Monday, November 06, 2006

He Lives

No, I haven't died.
Yes, I felt like I wanted to.

Something grabbed hold of me Friday and held on. I'll spare you the details, but to put it in terms internet addicts will understand, today's the first day I've checked email since Thursday.

I make a lousy sick person. I think I could best be described as a wounded bear. I want to be left alone, I growl a lot, and I tend not to smell very nice.

Poor her credit she kept trying to get liquids in me (albeit they didn't stay in me long) and tried to encourage me to move...mostly toward the shower.

The only upside to the weekend was that I managed to sleep through both the Spurs loss Friday night and the Cowboys debacle on Sunday. I also think I lost about ten pounds.

However we missed church, missed a planned birthday event for a dear friend (which we've rescheduled for tomorrow), and I missed writing...eating...occasionally breathing. I didn't miss any sleep, I think I've slept about 80 hours over the past several days.

I'm being adventurous as I write this, stepping into the potentially dangerous world of coffee, and a granola bar...we'll see how that comes out...pardon the pun.

Anyway onto brighter subjects...

Before I departed this plane, I was off to our second "Team Moldova" meeting. It was inspiring, a little daunting and very encouraging. We've paid off our airfare costs in total and I learned I don't have pay the rest until mid December - that's a not so subtle hint that if anyone still feels an urge to contribute you can still do so via CERI or send a check made out to CERI to us.

I was a little optimistic when I said we had raised enough funds and to "hold all checks," in all honesty we have the money in our "emergency fund" to pay the freight if need be, but I wouldn't be opposed to lightening our load a little more. The email I received that inspired me to write that "hold all checks" line, was actually outlining the costs for airfare and visas, and what we have raised/contributed does total almost that exact amount.

However there's about $1500 dollars in other costs. I've already paid $600 of those, plus about $700 toward our air fare/ if anyone still feels "led" the links on how to give are on the sidebar. I'm not going to belabor the point, but I might as well be truthful...I sort of goofed when I said we had raised every thing we needed. If not another dime comes in...we're still going, and to all those who have given...I still can not find the words to express our heartfelt thanks.

As to giving "stuff" we can take with us for the orphans, now estimated to be around 125 kids, this is a little dicey. There are a couple of factors at play. First off, customs agents in Moldova apparently won't allow you to bring in a suitcase full of "stuff" so things have to be packed among all the team members to look like they're for personal use...even combs, toothbrushes, etc. That means if you go to the dollar store and buy 125 combs, we'll split them between bags of our team and another team that's going...but we've decided to not to try to buy a bunch of clothes for fear they'll get confiscated. Customs agents think anything being brought into the country in quantity is destined for the thriving black market. So, we'll probably end up buying stuff in Moldova, it won't be as high of quality, but we'll be able to bring gifts that the people on the ground there say they really need. Plus, we will be bringing or buying gifts for those workers...I still need more information on that.

Secondly, we want to make sure we are giving kids what they need. Toiletries are always good, but the same rules apply: first they have to be small enough that we can divvy them up in our luggage, and second there has to be enough for every kid.

These children have very little and it can be almost cutthroat if one kid feels another kid gets more. We've been warned to expect to see fist-fights on a regular basis. We don't want to contribute to that situation. Plus, and I say this in all kindness, it's not our intent to go into Moldova and "Americanize" these children by showering them with toys and gifts at Christmas. Greed runs rampant through Moldova, we hope to inspire these children in another direction.

In fact, that brings me to the "theme" of our mission: The true meaning of giving.

We'll start each day with a devotional among the team members and then one of us will lead a devotional each morning and each evening at the orphanage. I've already agreed to lead one such nighttime devotional, a reading....more likely a paraphrase of one of my favorite authors from my childhood and I suppose still, O.Henry. The story: "The Gift of the Magi."

Amy has been recruited to lead singing each morning and was pumped to learn that some of the kids know a number of familiar praise songs in Romanian. I would expect Amy to surprise some folks when we get there...but that's all I'm saying about that.

Anyway, this idea of spreading joy and perhaps spreading a small bit of wisdom about the nature of true giving seems so absolutely on target for a mission trip that I came away from our meeting truly feeling that we are in the midst of God's will.

Now that my insides are apparently out of the clutches of Satan (coffee and granola bar and staying down) I'm eager to get to work...

So now, I'm off to memorize The Gift of the Magi...and start figuring out a way to summarize it, so that I can hold 125 kids attention as my words are translated and still do justice to such a wonderful story.

Okay, suddenly my stomach isn't feeling so good...but I don't think it's the flu this time...