This is Marni writing under Jen's name:
I have to first start off by saying that we have had an amazing experience! Because a team from Sweet Sleep came before us this past spring, the kids and staff welcomed us with open arms. Their ministry made ours so much easier by the trust they gained and the love that they showed these children. The kids knew right from the "get-go" that we came to make beds and have a birthday party. Jen's "mwahs" (throwing a big kiss) have caught on, being given now to us without prompting! Tatiana, the director, has graciously given us an hour and a half per group, of which there are two, every day. We have further divided those groups into half, taking one group to worship and recreation, and the other for crafts and English. It has worked out beautifully, even with all the different age groups.
The orphanage, as we refer to it, is called an “Internat” here in Transneistria. This is because many of the children have families. One little boy comes just for the day, and goes home to his parents and brother in the evening. Yesterday we met three sisters, ages 12,13,14 who also have an 11 year old brother. And then there was the sad story of a little girl who’s family has fallen apart. Her brother committed suicide, her sister died in a car accident, her father is in jail, and her mom has cancer.
Today we finished the beds, 18 more to be exact. Our team of boys came down to join us, and have gotten quite good with the power tools. We had it down to a system by the second day, and the building has gone very smooth. The beds look so inviting, that I think all of us would like to spend the night!
Our theme for today was salvation. Mary Ann had cross necklaces as the craft for the day. Surprisingly enough, we didn’t loose too many pony beads on the floor. English lessons included colors and numbers. Karla has gotten very good at coming up with ideas to “make it stick”, such as games, like “I Spy” for colors, and having the older kids count backwards-since most of them knew how to count in English already. We tried the nursery rhyme, “One Two Buckle My Shoe” but that was a flop. But hey, you’ve got to give it a whirl, right?
We also visited Anatole and his family. Pastor Serghey took us over and introduced all of us. Anotole can no longer walk due a muscular disease. Our nurse practionor, Ashley, thinks it may be muscular dystrophy. She was about ready to give him her crutches, until we saw that he has very little use of his right hand. He is about 50yrs old, only able to work 19 of them. Their house is small, by our standards, but cozy. Their garden is huge! And so are their hearts.
Everyday, as we arrive, the kids are at the windows waving. We get more hellos, high fives and hand shakes as the days go by. This is really a big deal, since most of the children are shy, but well behaved and polite. The love that the staff has for them is apparent. I have to say, it's been very easy to fall in love-and we all have fallen hard. I thank God for my amazing team, and the chance that I have had to come on this mission trip. Truly memories that will last a lifetime!
By Marni Baker