Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Straseni pictures pt.1


The kids helping with their new beds.

The old beds

'We Are Nashville' t-shirt decorating party!


Josh, Vacille and Nicolae

Vacille and Kelsey


my life changing event in Moldova

my trip to Moldova has been a blast. Getting on the plane I was just a little afraid of how it would be; this trip is an eye opening expierience. I am getting a chance to see what the Lord wants me to see, and I'm being touched by these little children. at first i guess i never knew what to expect, I guess the thought of me trying to communicate to the children was never close to my mind, but i really am trying to, even though the translators aren't with be, i still can share my love for them and the Lord's love for them. i wish there was more i could do for these children and i wish i could truelly communicate with the children, without the translators. I am so happy to see a Sweet Sleep mission at hand, to see how it works, and how i can be that shining light for the children. these children are really touching my heart, especially when they gave us flowers yesterday and told us it was because we are good people. i want to just thank all those who helped sweet sleep get here and do this, the man who God sent to pay my way, sweet sleep, my church, and most importantly my family who gave me the opportunity to go. the lord leads us where we need to be and you just need to follow, this is the one thing that im learning to do. i love the children and the friends who all will stay dear to my heart. I just know God will contine to use sweet sleep this week and the team, and i praise him for this opportnity. please contnue to keep us and the orphange in your prayers. and remember to sleep sweet like these orphanes will for now on.

thankyou all,

Brianna Williams

Day 4

I'm so excited and blessed to have this opportunity to write and share with you all back home about the amazing experience God has allowed me so far on this trip! This was our second day at the orphanage, and by now, all the kids know what to expect when they see our big white van pull up. Day two was much better than day one for me, as I now know a few (very) helpful phrases in Romanian. The kids actually understood today when I said hello instead of yesterday's blank looks of confusion! The children here are beautiful and affectionate-very very affectionate! They love to hold hands, hug, play games, and just stand right next to you-it's amazing and I feel so loved by them!
Today was the last day of school for all of the kids in Moldova, and each school celebrates with a "final bell ring" ceremony. Our orphanage was no different, and when we arrived, the outdoor "stage" area was decorated with a few balloons and a sign that I believe read, "Goodbye, graduating students!" (but then again, it was in Romanian, so I'm not sure what it actually said!) The ceremony was very special; there was a lot of songs, a traditional dance, as well as speeches by the director, Sweet Sleep team member Josh, and myself. I really enjoyed it, and I felt almost like a proud parent when the kids who I had quickly bonded with received diplomas and awards.
After the morning ceremony, we started to make beds. I really should say, the kids made the beds! They are so willing to help, and their excitement and appreciation for the beds are evident. After lunch in town, we helped the kids decorate t-shirts and play games outside. They day flew by so quickly, but I find so much joy in the fact that I can see all my new friends tomorrow! Here's to everyone back home, hope all is well, and to those who helped send our team over here, whether in prayer or financially or in anyway for that matter, a huge thank you! Love, Katie

Monday, May 30, 2011

The First Day

Hello everyone! This is my first trip to Moldova. Yesterday was our first day at the orphanage. I helped with sports and recreation. It was an absolute blast. We played soccer, volleyball, basketball, jumped ropes, badminton, and american football. The children are so sweet and adorable and they love any kind of attention they can get. Also, the children love cameras. In the bible lesson, the theme was to teach the children that they are made in God's image. So we took pictures of them and printed them out last night to give it to them Thursday. God has really showed me how to step out of my comfort zone even though there is a language barrier, I can still show how much Jesus loves them by just being there for them. They began to open up yesterday and hope a little more today. Thank you!
-Josh McMullan

PS - The food is very good here!

Home Sweet Moldova

Ok, so I never really know how to start these things off...I've gone through a bunch of openers in my head, including the oh so common "hello from Moldova," the informational "Salut to everyone back home (for those of you who don't know Romanian, salut means hello)" and the mind easing "We made it!" for you parents back home, but I didn't find any of those to be satisfactory so I guess I'll just start with I'M BACK!!!!!!
Now, by the intro to this blog I'm sure that you can all tell that my blogging is more of a stream of consciousness type of deal than a super eloquent and well organized breakdown of the trip so far, so buckle your seatbelts, this could be a bumpy (yet hopefully somewhat entertaining) ride, much like our journey out to the orphanage today!
A quick rundown of my thoughts so far:
1. This team is amazing, I am so blessed to have the opportunity to serve with each of them! Today was the first day in an orphanage in Moldova for all of them (except for Sarah) and they handled it like pros. Seriously. It was so awesome to be able to step back and watch them all just dive into the whole experience and by the end of the day everyone had clusters of kids surrounding them and following them wherever they went, right up to the door of the van when we had to leave for the day! I've said this time and time again, but I'm going to say it again: the language of love is universal. Even though our knowledge of Romanian is minimal (for Dean it's pretty much non-existant) our love for them translates, and let me tell you what: the hearts of the people on this team are some of the biggest I've ever seen!
2. I love Moldova.
3. The kids in Straseni are ADORABLE. It is so fun to be back and get to see many of the precious faces that I remember from my trip to this orphanage 2 years ago! Seeing them again has really made me realize just how much I have missed them all of this time that we have been apart! There are also a bunch of new faces that I am anxious to get to know so I plan to make the most of every second I have with them this week!
4. Our translators are the best. The way that they are so willing to help with whatever we need them for is just amazing. They are not just translators on these trips, they are also bed builders, bed movers, bed makers, and most importantly, they are our friends and I love each of them.
5. I love Moldova.
6. Our cook for the week, Lilia, should have her own cooking show. Paula Dean and Rachel Ray need to watch out. Her food is SO delicious and there are literally no words to describe how excellent her mashed potatoes are. Every time she comes in and sets something on the table I do a mini celebration dance in my chair because I know how great it's going to taste.
7. Thank goodness Moldova doesn't have cicadas...good luck with those, by the way.
8. I got to talk to 3 girls who received new beds today and hear them say how they are so excited to be able to have "sweet sleep" tonight and every night from now on because their old beds were uncomfortable and gave them back aches every night and also how beautiful they think the beds and the pink princess pattern that is on all of the bedding are. It was so amazing to get to see their faces light up when I was telling them about why we were giving them the beds and that it was so that they could have good rest and not ache anymore, like they said, but it was also because we love them and God loves them and every time they are wrapped up in their sheets, that is like a big hug from God. Then I got to sit in their room and pray over each bed and for the girl that would be sleeping there every night. That is always such a special time and I am so glad that I got the opportunity to do that today!

I am just SO excited to be back in Moldova, there are not even words to describe how much I love this place and the people in it! I have been using the phrase "home sweet Moldova" a lot recently and that's exactly what this place feels like to me. Home. Whenever I think about home, I think about a place full of people that I love and who love me back just the same, a place where I can let loose and just be myself without any need to impress anyone, and a place to learn and grow. That is exactly what I have here and I am so blessed to be able to keep coming back!

Hugs to everyone back at my other home! I love you all!
Kelsey Drennan

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Moldova Sweet Sleep Team has arrived!!

We have finally arrived in Chisinau, Moldova to begin our Sweet Sleep ministry and bed installation for the children at Straseni, Moldova. Our team includes our fearless leader Dean Baylor and team members Josh McMullan, Brianna Williams, Kelsey Brennan, Tessa Tompkins, Katie Huey, and Sarah Little who is joining us tomorrow.

Our flights were all uneventful, which is good :)), and God has already prepared us with adopted Moldovan twin girls flying with us for a stay with family members here. Their names are Mariana and Deanna. They have been in the U.S. for three years, just graduated from high school in Nashville and speak great English. They were so excited about going home but they were also great help when we got to Moldova as interpreters!

We are staying at an International Mission Board house in Chisinau and we have just finished a great meal and we are now preparing for our first visit with the children in the morning.

Lucia is the Sweet Sleep staffer here in Moldova and she met us at the airport along with C.J. the IMB staffer. They have been totally helpful and eased our entry into a new country for most of us except Kelsey! This is Kelsey's third trip to Moldova and she has been invaluable both during the trip and for planning our ministry with the children!!

We are all excited to see what God will do through us with these wonderful children! All of us are so thankful for your prayers, financial help and contributions to this mission trip. Lucia says the children are really excited that we are coming, mainly due to the last team's great sucess with them. The children range from age six to sixteen and most are children with mental disabilities. Kelsey, who's been with them before, says they are wonderful to be with and just as cute as they can be!

After you read this, stop and say a special prayer that God will take over and use each of us to minister to these special children and to the staff at Staseni! Blogged by Tony Nunn

Friday, May 27, 2011

On our way to Moldova!

Hello everyone!

This is Dean, I have the privilege of traveling with 6 others to Moldova in about 12 hours from Nashville. We have the awesome opportunity to minister to orphans in the town of Straseni, about 25 miles North of the capital city of Chisinau. As a team we are certainly excited and can not wait to begin and share our experiences. We arrive Sunday evening and will be there a full week.

Please keep us in your prayers, and enjoy all the blogging that will take place this week. For many of you, your financial support has allowed one, or all of us, this opportunity, and please let this be the first of many thank you's!

So Delta here we come, Chisinau we'll see you soon, and Straseni - we can't wait!!!


Friday, May 06, 2011

Why I Go: Meet Laura Ramey

The thought of traveling to a third world country would make many people cringe. Questions flood to mind: Is it safe? Can I drink the water? What if I get sick? Facing these fears isn't easy, but one Nashville woman keeps finding the courage to travel to Haiti, even in the wake of disaster.

Laura Ramey took her first trip to Haiti with Sweet Sleep in February 2010, immediately after the devastating earthquake.

"We took a relief team to provide mattresses, sheets, and love to a traumatized country," Laura said. " I did not necessarily 'want' to go, which is why I knew I needed to go! I was terrified, to be honest, and I knew God was asking me to step out of my comfort zone by going to a third world country in crisis."

The trip to Haiti impacted her tremendously and encouraged her to return.

"The people, specifically the children [keep bringing me back to Haiti]," Laura said. "I absolutely love the spirit of the Haitians. They have been through so much, yet their hope is so strong."

Not only has Laura given her time to travel and help the people of Haiti, she is also planning to help the orphans there in an very tangible way.

"My husband and I are in an adoption process to bring home three sweet Haitian boys, so we grow more in love with the country and culture as we learn more," Laura said.

Since her first trip in 2010, Laura has returned to Haiti once and will travel there once again on April 13. For her, the most rewarding part of her trips is seeing the smiles on the children's faces when they receive the beds and Bibles provided by Sweet Sleep.

"I do not fully know what they've been through, but I know they have had tough circumstances and traumatic backgrounds," Laura said. "To see their faces light up with joy when they receive these gifts...a place of comfort and full of God's love...is so rewarding".

Laura just returned from Sweet Sleep's latest trip to Haiti April 13-19. If you missed their team reports on our blog, take a moment to look back through our blog for their stories.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Sweet Sleep Around the US Last Week!

Last week was definitely a memorable one. From devastating tornadoes and flooding to the Royal Wedding -- we'll likely remember last week for years to come.

Last week was also a very busy and exciting week for Sweet Sleep. Our newest staff member, Dean Baylor, represented Sweet Sleep at the Orange conference in Atlanta, Jon Merryman celebrated what God is doing around the world through First Baptist Church Whitehouse, Texas - specifically for the orphans of Moldova through Sweet Sleep - at their annual Missions Celebration, we had our pilot event of Sweet Sleep "Under the Stars" at Second Baptist Church in Arkadelphia, Arkansas and hosted our first ever water station at the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, Tennessee!

The week for Sweet Sleep was marked with celebrating what God is doing through our work, serving others and spreading the word about Sweet Sleep and our work to provide beds, bedding, nets and Bibles to the world's orphaned and abandoned children.

Thanks to everyone who volunteered last week - including those who ran the marathon and 1/2 marathon as part of Team Sweet Sleep and raised nearly $1500 for beds for orphans while doing it! Thanks Jeff Swords, Michelle Uhri, Katie Stevenson and Hillary Flynn!