Archive for October 2014

Strangers and Smiles

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Hello dear readers.  This morning before our Romanian class, we had our usual before class breakfast with our friend and fellow missionary, Lauren.  Yesterday I had purchased what looked like pre-made pancakes....this morning I learned they were a sneaky substitute version filled with jam that tasted like medicine.  It was a wee bit disappointing.  But we still had our bacon that we had saved up for, so all was well.  On the way to class we took our usual walk up the hill to wait for our bus to the city.  This morning was cold for this southern girl.  It was a brisk 23 degrees Farenheit.  Brian and I felt so thankful for the amazing coats that we bought on sale at Kohls in the spring of 2013. (You know they have good sales at Kohls).   We only had on one of the layers of our jacket "systems" and they kept us so warm.  But, it was still quite cold and windy.  The ground was frozen when we left so yesterday's mud did not stick to our feet.  It was an invigorating walk to the bus. 

Today we had our first real test in our Romanian class and I think we aced it (well...Brian aced it and I did well). Afterwards, we stopped for a snack and then headed home.  While walking through the city (just FYI-when I say the city I am always referring to Chisinau, not our town where we live)....anywho.  While we were walking through the city, we were stopped by two strangers who wanted to say hello and speak to us in English.  It was so refreshing to be greeted with a smile and for someone to want to actually interact with us and not gawk at us.  (We get a LOT of rubber necking here-people are always staring or doing double and triple takes at us).    This young woman and young man stopped and spoke to us for a very long time.  Then, after we got on our bus, we were chit chatting and being silly at the back of the bus and a young man began speaking with us in English.  We talked and visited with him for two bus rides.  He is an aspiring writer, like our friend Lauren and he knows several Peace Corps volunteers that are from America that live in our town.  We hope to connect with them through him.  He was just lovely and we thanked him for taking the time to be kind and speak to us and we told him how much that meant to us.   He said he knew that Americans like to smile and greet each other.  (I like that stereotype A LOT).  I hope that we are able to invite him to our church in the near future. 

While it is cold here, God always sends moments that warm our hearts....through unexpected encounters with strangers....hugs from our girls.....and the first snow of the season (there were snow flurries last night- YIPEEE!!!).  God is good all the time.  Love y'all!

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

We have 30 followers now!  Wooo Hoo!  For some of you, that is a small number....but across the pond it is entirely magical to know that we have 30 people who are intentionally reading our blog and want to know what is going on in our corner of the world.   
Let me catch you up.  We have had a very busy few weeks here in Moldova (that just seems to be our new normal...and I like it).  We have had guests come to visit and we have had intensely beautiful fall weather that is about to take a nose dive.  The high for the next few days is 40.  That will be a bit of a shock for this old southern girl.  I have a coat and we have a space heater and we say bring it on Moldovan Fall/Winter!

As I type, the weather outside our window is gray and cold and misty.  My curtains are open and I can see all of our Stella's Houses right before me eyes.   This brightens the dreary a lot for me.  Because I know what these homes mean for our girls.  If you didn't read my blog about Straseni Orphanage, then you should.  I have been back to there twice since my initial visit and it still breaks my heart.   I hope God never lets me become complacent about this orphanage....that I never forget that my girls lived there and that I don't forget that I am personally connected....that it is real. 

This week when we visited, the weather was gray and chilly.  The kids were huddled in the classrooms learning and staying warm and dry.  There were some teachers who smiled at us and put on a good show and then the girls would tell us ghastly stories about the cruel treatment they received at the hands of these women.  Our girls say it so matter of factly.  Like it is some distant memory that happened to someone they don't know.  They are detached from it now. 

This visit, after greeting some of our new friends (remember SPider Man and Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi?), We actually got to tour some of the dormitories where the kids sleep...and they were cold and damp and lonely and my heart cracked open all over again.  The group of rooms we entered into was actually the home for three of the dearest boys I know.  They spent their entire adolescents inside those walls.  We walked into a room with a crumbling ceiling, cold flooring, and beds that had seen better days.  There were five beds in one small room and all of the belongings for all five children all fit into a small closet.  I took a picture of the room with my phone, because I wanted to show you the stark cold feeling of the place.  It was not a place full of love and warmth.   When I looked at the picture on my phone, I felt like my camera was trying to deceive me like the teachers had.  When I looked at the screen, light poured through the one window in the room and cast a warm artificial glow.  I looked from my phone to the actual room several times, perplexed by how the room could fool my phone.  I spent some time in prayer for the few teachers who watch over all 140 children at night.  I pray that God will our out His warmth and His love on them and that they in return will share His love with the kids who call Straseni Home.  If you think of it, pray for the staff there and for all of the dear children who live there and call that orphanage their home.  Pray that God will put teachers, adults, and friends in their lives who will truly show them the warmth and the love of Christ. 

While visiting and forming relationships at Moldova's orphanages often leaves me overwhelmed and broken,  I know this is all part of His plan for me.  He is breaking my heart for the things that break His and I know He will show me what He wants me to do in these situations and with these feelings.  When God breaks our hearts, He shows us how to love His world the way He loves it.  If seeing children in an orphanage without a family, or without warmth or kindness from adults breaks my heart into a million pieces and makes me feel like I am carrying ten thousand tons on my chest and that the floodgates that hold back the tears are at flood level......imagine how our heavenly Father feels when He sees the least of these going unnoticed and unpraised and unloved and forgotten by society.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

As I sit here trying to reflect on the last week to share with brain is a blur. So many moments occurred this week that took my breath, brought a smile, or broke my heart. I think this Monday stands out the most for me, though. We took our guests to Straseni (sounds like Strah shane) orphanage. This complex once "cared for" over 300 children. Now, there are over 100 there. Many of our girls and guys came from this orphanage. Some of the most precious people in my life grew up here and Monday was my first time to visit. I had heard about it-but seeing it first hand was so different.
Several of our girls from our house went with us to Straseni.  These girls are family to us. All three of these girls had grown up there. 
We entered through the gates and I was overwhelmed with how much this place reminded me of something out of a scary novel. There was no life there, just concrete buildings surrounded by trees that seemed to mourn the fact that they were there. Everything seemed concrete and gray...but then we stepped off the bus and were swarmed by this humming buzzing packs of kids who wanted to see the Strainii (foreigners). The group of about 40 kids that surrounded us consisted of children mostly 9-13. They were timid and yet curious all at the same time. They were longing for interactions with others but not quite sure how to approach us. Brian instantly made friends with a little chap named Vasille. His choclatey brown eyes lit up when Brian started using his Romanian skills to speak with him. Several kids came up and as we asked them (in Romanian) "what is your name?" They got creative:) Would you believe that Michael Jackson, Spiderman, Superman, IronMan, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Messi (futbol players) all live at Straseni? 
After spending some time just visiting and talking with the kids outside, we stepped into the halls of the Straseni Orphanage School. My sweet, strong Liuba lead us on a tour. It was the saddest school I have ever been in and I was struggling to reconcile how that energetic group from outside was the same group that filled these cold classrooms. We walked from room to room and spoke to the children. The teachers rarely smiled at us or the students. When we walked into one of the classrooms, an 'afternoon" teacher walked through us and one of our girls visibily shrunk in size as this woman passed by. The girl's eyes went cloudy. She whispered to one of us that this teacher used to beat her regularly. Guys, it is probably good that I was not made privvy to that until after we left that woman's room-I was ready to take off my jewelry and take it to the mats with that woman. I was filled with a righteous anger ,guys.
We continued on through the school and entered more classrooms.  One of the girls then wanted to show us the library.  This girl is so dear to my heart and she loves to read just as much as I do.  We went into the library and she lit up and spoke with the librarian who had been there for a long time.  She then told us that she had spent so much time in there.  I am sure it was a haven for her.  The girls joked that she had read every book there.  I said a prayer of thanksgiving to God for that library and that librarian.  I thanked Him for letting me see a place of sanctuary in the cold and drafty building.
We then toured the buildings where the younger children (ages three to five) went to school and lived.  My heart broke thinking of three year olds living there without a momma to hold them.  I was so over whelmed thinking about my girls (because these girls are our family) being there in that place for most of their lives.  My dear sweet spunky girls.  I held back the tears and I stepped outside away from the group and I prayed that God would rain down His love and His spirit on that place in such a mighty and palpable way.  I thanked Him for bringing our dear girls and guys through this place and for using it to make them stronger in Him.  I thanked Him for allowing me to see it and for breaking my heart...and burning His holy fire in me.  I should tell you about the conditions in the bathrooms and kitchen.  But, I won't.  It would make your stomach turn.  Its so unbelievable some of the things that exist in this world...that we don't realize.  So many children live in conditions like this or worse.  They are pushed aside, forgotten, and liven in subhuman situations.  I want you to feel a righteous anger for the disenfranchised of the world...whether it be in Africa, Asia, Moldova, or in your very own community.  People still feel voiceless.  People are still oppressed.  People are still lacking hope.  I just want to open your eyes up to it...ask God what He would have you do.  

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