Our day started pretty early - about 5:30am for my room - and it's nearly 10pm and most have gone to their rooms for the night but I'm hearing giggles from our college gals who are enjoying making new friends and being used by God to serve in new ways and the week is just beginning. Everyone reported sleeping well last night which helped a bunch with the tasks of today.
Breakfast at 7, orientation for the day at 7:30, load the vans at 8:30 so that we were at Jesus Savior Baptist Church before 9am. Eight team members had to have all their luggage in their van so that they could be taken to Balti (Beltz) when their truck load of boots, socks, gospel booklets, hats and scarfs was loaded this afternoon.
It was a very special day at Jesus Savior BC this morning and we are all grateful we were here to experience the joyful worship service. It was a day when 25 +/- adults were baptized. As we arrived, this group was seated, all dressed in white, in the choir loft for a picture. Then they moved to front pews until the time in the service came for the baptism. We knew there was going to be the baptism and communion during the service so it was anticipated that it would be a 3 hour service instead of the usual 2 hours. Our leader decided we would find it difficult to complete our other required tasks for the day if we stayed for all 3 hours so we stayed only 2 hours and left after the baptism and before communion. Our leaders asked us to sit in the balcony so we could leave without making too much commotion. The balcony was already nearly full when we arrived so half of us had to sit in the back rows on the main level. By 9 am, the church was overflowing - extra chairs brought in for the center aisle, people standing all around the back and sides of the sanctuary and filling the foyer to only partially be able to see and hear. I was told this was more than the usual morning congregation due to many extra family members and friends of those being baptized. The service included the usual outstanding choir, congregational singing, prayer times when people spontaneously offer prayers throughout the sanctuary, the sermon and a special music group consisting of 3 trumpeters and some orchestration. There were a couple singing groups who sang as well. Ina, the translator I had in August, was in the service and was able to translate much of the service for me. She translated the pastor's sermon which was primarily directed to those being baptized. Many of those folks were young people. He started his sermon by telling about the incident a number of years ago at Colunbine, CO. He told of a young woman there who had been asked if she believed in God. When she answered, "Yes", the pastor told everyone that she gave her life for her commitment to God. He also told about Paul and Silas who were imprisoned for their faith. It was touching to be reminded of the truth about what could happen as a result of commitment to Christ. During the service it was reported that the baptismal group had been asked 3 questions; then just prior to their baptism, these questions were asked of them again:
* 1. Have you made this decision by yourself without coercion from anyone else?
* 2. Have you repented and committed your life to Christ?
* 3. Do you promise to faithfully live committed to Christ for the rest of your life?
Two pastors participated in the water as they baptized 2 people at a time. The pastors placed a hand on each head as the person went straight down into the water and back up. As soon as they came up, the choir sang a short song. This happened for each group baptized. Lots of people were taking pictures so hopefully I will be able to include a glimpse of the service in the future. (This computer doesn't seem to allow adding photos.) It was a very joyful and worshipful service. It is always a great blessing for me to share in worship at this Baptist Church whice seats 2000 +. The people are very friendly and welcoming.
Following the service, we headed to McDonald's for lunch - pretty traditional food there.
We had been instructed to attend church in "work" clothes as we would not return to the team house until we had sorted and loaded all the supplies needed for the week for 3 separate teams who will distribute 5-6000 pairs of boots to children - Lord willing. We arrived at the warehouse about !;30pm. It was a large corrugated steel building with electricity but no heat! The temperature both inside and outside of the building was in the 20's - pretty chilly for the mostly Texan crew we have on this team. I haven't forgotten life "in the north" so I was able to be bundled for the occasion and stayed warm all afternoon. We completed our task about 5:30pm and many were chilled but no one was complaining nor flagging from the work.
I was put in charge of socks and I immediately designated a co-chair for the project so Deanna came on board without a whimper. We soon realized the task was huge and we needed additional help which came as Christi and Kim joined our ranks. We had the numbers for all the orphanages we will be serving and each child will be given boots and 2 pair of socks. We divided the socks into S, M and L. We had the total # each team needed. The socks were "mostly" in boxes which had come from a company in North Carolina (I believe) and from Buckner Ministries. "Some" of the labels on the boxes were accurate but we had to open most boxes to determine sizes and quantity. We stayed on task all afternoon and managed to have each team's amount ready to load by the time the boots were loaded. We handled 12,000 pairs of socks!!!
We are being told this would probably be our coldest day and the most physically difficult as we won't be working in unheated buildings for the rest of the week though we have been informed that some of the orphanages may have no heat.
All 26 of us worked with energy and endurance. Thank goodness for leaders who have been doing this since 1999 and for the youngsters who aren't prima donas. We were all ready for supper by 6:30 and then for sharing afterward related to plans for tomorrow.
We'll again have breakfast at 7am and load our vans at 8 to head off to orphanages. The team we're on is heading toward Transneitria to deliver boots to children from Tirospol. The boots cannot be transported across the border so we'll be met in the buffer zone by buses bringing children to us there. We will go to another facility before returning in the evening.
I'll try to bring a post about that tomorrow evening. It's 11pm and the house is now quiet so I better head to bed also.
Your prayers and comments mean a lot to us so keep them coming. There will be travel tomorrow plus our first opportunity to spend time with the children we've come to serve. I'm really looking forward to the day.