This is now the third time (this trip) that I've seen many of them, so it was beyond exciting to walk into the room and have them run up to me-- not because I'm new and exciting, but because they knew me. There's really nothing in the world like the sound of their gleeful giggles.
And these little ones that have giant smiles on their faces and pure joy in their hearts come from NOTHING. And when I say "nothing" I mean often no electricity, no running water, sometimes no floor under their feet or roof above their heads. The conditions these kids live in is really beyond our comprehension. However, these kiddos are still with their families (many times just one parent). The goal of this center is to prevent child abandonment. During the day, the kids are dropped off at Tei (often quite dirty and run down), and they are bathed, clothed, and fed three good meals. When the CTL staff is there they are given loads of attention, loved on, taught about Jesus, taught everyday life skills, and allowed to go outside to play and just be kids.
To think even for a moment about what these precious ones live with every day and then to hear their joyous giggles and see their amazing smiles, one can't help but see Jesus and the joy that can only come through Him. I praise the Lord that although these kids have seemingly nothing, they are being taught by CTL about the gift of grace and love that is far more valuable than anything they'll ever have in this life.
Today after playing for a little while, I yelled over to one particularly adorable little boy, Mario (who happens to have the cutest dimples on the face of the planet). Right after I called his name, he slapped his hand to his forehead in a "her again?" kind of way. It was so quick and so stinking cute that Florina about doubled over laughing. She then proceeded to ask him in Romanian if he liked me, and he immediately covered his eyes and most of his face with his hands. I died. It was seriously adorable. Florina then tried to film him doing it, and it was still cute and funny, but no where near as adorable as the first time. (Check out my FB to see a quick portion of one of the videos.)
After playing and story time, the team that's here sang a couple songs for the kids. And when I say "sang," I don't mean sang some kids songs with a silly tone. I mean they SANG like choir people about to win an award. No joke. The kids were mesmerized. It was so neat to watch them watch the team. I'm telling you--it's going to be like that in Heaven!
After they told the story of Ester, the team had the kids make crowns. Talk about adorable. Not only were they cute, but most of the boys then proceeded to show their "guns" and talk about how they were "regele" (king). Ahhh! I couldn't get enough of them today.
Unfortunately, we had to leave, but I'm so excited I'll be able to see them at least a couple more times before I go home.
This afternoon we had some kids from the family program as well as some kids from Pinocchio over to the ministry center. I played spoons with Nelu and a group of kids, and it was a blast! These kiddos (although they are older) also enjoyed Ester and were mesmerized by the team's singing. I'm going to miss that when they leave--good thing I recorded it! :) Carmen, one of our beautiful ballerinas also danced for us this afternoon. She's amazingly talented, and we pray that ballet will take her far in life.
We walked the kids back to the Pinocchio orphanage at the end of the day (making it three trips total for a few of us today--car there to get the kids, walking back with them, walking them back home, and then walking home ourselves). It's not far by Romanian standards, but it's times like today that I wish I had my Fitbit, merely out of curiosity. Not to mention that it was in the high 90s with about 90% humidity. ;) Not to worry, y'all, it builds character--so they say.
Once we got back to the ministry center, we did a quick few minutes of debriefing with the team while we ate some pork chops (not porc limba, Bogdan!), and then headed off to the store and finally home. It was another long, but great day!
For those who have been faithfully praying, here are some requests:
1. Continued health, endurance, and strength--especially in the heat.
2. That God would do a mighty work IN and THROUGH all of us--staff, interns, and team.
3. That relationship that are built or nurtured on this trip would be long lasting and fruitful.
4. For healing--whatever that may mean for each person serving here.
5. Wisdom and direction for the staff as they serve these kids day in and day out.
THANK YOU FOR PRAYING! Te iubesc!