It is nearly 10pm and it is now my time for the computer. A group of 8 is behind me playing the game Phase 10 and at times it gets pretty lively so we'll see how long I can concentrate.
It has been another day of work, joy, emotion and exhaustion. Some of us have some sore muscles from lifting large boxes of shoes and/or being up and down while fitting boots.
My team headed off at 8am for a 2 hour drive SW of Chisinau to an orphanage with 198 children. The space for set-up was a little smaller than we had yesterday but there was heat in the building so we didn't get chilled as we worked. Again the facility seemed to be in good condition, the children were clean and sweet and faculty appeared to be caring and supportive of the children. The children almost always thank us for the new boots and seem pleased with the gift. A team member named Nicki did the student body closing devotional at each home where we were today. She is a foster single Mom in TX so has lots of experience with children similar to the ones we're seeing here. We concluded the first place about 1pm and the faculty invited us to their kitchen where they allowed us to eat our sandwich lunch along with the hot tea and cookies they served us. That was a nice place to enjoy refreshment before getting back on the road to another orphanage. The next stop was a large home for 300 girls with emotional illness. They were fitted by another team in the past couple weeks but there had been a shortage of boots so we were delivering the needed extras so that all girls would receive a pair.
From there we went to a facility for 100+ children who have some type of physical impairment. 1/3rd of the student body also have a learning disability. That was quite a challenging event. Quite a number of children were in wheel chairs; some had various deformities of feet and/or hands; and others had various weaknesses and disability. It took quite awhile to fit these children as many were unable to assist to any extent in getting the boots on. For the wheelchair children, we knelt on the floor and took care of their needs that way. I tried very hard to be gentle and caring even when removing the socks of a child whose foot was quite severely deformed. I struggled some to get socks and boots on those feet but I was imagining how painful it must be for the child to realize they were the cause of difficulty and delay. Without being able to express anything with words they understood if a translator was not nearby, I tried to take a few moments to rub and caress each foot with a smile on my face as I looked into their eyes which hopefully communicated that I wasn't repulsed by their body though inside I'm afraid there were many times that I was. I have been trying to pray silently for each child I care for as I ask God to somehow provide the needs which must be huge for children who are alone and separated from parents who can give all they need in a loving home. It is hopeful to see that there are many caring teachers in their schools and to see that they are quite healthy and adequately clothed.
As we concluded our time at that orphanage, I spoke with the administrator for a few minutes. She thanked us for what we had done for all their children. I thanked her for all she did every day for so many children with needs requiring help with everything. I asked about the length of each employee's shift and she told me that they work from 7am - 9pm each day. I'm assuming that's 5 days a week but I'm not sure. What devotion these folks have to work those hours and daily do what I did for only a couple of hours today.
Our team climbed wearily onto our van in deep thought; knowing that we are tremendously blessed - to have had the opportunity to serve others for a few hours today and to trust God to care for all needs whether inward or outward.
The other team stayed in or near Chisinau today for their orphanage stops. At one of the places, they were joined by the United States Ambassador to Moldova and his wife who arrived to help fit a few children as they were interviewed and filmed by a media crew. Supposedly the group was to be featured on the evening TV news but we missed seeing it.
The drive in the countryside was a nice outing for our team today. We observed a number of horse drawn carts hauling people and things around villages. There is still no snow and today was a little warmer outside so we were pretty cozy most of the time. The game behind me is ending and I could use some sleep so will sign off for today.
We're all being well fed and cared for at the Team House and by our CERI support team - translators and van drivers.