Ahhh, Martin…and friends.

Today we have a Belmont student who is beginning an internship in our office. One of her main projects will be centered around some of our Africa homework. I’m very excited about this, as we have SO much to communicate with you all about our recent scouting trip to Kenya and Uganda. Krista (or as I seem to continue to call her, Katie) is going to have her hands full, for sure!

I’m grateful for her help because it is allowing me to continue to move forward with our future work in Uganda this summer while I now turn my attention to what is immediately before me: special needs and handicapped children in Moldova who are in desperate need of a bed.

So many of you have heard me talk about beds in Moldova and the children who need them. I’d like to tell you a little bit about these particular kids, so—-even if you’ve heard my stories before—-this will be good.
I’d like to introduce you to my boy Martin. He is a rock star and I can’t tell you how much I enjoy him. He’s brought new meaning to our ministry and great joy to my life. Friends, meet Martin. Martin, meet my friends:

I first met Martin in November 2007 when I was scouting orphanages looking for places we would bring teams to provide beds. I met him in the art room of his orphanage and he showed me all of his work. Then told me he was a singer. Not just any singer, oh no. Martin told me he was famous! I asked him to sing a song for me….and he did. It was one of the longer songs I’ve heard in Moldova and he enjoyed singing every part of it!

Martin shared with me that he was left by his mother in an apartment in Moldova when he was just a baby. Neighbors found him and took him to an orphanage. Years later Martin required medical attention and a doctor, tragically, damaged his spine—leaving him handicapped for the rest of his life. One thing was certain, God had given Martin extra helpings of joy and love and this was obvious to everyone who came into contact with him. I shared with Martin why I was there and that I would be bringing friends back with me to build beds for him and all his friends. He was SO excited. I asked if he would sing for all my friends and he promised to do so.

Last March I kept my word and Sweet Sleep returned with beds. There are 327 boys at this special needs home for severely handicapped boys and, because of the small size of our team, we only planned to provide half of the beds at that time. We were greeted right away by a very, very excited Martin. He asked what had taken so long. Turns out, Martin had been waiting at the orphanage gate for us to show up, daily, with the beds I had promised. He was that excited.

When our teams arrive in an orphanage we generally begin our bed placement according to the orphanage director’s wishes. Usually everyone is getting a bed, so it’s just a matter of who is getting them first. Last March Sweet Sleep only had beds for half of the boys. The director requested us to place beds in the rooms of the smaller children. Martin did not get a bed. It was a bittersweet week. We promised to return and gave him a memento to hold in the interim. He was happy. And, he sang for us.

Other boys were even happier, like this one below who couldn’t have been more pleased and gave me a big “thumbs up” to express his delight.


And this little boy, who is clearly absolutely estatic in his new bed.

More than 100 of these boys are bedridden. They spend their entire lives in a space that’s smaller than a twin size bed. And those beds have been rusted metal with broken metal springs. Some mattresses were just an inch thin and heavily soiled while others were more traditional with badly broken springs or heavily damaged foam. It’s no wonder how excited these boys were when you think of what they had been spending their lives sleeping on.

In just 24 days our next team will be traveling from Texas, Georgia and Tennessee to minister to the children in two orphanages: the boys in the photos above and also to boys and girls in the 4th to 9th grade who are nearby in an orphanage for children who have arthritis and circulatory and other joint problems. Can you imagine what it must be like for children who are suffering from arthritis and joint problems to be sleeping on old metal hammocks? Gosh, I cannot.

I tell you all of this to get to two things: Sweet Sleep is in great need of your prayers for this team and the teachers and children (you can sign up for our prayer newsletter for more on this). Sweet Sleep is also in great need of your financial support to be able to provide the beds for these children and I am hoping you can help. Just the mere fact that you are reading this is important. If you are reading this, I’m asking you to think of ways you might be able to generate money for their beds because you might be one of the few to read this post (I never really know who is reading this).

There are countless ways to help provide the support we need so that our team can make the beds these children so desperately need. I don’t know where you are……perhaps an office? Can your department have a jean’s day to raise support? Perhaps another kind of challenge to raise funds? Several of the same ideas would work for a school….talk to your advisor about a jean’s day or challenge all your friends to sacrifice their money for lunch money for one day. Are you on Facebook? So is Sweet Sleep! Join our Cause, invite your friends and start a contest among the people you are friends with. Or, maybe you just write an email which shares about all the things you have read and send it out to your people. I’m happy to brainstorm with you when it benefits the children.

Whatever you do, I encourage you to not just let this be something you read. Decide to do something because 200 boys and girls are depending on you. One person really does make a difference.

Thanks friends. I can’t wait for Martin to get his bed and to show you the pictures!

See you in the next blog,

Jen
ps. you can give online at https://sweetsleep.org/ and then by clicking on “donate now”. be sure to put ‘special’ in the memo line.

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