Not until you touch down in a new country do you realize how your mental construct of a place collides with the reality of it. One’s thoughts and impressions can be just as foreign as the place itself. Moldova is the first country I’ve been to in the former Soviet Union. It is the dead of Winter so the city of Chisinau is blanketed with a covering of thick snow, pristine in places, brown and soiled in others. There are the requisite number of Russian cars, women in high-heeded boots, fur coats and hats walking to and from shops and resturants with men in the equally recognizable “Russian” fur hats smoking their cigaretts. And just like everywhere else in the world, all bad things American invade the landscape…Marlboro, Coke, McDonalds, Hollywood, Nike, etc. I think it might be impossible in these times to go anywhere in the world and find a place that is its original unaffected culture. Enough about the American cultural invasion…I came to Moldova to document a population of forgotten and neglected people – a result of circumstances unimaginable to most of us back in the land of excess and plenty.
I met my new friend Jen Gash back in Nashville at the end of last year and heard about her Sweet Sleep ministry. Jen, like other grass roots ministries, has too much work, too little time and not enough woman/manpower to get all the details and tasks accomplished for all the needs Sweet Sleep is trying to meet here in Moldova. I said I would come and be the lens of Sweet Sleep. So here I am. Today, Monday, we passed out EMI donated coats and scarfes to about 150 kids. They were happy to have something to call their own. I came walking into the orphanage classroom hall of Internat 2 and a boy offered in sign language to carry my photo backpack. It weighed almost as much as the little guy did so I tired to decline but he would not stand for it. He carried it all the way to the director’s office and smiled so big when he put it down at my feet. I saw all their little or maturing faces through my lens today, said a silent prayer as they stood there staring into my lens…may you be warm and blessed my dear one, may you come to know our Lord, may you grow to love others…and know love.