Moldova 2013JMI’s Christmas In Moldova mission trip is always unique, emotionally and physically exhausting, and full of tender moments and this year’s journey was no exception.

Our volunteer team was composed of 19 members from five states with travel rendezvous points in Charlotte, NC or Munich, Germany.  Every volunteer checked an extra 50-pound bag of warm winter clothes – approximately 1,000 pounds altogether – consisting of gloves, knit caps, coats, socks, scarves, games, friendship bracelets and a variety of other special gifts for sponsored children, as well as hard to find items for our Moldovan friends.  Every child we saw received a complete set of scarf, gloves and cap and/or socks…450 sets distributed altogether!

The places we visited included the orphanage at Orhei, the orphanage and church at Carpineni, the village of Rispeni and Shelter in Falesti, the Shelter in Balti and the orphanage in Costesti, and the Shelter in Glingeni.  Several of these venues required that we modify our programming and our team proved adaptable to every new challenge.

The program we presented was an assortment of ice-breakers, singing, crafts, games, and the story of the birth of Jesus with some particular applications to Moldovans.  Each visit was concluded with a special appearance from Father Christmas, complete with individually wrapped gifts of clothes, fruit, candy and other goodies ranging from toys to toothbrushes.

When the team wasn’t surrounded by children, we were sorting supplies, wrapping gifts, making evening runs to the Metro for more apples, bananas, oranges and candy, or enjoying each other and Moldova’s delicious food.

By our final visit, we felt like we must have reenacted the miracle of the loaves and fishes as we still had piles of clothes remaining.  Those precious items are now being distributed to the children who missed our stopover due to placements in families for the holidays.

Every mission trip to Moldova is concluded with a celebration dinner in which we give thanks for the week of blessings that were ours and acknowledge those who tended to all the details of our safety, comfort and workload.  At this year’s event, four of our transitional living kids gave their testimonies, a special blessing impossible to adequately convey.

JMI staff want to thank all of you who sponsor children and/or make contributions to our Warm Their Hearts Clothes Collection.  You cannot imagine how excited or appreciative our lovable ragamuffins are to celebrate with us and to receive their gifts.  At the same time, none of us can know how a single smile, a hug, a gift or the hearing of the Greatest Story Ever Told will change a life, now and for eternity!

In about 6 months we have the honor of returning to Moldova to conduct our annual summer camps for kids.  If you would like to find out more about how you can become a part of this ministry, plan to attend our informational meeting this coming Sunday, January 19th at 12:30 in the Gallery, or write [email protected]ceandmercy.org.  Don’t miss out on the blessing!!!

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