It's 11:20pm but this house isn't yet ready to settle down for the night. The northern team has returned to join the 2 southern teams so friendships and stories are being shared. We reconnected at the Appreciation supper which was held at Bethel Baptist Church this evening from 6-8:30pm. The Moldova CERI staff hosted the traditional Moldovan meal and our teams shared small gifts with those whose support has made our ministry possible. It was such a sweet time as we celebrated together the love for Moldovan orphans which we all share with passion.
The 3 weeks of Operation Knit Together 2008 completed its task this afternoon at about 2pm!!! Dearing Garner reported that 11,500+ pair of boots and socks had successfully been placed on the feet of every orphan in this country. He was part of the northern team which worked late last night because of delays on icy roads. Some children had to be awakened as they fitted feet past 10:30pm.
Our team headed out today at 8am toward the border with Transnestria. We arrived at nearly 10am but were told to cross at a different check-point. Perhaps the paper work involved for our team and the contents of our truck was too daunting? The second border crossing was a ferry. We arrived about 10:20am and learned that the next crossing would be at 11:30. So we sat in our van, ate our sandwich lunch and waited. The ferry left the dock as scheduled and a "late" vehicle flew to the crossing only to see they'd just been left behind. The driver got out to wave the ferry to return for them and we did!!! But we finally got across and to our destination after that fairly brief delay. The last ferry of the day would leave at 3pm so we knew we had to leave our facility by 2pm in order to be in line for that ferry. We had 90 minutes to serve the 300 adults at this home for folks with mental illness. We unloaded our truck, divided into 3 teams as that's how many translators we had and loaded our arms with boxes of socks and the slippers we were giving these folks. We were led by a staff person at the home and went into each room to leave our gifts. This was a challenging task for many reasons but the delight of the folks we met made our efforts worth it.
Upon our return to the Team House, our team had about 90 minutes before we were to leave for our evening dinner. It had been arranged that Deanna and I would get to meet the twin girls we sponsor along with another couple from our church. Elena and Valentina were waiting for us and we had a precious time of visiting, sharing gifts and taking photos. These gorgeous girls have a mother but she doesn't have employment that provides for the girls. Their father has not been part of their lives for many years. The girls lived at Internat 2 orphanage in Chisinau until this past summer when they graduated from 9th grade. They are now enrolled in a 3 year trade school which will prepare them to be "cookers". They are doing well in their courses. They live together in a "hostel" which must be a school dorm type facility. The girls are rather shy but expressed gratitude for all we're helping them with. Fortunately the Transitional Living program provides "Training" in spiritual matters and with issues of self esteem and life. It was a privilege to meet them and share a time of prayer before we hugged them good-bye.
Our dinner was delicious - abundant plates of traditional Moldovan food. We had appetizers of a couple fresh salads plus cold baked chicken with mushroom sauce. Then came platters of stuffed grape leaves and cooked cabbage served with sour cream sauce. I thought that was the entre but following that we were served "Mama Liga" - cooked corn meal served in a ball like mashed potatoes with shredded goat cheese and fried pork cubes. Dessert was a torte type cake served with hot tea or coffee. We were really full after all of that which had been beautifully served on a table set with Christmas candles and decorations. Those who shared during the "program" were Connie, Moldova CERI Director, The Moldova Baptist Bishop who will be the recipient of the over-run of boots and socks which will be used in Baptist benevolence and the CERI Social Worker who directs the Transitional Living program. We also heard the story of Olga, a young woman who has benefited from the CERI programs and has now finished advanced schooling to become a cosmetologist. The evening ended with lots of photos being taken and lots of hugs given.
Tomorrow will be a mostly "free" day - breakfast will be at 8:30am!!! Some volunteers will help organize the warehouse. There will be a souvenir's shopping trip at some point. We'll pack and about 5pm I will be joining some other team members for an evening with Dorel and Olga - past CERI leadership staff.
Our flight departs Chisinau at 8:30am Sunday. Our experience here has been truly a blessed experience but we're getting ready to return to family and friends for the celebration of Christmas USA version.
Your prayers continue to provide us with the strength we need and the safety we're experiencing. Thanks for keeping us wrapped in His care as we return.