Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Final Flights to TX and Home...Day 9

The trip has come to Moldova has come to an end.  All went smoothly with the long flight from Paris to Houston, TX.  I watched one movie: THE KING'S SPEECH and really enjoyed it.

Most of the time I read a book I've had on my shelf for quite some time.  It is BOLD AS A LAMB by Ken Anderson.  It is the true story of Pastor Samuel Lamb and the underground church of China.  I am incredibly challenged by the life of this man who was imprisoned more than once because of his commitment to the Lord - one time for 20 years of hard labor.  The only Bible he had during his imprisonments was the scripture he had memorized.  He had memorized most of the New Testament plus Psalms and other portions of the Old Testament.  I cannot say I have any where near that much scripture memorized.

We arrived in Houston on Sunday and were able to get to the hotel where our car was parked and found everything just fine with that.  Joanna was with Sarah and me.  She was booked for a flight from Houston to Orlando, FL early Monday morning.  We booked a room at a hotel near Hobby airport and drove across Houston to check in for the night.

We contacted my niece, Kristelle and her family who live in Houston.  They came to meet us at a restaurant for supper.  (I am sorry my camera takes out of focus photos inside.)

We had a great visit though we were close to falling asleep after traveling so far that day.
Out of focus but you can get a hint of our group.
The next morning, I accompanied granddaughter Joanna to her flight out of Hobby.  She was on her way to meet a friend and her family and attend a Leadership camp for high school students in Orlando, FL.  She did arrive there safely.  After she left, Sarah and I packed our bags and headed for Kerrville - a 4+ hour drive.  It's very good to be home and reunited with my honey.

I am very grateful that God allowed me to have another safe and meaningful trip to Moldova.  CERI is doing wonderful work there and the children and families they serve are being blessed and guided well.  It was a very special week to get to know the girl we now sponsor.

How wonderful to know that God is with her as she grows and learns more about being in relationship with Him.

Thank you for prayers as our team traveled and served.  We felt God's presence and knew His provision.  We are grateful.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Saturday Return Travel...Day 8

We had the morning to prepare for departure from Chisinau, Moldova so were ready by noon for departure to the airport.  Getting checked in and through security check went smoothly.  We had a little Moldovan money left so got some food at the airport.  Our 1 hour flight had some significant turbulence which Joanna thought was lots of fun - others in our group had a different opinion but we landed safely.  Friends of CERI picked us up and dropped us off in light rain at our hotel.

With the wise and capable planning of our team leader, Dearing Garner, a great rate was found for a night at the International Hotel in Bucharest, Romania.  We Worden gals have a comfortable room
and enjoyed supper in the lounge on the 21st floor.  Our room is on the 17th floor. The sunhas come out so we can look out over the city and see clearly.

We'll be getting up at 3:45 to prepare for the airport.  We will fly to Paris and then on to Houston.
Lovely lobby...
So thankful to be traveling with these dear gals - Granddaughter Joanna & daughter Sarah


Cloudy arrival...
From the 17th floor...
Supper in the lounge...
Clear skies...
Bucharest center...
Time to snooze...


Friday, June 16, 2017

Orhei Vechi Monastery, Ethnic Restaurant, Saying Good-bye, Shopping...Day 7

Our last full day in Moldova has been very special.  Instead of spending our day with a service project and sharing our time with many children, we had this day to concentrate exclusively on the child we are sponsoring/mentoring and have gotten to know at a deeper level this week.  We left the team house about 9AM and drove on roads winding through rich farmland for an hour in order to reach Orhei Vechie Monastery.  This 13th Century cave monastery is very fascinating and affords a spectacular view of the surrounding hills and valleys.  I had been there previously but some in our group had not.
Destination in the far distance...
One photo of roses in a garden outside the welcome center where tickets are purchased.
First stop was an area of early homes which we toured with a guide.
And as I feared, my camera battery expired after the above photo was taken. I neglected to get it on the charger last night!  I switched to my phone for more photos of the day. 
Arriving at the church which is still active at the top of the hill above the underground monastery.
These girls with Sarah were part of her small group of 2 years ago.
Joanna has made friends with the college gals on the team.
Joanna has also been a dear friend to the sweet girl we sponsor.

Heading back down the high hill.
Enjoying another ethnic group of buildings near the lunch restaurant.
The location of this restaurant was gorgeous and the food was abundant, delicious and Moldovan.
Started with placinte...so scrumptious... all served family style...
Next was Mama Liga and toppings...
Stuffed cabbage and grape leaves...
Grilled vegies...
Chicken....
Filet Mignon...
And unfortunately, I was talking to some children and missed sweet placintes for dessert!  After the -meal was over, we regrouped for a final worship time together.  As we boarded vans for the return to Chisinau, we said Good-bye to some of the children who live in a more northern city.
Prayer, singing, testimony, message...
In the distant hillside there can be seen cave openings used by Monks in the past where they spent 40 days of prayer and fasting.
There had been sweet moments with hugs and conversation during the day with the sisters we have gotten to know this week.  Parascovia is 11, our sponsoree, and Olga is 9.  They were not very excited about photos but we managed a few during the week.  With sponsorship, the girls will soon move from the Hincesti Center into an apartment with an aunt and her children.  We will continue to pray for them as they grow and mature.  When we got to Chisinau, it was time for their departure along with a few other children to their shelter in Hincesti.  I gave them a gift I brought with me and saw them onto the van.
Something to pack in for the future move...
Then there was 45 minutes for shopping at the Art Market...

Lena, age 24, is a girl we formerly sponsored and she came to share some minutes with us.









With our day drawing to an end, we returned to the team house for dinner and packing.  As we got to the house, Joanna realized her phone was not with her.  That created quite some concern but has a happy ending after a number of phone calls to her parents in Richmond, VA and to the phone which finally was answered by a child in Hincesti.  The phone had fallen out of probably her back pocket on the van and wasn't noticed until the children being taken to Hincesti found it.  They had it as it was being called over and over but it took some time for them to figure out how to answer the phone.  Fortunately, the call they answered had been made by Catea, the CERI director, who assured them they were not in any trouble for having the phone. 

What to do at that point?  Call a cab, take a translator and head to Hincesti to get the phone.  It was accomplished in about an hour and a half so all is well.












Lots of gratitude for the safe return...
And a stop for ice cream on the way back!!!
Can't end without some flowers to show off.
The week has been full of great experiences, conversations and friendship.  We are so grateful for many things - fabulous weather, terrific planning by the whole CERI family in the US and Moldova, and the care our team has been receiving while here at the team house and throughout the activities of each day.  We will pray that the spiritual seeds sown in lives this week will  bear fruit in the future.  

We will head to the airport at noon tomorrow, spend an overnight in Bucharest, leave from there for Paris early on Sunday and arrive in Houston mid afternoon Sunday.  

Not sure when my next blog will update.  Thanks for prayers.  We have been richly blessed with health, strength and endurance as we shared our lives and the hope that is available to those in a growing relationship with God. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Criuleni, Food Distribution...Day 7

Bright sunshine, cool morning and lush fields along the way, made the trip to Criuleni a lovely hour long drive to start our day.  Our girls were not able to join us as they had a program at their school in Hincesti which they were expected to attend.  That was disappointing but we will have most of tomorrow with them on our last full day in Moldova.

Dearing spent the day with Catea to work on plans for the December boot mission.  They had appointments with officials regarding names of children who would qualify to receive a free pair of boots.  They made good progress on that process.

With Dearing away, Jeff Pittman was our substitute leader.  He is a competent, thoughtful leader and all went well for this last full day of connecting with children living in community centers in 4 different locations in Moldova.  Today we were at the Criuleni Center for special needs children.  It was a very impressive place with cheerful rooms and staff.  The children seemed to really enjoy the games, singing, Bible Stories and loving attention we shared with them.

We were joined for our time today by a man who will complete his 2nd year of work with the Peace Corps in August.  He and his wife have lived in Criuleni during this assignment.  He and the city have partnered on projects for this center including a room with equipment to use for physical therapy.  
Jeff starts us off with schedule plans.

Center staff started us off with an overview of their work followed by a center tour.

Some team and some CERI beneficiaries we are with this week.
This is Alissa Bunning at her usual loving, kind, sweet best




Ready for games...

Groups had half of their time indoors and the other half outdoors.
The Center was also hosting a Kindergarten day camp - mostly on the outdoor playground area.

I did not meet the residents of this mansion...
Our singing and story time was outside...
Center staff wanted to enjoy the music and Bible story...










Bible story begins with Flannel board improvised...







Morning visit wraps up in the fitness center...
Hand-written "best wishes" on paper airplanes.
Throw then pick one up.  Enjoy the Best Wishes on the plane you got.


Group photo before bag of treats as our time at the center is over.
Lunch time break...

Off to City Hall to get names and addresses of 10 needy families.  Two social workers join us as we distribute bags of food supplies and have a short visit, song and prayer with each family.  We divided into 2 groups.


Garden with large area planted with potatoes - not a weed in site!
 
This family has 3 foster daughters.  Grandson there for a visit.
Gary Bunning leads singing...
 






2nd home for our visit...
 

Paper work requires signatures to document the gift...
Kindergartners graduation dress...

4th home...
Welcome gratitude bowl of Bucaria candy...



Ulizana lead singing for the large group today to take Alex's place.  Wonderful conversation on the drive back to learn much about her life story which included life in an orphanage herself.
 Ulizana shared a very significant experience she had when she was 7 years old and living in a hospital.  She had been left there just after her birth by her birth mother who took that action to protect her from abuse.  The "rope of hope" she received was a statement made to her by an American missionary man who visited her hospital and said this to her:
"I don't know what your life has been like but God loves you and he is your true father."
She did not know exactly what that meant as she had never been told that God loved her.  She put that sentence into her mind and repeated it to herself over and over again.  She thought,

"...if God loves me.  I will love Him."
With that sentence in her grip, she began to talk to God - about everything.  She sustained strength and comfort from those conversations which took her through the life she had as a young child.  She now volunteers with an organization that helps orphans.  She has another year of university before she completes her Business Administration major.  Her energy and capacity to love children drew her to the children at this center.  She was "mobbed" by lots of arms as she set down her guitar and stopped singing.  Children knew she loved and cared about them because of how she engaged with them as she sang and lead music.  What a fun person she was - inspiring and delightful to be around.  She also had courage and wisdom to share with the needy families as she encouraged them to trust God with everything in their lives.  She believes in prayer as she has experienced its power many times.

Another great day draws to a close.  And of course a day of seeing roses, cherries and flowers everywhere.










I hope to remember the sentence that changed the life of a little girl who now serves the Lord with joy and winsome character qualities through music and conversation.
"I don't know what your life has been like but God loves you and He is your true father."