to counsel myself! Haha) secondly, I am really tired, and third, I don’t think I am being a good representation of what this trip is like and how amazing it is! So let me try this again in a short paragraph and just explain a few things that I have experienced here (here we go again!):

I have experienced the humility and love through the humanity of the Stepanenco family whose house my team is staying in. They each take part in providing us clean towels, hot and fresh breakfast and dinner (and homemade dessert-mmm!), and not to mention 14 beds for our team to sleep in. I have experienced the love of education through Elijah who I have conversations with daily about how to pronounce English words with an American accent and a “southern American” accent (today I taught him that in the south, rather than saying “hello” we say “hey yall!”). I have experienced this awesome concept of knowing everything you need to know through absolute silence.

I can’t wait to tell you all more about this trip. I don’t want to say that I don’t want to go home, but I guess I just don’t want to leave. Thank you all for your prayers. I love you all!

With so much love,

Anne Elizabeth Martin

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Days 2 and 3 Posts

Hi everyone. We've been experiencing some technical difficulties with the internet where we are staying, but tonight we figured out that we can borrow a cup of wireless internet from the neighbors. :)

What follows are the team blog posts from yesterday and today.



It’s my turn to blog, so salut! There have been some problems with the Internet connection I think, but we’ve been connecting with people just fine. Every family, translator, and orphan we get to know is so great. In fact, I’ve been having trouble wrapping my mind around how many small, yet incredible, communities there are in this world. What’s really sad is how difficult the circumstances are, and how much worse they are in most other orphanages. The place we’ve been building beds for these past 3 days was originally a sports camp. When that died out, it was adopted as an orphanage, and the facilities are said to be considerably nicer, and the yard has a soccer field and courts for basketball and volleyball. We have so much fun with the kids, but they must really be having one of the greatest weeks ever. There’s a lot of love out here, and from what I’ve heard, that’s not the way things usually are.

We finished the rest of the bed frames today. Fifty of them. Riley and I were a quality team, while William, Taylor, and Cody were “the pit crew”, which was in constant competition with the Moldovan translators’ team. Twenty eight of the beds were assembled and moved into the rooms. The tradition of talking to the kids in the room about why we have come, and what the beds mean, is incredible. The kids come into the room and we tell them we’ve had fun with them and we love them, but that the reason that we are here is because of Jesus. We tell them that the beds should be like a hug from God, a safe place, and a symbol of love. There’s a lot to say, that’s just the start, but I need to get upstairs for our meeting, and let Stuart publish this.

Marty Gay

Ahh…so, I have FINALLY made it back to the place that stole my heart 2 summers ago!! This week has been GREAT! All of the kids are SO precious and I wish, as always, that I could bring them all back with me! The kids here just have this amazing way of touching my heart with their sweet smiles and their eyes filled with both life that is just waiting to burst out and a longing for a sign that someone loves them. These signs that they are searching for are in no way extravagant, in fact, they are things that I take for granted daily. A hug, a smile, someone’s hand to hold - this is all that they want, just to know that someone cares! In my youth group we are often told that a person needs to have at least 8 personal touches a day. These kids are lucky to get 8 a month. Take a moment to think about that…how many hugs or pats on the back do you give/receive a day? That’s not something that we ever really take the time to think about but when you do, especially from this perspective, it brings me and hopefully you to a realization of how many blessings God has put in my life! I could go on for pages and pages about all that has happened this week and the amazing things that God has revealed to me, but unfortunately time is short and for those of you who have been to Moldova know that the #1 thing to remember while here is BE FLEXIBLE! I am so excited to continue in the work that God has prepared for us the rest of this week and live out the rest of the stories that I will be able to come back and tell! (Although, I am not so excited to have to leave here so soon! Like I said, these kids have stolen my heart and I have no intention of ever giving it back. :)

Kelsey Drennan


Hey everybody! It’s 9:49 here in our wonderful villa in Moldova. This country is beautiful. For the past three days, it has been capturing my heart. I love it here!

Today we got to put twenty beds complete with mattresses, pillows, and blankets into five rooms of four. From the moment we got to the orphanage to the moment we left kids were swarming us. They were willing to do anything and everything to get those beds into their rooms. From carrying wooden planks to manhandling mattresses up stairwells, the kids’ hands were open and ready. The enthusiasm in their eyes makes me want to cry every time. My heart almost bursts. I love them.

After the beds were in the room, we got to pray for each individual who would be sleeping in the bed. I personally got to pray for two boys. They both had families, and one of the things that struck me was that these boys had stayed at the orphanage an extra week just for us. On the first day, the orphanage director said, “We have waited for you for over a year.” I don’t know exactly how that made me feel, but it was incredible. Before I came, I knew I loved these kids, but when I knew they’d waited for me and that they were anxiously awaiting this day, I knew they loved me too. Kelsey, one of our team members, said tonight, “Your love language translates.” Even though, I don’t speak the same language as Marina or Lenuta or Vitol, a simple hug, a game of Alla-Dough (a hand clap game the children taught me), or a smile means the same thing in any language. It means friend. I hope that as this week continues, Jesus becomes their friend. This is what we’ve been talking about in our Club.

Pray that we have time to grab a translator and get to talk to these kids one on one. Noapte Buna!

Meg Jamison

Hey there, It’s Riley Moore. I hope all is dandy back in good ole’ Tennessee. We certainly are having a ball over here in Europe. Moldova is a special place. In a land of sadness and brokenness, we have surely seen joy and full hearts. It is true that these children come from shattered families. They are forced to feed solely off of the attention they receive from the orphanage teachers shared by over 100 other similarly needy children.

We cannot pretend to hide the darkness that looms over the lives of these children like a yoke on an ox. But, neither can anyone pretend to deny their piercing rays of light - the light of their smiles and their laughter as they gleefully chase after Taylor Brasher or me in yet another rousing game of “locca!” or tag – the light in their voices as they shout and cheer in one of our die hard soccer matches - the light in their precious brown eyes as they resound in laughter at their torment of Jerad and Cody - the glee of their giggles with Annie Martin as she tosses aside any pride and gets just as silly and crazy as any of the young Moldovan girls she’s befriended – or the delight of our affectionately named “Popeye” or “Hercules” when William “oohs and ahhs” over the “mass” of his muscles, or humbly lets him lift him up, so Popeye may prove his manly strength.

None of these things could be dreamed of in a place as forgotten as a Moldovan orphanage without the unfailing love of God. It is a love that has been thrust on us, and only by His grace we have been blessed with the opportunity to keep it flowing to these beautiful Moldovan people. We are all Princes and Princesses of the same ruler, and it is magnificent to be able to enjoy His kingdom with them so far away from our physical home.

Please pray for understanding in the hearts of these children, that they would know that they are dearly loved by all of us, and our maker. Pray for hope and peace in their minds as they grow up in such an unfortunate setting. Pray for strength and unity among our mission team, and for the health and wisdom of all here.

Thank you and blessings,

Riley Schilling Moore

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Joys of Serving in the Third World

Hello friends! Thanks for following our team currently serving in Straseni, Moldova. Currently, there is an internet outage in the area of Chisinau where our team is staying. The area is called Posta Vechi meaning Old Post. It's old, and thus power, internet, and other utilities occaisonally have outages. :) Unfortuately, there is an internet outage tonight.

So, while our team is preparing for their day tomorrow and enjoying being with God and being disconnected from the world, we have to wait for an update. :) The team is "blogging" and saving their thoughts on the computer so when internet is available again, they can send their thoughts from their 2nd day of ministry in Straseni. Please continue to pray for the team as they prepare for their work in the orphanage tomorrow and we'll update you, or the team will update us all, just as soon as possible.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Night 2 in Moldova, Day 1 in the Orphanage.

It is 10:23 at night here and 2:23 in the day back home. Today was our first day in the orphanage and it was incredible. The beds did not show up on time so we did not get a chance to build any. It was fine because that gave us more time to play with the kids. Riley and I got our first introduction by invading the soccer or "futbol" field. The little kids do not look like much but I got embarrassed by them for I am not the best soccer player. Riley of course did just fine and he could be found running up and and down the field leading the kids. William, Caitlin, Marty, Cody, and Beth joined in soon after and it became an all out battle on the field. After that came the hang out time off the field. I got into a game of "tag" with some of them. These kids are a true joy and to see the smiles on their faces when they get attention is truly amazing. The rest of the day was filled with arts and crafts, a young life skit, and sad good byes as we tried to explain to the kids that we would be back tomorrow. As I was leaving I saw a flock of girls around Kelsey as she was saying bye, you could see the love she had for those kids in her eyes and they knew it. I feel blessed to have witnessed that. After another amazing dinner the team sat on the roof and sang worship songs to Marty's talented guitar skills. We all look forward to tomorrow to spend more time with the kids.

Day 1 in Moldova :)

Today we had our first experience at the orphanage! We all woke up around seven and then around eight we loaded up on two buses and were on our way. The ride to the orphanage was not exactly a smooth ride considering one of the buses, my bus to be exact, broke down and we had to wait a while for another bus to pick us up. But, Lauren told us at the beginning at the trip that we needed to have things things during the trip, flexibility, patience, and respect. So, we got to exercise those a lot earlier then we thought we would have to haha. However, we did actually make it to the orphanage and not long after we realized all the bed supplies were not there yet so we ended up not actually making beds today, but instead we got to play with the kids all day. These kids are all adorable and I already love every single one. A few of us decided we would play soccer with some boys and I'm pretty sure we all successfully made a fool of ourselves at one point or another but all in all it was a really great time. We had arts and craft time after lunch and as Jerad innocently taught one kid to throw a paper plane, it only took a few more minutes for every other kid to catch on as Jerad's plan backfired and he became the new target. Club tonight was also really fun because the skit Cody, William, and Annie did was hilarious and then Rachel did a great devotion that introduced all the kids to Jesus. I'm sure a lot more happened today, but those were a few of the things that stood out to me and it was definitely a great start to this trip!