It is 9:45pm and another lively game of Phase 10 is going on behind me but I'll try to summarize the day while I overhear the giggles and verbal jabs of the crew behind me.
We climbed into our van at 8am and headed to the Warehouse in order to load some additional sizes into our truck. By 9:30 we were on our way to our first stop which was a school/orphanage for physically handicapped children. Most were normal in intelligence but were coping with "not so severe" handicaps. We didn't have wheel chairs today but we did need to get onto the floor to fit some children who had deformities. We had very grateful, involved, professional faculty involved with the children - we've seen this quite universally at all of our stops. One teacher spoke quite a bit of English. I visited with her and learned that she had been to the United States to observe Elder care there. She attended an event that was held in Des Moines, IA and included a tour of part of the midwest including Chicago. She was very impressed by what she saw and knew that the level of care wasn't yet possible in Moldova but hoped for a way to incorporate some of the things she had seen being done in the states. She wondered if we had brought any pictures of the US - capitols, etc. - as she teaches history and would love to have some additional materials to use in her classroom. She had "won" her trip to the states by applying for the trip and being selected as 1 of 10 or 20 out of 150 applicants.
Next we went to another facility for handicapped children. This was a very clean, neat school. As we concluded, the administrator brought out a platter of a special bread for Christmas which was made in individual roll-sized pieces. They told us the school cafeteria had baked this treat for us. We ate it while there and it was similar to a breakfast bread with some raisins - we liked it. Again we were very profusely thanked for what we were doing.
Before leaving there to head to our 3rd stop, we recieved a call from Dearing Garner with the team in the north. He asked us to pray for them as they were on the side of the road with their drivers putting chains on their vehicles. A wind and dropping temperatures had blown in to cover everything with ice and they still had another facility to reach and serve before their day was finished. We have learned that they have had prayers answered for safety and the completion of their task. Great news!!!
Our 3rd stop was a baby hospital, day-care and orphanage combined in one facility. There are 70 children there under the age of about 3. Not all children were brought into a large room where we fitted them with little boots but quite a number were - probably about 30-40. They were so adorable and were so eager to have their feet fitted. They stuck out their feet and giggled gleefully as they had their turn to get new boots. There was a set of twin girls who were so sweet I could hardly resist packing them up to take home with me. We were not allowed to take pictures there so the memory will remain in our hearts.
Following that stop, we returned to the warehouse to unload all our unused boots and socks and reload with the 370 pair of slippers and 740 pair of socks we will use tomorrow.
We got home at about 7:30 which was our scheduled dinner time. The other team was here and we had lots of lively sharing about our day. The other team was at a facility today with just handicapped boys.
I haven't learned why so many handicapped children are in institutions here but the translators suggest families are unable to care for these children at home. We've also been told that a handicapped child is viewed as a disgrace so they are put in an institution or kept hidden at home. They also think it's possibly the result of Chernobl which happened in 1986 in the Ukraine - not that far away from here.
Kim has commented that she thinks the handicapped children have expressed the most thrill and gratitude for our gift of boots. Nikki M says the children alsways ask if we're Santa Claus. Nicky H says life in the states will be viewed much differently now that we've been here to see a different way of life.
We are nearing the end of the week but have a big day tomorrow. My team will be traveling to Transneistria to take slippers to 320 mentally handicapped adults there. We hope to be on the road at 8am. We'll conclude the day with a 6pm dinner with the support team we've had here at which time we'll give them some gifts.
A few team members will leave Sat. am and the rest of us will have a "free" day on Sat. Deanna and I will meet the twin girls we help sponsor who are in the Transitional Living program. I also hope to connect with some of the friends I have here who I've not seen yet this week. We'll have some souvenir shopping time and will get our packing done for an early Sun. morning trip to the airport on Sunday.
We know that prayers are being answered for our safety as we have observed several fairly serious accidents as we have been on the roads. Today has been cloudy, foggy, drippy and chilly but not below freezing here in the south where our 2 teams are serving. There are a number of drippy noses including mine so you can add a prayer for our health as well.