Our team has returned from a full day but the other team staying at the Team House with us hasn't returned yet so dinner is an hour away. I think my team members have decided to rest for awhile.
We were on the road at 8am toward the border with Transnestia. For the last half of the drive, there were some snow flurries which gave a coating of white to the landscape and caused the road to be slippery. Boris drove our van more slowly so we did not have any problems. At noon as we were transferring to our second orphanage,we passed an accident in which a car had flipped over just off the highway. We do not know if there were injuries or not.
We arrived close to 940 am at the community center in a small community near the border. 178 children had been transported there from their facility in a village outside of Tiraspol. They were unloading as we arrived. A number of the teachers were there with them. The set-up guys for our team, Trey, Don and Patrick from Houston, moved quickly to decide how the room could be arranged for our task. The oldest boys came to help carry boxes into the building and it wasn't long before we were ready to start fitting children with their new boots and socks. We stocked each "fitter" with socks so that they could concentrate on the child and have socks handy. We have 4 translators and they are "fitters" also and are seated between the Americans to assist with the limited conversations we are able to have with the children. Deanna and I worked as "fitters" along with keeping the sock supply available. The community center was not heated so we kept our coats on and some of the team still were pretty chilly. We were all impressed with how healthy, clean, well-dressed, beautiful and sweet the children were. We removed their socks and put on new socks but most children were wearing 1 or 2 pair of socks. They were full of smiles and seemed very excited and appreciative of the new items. Each child was given a Bible story booklet, a couple pieces of chocolate candy, a second pair of socks and their old footwear in a bag as they left their personal fitting session. The 2 hours it took for this group seemed to fly by and went quite smoothly. We had plenty of boots in all sizes so every need was met. Before the children loaded their buses to return, our team leader did a short devotional time with them. We left with gratitude for the joy we'd experienced during the morning.
Lilia, the Team House cook, had prepared a sandwich lunch for us. We drove toward our second facility and pulled over along the road in a pull-off area out of the traffic. We stayed in the van and passed around our lunch items. We had some debriefing sharing as we ate and decided to adjust the sock access for the next stop. One gal volunteered to "issue" 2 pair of socks to each child as they were assessed for boot size. This seemed to work better so we will probably take turns filling that role at our future sites.
The second facility had about 148 children. These children were perhaps even a little more out-going but they seemed a little needier than the first group. Most socks had holes that we took off so the new socks were a real hit. Again it was a sweet experience for our team. After the closing devotional, the children sang us a song and hung around to help load the truck or engage in conversation and get pictures taken.
It has been a great but exhausting day. We will spend time at 2 orphanages again tomorrow, 3 on each day Wed. and Thurs and a large, adult facility on Fri.
The other team has just arrived and food is being brought to the table so I better sign off for now. Thanks again for remembering us in prayer.