A Lesson From A 17 Year Old Orphan

Yesterday our team did a small presentation at church about our trip to Moldova this year. Below is the portion I had written out for it, however this story just brings me to tears and I could barely get through it yesterday..haha:)  So reading it is far better than me trying to say it:)
I just LOVE Olga…

During our team meetings in preparation for the trip, we had dwelled on a verse – Ephesians 5:20 which says “Now all glory to God who is able, through his mighty power at work within us to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” So we are here to report back to you how the Lord is answering the prayers of this church, so we can share together in giving Him the glory in how He is providing for the orphans in Tocuz.

We have been praying for the kids to grow spiritually; for the kids to come to know the Lord as their Savior and as their Heavenly Father; for this is really the only thing that will completely change their lives. Over the past few years we have been blessed to hear how the kids are being taught by a Christian teacher on a weekly basis; they are learning from the Bible and are exposed to it’s message. But we have been praying for the kids to not only who Jesus is in their heads, but in their hearts.
God is answering. Let me tell you about a young girl named Olga. Olga is in her last year in the orphanage. She is 17 years old and will be one of the young girls being given the opportunity to go to the Christian school next school year. This past summer, Olga accepted the Lord as her Savior. She said she had been hearing about salvation and Jesus over the last few years but wanted to make the decision because she wanted to, not because someone else was telling her it was the right thing to do. Olga is learning and growing. She loves her Bible and just at the mention of Jesus her face lights up and in broken English says “Jesus is life.” But Olga is also growing in the love of God, a love that puts others before herself and a love that allows her to joyfully sacrifice. Let me explain.

Olga had been asking me who her sponsor was. And I told her that it was my mom’s co-worker who helps oversee a local daycare center. Pat had been sponsoring Olga for the last 3 years. So we chatted for a bit and Olga told me that she wanted to send Pat a gift and would give me something before our team left. To hear this wasn’t out of the ordinary because the kids make us cards and pictures to take home so I was expecting it to be along those lines. The night before we left, Olga asked me to come into her room, and through our translator said she had the gift she wanted me to give to Pat. She handed me her doll. Now, to see any child in the orphanage with a toy is pretty rare. But she had one and shared it with the 12 other girls that she roomed with. She had it since she was a baby. It was her one fun thing, her one prized possession. I started to shake my head and said I can’t take this. But she grabbed my hand and said “Please. You all sacrifice so much for me. It’s my turn to sacrifice for others. This is for the children in the daycare so they can have something to play with.” After saying that, she handed the doll to me with the biggest smile on her face. Olga a 17 year old orphan gets it. She has taught me, as I hope she teaches you, to sacrifice. To sacrifice joyfully. To not hold on too tightly to the possessions we have.

I pray this encourages you; encourages you to continue to pray boldly because God is moving and answering your prayers.

French Toast and Cookies

Our team spent alot of time in the kitchen in Tocuz this year! For the past few years we served them a special meal, so this year we decided on french toast. We all got up bright and early to guesstimate in how we could make this a success.  Surprisingly, the orphanage had the perfect set up for this! They had a huge griddle stove and lots of counter space.
A BIG thanks to Cracker Barrel who donated 125 bottles of individual sized maple syrup bottles…the kids have never had maple syrup before:)  Overall, the breakfast was a great hit..altho there were some kids who were not impressed…haha:)

Robin getting ready to cook!

Bill, Adam, and Jenny unwrapping all of the syrup bottles.
Thankfully, none of then broke on way from the States!

Ala loves the kitchen:)


Ana..always so happy!

Olympia…believe it or not, was not a fan of french toast.

After we recouped from breakfast we got things ready to start baking cookies. Robin is AMAZING at this..she had everything organized and had such a passion to bake with the kids. Our team bought a hand mixer at one of the local shopping centers and all the kids were intrigued by it. They were all excited to have a turn using it.
The ones who had the most fun baking were the older boys! One of them told Robin that this (spending time in the kitchen) reminded him of home. So sweet. There were a bunch of kids who did not want to leave..they wanted to spend all day baking. It was such a great way to show them love and spend quality time with them!
By the end, I think we made around 34 dozen cookies!

The final product!

A Reality Made Real In My Small World

For those of you close to me, you know I am deeply burdened for those victims of human trafficking.  It’s easy to keep it at arms length tho~ I live in a small bubble, have a great family, wonderful friends, and a fantastic church.
But my thoughts started to change 5 years ago when Adam and I started traveling to Moldova. The kids became like family and each year we grow closer and closer to them. I am drawn to the older girls because their temporary safety in the orphanage is quickly coming to an end. Their future is bleak.
Richard Stearns says in his book “The Hole In Our Gospel” that when we take away statistics and actually connect with a face, a real person, our attitude changes and we become more motivated to take action.
Tragically, sadly, I can now connect a face with child slavery.
I met Christina on my second trip and connected with her instantly. Coincidentally, Adam and I sponsored her cousin the year before. They looked like sisters.  Each year after that, we sponsored Christina and became extremely close to her. Even tho we could never communicate with her directly (unless through a translator) we could communicate by being with her, hugging her, or holding her hand.
So this year was no different..when we arrived at Tocuz we always look for certain kids. Christina was no where to be found. As we started our distribution, I had her bag in my hand waiting to give it to her. But the director saw it and started shaking her head. I pulled Ala, our translator aside, and asked her where Christina was. She told me that her mother “forced” her to get married. At 14 years old.  If you have ever had the wind knocked out of you, that was kind of how I felt.
14. “Married.” To me, it was sugarcoated…if she was “forced”, my intuition tells me that money was involved for the mother.  She was sold.
Why do I share this? Because my prayer is that whoever reads this, will connect Christina’s face to the astounding statistics. That when you hear the phrase “human trafficking” or “slavery” you will see Christina’s face, a young girl who likes music, clothes, and everything a typical 14 year old girl should.
But don’t just read. Take Action. Pray. God tells us in Isaiah to “Seek Justice.” Not someone else. But you and me. 
I shared this story with some people and one person’s reaction was “Oh.” Don’t become complacent to terminology or statistics. Remember Christina’s face.

Christina, Oct. 2009, opening her Face Of A Child bag.

Christina and I right before our team left Tocuz. Oct. 2009