Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Letter 2010...





Matthew 1: 21
She will give birth to a son...
Jesus...
He will save his people from their sins.
This promise given to Joseph by an angel when Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy, was a reminder of what the prophet Isaiah had foretold.  And these words were fulfilled.  So as we celebrate Jesus’ birth, we also Rejoice in the redemption which is available to “his people” – those who embrace and receive his free gift – salvation from our sins.   These are words which bring us great joy and our hope is that you share this experience also.

The last annual letter from the Wordens was written in 2006.  In order to provide some coverage of the “years of silence”, I’ll briefly note some highlights of the in-between years.

2007
  • ·         Continued employment for both of us with the H.E. Butt Foundation – JCW fulltime; LLW part-time
  • ·         LLW trip to Richmond, VA in Feb. to cover childcare while son John and Diane attend Chick-fil-a annual seminar
  • ·         The Forum –  March Biennial Foundation event in FL for both of us
  • ·         Moldova Mission Trip – annual event for both of us in early August
  • ·         LLW to WI in late Oct. to escort her Mom to TX for a winter visit
  • ·         LLW and her Mom include a stop in Richmond, VA to share a visit with son John and his family
  • ·         Mom hospitalized with near pneumonia for several days and return to TX delayed until after Thanksgiving but Mom recovered
  • ·         Mom spent Christmas in TX and returned to WI Dec. 31st
  • ·         Four Generation photo taken in Kerrville by Portraits by Jenn
2008
  • ·         Employment & Feb. trip to Richmond, VA continue as previous year
  • ·         Linda’s mother experiences pneumonia in March followed by fall with pelvic fracture in April.  Following recovery in a nursing home in May, she moves to Hearten House in LaCrosse, WI in June.  This home for residents with memory issues provides a wonderful place very near her youngest daughter’s home and place of work.  Linda spent much of May and June in WI to facilitate the move.
  • ·         Back to Moldova in August.
  • ·         LLW 45th high school class reunion in WI and visit with Mom and sister.
  • ·         Thanksgiving in Richmond, VA including daughter, Sarah, from FL.
  • ·         LLW returns to Moldova to help distribute new socks and boots to orphans there in Dec.
 2009
  •           Employment & Feb. trip to Richmond, VA continue as previous year
  • ·         The Forum –  March Biennial Foundation event in FL for both of us
  • ·         LLW creates DVD of her Mom’s life to share at a 90th birthday celebration
  • ·         LLW visits Detroit, MI in May where son James and Shara are now living
  • ·        
    Mom’s birthday event and Groves’ family reunion in June in WI
  • ·         Back to Moldova in August
  • ·         LLW to San Diego, CA for funeral of Aunt Miriam Groves
  • ·         LLW to WI for October visit with her Mom
  • ·         JCW & LLW – WI for Thanksgiving with Linda’s 3 sisters and her Mom
  • ·         Phone call from Detroit announces news that our 5th grandchild will arrive in late July 2010
  • ·         From WI to Colorado Springs for CCCA (camping) convention in early December
  • ·         From C.S. to Estes Park, CO for reunion with Joyce Bennett –the dear friend who helped a lonely college girl survive a summer of earning college funds in a place far from home – precious lady & visit.
  • ·         Dec. 10th – death of dear uncle Hubert Groves, Dad’s younger brother
  • ·         Dec. 11th call from Sarah begins a series of major changes in her life which will lead her “home”
  • ·         LLW attends uncle’s funeral and spends a precious Sunday with her very frail Mom
  • ·         LLW returns to TX Tuesday evening, Dec. 15th
  • ·         Wed. morning, Dec. 16th Linda’s mom is taken to the hospital with pneumonia
  • ·         Linda’s sister Margelyn stays around the clock with Mom and is praying and singing with her Friday morning at 5:30 AM as Mom slips away to have Christmas in heaven with Dad and so many others 
    Family from across the country are all able to arrive in WI for Dec. 22nd Memorial Service for Mom
    Photo is the 5 of us children - Margelyn, Barbara, Kathleen, Linda and James
  • ·         3 Worden children, 2 spouses and 4 grandchildren join us in TX for Christmas 
 2010
  • ·         Employment (now re-branded Foundations For Laity Renewal) & Feb. trip to Richmond, VA continue as previous year – stay in Richmond extended while Diane has knee surgery – recovers well
  • ·         LLW drives Toyota Camry to FL in January which Sarah purchases
  • ·         Sarah spends Spring Break in TX to begin job search here
  • ·        April:  JCW and LLW attend 90th birthday party in Nashville, TN for Linda’s Dad’s sister, Aunt Ming; then drive to eastern TN to visit John’s sister, Cindi and her family
  • · Sarah arrives after FL school year to continue TX job search
  •  Despite few open school positions, Sarah signs contract in July to become the librarian at an elementary school in San Antonio – her dream job!  God’s plan is marvelous!
  • ·LLW and Sarah pack up, bid farewell and move to Kerrville, TX.  New job begins in late July.
  • Constantine Jamesson Worden arrives July 19, 2010 9#, 4oz, 21"  

  • 6th annual trip to Moldova in August including several extended days spent with the 4 precious girls we sponsor
  • ·         LLW to Detroit August 21st to meet sweet, precious Constantine
  • ·        Constantine’s extended family arrives from across the nation for his Dedication to the Lord Labor Day weekend
  • ·         LLW extends MI stay for 4 weeks to provide support during move from apt. to home, garden harvest, Shara’s work schedule…  Constantine is worth all the effort!
We approach the end of 2010 with hearts full of joy and gratitude.  I miss my Mom but know that she finished well and now enjoys the very presence of the One whose birth we celebrate at this season.  Sarah lives with us and commutes to work each day.  We are all enjoying this opportunity to share our lives and grow closer to the One who “saves his people from their sins” – the gift which continues to provide our redemption.

We have lived in TX nearly 26 years and remain blessed to be part of ministry which is committed to the godly work of “Foundations For Laity Renewal” whose mission is “Transforming Daily Life”.  

With Love and Friendship,

John and Linda Worden      

Friday, December 17, 2010

Remembering Mom...

This is the first anniversary of my mother's death. I've already had moments when tears threatened to roll down my cheeks and I've let them flow. She's been gone from this earth since Dec. 18, 2009 and I still have moments when I want to pick up the phone and call her. She loved talking to her kids and never was too busy to linger in conversation. She listened well and also shared the "news" of her life with all the details and usually with some bursts of laughter. She was a wonderful mother and I am grateful for all that she imparted to me.

There are five of us who share her DNA.
Her first child was my brother Jim.

















I came next nearly three years later.


















I was followed eighteen months later by my sister Kathleen.


















Next came my sister Barbara with only fifteen months between her and Kathy.



















And then we were complete when my sister Margelyn arrived three years after Barb's birth.










We all joined in June of 2009 to celebrate Mom's 90th birthday where we took these photos as we celebrated her long life. I would have some more special days with her as she declined in strength until the middle of December when she breathed the last of earthly air and began life in the presence of Jesus whom she had shared with me and so many others. The smile each family member received as we entered her room will never be forgotten. I am grateful for many things including the fact that she never forgot her own children nor our families.

Mom wasn't perfect but she loved her family and I'm grateful she was my mother. She held nothing back when loving and guiding us through life. I am blessed because she was my mother. I could not have chosen better.

Thanks, Mom, for sharing yourself and the Lord you loved and served with me so that I could spend a lifetime loving and serving Him also. I miss you but I know where you are and I can only imagine that you are "kicking up your heels" with Dad and having a blast!!! And hopefully the cows don't need milking every morning and evening to interrupt your fun times with family and friends!!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Reflecting on Psalm 19...

The Daily Reflection today at The High Calling website, is a helpful discussion of Psalm 19.

Psalm 19: 1-4
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth, 
their words to the ends of the world. 

I memorized this Psalm when I was 10 years old.  I knew it was special then but I certainly didn't comprehend the loving message of these verses.  This morning as I read this passage, I found my voice cracking and tears beginning to well in my eyes.  These words spoke of such tender love from a wise heavenly Father who does not wish for anyone to perish.  His redemption plan which requires each individual's acceptance of it, is spoken into hearts through words shared person to person but also by the heavens and skies which proclaim all day and night in all languages with a voice all can hear and understand.  Somehow the knowledge of that kindness came to me with new power this morning.  We are surrounded by a physical world whose voice declares the glory of God and proclaims the work of his hands. 

How can anyone miss his love, his care, his truth, his plan...?  

The chapter ends with this prayer of David, the author of this Psalm. 

Psalm 19: 14
May the words of my mouth and the
meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O Lord, my Rock and
my Redeemer.

My prayer echoes these words today.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Helping Haiti...

This past weekend, I worked at Laity Lodge for a Business Leader’s Retreat. 

There were 4 Haitians at the retreat – a female travel agent, a man who imports rice and other food items, a man who has a pharmaceutical manufacturing business, an entrepreneur who has a car business and is the President of the Haitian board of FOOD FOR THE POOR, Inc.  Besides informal conversations, there was a time when the men shared with retreatants what is happening in their country now and what had happened to them at the time of the earthquake.  Each of their immediate families and homes survived but all of them had many other family members and friends who were seriously affected through both loss of life and loss of homes and livelihood. 

One of the best stories is that the man who owns the rice importing business has a large warehouse and it was full of food when the earthquake struck.  He feared that the warehouse would be overtaken by looters so decided to empty the warehouse as quickly as possible.  His friend with FOOD FOR THE POOR was able to buy all of the stock and pay him market value.  It was a win/win – food provided and business saved. 

I learned that FOOD FOR THE POOR is the only NGO (Non Governmental Organization) which has a Haitian board which is involved in decisions being made in Haiti for what is needed now that the country is in the rebuilding/reconstruction phase of work following the earthquake.  All other NGO’s have boards in their home countries and decisions are made by outsiders about what is needed and what should be provided to Haiti.  The men at LL reported that this creates quite a problem.  Examples are of large shiploads of cars being sent to the country – cars for a country whose roads are nearly all destroyed.  Boatloads of pharmaceuticals take away the business which Haitians need, want and can provide. 

But the fact that there is a Haitian board for FOOD FOR THE POOR, this NGO is able to respond in ways that really help and meet needs identified by Haitians.  Because of the cholera problem, clean water is their greatest need.  They have found a company in North Carolina which manufactures a small version of a water purification system which can be used in villages where clean water is so badly needed.  Each system uses river water of which there is plenty in Haiti.  They already have a number of these units installed in Haiti.  In every place where people were getting water from one of these units, there have been no cholera cases so far.  But the country needs many more of these to cover all needs.  And Hurricane Tomas is sure to be making this need even greater than it was a week ago when I was hearing these reports from Haitians at Laity Lodge.  These Haitians did not come to Laity Lodge to ask for help. The following information was provided by Jack Willome, a friend of theirs and of Laity Lodge.
If this is a need to which you would like to respond, you can do so either way as follows:
Mail to: Food For The Poor, Inc.
           Attn:  Robin Mahfood – Haiti Water Missions 
           6401 Lyons Road
           Coconut Creek, FL 33073
·        
Website: Food For The Poor, Inc
               Select: Donate Now
               Put in Comment Field:  Haiti Water Missions

I cannot think of a bigger need in the world right now than Haiti.  Their needs are so great but the Haitians at Laity Lodge were optimistic.  They feel it’s a wake-up call for their country and an opportunity for them to get things rebuilt with greater integrity than has been the situation in the past.  I feel it’s safe to trust those who shared about the work being done there through FOOD FOR THE POOR

The Haitians at LL have all experienced much hardship in Haiti but have chosen to stay there to try to make a difference in their country.  Their stories of kidnappings are gut wrenching.  The wife of the man who is the FFTP board president was kidnapped and held for 8-10 days a few years ago.  She was released unharmed physically when a ransom was paid. 

Prayer is vital but our gifts will also make a difference.  I'm just making this avenue for donations known if there is an interest in responding for the sake of Haitians suffering the ravages of the weather.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Introducing a new blog...

Over the past weekend, I learned that there's a new genre of blogs called STYLE blogs. Seems people share with words and photos what they're wearing and so give others ideas - reasons to shop or ways to maximize their current wardrobe.

I have gotten inspired!!!

For years I've shopped at thrift stores for all my clothes and for almost all of the clothing the members of my family wear. It's a Cottage Industry for me. What doesn't work or what is no longer wanted/needed, gets taken to consignment shops or is donated somewhere.

This shopping has gotten into my blood.

And it has made it possible for my family to practice frugality, live within our means, have the clothing we need and want - all for very reasonable prices.

I have wanted to share my ideas with others for a long time.

When I heard about the Style blogs, I immediately thought that this might be an avenue for me to share one of my professions.

You see, I consider myself a "Buyer" for myself, my family, some friends and for Consignment Shops.

Perhaps having a STYLE blog will be a way for me to communicate my ideas to others. You can check our my "Maiden Voyage" posts for my SILVER CROWN STYLES blog and decide what you think.

I'm praying that it will be a way to have a "voice" in another world for the purpose of sharing another world.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Celebrating My Youngest Sister...


On this day in 1950, my youngest sister was born!  Our family at that time included an older brother and two other sisters who had followed my birth.  We were all hoping for a little brother and a name had been picked for him but instead God wisely provided another sister and I loved her immediately when she came home from the hospital with Mom about a week later.   

(This photo was probably taken the next summer.)
Fortunately for me that October (which is only clear in hindsight), I had missed being able to start first grade at Cross Ridge School by six days.  At that time the state of Wisconsin required a child to be six years old by Dec. 1st in order to begin school and my birthday fell on Dec. 7th.  Cross Ridge School was a one room building three miles from our dairy farm and I would spend eight years there starting the next fall.
(This photo was taken in June 2009 at a school reunion when I was able to introduce my family to the building in which I'd had my elementary school education.)



So when baby sister came home that October,
I was already Mommy's little helper and eagerly relished the opportunity to help care for Margelyn though it would be awhile before I could remember or pronounce her name correctly.  From the beginning we called her Marge.  Mom had selected the name and Dad finally gave in to her wishes for our family's fourth daughter.  It's such a pretty name and it's especially appropriate for a woman who is beautiful inside and out.

Our Mom faithfully kept a diary which we children were forbidden to read while growing up.  She told us she was unabashedly honest in her writing and feared that we or others would learn something that she wasn't sure we should know or she should share publicly.

It would be in Mom's 90th year before Marge and I would one day open the diary which was written on Margelyn's day of birth in 1950.  That was one year ago today. 

(The photo was taken of Mom, Marge and me at Marge's home on her birthday a year ago today.)


What we learned surprised, informed and endeared us to Mom even more than we already were.  At the time of our reading, Mom was in the last months of her life but we had no way of knowing that then.

The diary was a report of the work done each day on our farm.  We found little in Mom's diary that shared her emotions.  I had known that we did not have an indoor bathroom on the farm until I was nearly six years old.  I remember the path to our outhouse with its Sears-Roebuck Catalog for toilet tissue.  During the winter we used a pail indoors which was cared for by my Dad. 

The diary revealed that the water pipes to our house for indoor plumbing were laid in the weeks just prior to Margelyn's birth.  The bathroom with a 4-footed tub, a commode and sink were installed along with a kitchen sink which included a drain board during the week of her birth.  We also learned that the plumbing project was a gift from Dad's parents, our Grandpa and Grandma Groves who lived and worked in Chicago, IL at that time.

As I read these facts, I began to appreciate the difficulties which Dad and Mom lived with on our farm even more than I'd ever done before.  I knew Mom had carried pails of water in from the well to heat on our wood burning kitchen stove for our Saturday night baths in the washtub. 

(The photo shows my sister and me standing beside the old milk house where there was a water tank storing water from the well powered by the windmill shown at the top of the photo.) 

I knew she carried water to the basement where the wringer washing machine was and carried it back outside after the loads of laundry were hung to dry on outside lines or on the lines strung in the basement for winter or during a rainy season.

But I had not realized she had not had a kitchen sink until her fifth child was born.  I now recall the reason a dish pan was placed at the end of the table where I stood to wash dishes when I was as young as four (another revelation in the diary). 

I have gone down memory lane here instead of just celebrating my sister's birthday so I'll conclude with further tribute to her.

My sister is the embodiment of this verse:
Psalm 19: 14
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

She is a woman of frequent, fervent prayer.  She has the gift of encouragement and uses notes, cards and letters to express to family and friends her care, love and kindness.  The warmth of her words provides inspiration and affirmation.  Those words, sometimes written and sometimes spoken, come from the richness of her relationship with the God whom she trusts and follows with deep gratitude.

Marge is also an artist with flowers. 
Her gorgeous boxes overflow each year with her carefully selected and tended blooms.  

And because of these qualities and many more, I am abundantly blessed to have this little sister.  

Happy 60th Birthday, Marge!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Redesigning My Blog...

I have been wondering about changing the design of my blog. Today I decided to explore my options. Two hours later I have selected changes but my options were so vast I'm not certain I have improved the look or not.

Within the past year or so, I have observed many things around me which have a vast variety of options. The list is endless but these are some of the items I've noticed which come with a wide spectrum of differences:
  1. hair - color, type...
  2. facial features - shape, size...
  3. body build...
  4. Foods - colors, texture, flavor...
  5. Flowers - size, colors, density, aroma, length of life...
  6. animals - size, shape, voice, coat, temperament, diet...
  7. climate...
  8. terrain...
All the things I've mentioned are things which God has designed with a myriad of broad differences. He has decided for us what will be our physical characteristics. He has created a plethora of options for what we can eat to sustain our earthly lives. He has designed great expanses of land and sea where we can work and play.

And according to Genesis 1, His creation is all good; His creation of humans is very good.

Do I have a point I'm making with these observations?

My decision today to change the "look" of my blog provided a tiny window into the world of creation. I had nearly endless options for LOTS of things with which I could customize my blog. As I evaluated many of my choices, I gained a new appreciation for God's creation. He designed this world and all in it with care and perfection. I am grateful that He did not allow me to chose the design of my own body but I am grateful that He allows me to have been created in His image so that I can express my individuality in small ways such as selecting a new look for a blog. And I'm VERY grateful for the clever, talented minds who have provided the program diversity which allowed me to "create" a fresh face for my blog.
Genesis 1:27
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Texas, Thursday, August 12, 2010...

The Final 4 of our Moldova team arrived home safely late last evening!!! We had a half hour delay leaving Chicago for San Antonio but otherwise all went very smoothly with travel. We are so grateful to God for safety in travel and for the opportunity to serve in Moldova and be served by those whom God is using for His kingdom work there.

I have slept well at home and will begin to reorient to life on the home-front today. Hopefully I'll be able to post some photos soon to augment the updates I posted while in Moldova at each day's end.

I am grateful for prayers that encouraged and sustained us. That God uses people as imperfect as I is still a gift for which I am most humbled and grateful. May the seeds of His truth continue to be watered, sprouted and nurtured.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Moldova, Tuesday PM, August 10, 2010...

This is it. The last blog from Moldova. The time here has flown by. It has been well worth the preparation, the trip and enduring the heat! A piece of my heart stays here each time I leave as the Moldovan friends I have here are so dear. It's a privilege to join them in communicating Christ's love and redemption plan to children from an orphanage. They faithfully keep working with these children year round. It is making a difference in many lives.

It was a delight to have 2 boys serve with us this week as helpers who have come through the orphanage and were in the camp our first years here. They are now in an apartment and continuing their education. They are maturing young men who helped us alot with the children and our activities. It's great to see that children can come through childhood without the support of a loving traditional home when they have some significant adults in their lives who nurture and care for them.

Our 2 girls arrived about 11am today and we spent until 5pm with them. The amusement park was open so we went there first. The ticket price for the several rides available for teens is quite low. We gave them a set amount and they decided how they wanted to use it. They started on a ride similar to a Scrambler or Tilt-a-Whirl. We decided to join them and it was a thrill! They loved it and went back 2 more times - 1 of those with us again as well. We also all rode/drove the bumper cars with some boys who were from the orphanage also. They suggested another park with rides after that first small park so we went to that and rode a small roller coaster and swing type twirling ride.

After those rides we decided it was time for lunch - it was almost 2pm. We had pizza at their favorite spot. Afterward we stopped at an outdoor market where a wide variety of booths sold an endless array of all sorts of items. Each of the girls picked a clothing item for school. We also bought them some personal items. They were very appreciative and pleased with the day.

It was time to take them back to camp after shopping. We also saw the camp director as we returned them and thanked her for allowing them to spend some time with us.

We left with some sadness but also the satisfaction of having had some extra time with them. Their world is challenging but they have some seeds of God's truth sown in their hearts and have wise, godly CERI staff available year round to give some support. We will continue to pray for them and write letters through a translator who works for CERI. They are loved - especially by a Heavenly Father who will continue to draw them to Himself.

We'll be leaving in 5 hrs for the airport as our flight leaves Chisinau at 4:45am!!! I'm about completely packed and finished with my "wrap-up" responsibilities. Now to get a few hours sleep before the long trek home begins.

My heart is full of gratitude to God for all that He has provided for our team during this mission trip. We have been sustained, enabled and conformed a little more closely to His image through this trip. Thanks for your prayers and encouragement. Continue to pray as Robert, Mark, John and Linda travel home.

Psalm 119: 9-11

Moldova, Tuesday AM, August 9, 2010...

Just a quick note following our delicious breakfast of an omelet, fruit, yogurt and coffee. Just received word that the 6 team members who left here yesterday are safely home in TX. Yeah, God!!!

Tempertures have cooled here. Yeah, God!!!

Our girls will arrive about 11am and then we'll be off to an amusement park, lunch and shopping for school supplies. Pray for us in this precious day with girls whose parents are non-existent or unable to provide care. They are hungry for loving attention and are at great risk for getting that from a less than ideal source. Jesus is their answer along with adults who share some moments. We're loving the opportunity and hoping to maximize our time as we make memories that will remain after we depart.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Moldova, Monday, August 9, 2010...

Sharing faith and fun with friends is fantastic!!!

That's a description of our day.

Six members of our team got off this morning without making enough noise to wake me up!!! That allowed me to awaken quite well rested.

We drove to the camp about 9:15 and arrived there at 10am. Quite a few of the children came running to welcome us so we hovered and hugged there for awhile. Robert and Mark were picking up a total of 4 boys. John and I were picking up 2 girls.

We headed first of all to the botanical gardens where we had a tour of about 6 large, greenhouse type buildings filled with hundreds of different plants. We started with dessert plants and continued through tropical growth. The guide was very knowledgeable about everything and the plants were quite dramatic. I'm sure the botanical words were a challenge for our translator but she did very well. The girls had been there with a school class but they enjoyed it for the most part.

From there we drove to a newish pizza restaurant which the girls and our translator had not been to previously. We were seated at a table placed in a very private location and I silently thanked God for a space in which our conversation could flow however He desired. We ordered and as we waited for food, we had good conversation. One of our gals had shared a dream about the end of the world which she has had for the past 2 nights. She wanted to know if we could interpret it for her. (John said he wasn't Joseph - a lesson we had during the camp week) but we used the dream to share some of God's truth about the need to be ready for "the end of the world". Both John and I shared about our time of "Repentence" which is the way here of saying "becoming a Christian." One of the girls has a story about her repentence. She is the gal who started attending a Bible Study at her orphanage because they brought candy each week. As time continued, she attended because she was being drawn into a relationship with God and has repented and is known as a commited believer. The other gal said she had not repented and was still thinking about it and had never had an opportunity to repent. It was time to eat then leave by that point.

We returned to the Team House where the boys were playing some video games which Robert had brought from the states. I was able to continue the conversation about repentance with Lena alone with the translator. She is not ready for this step as she considers herself Orthodox and doesn't feel as though this step is necessary or approved of by her church. I shared with her but didn't press for a decision. I offered her the possibility of asking questions when she writes us or asking CERI staff should she want more information. We had given each child a little booklet entitled, THE WAY TO GOD and she had begun to read it. The Lord will continue to speak to her heart with His truth I pray.

The children left about 4:30 to be returned to the camp. We will connect again tomorrow for the same length of time. We plan to take the girls shopping for school supplies and perhaps some new pants. We also hope to go to an amusement park.

The temperature all day was quite moderate - didn't need a jacket but it was overcast and very comfortable.

Have had a great supper and are now waiting for Boris to arrive. He has been a van driver in the past but now has other work. We'll just catch up with him before we leave here Wed. am.

We've had a sweet day. One girl does not have a living mother nor a very involved father. The other gal has a mother who has emotional problems and is unable to care for her family. The girls long for their unavailable mothers so seem to enjoy my hugs, our hand holding and the focus of even a few hours of time. It is a specail privilege.

Let me know if you have an interest in sponsoring a Moldovan orphan. There are MANY children still needing sponsors. Check their website: CERIkids.com or find the site for BAPTIST CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES and look for their work in Eastern Europe.

Thanks for your prayers. We have one more full day here and then the day of travel home. It has been good to be here and these extra days are very special.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Moldova, Sunday, August 8, 2010...

It's 10pm and the computer is working so hopefully I can get this message written before I lose internet access which has been spotty this evening.

Our Sunday has been considerably more relaxing than our previous 7 days in Moldova and that pace has been very welcome. We headed to a different church from where we attended last Sunday at about 10:30am today. The service lasted about an hour and is a small congregation focusing attention on students who like to sleep late Sunday mornings. We met several other Americans in attendance. One gal is here with the Peace Corps; another is here for several months with Stells's House Ministry.

Following church we ate lunch at McDonalds then spent some time at the art market to purchase a few items. We divided into several groups depending on how we were spending our last or our near to last day here. By 5pm we were all back at the team house for final packing for those leaving in the morning, for dinner at 6pm and a time of team debriefing and prayer. We all have many good things to say about how the week went and very few suggestions for things that need adjustment for a future trip.

The major hightlight for John and me today was the visit with Valentina and Elena. These twin gals left their grandmother's home in a distant village at 6am, waslked 15 minutes, took 2 buses and arrived at the team house at 9:20am. They had to return to the bus station at 4pm in order to catch the last bus back to their village today. They are beautiful, dear gals who have quiet, sweet and grateful qualities. We didn't have a translator for the first hour but shared some gifts with them, photos and then played UNO for about 30 minutes. One seemed to know how to play though Moldovan rules have some differences and she helped her sister. We had fun with that and my grandchildren will be happy to know that I even won one of the rounds which is almost impossible for me to do while I visit my Richmond, VA family.

The girls went to church with us, to lunch, shopping and then we found a bench in a nearby park where we visited more seriously. The park is around an Orthodox Cathedral that is quite historic and many limos drove in/out with brides and grooms for photos. One of the limos was a bright pink hummer!

We learned more about these girls and the family from which they come. They are attending a technical high school for the cooking trade. They will return to Chisinau by Sept. 1 for the beginning of the school year.

Time to say Good-bye came too quickly but we treasure the hours we had and feel very privileged and grateful to share in their lives.

Will let another team member have the computer. Tomorrow and Tuesday we'll spend the days with our other gals we sponsor.

Pray for Peggy, Kristin, Allison, Lonnie, Lesley and April as they fly home tomorrow. We know that Caitlin has arrived safely and assume that Lee has as well.

Moldova moments remain blessed and precious. Thanks for your prayers.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Moldova, Saturday, August 7, 2010...

What a day!!!

Didn't hear 2 of our team members head to the airport at 6am but they got off just fine. Missed them in our adventures today but pray that they are traveling well on their return to the states.

Breakfast at 8am. Our sick gal was back on her feet and raring to go today so that was great. She shared an awesome devo with our team following breakfast. God has been close to her this week and she has shared his love with the kids and the team in very tangible and encouraging ways.

Several of our guys had made the needed purchases for our work project in a village today so we loaded ourselves, the supplies and lunch items and headed off about 9:30 am. We arrived at the home of 4 children ages 11-17 who live alone as their parents died about 4 years ago. They have an aunt and uncle who live next door but they are quite uninvolved in these children's lives.

CERI became aware of these children through a TV broadcast about them. A social worker in their community contacted CERI to see if some support could be given these children. There are some fairly recent changes in the strategy of CERI as they work with Moldovan children in need. Rather than work solely with children in orphanages, there are plans to add involvement in communities in order to bolster support of families and communities so that they will care for children in need in their area. Having our team work with this family is one of the ways this strategy is being implemented.

We did not tackle all the needs of this home and its yard but we made a big dent in what was needed and what will be very significant for them. We worked exclusively outside today. The children are able to care for things inside and that area is quite nice though I didn't get a "tour" of the home.

We again had a very hot day. We have decided not to even compute the farenheit temp when we hear the celcius temp as that makes us feel cooler. Today was probably 45 degrees celcius. It was hot and we worked in mostly direct sunlight. There were 20 of us. We were joined by our translators and several children who have aged out of the orphanage and are in transitional care. Everybody worked very hard from 10:30 am until 4:45pm with a 45 minute break for lunch at 1pm. We had purchased bread, meat, cheese, chips, cookies, drinks yesterday to take for a picnic lunch and we stopped roadside to buy a couple watermelon which were delicious.

We had 3 crews. Lonnie Rollins headed the paint crew which was the largest. They tackled the front, metal stave fence which was about 50 feet wide (my guess). At least 10 people painted diligently all that time and finished the job!!! It reguired some scrapping and brushing before painting. A huge job which was in full sunlight. I got in on part of that action before the day was over.

A second crew used 2 electric saws and cut donated pallettes and other wood into lengths to burn for winter heat. The pile which filled about 25% of the firewood enclosure was about 90% full by day's end!!! Another huge job tackled. Lots more wood is still there for future work crews.

The third team worked on yard clean-up. That included creating a compost enclosure, clearing debris, weeding, etc. etc. Lots was done but lots more could be done. The children have quite a large garden which includes a number of rows of corn. The corn is ready to pick so they cooked some ears and gave that to us for our lunch. I think it is field corn rather than sweet corn but most of us ate some of it with our sandwiches.

The children are beautiful - 3 girls and the youngest a boy. He helped us during the day as best he could. He has 2 cute rabbits and I got to hold the white one at one point. Very sweet children. We did not see the oldest as she has a summer job working in a fruit canning factory.

We were all soaked with perspiration, dirt, some paint and were quite fatigued by day's end. We had decided we'd tackle manageable amounts of the project and complete those rather than do part of many things. So with diligence and perseverence, we worked alongside our Moldovan brothers and sisters to serve the Lord and this sweet family and had some fun in the process. We have some "clowns" in our midst who keep us grinning. One is named Lonnie Rollins!!! I knew him before this trip but I didn't actually have any idea how cleverly wordy he is. He's a hoot!!! He's been a great servant to the team and the ministry this week and his wit is keeping us entertained.

We all were anxious to hit the showers as we got home so supper waited until we'd all had our turn!!! With long sleeved shirts and sunscreen, we're all in great shape except for some sore muscles.

Tomorrow will be another big day. The twins we help sponsor will be arriving at the team house at 10am so that they can attend church with us. We'll be going to a "new" church which is attended by a number of young people. The service is at 11am. We'll eat after that, shop at the outdoor market and figure out how to enjoy the rest of the day after that.

Tomorrow is the last day for another 6 of our team who will leave on Monday morning. Can't believe how fast the week has gone! Our first night was one week ago today. Amazing!!!

As you may imagine, sleep is beckoning. Thanks for your continued prayers and encouragement. We have been protected and are very grateful. Wish you could be here to experience the blessing of hearing God praised in Romanian. These are beautiful people and they have welcomed us warmly - no pun intended!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Moldova, Friday, August 6, 2010...

We are just back at the team house following our La Taifas Restaurant meal to show our gratitude to our support crew. Our meal was traditional Moldovan food - pre-ordered and served family style. The appetizers were platters of fresh veggies and plates of "pies". These triangular creations are stuffed with meat, cheese or vegetables. A lady makes them in the corner of the room where we were served.

We've had a dozen Moldovans who've shared themselves and the gifts God has given them with us. They have been a great crew and I hope they will be with us if God gives us the health and means to return.

We arrived at the camp around 10 this morning and we could immediately feel the excitement and energy and sadness of it being the last day. Gazebo Time went long which was fine. Our translators had devised a cute skit to open the morning. We had singing, recitation of memorized verses by children, choral reading of the day's scripture and a Adam Raccoon story called "Forever Falls". This story was a parable of God's instuction not to eat from the tree of Good and evil in the Garden of Eden but of course Adam chose to disobey. To be rescued King Aren sacrificed his life but came back to life. The stories keep their attention well and are great at communicating God's truth.

Our small groups included the Bible lesson and then the time of giving each child a t-shirt which they were able to paint with markers. Much to our surprise, most children did not want to make any marks on their shirts. They chose to leave them white. The day was again very warm but we managed to get most everyone into these long sleeved shirts for a camp wide photo!

We started a second Gazebo Time about 12:30pm when we had more singing, a powerful skit by our translators is which they depicted the "race" to heaven which requires keeping focus on the goal and resisting the pull of evil; the final presentation of memory verses in which 4 children said most of the verses we covered this week. We were prepared with 3 prizes but quickly created a fourth to recognize the achievement of each child, a last Adam Raccoon story entitled "Race to Victory Mountain". We also showed the DVD we'd created of photos from last year. At 1:30 we dismissed to small groups for the last time with the children to give a small bag of gifts and many last hugs. We departed about 2:15pm with mixed emotions - some sadness and lots of memories of the "warm" week we've had. We're all grateful for the experience.

One teammate was not able to join us this morning due to a "bug" that hit her during the night and continued into the morning. She stayed in bed all day but was able to join us this evening at the restaurant.

Before dinner, 3 of our guys visited the site of our work project for tomorrow. That will be to work in a village at the home of 4 siblings who live alone following the death of both parents. Will be mostly work outside the home to cut up wood, paint a fence and clear debris. They purchased the needed items to tackle this so we should be ready to go after breakfast which will be at 8am.

Two team members are headed back to the states tomorrow and will depart at 6am from the house - 8am from Moldova.

I was able to meet with my group of teachers today and we discussed the memory verses the children have been learning. I also had some things to give them - bandaids, pens, art supplies we didn't use or didn't use up, the prisms we'd used in a lesson, misc. items and most importantly about a dozen books I'd ordered from the Romanian Bible Society which has Christian books in Romanian. I wasn't sure they would be interested but they each claimed a book and the director said they would share the books and put them in the library - not sure exactly what then means but I'm delighted.

Others are waiting for the computer so I'll sign off. We have certainly been feeling your prayers and need them to continue. Tomorrow will be a day of work outdooors and it's probably going to be very hot again. We have water!!!

Rejoicing because of our faithful heavenly Father's provision.