It is nearly midnight. I just spent 45 minutes typing a blog post and somehow accidently deleted it!!! So I'll attempt a repeat of today but it may be a shortened version.
Our teams were up and off at 8:30 this morning and our team returned at 9pm. We had stops today at 3 facilities which took us on a drive nearly to the Romanian border and a couple stops in between. Each place had lots of excited, lovable and grateful children. We always have great help from the oldest boys at each stop to unload and reload the large boxes of boots and socks.
Unfortunately, we have begun to run out of some sizes - especially the black boot we've been giving to the girls. Their only option now is to accept a pair of brown "boy" boots or take a size of black "girl" boots which is either too large or too small. Their choice seems to fall at about 50/50 when their option is explained. We are all grieved to have to disappoint some girls but we're at the end of 3 weeks of distribution and this can't be avoided. The boot order is carefully planned based on records of sizes and gender from past disttributions but shortages seem to be inevitable.
It begins to get dark by 4pm each afternoon so we drive in darkness part of our day. Today we had thick fog as we drove the final leg of our journey so that slowed our van and truck quite abit. We have a large truck that travels with us hauling the large boxes of boots. As we drove into our 3rd facility today, a front wheel of the truck dropped into a hole and was stuck. We were able to unload, however, and by the time we were ready to reload and leave, the driver had shoveled the wheel free and we were not delayed in our departure.
Many of our team felt that our 3rd stop today was their favorite place so far. They felt that the children were more demonstrably grateful and so there were quite a few minutes of clinging hugs. In our concluding devotional, we mentioned that Christmas was coming which is a time of celebration of the greatest gift which God has given to the world. That gift is Jesus who made salvation possible. We told them that our gift to them of new boots was symbolic of that greatest gift from God. We wanted them to think of God's gift each time they put on their new boots. As we neared the door to leave, little Maria had something she wanted to say. She chocked back tears which flowed freely as she concluded her effusive expressions of gratitude. She also promised that she would never forget us and that each time she put on her new boots, she would think about the greatest gift of Christmas which is Jesus. At that point, Maria was not the only one with tears in her eyes and gratitude in her heart.
Thanks for your continued prayers. We are staying strong physically and as a team. Tomorrow we will head to 3 more orphanages - closer in proximity to Chisinau so perhaps we will not be out quite so late tomorrow evening.