Last night's team debriefing was such a blessing to us! The presence of God was so real as we joined together in prayer, seeking God's direction and divine touch as we prepared for today. We felt surrounded by the prayers from home as peace settled over us and we were able to enjoy such a peaceful night of rest. (Even though we didn't get to bed til almost 1:00 AM and the sun rises here before 4:30 AM.)
We rushed to get ready this morning and gather together by 7:45 AM for team worship. Again, what a blessing this time is as we have the opportunity to worship with the CTL staff. We began with songs of praise and adoration, followed by individual introductions. Brandon taught today's lesson and gave the introduction to the book of Galatians and also covered chapter 1. After our study, songs filled the ministry center once again as we joined together in singing praise and worship songs in Romanian and English. The presence of God was so real in the room that several of us had goose bumps and teary eyes. God is so good.
By 9:00 AM we were energized and set to go to the rehab center/orphanage. This center is populated with orphans who are seriously disabled, physically and mentally impaired, have autism and some are blind. In the Romanian culture these children will remain until they die receiving no education and very little therapy or interaction. While some of our team members were so eager to visit this orphanage, others were very apprehensive and fearful to encounter these children who has such severe special needs. When our team arrived the children were waiting anxiously for us to arrive and greet us at the gate. Giggles, squeals of delight, sounds of clapping and waving hands welcomed us warmly into their "home".
We quickly gathered the children who were going along on our adventure to the park and McDonald's, carefully pairing them off with one or more team members who would then be responsible for that child. The adventure began as we travel to the park with the children by taking public transportation of the tram system. Upon our arrival at the park we joined in play and games with the children. After playing about an hour, we walked them to McDonald's to treat them to Big Macs, French Fries and Sprites! Some children required little to no assistance eating, while others needed to be monitored because they tried to eat too much at a time. Some children could not feed themselves at all and depended entirely on our team to feed them. All the children were so ecstatic at this amazingly special treat! As we left McDonald's to take the kids back, we experienced our first official Romanian thunder/rain storm which left our team and kiddos pretty soggy to say the least. Goodbyes were a little sad as we bid them farewell but only until Wednesday when we will see them all again.
Jamie, who is an autistic support teacher, and Brandon, who is a physical therapist, didn't join us at the park or McDonald's outings but instead remained at the Rehab to help the staff's physical therapist perform therapy. Originally Jamie and Brandon were only to be able to work with these children Monday and Wednesday morning but since today went so well they are going to be working there every day! Praise God!
We arrived back at the ministry center where lunch was waiting for us. Around 1:00 PM we set out for another orphanage for teen girls called Chitila. At this orphanage we did a bible study with the girls by performing a short skit about Jesus being our Rock and the importance of building our house upon that rock. After discussing the skit, the girls sang worship and praise songs. I was overwhelmed with tears and emotions as I watched and listened to them sing and worship Jesus. This time of worship was followed by Brandon, Dana and myself sharing our own personal testimonies. The girl's attention were glued to us as we shared. They were so surprised to hear that American's also experience storms and pain in their lives. After the study we took the girls out in the courtyard to play games and continue to visit. I had the opportunity to meet with one of the girls during that time and pray with her. Surprisingly, although we have encountered very different experiences in our lives we shared several details of pain in our lives that were the same and immediately bonded.
After our time at Chitila, we returned to the ministry center for dinner and then out for a night touring "Old Town". We ate dessert at City Grille and shared our debriefing time there. Once again, another late late night but oh so rewarding and joyful. I am no longer questioning "why" I came on this missions trip. My heart is so full and overflowing with gratitude as we grow together in our faith and show love to these dear children. To God be ALL the glory!!!
Love in Christ,