This has been an amazing but at the same time a very difficult trip.
When we first arrived at the Faleisti orphanage we were setting up for worship and the third grade class walked in single file line into the room. I quickly walked up to Olga, Christina, Maria, and Aliona to give them hugs. They kind of looked at me blanked faced for a moment and my heart just sunk. I didn’t know if they were mad at me, if they had forgotten me, or what. A few moments of blank stares passed (it felt like eternity) and then a huge smile went across Olga’s face. She wrapped her arms around my waist and I just wanted to cry I had missed these little girls so very much. With exception of Maria, the other girls did the same as Olga and we were tied to the hips for the next three days. Six of the ten children I had really connected with and have been praying for ever since this summer were not at the orphanage. Instead they were at home with a family member(s) for the holidays. I was sad that I did not get to see their little faces or hug them tight, but I’m glad that they have family to stay with during the holidays. Since those children were not their, I was able to spend more time with the four that were there and actually built relationships with five other children as well.
While we were getting in the vans for lunch that day, a team member accidentally slammed the door on my ring and pinky finger of my right hand. Ouch. Thank goodness my hands were in my gloves for some padding. Once we finally got the door open, we immediately put my fingers in the snow and that helped with the swelling and bruising. It looked really bad, but miraculously in a matter of hours they looked so much better and they are fine now.
Two highlights of the trip for me personally was after we passed out the EMI bags and Christmas dinner. (1) After the EMI bags had been passed out I was able to go through Ludmilla’s typed list of the children. From that list I was able to read a brief description of why the children were there, if they were “true” orphans, how they were doing in school, their birthdays, what were some of the favorite activities, if they had any brothers or sisters at the orphanage, ect. It was very inciteful and answered a number of questions.
(2) We served the children and the teachers a dinner provided for by Maryland’s husband’s company. I wish you all could have seen their little faces! Even though it looked like they were busting at the seams with excitement, they were very polite and waited for everyone at each table to be served before they started serving each other and themselves. Oh! They were so excited and we all took so many pictures. I cannot wait to tell you more about it when I get home.
The day we left for Chisinau, we spent half a day with the children of Fialeisti. I pulled each of the little girls I have been spending time with one by one into the hallway with a translator (Alena). I let them each pick out a Barbie doll, a pad of paper, some socks, and gum! Oh! How adorable. Even though Maria had basically refused to talk to me (not in a mean way, but she was upset with me because I had left) I gave her the barbie doll that I had specifically picked out for her. The Barbie had red hair (just like her) and was an ice skater. She started crying and apologizing for being mad at me. We talked for a while and we’re going to write to each other. I also pulled three of the little boys aside and gave them race cars and socks. (Mom one of these little boys was Tudor! The very smart boy I had told you about this summer.) Oh they were so cute. I wish I could be with them right now.
Later I spoke in length with one of the older girls named Tania. Throughout the week, she had insistently giving me bracelets, hair ties, drawings, etc. When we finished talking I asked her what her favorite Bible verse was and she said John 3:16. We wrote it out on a small piece of paper and I then we placed it into Peggy’s prayer bracelet. Then I told her about Peggy and her present she wanted me to give to a special girl in Moldova. We talked about the prayer box and bracelet. She wanted me to thank Peggy and give her a hug.
The end of our time in Faleisti came too fast. It was hard to leave, but it was not as hard as this summer. I was able to hold back the tears until I got into the car.
We drove to Chisinau and had dinner at a “New York” restaurant. Later that night I took a shower and was in my bed reading when I suddenly started itching. Then my throat started itching and I had a cough. Next thing I knew small whelps were popping up all over my body and my throat and tongue were swelling up. Jen woke-up Julie, a nurse, and she came into the room to check out what was going on. I was having an allergic reaction…to what we don’t know. My fingers swelled and then my face started swelling (yes my face looked like Will Smith from the movie Hitch, not so funny though at the time though). I took some of Emily’s prescription Benadryl, we all prayed, and we went to sleep. I knew I was in God’s hands and that he would take care of me, but I was scared to sleep because I was afraid I could stop breathing and not wake. Suddenly I felt all alone and then I started to pray again. As I started praying I felt Maryland put her arm over the top bunk to climb up and check on me. I then felt much more at ease. The next morning I took another one of Emily’s pills and slept literally the whole day. Today my eyes are still swollen, but things are getting back to normal. We decided I should stay here for at least a half day. I have to go with the rest of the group to the police station to register with our passports and visas this afternoon, and then we will see whether or not I will go to the orphanage or back here to the team house.
Goodness…I cannot thank you guys enough for your prayers. This has been a difficult trip, but the children are such a blessing. Watching their little faces light up when the saw all the coats and Christmas presents, while we sang with Jordan and Carrie during worship time, while we taught Bible study, and while they proudly showed off their crafts and drawings…it has all just been amazing. I cannot wait to show you all pictures and share more of the wonderful stories.