Archive for July 2011

Galina and Queen Esther

Friday, July 29, 2011

Good morning friends!  I am back!  I spent this week at an Autism training for work...and did not have my laptop with me!  Please don't think that I have finished pouring out my heart about Moldova...because quite frankly...I don't think that is going to happen anytime soon.  Moldova still consumes me...I think about it every single day.  Brian and I talk about it EVERY single day.  (Thanks for your prayers, by the way-cause it is still in our hearts).  The whole time I was at the training...I kept having sensory memories of Moldova (for those of you who don't know what that is...its not some new agey just meant I was remembering the smells, sights, sounds, etc of Moldova).  I went to sleep each night praying for the kids at Providence by name and for all the girls at Stella's House by name too.  In case you can't tell...they have just over taken my heart...and I cannot wait to see them all again!  Luckily I can "see" the kids at the orphanage often.  I can look at my own pictures...or I can look at Galina's photos from each week at camp.  She has done an amazing job with camp.  After looking at the pictures, I REALLY want to go to camp.  They are having silly days...silly skits...singing songs...loving Jesus.  I am a goof ball...and the thought of dressing like a goober to make some orphans laugh is VERY appealing to me :) Now doesn't that sound amazing?  I just think Galina is the most amazing girl.  I know I have already told you all this.  But, keep praying for her.  Let me tell you how God put her on my heart this week...

Our church has been doing a series called "Real World Transformations"  looking at characters of the Faith from the Old Testament.  We have looked at Moses, Nehemiah, David, Elijah, and Jonah to name a few. Last week our teaching pastor (remember he is the one who got up SUPER early to do communion with us before we left for Moldova) taught about Esther.  You can click on that for the link to the sermon.

Let me just go on and digress for a minute...EVERY sermon we have heard since we got back from Moldova has made our hearts burn for that country even more.  So, as soon as the pastor began speaking I thought...
                OK is it going to be about Moldova this time?  I really did say that to God. 

I knew it was going to be about Esther, because the awesome intro REAL WORLD video was about Esther.  So...I kind of got comfortable in my seat.  I mean, How in the world could Esther's story remind me of Moldova, right?  I am just so dense some times!

Our Pastor started the sermon off by saying...Esther was an orphan (Esther 2: 5-7).  I wrote on my sermon outline REALLY?  Brian and I laughed...I thought to myself...well that one was much more obvious God...didn't really think it would be that obvious.  I mean...REALLY?

Before I tell you about the sermon..let me just go on and tell you...throughout the WHOLE sermon I thought of Galina... from beginning to end.  Every STEP!  He also used the sermon to continue to burn our hearts for Moldova. 

OK...I am not going to do the story or the sermon justice...but here is my summary of it.  The outline part was very applicable to our current experience... It was all about Seeing your Moment and Seizing your moment.  Click on the Esther link above to watch was GOOD STUFF...anyway... Esther's story and Galina's stories are so similar.  Esther, an orphan, was raised by her older cousin Mordecai.  When the king had to choose a new queen, he chose Esther (Esther 2:17).  Important side note-During those times, addressing the kind in his inner court without an invitation was punishable by death.  Esther got word, that her people, the Jews were being mistreated and killed throughout the kingdom.  While Esther initially did not want to risk her life, liberty, etc....she knew that she must be the one to address the king on behalf of her people.  Mordecai reminded her that perhaps (she) had come in to royal dignity for such a time as this (Esther 4:14).  Esther found favor with the king...and was given an opportunity to save her people.  She risked her life to address the king in his inner court and save her people.  This was an OVER SIMPLIFIED version of Esther's story.

I don't know if you see the Galina in this....but I do.  Galina, while initially hesitant to return to Cupcui, the orphanage where she lived during her childhood, she knew that God had put her in a place to "save her people".  To offer hope, love, and joy to the her people....the children in the orphanage at Cupcui.  God found favor with her...and has been preparing her for her whole life...for "such a time as this."  Isn't that amazing?  I e-mailed Galina this week and told her how much she reminded me of Esther.  That she was doing amazing things for her people.  Keep praying for her friends.  She is doing BIG things for His kingdom...and for her people.

If you haven't read the Book of Esther before.  You should.  You may also want to consider watching the Movie a Night with the King (its on Netflix instant).

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Belt-Its really a game

Saturday, July 23, 2011

OK...friends...I am going to tell you about a very fun game that we played while at the orphanage...its wild and crazy and beyond our understanding of fun in the U.S.  But I just have to tell you about it!  On our 2nd day at the orphanage (remember this was when we met our new Scottish friends), we were outside playing with the kids...and we asked one of the girls from Stella's House to teach us a Moldovan game.  We had discussed learning a Moldovan game and playing it with the kids...and then teaching them an "American" game.  Well...the young lady began telling us about a game called Belt.  (CAUTION-This game, like many games in Moldova, requires physical contact...this one just includes physical contact with a belt...the Americans did NOT make up this is a REAL game that the kids in orphanages in Moldova enjoy don't be scared or offended by it).  I have a video for you to watch!  I have tried to post it several times...I will keep computer and the blogger website just did not want that video to post...I will try again!  Wow...I digress in a big way.  Back to the story of Belt! we are all standing around as the game is explained to us...our mouths are agape...because it all sounds quite ludicrous.  When she is finished explaining it, I ask..."Did you just make that up?"  That's how crazy it sounded to all of us!  So here is the break down of the rules of Belt.  You stand in a circle that is two people deep.  So essentially there is an outer circle and then an inner circle that stands right in front of the outer circle.  One person has a belt (YES-a belt that you wear) and they run around the outer circle and chase the person who is "it".  Guess how they tag the person who is it?  They get them with the belt!  (Originally I wrote whip...but I thought that might scare you all away).  When you get "tagged"/spanked with the belt the person throws the belt down and then the tagged person starts chasing any time they can jump in front of someone in the inner circle and the person on the outer circle has to start running!  It is crazy.  Kids everywhere in Moldova play this game...luckily our friends reminded the kids to be gentle with the Americans:)  What you will not see on the video is me starting the game off with a spanking...and it just happened to be from the oldest boy at Cupcui...and he let me have it....Andrian LOVED all things athletic...he gave every physical activity his all...even jumping of COURSE he would give a game of belt his crazy as it all sounds...this game was so can hear me laughing hysterically all through the video...Its REALLY long..but watch it...its funny.  The sweet voice you hear is my husband...he video taped it all.  We are hoping to have a BELT game day soon...who wants to join us? :)
After we played Belt...we taught them kick was kind of a dud after Belt...and to think we were worried that teaching them dodge ball would be too violent!  Hahaha!

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I'm back

Hi friends...don't give up on me just yet!  I took a week off from blogging because I was at a Professional Development Conference for teachers:)  AND I will be at another one this week...but I am taking a laptop because I just have to much to say:)  I am still on this journey to share about our trip to Moldova...and we are still very much on a journey to understand God's plan for us.  Let me just jump right back in to my story...we were on Day 2 at the orphanage (with a few detours). 

Everywhere in Moldova there are lovely crosses...Russian orthodox crosses.  You cannot drive down the road in any village without finding a few... Here's one near Cupcui...
While many in Moldova are raised Orthodox...few know a personal relationship with Jesus.  They are familiar with routines and customs...but not with just talking with and being with your maker....and understanding His love.  I feel that is where the hopelessness in the country stems from.  
While we could not share our faith openly with the kids...we could show them His love in us...His Joy in us.  I know that we made an impact on these kids while we were there...but do you know who is making an even bigger difference?  The girls and boys from Simon's House and Stella's House.  Right now as we speak, these PRECIOUS teenagers are conducting camps for kids at Cupcui.  They are planning activities that are meaningful for all the kids...they are showing the kids Gods love in even more meaningful ways!  They are spending their summer helping other orphans come to know Him.  These kids are going to understand what the crosses on the side of the road stand for...a savior who loves matter what.  Can you imagine HOW big that must be for an orphan?  Its Big for me.

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VBS and Moldova

Friday, July 15, 2011

OK friends...many of you may have never even heard of Moldova...but now I hope you will ALWAYS think about that country and her people...Just in case you didn't already know...Moldova is a tiny country (the size of the state of Maryland...situated in eastern Europe between Romania and Ukraine (which I call THE Ukraine for some reason...I can't stop myself).  Some 20 posts in to this blog...and I FINALLY tell you where the country is...I'm just that awesome at delivery:)    Here is a map for those of you who haven't already Googled it.

God is just so amazing...if you go back and read my first few posts you will learn more about Moldova...and Philip Cameron Ministries.   Ok...I am off to a rocky start with this post....bear with me friends.  I just want you to know...3 years ago...I had never heard of the promise, every time I turn around God is bringing this country in to my some way...on TV, on Facebook, at Church...etc.  We have been back from Moldova for almost a month now...and our hearts continue to burn for the people there...we want to share His love and His good news with them.  Everyday we think about and pray about Moldova...

Guess what God did this time?  He is so cool.  He brought Moldova to us! 

This week at VBS...(our theme was the Big Apple)  That was apparently "THE" VBS for the summer. 
Every year at VBS, we have a mission.  My friend Jennifer was in charge of the mission this year.  Do you know what she chose?  MOLDOVA!!! Seriously!  All 850 kids at VBS this week learned a little bit about Moldova each day...and they brought in Pajamas, socks, and underwear for the kids there.  The girls from our mission team (me, Elizabeth, and Heather) got on stage and shared with the kids at VBS about the kids in Moldova (actually-Heather shared with them....Elizabeth and I smiled and clapped).  She did a great job!  ANYWAY...We gathered PJS and such for the kids at Providence.  It was awesome.  Jennifer said we got over 721 items.  (each pack of socks=1 item, each pack of underwear=1 item, etc).  Isnt that amazing?  But it gets the finale rally...Some of the girls from Stella's House who are here for a summer tour came and performed for the kids!  Elizabeth, Heather and I were beside ourselves with excitement.  We've been back less than a month and we already got to see our friends Stella and Marnika...and meet some other girls too!  God is just going to keep on bringing Moldova to the forefront of my mind and my heart.  Friends...He means business :)  Keep praying for us! 

P.S.-Here is a VERY fashionable way that you can support the AMAZING work of Philip Cameron Ministries -Stella's Voice shirts...and yes...I already have the yellow one...and I am buying the gray one:)  Click on the Stella's Voice link shop:)

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I Heart Moldova (and our new Scottish friends too)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011 is just getting weirder and weirder I tell ya!  Brian and I are really feeling God's call on our life...and it is just weird and exciting.  We are praying with friends for Gods direction in our lives.  So keep praying for us and for our families:) 

The other night I was unable to sleep...which is VERY rare for me.  I mean sleeping is one thing that I am REALLY good at.  I can sleep on the floor...I can sleep in a chair...I can sleep ANYWHERE.  But for some reason Saturday night...sleep alluded me.  You know what I did?.. I read about Moldova.  I read research papers about orphans and orphanages in Moldova.  I read brief political histories of Moldova.  I read a UNICEF report about Moldova.  I read about mission organizations in Moldova...In future posts, I will share with you what I learned.  Right now...I just want you to know this...Moldova consumes me... I think about it every second of the day.  It consumes Brian too.  He dreams about the people and places we saw while in Moldova (which is weird...because we have lived in our house for 5 years and we both still dream about our first house).  Usually new things do not enter our dream worlds...but Moldova has entered in to every part of our waking and sleeping hours.  I am thankful that God continues to fill us.  I <3 Moldova!

God meant for us to go on this mission trip....He planned it from the very beginning.  He was with us every step of the way ( He continues to be with us).   But I digress...

On day 2 at the Orphanage, we met Peter and Mark from Scotland.  Yes, we all totally loved them because they were awesome AND because they have precious Scottish Accents!  Although they claimed that I had the strongest southern accent of the group...I still think they are wrong about that!  These 2 guys are really important parts of the story.  For many reason....we all felt instant kinships with them.   Our little group of 6 felt like a family when we added Mia, Nycole from Atlanta, Peter and Mark from Scotland, and Dasa, Irina, and Galina.
Peter and Mark are both very cool fellas!  They are part of New Hope Trust in Scotland.  New Hope Trust was actually started by Philip Cameron's father, Simon, to support the orphans in Romania and Moldova.  New Hope Trust plays a VITAL part in the every day financing for both the orphanage and Stella's Houses and Simon's House.  Mark has been around from the very beginning...he has seen the growth of all the projects in Moldova...and it is amazing to hear his stories (not just because we all loved his accent....the stories are AMAZING).    The kids LOVED them both.  We all agreed that Peter is like the grandfather that everyone would love to have.  He is so comfortable with himself and accepting...he just oozes warmth and love.  He is very easy to talk to.  Every night after he would leave we would all talk about how precious he is.  I took it upon myself to be the first to hug him...but in my defense I told him I was about to:)  (Friends...I can't help it...I just gotta hug folks!). 

Peter making play doh animals with Valerica!
Peter did crafts with us on our second day.  He loved making things with play doh just as much as the kids did.   The kids loved these guys.  They loved time with all of us...A mission trip to an orphanage does not require any special skill set.  You don't need to know advanced Discrete Mathematics or what a quadrilateral is or Piaget's Theories of Child Development or why we say the Holy Catholic Church in the Apostle's really just need to be filled with love for children...and a desire to show them that you love them...and that God loves them EVEN MORE!  While I have other stories to share with you about Peter...and Mark (Mark has kind of turned our world up side keep reading...He is an amazing man of God and I can't wait to tell you about him too!).  I wanted you to know that...they came to Moldova to LOVE children...and to share the stories of these children with people in their hometowns and we are trying to do.

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Back On Track (for now anyway)

As promised, today's post will be free of rants and soapboxes!  This post will focus on our second day at the orphanage.  I know you are all excited about that!  Thanks for continuing to come back and visit my blog (even when I get a bit preachy or pushy).  I am processing things :)  I have 19 followers now!  Who will make it 20? :)  I digress...

OK.  On our second morning in Sarata (remember this is the name of the village where we stayed).  Brian and I got up early and my sweet husband....(who had also made breakfast for everyone the morning before) made blueberry pancakes from muffin mix...they were yummy!  My husband is just tooo wonderful!  His love language is acts of service...because that is how he shows love!  We finished up breakfast and Chris led our devotions.  He did a fantastic job, as always!  Once we were all ready, we loaded up for the bumpy ride to Cupcui:) 
That morning we had assembled an example of what the picture frames(a craft we would be making later in the week) would look like.  We wanted the kids to know why we were taking their pictures.  We used Vica's picture in the flowers as our example case you don't remember it is.  Look how precious she is.

We showed the kids the picture frames and had Galina translate for us.  We told the kids that we would be taking their picture...and to make sure they smiled (ZAMBESTE!!!).  We wanted them to know that the picture was for the picture frame that they would make and keep.  This news stirred up quite a bit of excitement.  Vica carried her example frame around almost all day...she showed it to EVERYONE she came in contact with.  Many of these children simply do not have pictures of themselves.  The kids were SOOO funny as Heather was taking their pictures.  I will have to post them all later!  It was precious.  Catea immediately went and changed clothes and fixed her hair.  They were all so excited!  They all did a few serious poses...and then a few big smiles.  This was my first real introduction to the word Zambeste.  After we took the pictures, they were all ready to make the frames and we had to explain to them that we would print the pictures off that night and make the frames tomorrow.  Tomorrow or Mane-sounds like mewneh (sorta...the ew sound is kind of from your nose).  After we had finished taking pictures, we began our first craft for the day...personalized visors!  They REALLY enjoyed making these.  They were so proud to have something with their names on it!  Something that was personalized...They all worked on the visors for quite some are a few pics.
    I think we all enjoyed making the visors! 
We are soo  cool!

Because we couldn't really openly share our faith with the kids...we used crafts to do it.  We had cross stickers to use on the visors.  So we would just occasionally ask (through Galina).  Do you know what this is?  Do you know what it means?  Very vague questions.  But they would talk with us...and share what they knew about the cross and Jesus with us.  They already knew a lot about Him.  Thanks to relationships with the Girls at Stella's!  In your prayers today, pray that these sweet kids continue to grow in their knowledge of and relationship with Jesus.  Also, just say a prayer of thanksgiving that God is using Galina (go back and read her story if you haven't) in a big way to minister to these kids during summer camp! 

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The Simple Things (another rant)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Friends, God continues to stir our hearts.  I can tell you all are praying for us...because Moldova is constantly in our hearts and on our minds...God is doing big things.  BIG THINGS I tell ya!

 Keep praying for us...for clarity...conviction...and courage.

Boys and Crafts:)
Let me tell you more about Cupcui...
If I am repeating myself, I apologize...but this is what I am thinking about right now.
While we were at Providence House in Cupcui, our main goal was to love on some show them that people came from a land far away to just hold them and love them.  While some of us  could spend all day just hugging, we realized that hugging wouldn't fill up the time for many children...they would want something to keep them we planned a little VBS/camp/craft time. I have mentioned in previous posts some of the activities we did.  We made visors, picture frames (more on that later), sun catchers, bracelets, salvation bracelets, we played with play doh, puzzles, bubbles, etc. Just some simple things that would last about 5 minutes with kids in the U.S.  These kids played with play-doh and puzzles for a LONG time.  They enjoyed it...they would race to see who could complete the puzzles fastest, they made 100 different doh shapes.  They laughed the whole time. You know what stands out to me?  These precious kids enjoyed every minute of it.  From age 2-15, male or female, they were captivated by every activity we offered....never once was their a complaint or sardonic attitude.  It was lovely.  Our children (and people) in America (please remember this is an over-hasty generalization) are so over stimulated and desensitized in life that we are constantly looking for the next "big thing".  We need the newest, best, biggest, loudest toy to get our fix....otherwise...we are just bored.  Kids today miss out on the excitement and joy of the simpler things in life. 

Now, I know that I am risking sounding like an 80 year old curmudgeon in saying this...but I think if you scratch the surface of your heart and KNOW that its true.  We are so spoiled here.  I am not pointing fingers...notice I said WE.  I counted myself in it too.   It was so refreshing to see smiles on the faces of 12-15 year old boys as they were painting tiny plastic wind catchers.  It was beautiful to see the smiles of pride on their faces when they showed us the finished products. 

I love that these kids have an appreciation for the simple things.  When you have nothing....the small things really make an impact.    I want you to remember.  These kids have such precious pure hearts.  I wish you all could meet them.  I would LOVE to give them EVERY THING IN the world...all the biggest best and loudest toys...but you know what...BIG toys do NOT equal BIG Love.  Its a lesson I'm learning)  Anyways....I am going to be doing a toy/Christmas Gift drive this while you are out shopping...think of the kids at Providence....if you are led, buy a game or puzzle or other fun toy to send their way (it need not be the biggest, best, technological toy in the world...they will feel the love no matter what you choose).

I know that my few readers are probably tired of my little rants about consumerism and such...but it has just hit me like a ton of bricks...we have TOO much.  It just makes me sad to see our excesses...when there are so many people in the world without.  Truthfully...I don't know how to find balance between what I have SEEN first hand, what I know, and how I act.  Its tough friends.  Everything about our culture enforces the idea of more stuff=more success.  How do we find balance?  I am seeking God's help in this.  I am praying.  I am studying scripture.  I know that not everyone feels convicted like I do about perhaps this is just my battle.  But I am sharing it with you....its just one of the MANY things that Moldova is changing and stirring in me.
P.S.- My next post will NOT be about PLEASE COME BACK TO VISIT.  It was be about Day 2 at the orphanage!!!!

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Arms for Holding

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dear friends...thank you again for bearing with me as I process everything that we experienced in is important for me to take a little detour and think about the road that led us here.  Now I will continue on with our Mission trip story...
On the bottom floor of the orphanage at Cupcui, you will find the office, the cafeteria (that always smells DIVINE!), and 5 small apartments.  PCM is using these 5 small apartments to make a BIG difference in the lives of young mothers...with varying stories...PCM is offering them a Hand Up...Here is one of their stories (no names will be used).  While my menial writing skills can never truly convey all the torment and pain this poor girl experienced...The story is graphic...

One mother, was a victim of sex trafficking.
 At the age of 18, she was sold by her boyfriend into sex slavery in Turkey.  She was kidnapped by her trafficker and taken to a desolate Turkish hotel full of other young women who had been taken as hostages to an industry that is vile and ever growing... 
They were all held...against their wills.
 When this young girl begged her enslaver for release, he beat her and told her that he paid $3500 for her and unless she could pay him back, she belonged to him.  Penniless, she begged for mercy and cried to her captor that she was a virgin.  Instead of a poor, beaten, and broken young girl, the captor saw a business opportunity.  He sold her virginity, her childhood, her innocence to the highest bidder. 

After the loss of her innocence, she cried everyday in her room with the other young girls.  She was used by vile men 5-15 times a day.  She never was allowed out of the hotel...and had no way of leaving that horrible place.  She made friends with some of the employees of that dreadful hotel...and one day...someone saw a way to help.  One of the young men came to her as he was taking out the trash and said...if you leave with me RIGHT NOW...I can help you.  That young man saved her life...he smuggled her from the hotel and helped her find her way back to Moldova...Once she was in Moldova, she found out she was pregnant...and with all that was in her past...she found herself with no where to go...THANKFULLY...she heard about PCM and Providence Orphanage and went there to find help.   PCM and all the amazing people at the orphanage took her in.  In March she had her baby (who is well loved by ALL the people at Providence). 

While she has a safe place to live, that darkness continues to lurk in the shadows of her mind.  How can you escape painful memories of sexual slavery?  Prayer...Pray for this sweet girl...she needs it EVERYDAY!!!  Pray for physical, emotional and spiritual healing...She constantly struggles with self-worth...The evil in the world would like to see this poor woman defeated!  But, I will have none of that!  Every day while we were at Providence, I hugged that precious girl and said to her "Te Iubesc!" - I love you! and "Dumnezeu Te Iubeste!"  God Loves you! 
  My team mate Heather, was particularly moved by the stories of these young mothers.  She ministered to them every day.  She doted on them and loved on them.  Everyday I would catch Heather sneaking away and just holding and hugging on one of the mothers and telling them "Te Iubesc!" over and over...and she would wrap them in her arms like a mother (Heather is too young to be a mother to these girls)...

You know what?...during our week in Moldova...Heather was neither His Hands nor His Feet....She was His arms....for holding.

Heather and Chris loving on one of the babies

Heather with one of the moms (not from the story)


Granny and Missions

Me, My Granny and My Momma at my Granny's nursing home in 2010.
My story of Moldova continues...but I would like to take a quick detour to remember my Granny, Wilma Sasser.  Today would have been her 82nd birthday.   My Granny and my pepaw (yes that is what I called my grandfather) are important to this Moldova missions story for many reasons...My Granny passed away this April after a valiant battle with Alzheimers.  Alzheimers took her memory of her family and friends...but not of her HOLY Father!  She could sing every word to her favorite hymns up until the very end....and she knew she loved Jesus.  I had the PRIVILEGE of assisting the pastors in delivering her Eulogy.  My grandparents were two of the MOST amazing people I ever knew.  Most of who I am today I owe to them in some way or another.  My grandparents were Godly people who always put serving others at the top of their priority list (whether it was driving a sick friend to the hospital, taking someone a meal, or just stopping by to say hello).  They loved God and they loved people and His love and joy SHONE through them.  They were just amazing...and I need you to know the two important connections that they have to Moldova. Pepaw and Granny made sure that I knew who Jesus was from an early age...and they made sure that I had a close relationship with Him.  (They did this by reading the bible with me, teaching my sunday school class, taking me to every VBS in town, and just being amazing examples).  Had they not taught me (and my mother...she is important to my walk too) about Him, who knows what my life would be?  My grandparents were Southern Baptists...and they always participated in the Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon mission offerings.  They would put their plastic rice bowls out and model saving additional money for missions for me...we would talk about missionaries in far off lands around the dinner table.  My granny and pepaw had the biggest hearts for missions of any one I know.  They saved for missions...and they lived out missions in their lives.  In fact, when I was 13 they took me on my VERY FIRST mission trip.  We went to Western Kentucky to help build a church with Carpenters for Christ.  But you know what else my granny did?  She made sure that I had a chance to go serve in inner city Louisville.  Because she knew that I saw a need for relationship building...not just church building.  That woman KNEW my heart.  She knew I needed to connect with people who needed to know the Love of the Father.  That mission trip lit a fire for missions in my heart....In high school and college I volunteered and worked regularly for another mission organization, Appalachia Service Project...My Grandparents introduced me to serving others and serving Him in was all part of the Dream Givers plan (if you haven't already...consider reading Bruce Wilkinson's The Dream Giver)...I am looking forward to how His plan for my life continues to unfold.  I know that my Granny regularly talked with the Dream Giver Himself on my behalf.  On the flight over to Moldova...I had the strangest feeling of warmth come over me...and I looked over at Brian and I said..."you know what B?  Granny and Pepaw would be so proud of me following His call to serve for a short-term mission trip in Moldova."
He continues to call.  How will I answer?

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

After a long and hot first day at the orphanage...we drove back to our little village house in Sarata.  (Its about 10 minutes from Cupcui).  We were all so tired...and stinky...and just full to the brim with love and we were thankful that God picked us to be His hands and His feet this time.  Thankfully, we had indoor plumbing at the village house...and we lined up to take showers and help with dinner.  Chris helped Mia and Nycole make some yummy spaghetti (that's right)...and we paired it with a delicious Moldovan salad.  (This time it was shredded cabbage, mayonnaise, and these snack-type croutons that are sour cream and greenery flavored).  It was yummy.  I bought some of the croutons to bring back and make my own salad.  We all sat around and just contemplated the last two days...they had been amazing and exhausting...and there was still more to come!  While we ate, Mia showed us some videos she had made from the coat drive (many of you may remember me hounding you for your coats this year to send to Moldova:) ).  She showed us several videos...but the coat drive video made me feel broken made me feel filled with righteous made me feel full of love for the faces that were starring blankly back at me.  I won't stop saying it...I am so thankful for Philip Cameron Ministries...I am so glad that they continue to answer the call to practice TRUE RELIGION (according to James 1:27) every day in Moldova...I know that I want to keep on being a part of it.  Whats so amazing is that the kids from Stella's House and Simon's House were the ones to help deliver the coats to orphans throughout was orphans...MINISTERING to orphans.  If that doesn't make you in awe of our God....and break your heart for that Nation..I don't know what will.  In case you didn't know, I am a special education teacher.  One thing I noticed in the video...the kids with disabilities are housed in separate orphanages based on their disability.  There is an orphanage for deaf children, an orphanage for blind children, they are basically categorized in to orphanages.  And...Philip Cameron Ministries did NOT forget the least of these.  They ministered to them as well. I will post a link to the video...when I can find it:) 
Please keep praying from Philip Cameron Ministries (PCM) there is a LOT to do in Moldova.  Pray that God will reveal what our part is:) 

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Day 1

I have so many things to share with many anecdotal stories...but I am trying very hard to stay on topic....those of you who know me...know this is VERY difficult...I am like the little dog in UP...I will be talking to you and all of a sudden.....SQUIRREL!!!  Out of left field some thought over takes my bear with me in love friends.  I want to tell you every experience we had in the the night at the mission Stella's House.
As you can tell, our first day at Providence was amazing.  We spent so much time loving on children.  It was wonderful.  The whole time we were in Moldova we learned more and more about the orphan situation.  It just breaks my heart that there is an orphanage in almost every village.  While the orphanages can be less than wonderful, the situations at home for many of these children are horrible...Some parents will drop their kids off at the orphanage so that they can go on vacation...One of the sets of siblings at Providence lived on bread and sugar for the six months prior to Providence. Once the kids start eating healthy meals 3 times a day...they start to fatten up (which is still trim).  To look at entry day pictures of the kids and to see them now...the change is can see the roundness in their cheeks, the shine in their eyes, the pride in their steps...their lives have been changed by coming to a Christian-run orphanage.  Oh the eternal impact Providence is making!  But, there are still needs...always check out Stella's voice website to see how you can help!

Here are a few more pictures from our first day at Providence...

Heather and Chris with Baby Marianna...
Hey from Moldova!  You get it...HAY???

Kathryn, Baby Mariana, and Valerica

Liuda...and DANU...Isn't he the cutest thing?  Hes soo spoiled too!
Checking out one of the wells in the village.
I now have 19 followers!!! Yeah!  Keep checking back...there is still soooo much to tell!  (Especially all the cool things God is doing!)

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Someone to Watch Over Me

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Friends....its so easy for me to feel lost here.  Moldova has certainly been good for my prayer life.  Last night...I was awake in my bed from 10-12...just praying.  Praying for every child I came in contact with.  I prayed for them all by name...and sent hugs their way...I know that God honored that prayer and that they felt His embrace in a warm breeze or the smile of a friend.  I continue praying, pleading with God to continue to reveal His plan for our lives.  Praying that He will continue to make His path known to us (as opposed to us alerting Him about our plans).  Something that Galina said to me on our first day keeps weighing on my heart....I'm not sure what God is going to do about it...but I know that He is in the business of DOING THINGS and CHANGING I am trusting Him. 

After our walk through the village, Galina and I were talking about her childhood.  Every part of her story breaks my heart.  Go back and read that post if you haven't.  I asked Galina a question...and I never imagined the impact that her response would have on my life...strangely enough...her answer surprised me.   It shouldn't have...but it did.   I asked Galina, as an orphan what had she wanted most.  I was thinking it would be something more physical...a warm bed, warm meal, dry home, etc.  When I asked her what she most wanted...I imagined more a shoot for the've got three wishes kind of answer...and this girl...this girl just wanted someone to be there.  She wanted someone there ....she wanted to know that someone truly cared for her...She wanted someone to truly practice James be there for orphans in their distress...

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Story Time is Story Time...the language doesn't matter

Monday, July 4, 2011

I am back on track...let me tell you about the rest of our first day at the orphanage!
      After a DELICIOUS lunch at the orphanage (seriously all of the food was super yummy!), we waited for the kids to finish their meals.  All of the kids in the orphanage speak Romanian and some Russian and NO English ( or very very little English).  But, Maxim...sweet Maxim...I wish I could hug that child RIGHT THIS SECOND.  I am a hugger I tell ya!  He gave me so many hugs and kisses every day...I feel like he and I communicated through fact there was a picture of me hugging Maxim on the front of our church bulletin last week and my husband commented, "Look, Its Kathryn in her natural habitat....a HUG!"  He gets me :)  (But I digress...back to the story time story).  Maxim found this book in our big blue suitcase and took it to my friend Heather....

       Well...Heather, being the cool girl that she is, started reading that book in English to him!  I would have probably just smiled at Maxim and handed it right back to him...but not my sweet friend Heather...she read it....and they loved it.  It was a book of nursery rhymes!  She eventually drew quite the crowd...about 6 or 7 kids...but being the Early Childhood Teacher that I am I don't have pictures of it...because I was enjoying story time too!  There is nothing like a Read Aloud with a sweet child in your lap.  Heather would ask the kids how to say certain parts in Romanian and the kids LOVED was an interactive Read Aloud (that's for all my Early Childhood peeps- any Children's Lit teacher would have been proud:)
        While my friend Heather did an amazing job telling the story, it really wasn't about the story at was about quality time with children who needed to know that someone thinks that they are worth more than all the story times in the world!

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Freedom...and Movies

Today is the Fourth of July.  A day to celebrate freedom...a day to celebrate the United States of America...and I am thinking about my friends and new family in Moldova.  I can tell you all are praying for me...Moldova is still in my heart every day.  I read two great blogs the other day about bridging the gap between here and there.  Between Moldova and the world that I live in...its a tough to transition back...spiritually, mentally, emotionally...even physically.  I want to talk about it all the every conversation I can think of something I saw or heard or experienced in Moldova...people are going to get tired of hearing about it...but I just can't help it...The two blogs that I read gave me some hope for reconciling and undestanding the difference between here and there...and also lead me to some amazing bible verses that I will be praying over.  You can check them out here and here.  These two bloggers convey my confusions and feelings better than I can.  Please check them out. 

God keeps putting Moldova in my heart in little ways.  Even in the most unsuspecting at the movie theater.  :)  God has such a sense of humor! Today I went to see the movie Monte Carlo with my good friend Mandy and her daughter.  It was a super cute movie...and I was thinking about nothing but living the "American Dream" all through that see the girls travel to Monte Carlo and live in the lap of luxury for a little while...It got me to thinking about all the places that I want to see and things that I want to buy...and well...that's how it seeped in on me...I was thinking about what new clothes I wanted so that I could look this way or that.  I completely forgot all the convictions in my an a PG movie no less!  But, you know what...God is sooo smart...He really is. As I was sitting there thinking about frivolous things...the main character (SPOILER ALERT) ends up volunteering in an orphanage in Romania!!!!  He brought me back from the pit of consumerism  (that sounds a wee bit more harsh than I intended...but I will leave it).  He brought me right back to the reality of the needs of the children in Moldova and all over the world...I am so glad God got me back on track!  Pray that I won't be so easily swayed again!  Keep reading for more about our trip!  Also-keep praying for Summer Camp at is going great!


Friday, July 1, 2011

Well friends...I cannot tell you the story of our mission trip without an occasional side track or soap box rant.  I am so thankful for that though!  That means God is still stirring my heart for Moldova...Keep praying that my passion for these people will stay strong!  Thanks for coming back and reading more!

The kids at Providence are just amazing.  Our first day was really like rainbows and butterflies for me.  I was just so happy to be with the kids.  God just filled me with His love for the children and for the moment.  The sights around me just made my heart explode... The countryside around the orphanage is beautiful rolling fields of poppies, grain, grass, vineyards, etc.  I kept channeling my inner Julie Andrews...I'm serious I could not help myself... I would just spin around and sing at the top of my lungs "THE HILLS  ARE ALIVE...WITH THE SOUND OF MUSIC Aahh ahhh ah ah".  Did the kids look at me funny when I did this?  Yes.  Did my team?  No...they joined in...cause they are awesome like that! 

If I could guess...of all the fun things we did on that first day...and it was a very ACTIVE and busy day...I think the kids loved eating the Dum Dum suckers more than ANYTHING!!!  I promise you those children probably all ate 10 dum dums on that first day.  They were a hit!  Candy is an international language as it turns out.

Do you know what else the kids loved?  Fake tattoos!  Here are some pictures-
Tattoos draw a crowd!

Ionut...look at his arms and legs.

The water wasn't working during our tattoo we used wet wipes to adhere the tattoos...Between those 11 children....we probably used 150 tattoos!  Seriously.  Look at Ionut in the picture.  He has some on his legs and arms...He eventually got tired of us being so slow to put on the he did them himself.  They really loved the tattoos...and we were able to leave some for them to use at a later date.  This is one of my favorite pictures from the day...It is my sweet (and VERY handsome) husband holding baby Pasa while we did the tattoos!

  OK...I could not get this picture to go vertical even though it is vertical on my computer...just turn your head to the side and you can sweet Pasa (pronounced Pasha)  and my hubby...

That's it for now...I still have more to tell come visit my blog again!!!!

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A Day at the Orphanage-SOAPBOX ALERT!!

Ok sweet friends.  I have got to start today's post out with a big shout out to my momma!  She knows that I love words of encouragement and she has posted like 4 or 5 times on my blog.  If you look at the comments, she is Spanish Class 312.  She has also instructed her blog readers to check out my blog.  Thanks MOMMA!  I love you!
Thank you all for encouraging me to do this.  I have had several sweet friends post on my facebook walls and such.  It really does mean a lot to me!   I am sorry I took a few days off from posting.  Galina's story just breaks my heart and I just thought about it and prayed for her. 
As you recall I was telling you a little bit about our very first day at the orphanage.  This post does take a turn for the soapbox later...But I want to begin with my favorite part....meeting the kids!!!!!
Our group was waiting downstairs with a suitcase full of activities just for that one day.  We had already met some young mothers and babies (they are gonna get their own post).  We were all so excited.  I felt like it was Christmas time or something....that kind of excitement....I had been looking forward to meeting this children for MONTHS...I had been looking at pictures of them on Stella's Voice...I had been watching and waiting...My heart was beating a little faster and I was praying to God (again begging Him to use me...and that the kids would like me...hello insecurities...couldn't you leave me alone in Moldova?)
Then the kids came down the stairs....They are beautiful and amazing children.  I promise I heard angels sing...I was that giddy about meeting them.  Some of the children look more Romanian...they have darker skin and dark hair...and some of them look more Russian...lighter hair stronger facial features.  I tell you what you don't see much of...Red Heads :) 
Let me tell you about these kids.  There are the brothers, Maxim and Vadim.  There are the siblings-Catea, Adrian (not like Aydrian...pronounced more like Ahhhdriahn), Valentina, and Ionut (which is short for Vanusia as it turns out...I will tell you about him later...his name alluded me the first 2 days).  There are sisters, Liuda (pronounced Loooda) and Vica (short for Victoria)...and also Valerica and Doina.  Nadia also came to the orphanage while we were there.  I asked each kid "Cum te chiama?"  That means what is your name.  They would smile at my bad romanian pronunciation and then tell me their name...I would then tell them Me chiama Kathryn.  I was so proud of myself:)  These kids range in age from 4-16.  What amazes me...despite the age differences they ALL enjoyed every single craft or game that we presented..While we were there we worked mainly with these 11 kids.  It was so perfect.  The day after we left they took in about 20-3o more kids.  But, we had a chance to spend one on one time with 11 was amazing!!!  God obviously knew that these 11 kids needed us!  As the kids came down the stairs we all got very excited and started digging for things in our suitcase.  We got out jump ropes, bubbles, and balls.  We overloaded them with things to do.  We jumped rope for about 30 minutes.  All the kids and adults tried it:)

Adrian jumping rope
Vica, Valerica, and Liuda enjoying bubble time
We blew bubbles all day long.  Fun fun fun!  I think I enjoyed blowing bubbles just as much as the kids...I have always been fascinated by the beautiful colors that you see in bubbles...the pinks and blues...(but I digress). 
One phrase that I learned BEFORE going to the orphanage is "How do you say this?"  or "Cum se spune?"  I was anxious to soak up some of the language from the I was constantly asking them  "Cum se spune?"  Adrian would answer all my questions about things...and he would correct my pronunciation...I wish I could convey it to you...he cracked me up...he would get so frustrated with my pronunciation of things and he would over enunciate it...and give me this 14 year old look...that said come ON lady!  Despite his frustrations with me, I learned a LOT of romanian words from Adrian. 

Our first day was spent playing with the kids...all day...bonding with them.  We played frisbee with them...we played soccer, we blew bubbles, we just played and played!  It was soooo fun!  This gave us a chance to learn their little personalities!  We learned the phrases "Bravo" and "Foarte Bine"! To tell them "good job"!  These kids are so incredibly athletic...I mean the boys have muscle tone and definition in their arms and pecs starting at a very young age.  These kids don't have access to TVs, game systems, game boys, etc.  Nor do they have a lot of toys...and they don't miss you know what they do?  They play outside...all day...they explore..they teach themselves new skills.  Its just amazing...I don't think I ever heard one of the kids say "I'm bored" like kids do here.  (granted I wouldn't have recognized it if they did.)...but their attitudes are different.  They are thankful for what they have...because many of them come from extreme poverty.  Toys are not important when a child is trying to survive...The family of 4 siblings that I mentioned earlier lived off rations of bread and sugar for the 6 months prior to coming to Providence.  Can you imagine?  We take so much for granted...we think we need appetizers and desserts with our meals...we think we need 700 channels of cable.  What good do these things bring to our lives?
 Going to Moldova (which is sometimes called the Africa of Europe) or Africa or any poor country/location just makes you keenly aware of the fact that we are a country and a people of excesses.  The first week we were back was my birthday (as you may recall).  My thoughts towards birthdays really have changed because of Moldova...(I hope I don't sound to soap boxy right now).  I have always thought that birthdays were crazy important and I put lots of pressure on myself and the people around me to make birthdays important.  It IS important to celebrate the lives of people we love...but perhaps we could be more constructive in our celebrations and less commercial and consumer driven.  Do we really need another piece of jewelry, or another game, or another fashion accessory or whatever it is that people buy you on your birthday?  Do you NEED it?  Really need it?  Does it make an eternal impact on your life?  Does that piece of jewelry validate your existence?  Do you need people to think about you and only you for one day?  If you have a birthday coming up...or are helping someone celebrate a birthday...use it to make a difference in someone else's life...someone who doesn't have clean drinking water, warm winter clothes, clothing, food, toys for a child who doesn't have any, time with a person who needs it...(I had 2 friends use their birthdays last year for Charity Water events) I hope to start using my birthday (and every day) to see that this life is NOT about me.  Its hard...because we are naturally selfish people.  We naturally want everything to be about the individual.  But...that is why there so many hardships for others in the world...we think about ourselves...then our friends and family....and beyond that are brains are just to full to replace it with the problems of people out there in the world.  We are so consumed with the right here and right now...we just can't imagine what is going on in the rest of the world  (or down the street). 
Now..I know that birthdays are not evil...and the birthday party or celebration is an important cultural institution...I don't think buying gifts for other people is a bad thing.  Those of you who know me know that I LOVE buying gifts for people all year!  Its a love language...but I hope that I can channel my gift buying to the people of Moldova...when I feel like I want to surprise someone with a gift...I hope to instead buy a gift and send it to Moldova...that's my plan anyway...I'm gonna pray about it.  Pray for me...that's gonna be a hard habit to break...I love buying people little mementos (that they do not need) to let them know that I love them and I think about them.  I love getting gifts too...they make me feel special...but there are a LOT of other things going on in my life that make me feel special...and I don't need a gift to confirm my specialness:)  I have gone off on a complete rant...I won't apologize...because this has been on my heart...I am not trying to make the people who celebrate birthdays and give gifts feel guilty.  Birthdays are important...Guilt was not my intention at all...I am just letting you know my thoughts on the matter...I want to find new ways to make people feel special all over the world...not just in my little corner.