Monday, July 10, 2006

Rookies, Rafters, and Roofers

Working on the construction team in Moldova has been an amazing blessing. Most of us had barely used a hammer before we arrived, and now I think we are ready to start our own construction company. I was supposed to post this two days ago, but I guess that fact that I haven't is proof that we have been extremely busy. We started working on Dima's house, which when we started was four really small rooms, a leaky roof, moldy furniture, and garbage everywhere. I guess you can say we did our own little extreme makeover, Rolling Hills style. We had the privilege of working with four of the oldest guys at the camp, plus Dima and his brothers, which they went to work on demoing the roof, the chimney, the ceiling, and the old furniture. We replaced the whole roof, tacked on some new drywall, cleared away three truckloads of garbage, cleared away some bushes, and bought them some new appliances. We spent a lot of time climbing through rafters and balancing across beams to tack in the new roof.

God has really blessed and protected us. We haven't been working in the greatest conditions, but we have been very careful with every step. Lee, our safety expert, has really been on us, "Safety is no accident." It's been great having someone always looking out for us. Dave Shurson had a close call, but only got scratched up. A few bandages and he was back up in the rafters. It has been absolutely an honor to work with all the guys on this team, including our new Moldovan co-workers and friends. We have gained so much wisdom, respect, and love for each other, and we have seen God work through each of us individually.

Everyday we also had a chance to go to the camp for about two hours. It was great to get to know some of the kids, and to see how the other half of our group was sharing the love of Christ with so many kids that needed it. There have been so many breakthroughs and so many reports of kids coming to know Christ. Everybody fell in love with those kids, even the Construction team that only saw them for a total of maybe 8 hours this week, it was extremely hard to say goodbye.

Tomorrow is our last day in Moldova, and we are going over to Dima's house, as a whole group, to pray blessings over it and for God to have his hand of protection on it and all who live there. It is great to see Dima and his friends work on the house and to see them smile, proud of the work they had accomplished. I hope Dima gains a sense of ownership and pride over this house, and will use it to glorify God. Most of all, I pray that Dima will surrender himself to the Lord and use his talents to share Christ with others.

I guess we will see you all in a few days. Goodnight and God Bless from Moldova.


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Day 3

Day 3 of camp was very interesting. Morning worship went really well with a visit from Zachariah and Elizabeth who were anticipating the birth of John the Baptist (who was born in our time machine!). Study groups saw more participation from the kids. We had many deep questions about prayer and how we should talk to God. Each day we see more and more interest in their eyes which is very incouraging. Going along with the theme of prayer, Emily had her girls write down prayer requests on index cards, which were then translated into English. One of the 10 year old girls really touched Emily's heart. Her request was to find a way to learn how to write. She had to have an interpretor write down this request for her. After study groups, we hit a bump in our happy road of camp. All of the supplies brought for the crafts track time were stolen, including the large bottles of craft glue and all of the scissors. At dinner we had a talk about how to approach this tomorrow. We weren't sure if we should simply not do crafts at all, or if we should go on as if nothing had happened and just try to use what we have left. After some consideration we decided that we would have talks with the kids during tomorrows study groups, but continue to try and everything go on as normal as possible. Hopefully we will get through to the kids and show them that by stealing the supplies they caused the rest of thier peers to miss out on some great projects.
The construction team had a great day. Work at the Grace House was completed by part of the team, while the other part went to start working on Dima's home, Alicia's brother. They demolished the roof and ceiling in order to reconstruct it. We need to keep these great men in our prayers as they are working in a dangerous environment inlcuding a good amount of aspestos. Four boys from the camp have joined them and seem to be really enjoying the work. We are so excited that they are there fellowshiping with the men from our church, and hopefully getting some good advice and guidance.
Most of us cannot believe that it is already Friday night. Our time here is going so quickly, and our hearts are being stolen from us even quicker. We are feeling all of your prayers and look forward to seeing everyone soon. Hugs and kisses are being sent to all of our friends and families. God Bless.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Things are looking up!

Our God is an awesome God! Things are really coming together in Moldova. Our Falesti team finally arrived last night after days of traveling through numerous airports in Europe! I went to the airport last night and found my luggage in a small closet in the Moldovan airport, yeah! I can not express the rejoicing that went on in my heart when I saw my two bags. Alicia (Tamy and Jerry's daughter) got her Visa renewed today even though there were many obstacles which made the odds slim and none. Can you picture Tammy running down the streets of downtown Chisnau with important documents clutched in one hand and her flip flops in the other as she tried to meet the deadline? Well she did not make the deadline but she was given a time to come back in the afternoon, which never has been allowed. God really came through and Alicia will be returning to Franklin will all of us. Praise God for his graciousness.

Liz and I were sick for the first few days but we are feeling better and the whole team had an incredible day at camp today. There is no way to really express how amazing it is to be with these precious children who have so little to claim as there own and yet have so much love to give. We all shared tonight about how they give us their snacks, the pictures they have drawn, photographs of themselves and on and on. Jeff challanged us tonight to live our lives everyday as generous and as loving as these children who litterally have nothing. We are starting to feel closer to some of the kids as we get to know them better and they begin to open up. Emily Lamkin was able to speak to one of the older girls tonight who is making the important decision of asking Christ into her heart. We all rejoiced that God is working in the hearts of these children. I was in amazement this afternoon as I looked around at all of the kids and adults just hanging out and dancing in the gazebo at camp. A smile was on just about every face and lots of hugging and holding of hands created an atmosphere of the kind of connection and love that God longs for. My heart was full in a way that I have not experienced before and I wanted to share it with each one of those precious children. They have not done anything to earn that but that feeling was overwhelming. I think that is how God feels about each of us as his children. I am so thankful that he chose me to be in this place. I will not say it has been easy by any means, but it would not be nearly as meaningful if it was all easy because I have really had to deepen my relationship with God just to be able to do this in difficult circumstances.

The construction team had a great day today and are all working well together. Some of the older boys from camp were able to work with them and see a great example teamwork and cooperation. We are all together tonight playing phase ten, a fun card game. Can you hear the laughter in the US? We are all laughing and having so much fun spending time together as we get to know each other more each day. Just so you know, Jon Merryman is hillarious!!! Another highlight today was that we visited a museum after lunch and were all suprised that it was great! We were not expecting much but it was full of all kinds of interesting exhibits. We believe it is important to have fun while doing Gods work!
Keep us in your prayers, God is doing a great work here.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Buna from Moldova! We have gotten a good night's sleep after a long day(s)? of travel. God has blessed us with beautiful weather, a little cooler than usual, with a breeze. After a wonderful breakfast of french toast, cereals, juices, yogurts and fruits, we acclimated into being in Moldova by touring a Monastary this morning and viewing the inner cave openings and witnessing a monk living within the cave dwelling. The view was breathtaking and quite thought provoking. (Just don't chew gum while inside - trust me!) From there it was lunch at the pizza place, which by the way, is very good here. We came back to the team house and met our translators for the week. It was a warm reunion for many of us. Then we loaded up the vans and drove to camp! The anticipation was thick as most of us awaited reunions with 'our kids'. For those on their first trip, they were not disappointed by the attention shown. There were a lot of new faces at the camp this year, but love abounded as before. We hugged and laughed and worshipped with them and then we had to leave camp to come back for a delicious dinner prepared by our lovely Lilia...the construction team ate at the home where they are staying.

The constuction team got some good news today..they are actually going to get to work on the transition house (Grace House). W start camp tomorrow morning and it is almost midnight here and the team is still heavily preparing and working out plans for tomorrow.

I am excited about what the Lord is going to do here. Satan has already thrown up so many obstacles, that He is bound to be about to do something powerful here! From passports not showing up to missing luggage to laminating machines not working properly to typical travel bugs...we are proving that the Lord is in control and is overcoming each and every one.

Continue to be in prayer for us to make an impact on these children's lives for Christ and for the constuction team as they begin their work tomorrow as well.'s past bedtime here...Buna Sera...(good night)

PS - Happy Birthday America!!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Mission to Moldova 2006

Well, for those of you who don't know, we've just started another year's mission trip to Moldova. This year there are three teams, two to do camp and one doing construction. We'll have a camp going on in Falesti and Chisnau again this year, and the construction team will be working in Chisnau along with the camp team. So far, only the Chisnau teams have made it to Moldova. The team going to Falesti had their original flight cancelled. Sunday night, they flew to DC and stayed the night there. Monday morning, they flew to Frankfurt, Germany, and they will leave there soon to go to Vienna. They will spend the night there and leave tomorrow to come to Chisnau. They should be here tomorrow at 4:40pm (that's 8:40am for those of you back in the States). Then they'll make their 3 hour drive to Falesti. They'll have to adjust their schedule, but they'll still be able to have all five days of camp. As for those of us already here, we'll be visiting the kids this afternoon, as well as making further preparations for camp, which will start full tomorrow. Be praying for the construction team as they figure out exactly what all they'll be doing. Also, there's a couple of our team members here who could use your prayer. Ruthie Mulliniks lost her luggage, so be praying that that will show up soon; and Liz Gregory has gotten sick, so please pray that she'll start feeling better soon. The rest of us are doing well, and we all appreciate your prayers and support. Well, we're all about to meet and have a group Bible study, so I'll going to end this report here. We'll try to make regular reports through the week, so be sure to keep checking the blog. Alright, gotta go. Bye for now.

We're here!

After a long day of travel, we've arrived safely here in Moldova. We look forward to seeing how God is going to use us. Thanks so much for your prayers; they mean a lot! More updates to come soon...

Friday, August 05, 2005

A Moldovan's Experience

The following is from Moldovan resident and translator, Denis Males:

About my experiences during those 3 weeks at the camp; each of them was unique. Because of the people mostly. I met new people and I made new friends. But the most impressive thing that I will never forget are the kids that I met in the camp. I mean, you learn to be thankful for your family and for the life style you have, and understand that you have to stop taking all this for granted and have to start thanking God for every single thing that makes your life easier...It was a very special time for me...all the 3 weeks...I'm not sure if i will ever have the chance to do it again, but if so, I'm looking forward to that, and I'll be glad to help again and learn more stuff through all the experiences.

Monday, August 01, 2005

broken winged angel

broken winged angel
Originally uploaded by Kevin Smith.
This statue was in the marketplace in Moldova, and I realize now that it's actually a good parallel to the country of Moldova. In my post titled "Reflections" I described Moldova as a beautiful country with great potential, though corruption and poverty have taken hold of it. Moldova is an angel with broken wings. Further parallels lie in the story behind this statue. Denis informed me that the face is the likeness of an author, and the angel with broken wings is from his most famous story. In this story, a woman falls in love with the North star, who happens to be an Angel. He can come down from the Heavens to be with his love during the day, but at night he must return to the sky. He asks God if he can come to Earth permanently, and God grants his wish. Upon arriving to Earth, he finds that his love is having an affair. He is so upset that he returns to his place in the Heavens and breaks his wings so that he may never return to the Earth again (this last part I made up, just to give it an ending and to explain the broken wings part, but I imagine the actual ending isn't much different). This story parallels not only with Moldova, but with all mankind. God is like the angel, and we are the woman. We forsook our true Heavenly love for Earthly lovers. Thankfully, our story can have a happy ending, as our angel desires to take us back. It is we who are broken; not him. And God wishes to restore us. If you notice in the picture, the gaps in the trees behind the statue vaguely take the shape of wings. This is just a glimpse of the restoring power of God. And if God can restore us for leaving him, certainly he can restore the country of Moldova.

Friday, July 29, 2005

For Petru's Sake

His was the first name I remembered. I never even asked him for it; didn't have to. Denis called his name while we were all playing a game. This was Tuesday, even before the first official day of camp. When Denis called Petru's name, my first thought was of my friend Pete. Then, when I looked at the boy, I saw that he kind of looked like Pete. Thus his name was ingrained in my memory. Petru was young; around eight or nine, I'd say. With a perpetual smile on his face, he certainly didn't fit the stereotype of a sad little orphan. He could entertain himself easily with a ball or a single small balloon, or if he had nothing, cartwheels and handstands would be enough. Because of him, I learned I could do cartwheels too, as well as walk on my hands, do somersaults, and even do the worm. And although none of this in any way resembled breakdancing, this was still what the kids chanted when they wanted to see me risk causing myself bodily harm. But Petru was never afraid to risk bodily harm, so neither was I (he actually swatted a bee in the grass and then picked it up and played with it while it squirmed between his fingers). On Friday during recreation we brought out the Frisbee. I'm a big fan of Frisbee. Petru seemed to like it too, and for a boy of his size, he was pretty good... actually, for a boy of my size, he was pretty good. For Sunday, the last day of camp, we had a giant relay planned, and one of the games involved Frisbee throwing. On Saturday, I was placed in charge of recruiting people for the Frisbee relay, so clearly my first pick was Petru. He was so excited to be asked, and all day he was coming to me saying "Frisbee, mane?" which means tomorrow (moo-way-nay is much closer to the correct pronunciation than whatever it is you were thinking). Sunday came, and still he kept saying "Frisbee, Frisbee," and I had to keep assuring him "yes, later." Finally the time for the big relay came. Now, the way it worked is that there were three big teams, each with people assigned to each of the events As soon as your people finish their event , the whole team runs to the next event and tries to get a head start over the other teams. Basically, it's a relay of relays. Well, the Frisbee portion was close to the end and, as I understand it, was supposed to work like this: the entire team fills the volley ball court while all the Frisbee participants line up down the soccer field, each a good distance from the player before them. The first one throws a Frisbee to the second, but if it doesn't make it all the way, they have to go to where the Frisbee fell and try again until it makes it to the next person. This continues until the Frisbee reaches the last person. Sounds easy enough, right? One problem, though; there were no markers for where the participants would stand, nor was there anyone there to tell us how it worked. So while I'm trying to get my Frisbee people together in order to figure out where they should go to start the relay, our pastor Jeff is just having them spread out inside the volleyball court tossing the Frisbee around. Although Jeff completely misunderstood the concept of the game, I had a more pressing issue to deal with: my star player, Petru, was nowhere to be found. I heard Jeff yelling "Petru, throw the Frisbee, Petru, throw the Frisbee," but I didn't see Petru. Then I looked around and noticed him walking off the field and through a gate to sit behind a fence. I followed him out there to find him in tears, so I rushed back to the group and screamed for Denis. After a few tries, my voice was finally heard above the din of ridiculously loud kids with too much energy, and Denis came to my aid. Upon talking with Petru, we learned he was crying because he wasn't getting to do the Frisbee game. It turned out that amid the chaos, Jeff had grabbed some other kid and was calling him Petru (to Jeff's defense, they were about the same size and both had dark hair and white t-shirts). He had been so excited for the past two days, and then he didn't even get to do it. The teams had moved on to other relays, and I didn't care. I just took a Frisbee and started playing with Petru, We forgot about everything else and just played together. His face grew much brighter as we played. The relay ended and the call for small groups came. So we halted our game and proceeded to group time. First, though, I snagged a Frisbee and set it aside to give to Petru before we left. During small group time, Petru had trouble focusing. He eventually wandered off and continued to wander throughout worship. He was clearly still bothered by the events of that evening. When worship ended, I was with Artiom. I sent him along with some other boys to the vans to wait for me while I spoke to Petru. When I found Petru wandering, his arms were completely covering his face and he was crying into his elbows. Denis and I, as well as one of the older girls at the camp whose name I never got, took Petru aside and tried to talk to him. But Petru refused to lower his arms. I took out the Frisbee and laid it in his lap, and I told him it was a gift for him. I told him that even if the Frisbee broke or got lost or was stolen, it didn't matter. What mattered was that I cared for him and that I would be praying for him. The girl was in tears, pleading with Petru to lower his arms, but he wouldn't. All I wanted was a hug before I left and to see his face one last time. I think he was crying harder, but his tears still fell inside his elbows. I put my arms around him and told him good bye. I used the Moldovan word for good bye that indicated I would not be coming back. "La revedereh, Petru." I said it a few times, then walked away. Denis and I were the last to reach the vans. I placed my bags on my van, then came back out to say goodbye to all the kids. I had Artiom and others write down their first and last names so I could write them letters. One little boy, Avram, was bawling his eyes out, soaking his little blue shirt with tears. I barely even spent time with him all week, but Denis said the boy did this with every group that came to the camp. Still, I got his name and gave him a hug. I got Seergiu's name, and his twin brother, Jon's. Everyone else was on the vans, and even Denis went to get on his. I made my way to the door of my van and sat my notebook inside. Instead of stepping in, I took one last moment to turn and look at all the kids. The exact second I completed the turn, my body was shaken from the waist down by some kid latching on for one last hug. I assumed it was Avram, because he was the only one of my boys there who was that small. But when I looked down, I saw a little dark haired boy in a white t-shirt. I wonder if Petru could feel the salty drops of water that cascaded from my eyes and splashed on the top of his little head. I hugged him tightly, I stepped on the van, and we drove away from the orphans. I wonder how he's doing, wonder if he's putting that Frisbee to good use. I've kept my promise to pray for him, and I hope he remembers how much I care about him. I wonder if Petru can feel the tears that are falling now.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Two for the Price of the One

I'd never led anyone to the Lord... not directly, at least. Last week I led two. Saturday evening, Jon ended his message by telling the kids to come talk to any of us if they wanted to know more about becoming a Christian, or if they just wanted to talk. Shortly after the kids disbursed, one of them grabbed my hand and led me to Dorel, who was one of the translators. The boy said to me plain and simple, "I want to ask Jesus in my heart." So, Dorel and I took him aside, and I talked to him about what it means to be a Christian. He seemed to understand, so I prayed with him as he accepted Christ. Afterwards, I had to find out what the kid's name was, so I tried asking other people first, but in the end, I think it was pretty obvious to him that I didn't know his name. Thankfully, though, he's a twin, so he probably assumed I just didn't know which one he was (His name is Seergiu, by the way). The second kid accepted Christ on Sunday night, though his story starts much earlier. Wednesday, the first day of camp, I met Artiom (though I thought his name was something more like Artudo). I was kicking a ball around for a while with a group of kids and I got tired, so I sat down on the hill for a break. Artiom, who had been playing also, came and sat down right next to me. He didn't say anything, so I figured I'd have to start the conversation. I pulled out my list of Moldovan phrases and began talking to him. Once I'd tapped the list of relevant things to say (which was almost immediately) I went in search of a translator. Denis was busy with someone else, as were many of the translators I saw. Finally, I noticed Sergiu (not to be confused with Seergiu, or with the numerous other Sergiu's we encountered on this trip). He had a few kids around him, but no one he was translating for, so Artiom and I sat down beside him. We talked a little, though not about anything special. Worship time came before we could really get in deeper. The next day around the same time, Artiom was hovering close by again. But this time, so was Denis, so I didn't have to search at all for a translator. We all sat and talked, and I learned that Artiom had been at the orphanage for two years while his mom was in Germany. She still talked to him, though, and sent him gifts, such as roller blades, so he's much better off than many of the other kids there. She tells him she's getting the paperwork together to take him with her to Germany this coming February. At this point, Artiom had to go do chores, and I didn't see him again that day. He wasn't around much the next day, either. Saturday morning, he asked if I would give him my watch the next day. I had bought the watch the week before the trip with every intention of leaving it with a kid in Moldova, so I had no problem with that. We spent some time together that day, but not a whole lot. Sunday came, the final day. During our small groups in the evening, I saw Artiom sitting a ways off. He looked as though he'd been crying. I invited him to join the group, but he didn't want to. After groups, we had worship, and again Artiom just sat in the distance, red eyed and droopy faced. Once I finished with drama, I went and sat next to him. Without words, I removed my watch and placed it on his wrist. Tears began falling from his eyes as they were welling up in mine. I gestured for him to come join worship, and we both went and sat at the steps to the gazebo. During the first song we heard, I noticed Denis sitting at the perimeter. He would be easy for me to get to, and for once he didn't have any little girls attached to him. I gestured for Artiom to stay while I grabbed Denis. The three of us went to a bench to talk. I told Artiom he was a good kid and that he reminded me a lot of myself. I then pointed to a bracelet he was wearing which said "Jesus is the Light." I asked if he knew what it said, and he didn't. Denis translated the words, but Artiom still didn't know what it meant. I told him that the world is a very dark place and everyone is just stumbling around in it with no idea where they're going. But Jesus is a light in this world, helping us to find our purpose, our path. If we ask Jesus to come into our heart, then we have that light inside of us, guiding and directing us. I asked if he had that light inside of him; he said he didn't. I asked if he would like to; he said he would, but that he couldn't. I asked him "Why not?" and he simply replied that he didn't know what to say. So, I led him in a prayer and he accepted Christ. It was time for us to leave, but I still had one more kid I needed to talk to.... Tomorrow's story: For Petru's Sake.

Processing Falesti

We didn’t blog a lot from Falesti. We didn’t have access to a computer so the few posts we were able to make were mostly updates and pleas for prayer. I want to revisit Falesti for a minute- so read on if you’re interested.

Coming home from this experience and wading through the emotions and lessons of Moldova is sometimes a bigger task than the actual mission trip. In my processing mode, which is feeling a bit more like group therapy, I’m realizing more about God and how BIG He really is and was to our team.

We received several bleak reports before leaving for Falesti. The teams before us from other churches had trouble upon trouble. Our Rolling Hills Falesti team never really flenched at any of the news we received. At moments, we laughed about it and thought we were in for the experience our our lives. Nobody ever seemed worried about the conditions- everyone was willing. I think, for the most part, we resolved before leaving that our trip would be successful. I don’t think anyone ever considered that our bags wouldn’t get there, we might get rained out, etc. I’m impressed with the faith of this group and the confidence they have in God.

Each day, I would catch my teammates in action and see Christ radiating from them. They loved each other and the children so well. What happened in Falesti was special. I have no doubt that it was what it was because of our church’s and team’s commitment to prayer. Thank you Allison, for following God's lead regarding prayer. It made all the difference.

One thing that I feel so compelled to talk about is the extravagant nature of our God. When I think about God and Falesti, extravagant is the word that resonates with me. Extravagant. God’s blessings, His mercy, His protection, His presence, His love… all of it was extravagant. Far more than we expected and extrodinarily more than we deserve. I hope as you are processing and rethinking our moments in Falesti, you will dwell on how extravagant God was. What we experienced was not ordinary. Please think on it for a while- rethink all the ways God answered our prayers. Rethink all the times we had to stop and praise God because He was far exceeding our expectations. I hope thinking about it leaves you with a grateful heart. My greatest hope is that we will embrace His extravagant love in our day-to-day lives now that we are home. Let's encourage each other in that effort.


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Found in Translation

Separation is hard, especially when you're close. My friends have always been incredibly important to me, but my track record currently shows that separation geographically typically means a loss of friendship, or at least a loss of closeness. There is, however, one glaring contradiction to this rule in that of my friend Beth, who has been praying diligently for our mission to Moldova. She has always lived hours away from me, and yet we've stayed in contact and have even grown closer through the years. It is this example that gives me hope for future separation from friends, hope that these friendships might last as well. I made a friend last week. I'm not usually got at making friends, but this one was easy. He was my translator, Denis. Since we were working together, we got to spend a lot of time with each other. I know him better now than even some of those from our own group. We had a lot of fun together and we grew rather close, possibly as close as two people can become within one week of knowing each other. Since my return, we've already e-mailed each other. I hope this contact will continue, even though I've never tried to maintain a friendship from this great a distance. In any case, my friendship with Denis Males is one memory from Moldova that I will always look fondly on. Tomorrow's story: Two for the Price of the One.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Well, we all made it back safely to the states, and yet the memory of Moldova still resonates deeply in my mind. I remember my first impression of the country as we were flying over it preparing to land. When I looked out the window of the plane, I was completely stunned by how beautiful the place was. This was probably the most shocking experience I had during the whole trip. The desolate wasteland of a country I had imagined did not exist. Here, instead, was the beauty and splendor of God. Now, don't misunderstand me; the social and economic conditions there are far from beautiful. But physically, I could see that this country has amazing potential to be such a wonderful place, and yet it is nothing more than an unnoticed hole on the map, if it even gets a place on the map at all. For me, however, Moldova will a ways hold a very special place. Three key experiences led to this fond rememberance of a country for which many find little to be fond of. In order to tell these stories the best that I can, I'll need more time. For this reason, I will post them daily, one at a time. Tomorrow's story: Found in Translation.

Monday, July 25, 2005

All Glory to our God! - Jeff Simmons

Our God continues to do an incredible work here in Moldova! God has answered prayer after prayer, and what a joy to be a part of what He is doing in this country! Yesterday, our last day at Camp with the children, was amazing! We experienced the joy of sharing Christ with the children, and seeing many respond. Out of fourteen in our small group Kevin and I were leading four gave their hearts to Christ this week. What a joy! They were so excited! In addition, we saw God continue to strengthen and disciple many who have accepted Christ in years past. For me to see Vitali, a fifteen year-old, in my group last year - to see him still remembering his decision and walking with the Lord was encouraging! These children are all so precious! We all fell in love with them, and we pray they truly saw Christ this week through us!

Along with Camp, we also continue to see God provide in countless other ways. First of all, Jerry and Tammy Teige received news today that Olessa got approved from the Minister of Education here in Moldova to be adopted by them! Praise God! They are so excited. They just found out today, so it will be next week sometime before she can come to her new "home." Also, today we were able to see the "Transitional Living House" which has been a dream for CERI (Children's Emergency Relief International) and for us as a church. CERI finalized the purchase on Tuesday, and we were able to go today and see the place that God is going to use in a powerful way to impact the lives of many precious girls who get kicked out of the orphanage at sixteen. We took chalk and wrote prayers throughout the house.

Our God is so good! He has heard our prayers and blessed with beautiful weather, hardly anyone on our team being very sick, and truly impacting the children in Moldova. And, the fun part is that this is only the beginning! I love dreaming about how God is going to continue to use His church to transform this country. I love our God so much, and I love being a part of a church so committed to living out His commands to "take care of widows and orphans." Thank you, church, for praying, going, loving and giving. You are so wonderful, and all glory to our God!


Update and Some Logistics

I just heard from Heather and this is what she had to say about Tammy and Jerry's Meeting:
"they got an approval from the minister of education! yeah! and now it goes to internal affairs which will take a week- and from there it will go to the embassy. if it makes it past internal affairs it should be done- the embassy is just a formatalite and they usually agree with whatever the other two people say. right now tammy is deciding if she is going to wait here a week and take the chance that everything will go through and she take taker her home or wait a month and steve will bring her home. so they got some positive news to keep them encouraged in the process but it is not over yet."
So continue to pray for Tammy as she is making these decisions and as the paperwork continues!

The team also had the opportunity to go and pray over the transitional house. They were able to prayerwalk and use chalk to write scriputre throughout the house. I am sure that was unbelievable and I cant wait to hear more!

I wanted to include the travel times so that you can be praying the team home. I beleive these are correct so forgive me if not and I will correct later!
Chisnau 6:30-local time/ 11:30 pm nashville time
Amsterdam 10:55-local time/4:00 am nashville time
Atlanta 5:55-local time/4:55 pm nashville time
Nashville 6:01(yeah)

I will try to update these times if we find out about delays.
Have a great day or evening depending on what part of the world you are in today!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Final Day of Camp

Today was the final day of camp and it was bittersweet. We have loved and laughed and prayed and sang and hugged and danced and played with these kids all week and we are tired, but we also realize that there is still so much more to be done!

I thank God for allowing me the opportunity to be loved so unconditionally this week by these kids (even if I didn't have guma)?! It has been truly an amazing experience and God has moved in ways that we couldn't have imagined. We've seen children come to know the Lord for the first time! We've seen some make re-committments in their walk with the Lord. We've seen the weather conditions be perfect for an outdoor camp all week. We've seen chaos turn into worship!

Today, we did our normal routine with morning worship, then activities (arts & crafts, musica and rec). Then we broke for lunch and presented the translators and drivers (that have been essential this week) with appreciation gifts. We had a couple of hours of free time where some prayer walked and some got some much needed rest and some even walked to see the huge sunflower fields above the camp. After freetime, we spoke with the girls about the growing problem of trafficking in Moldova and had a very productive meeting with them. Then, we had a HUGE relay race between all the activity teams (yellow, green and purple teams). There were 10 activites (ranging from frisbee relay to 3-legged race to dizzy bat to...) and I am proud to annouce that the yellow team was the winner! We then broke to our Bible study groups where we had our last lesson with them and said our goodbyes to them. Then we had a wonderful worship service. We sang songs that were being sung in both English and Romanian. (I wonder if that is what heaven will be like?) It was wonderful! Jon brought his last message to the children and then we all left as a group. Tears flowing and hugging and hugging again!

My prayer is that we made as much difference in their hearts as I know they did in ours!

Thank you God!

Message from the team

Hey I wanted to pass on some prayer request that I just received from the team still in Moldova. They said camp ended well but there is still much to pray for.

Jerry and Tammy have been meeting with officials all week trying to get Olesa, one of the orphans, to come home with them. They have been trying for some time and really this is the last attempt before they leave the country. This is not the last attempt ever but it would be amazing for her to be able to fly home with the team. The meeting will occur sometime around noon and before 4:00. So pray over this time diligently. Pray for Jerry and Tammy to have great hope and for ultimately for God to walk with them and lead them to do the right think. Also pray for Olesa and her two brothers as this is an emotional rollercoaster and it is really unsure what will happen. This is a huge life change that could occur so pray that God is guarding her body, soul, mind and spirit.

Also pray for the team as they will visit another orphanage tomorrow and have the opporutnity to do some silent prayerwalking over the facility. Join them in this amazing opportunity.

Pray over travels as well.

Love and Apprciate you all so much. It was so good to be back in Worship with the Body of Rolling Hills this moring. Team Internat we cant wait to join with you on Tuesday and hear how God has transformed your life! Peace and Rest on your journey home.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Our Great God - Words from Gretchen

10:30 p.m. - We just finished a friendly game of Moldovan Mafia - and while I'm not sure exactly what was going on with the whole thing, there was lots of laughter in the room. This was preceeded by a really fun run through the rain down the hill to buy ice cream - as we ran, we jumped in puddles, splashed, soaked each other, and laughed. Reflecting on it now, I think it was a chance to live out some of what these children haven't been able to - experiencing a little bit of the childhood that has been taken away from them. It's amazing what these children are aware of - in their own lives, in our lives, about God. I think we really saw this in the afternoon today. Our team had a prayer treasure hunt with the kids - we had four stations that the kids rotated through - confession, thanksgiving, supplication, and praise. How amazing to watch children write out their own confession of sin, to hear them name the things that they were thankful for, to listen as they read psalm 23 screaming their own name out in place of "me", and then to watch as they wrote names of God and drew pictures in praise to God on the concrete. It was so meaningful to see them write things like: He is my friend, He is my hope, He is my provider, The Truth, Light. Probably the most touching for me was "He is my shelter" with a house sketched out next to it. How beautiful that a child who spends her summer in a tiny house, sleeping on a bed that is tattered and sagging, wearing the same clothes that she puts on every day sees God as her shelter. We have prayed many times this week about the idea of refuge. We have seen God answer those prayers as we realized this week that God seems to be using this particular camp as a refuge for children who have no safe place, no real hope, and no consistent caregiver. For children who have nothing in their lives that looks like God - no one who is father to them, no provider, no shepherd, no constant - it humbles me to think that in spite of their circumstances, they can still see God as these things. I want to be like this - I want to be able to see past my circumstances into a God that is bigger, that is all powerful, that hears all, that knows all, that works in spite of me, that provides what I need, that always loves me and always takes me back. I pray this for all of us - that we can learn from these kids about the greatness of God. We have been listening over and over on our van rides to and from camp to the song "Our Great God" - I love the words - they say, "Eternal God unchanging, mysterious and unknown, your boundless love unfailing in grace and mercy shown, bright seraphim in endless flight around your glorious throne, they raise their voices day and night in praise to Him alone. Hallelujah Glory be to our Great God." I pray that we can see God like this - and that we can be those seraphim around His throne singing praise day and night to the greatness of our God.

God continues to answer the prayers that you are all praying on our behalf and for that we are so thankful. Thank you for praying for us throughout the day today. God kept children attentive during morning Bible study, held off the rain during the day, prompted children into meaningful conversation with team members, and led us into worship this evening with music and drama and words from Jon. After that, we saw God move so powerfully in the children during the prayer experience (which I was talking about above) - keeping them quiet, drawing them into prayer, giving them a sense of His presence and who He is to them, even opening up the cloudy sky just above the pavement where the names of God were written to reveal the brightest bluest color you have ever seen. As we watched, it was difficult for us not to be moved in the same way He was moving the children - we felt the quiet, we felt drawn in, we sense His presence and realized more of who He is to us.

We love you and are so thankful for you.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Internat #2 7-22-05

Hello from Chisinau! We have finshed 2 full days of camp. We are just about to have breakfast (including french toast!) and head out for day 3. Today the Bible study lesson is about the prodical son and is the day we will try to present the plan of salvation. Please pray for our groups today and for evening worship which will happen a little earlier than usual. . . around 5:30 pm (9:30 am your time). Then we are going to do a really cool prayer fellowship with the groups after worship. The kids seem to have a hard time with prayer so PLEASE PRAY that this will go well. It will start around 10:15 am your time on Friday. Two boys that MK and Jon sponsor weren't at camp this week. We were really disappointed. Jon made a phone call and went to pick them up yesterday. So we will get to spend a few days with Nicolae and Gleb and we're excited about that. Ok, gotta get going. Thanks so much for keeping up with what is going on here and for your prayers.