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I should be heading to bed right now.  I'll be up in four hours (2:30 am) to take our guests to the airport.  At least I am not flying out too!  I CAN go home and sleep for a couple more hours hopefully.

The Home of Hope dedication was an incredible time.  We had guests and leaders from Project Rescue, AGWM, both Pentecostal and Baptist churches, friends from the U.S. Embassy, and Salvation Army.  We had families of staff, pastors, kids, and co-workers.  And we celebrated.

The women at the Home of Hope loved the party, so appreciative of all those that gave.  We ate so much food, prayed, shared, cut the ribbon, and thanked scores of individuals. 

So I am tired...but a good kind of tired.  Click here for photos of the celebration!

Sidewalk Sales

05012009I was sitting at our Moldovan Home Depot the other day (don't get any misconceptions at what it looks like.  It is a huge covered bazaar, crammed full of tables. Each table has a myriad of stuff---plumbing items, nails, screws, electrical.  You walk until you find the piece you want to buy!)

I was actually sitting in the car while Sasha ran in to buy a couple things to fix a leaking faucet at the Home of Hope.  I was right in front of this woman as she was laying out her items to sell that day.

I rarely notice this anymore, because every market will be surrounded with people selling junk on the sidewalks.  Some of it is new junk, and a lot of old, archaic items.  Either way, it is all junk!  I have no idea what some of the stuff is, but this is a country where you can still repair your toaster!

I try to imagine a life of spending all day on the street, hoping to sell a few air fresheners, sockets, or socks. 

I can't.

But I do know a lot of people who lay their lives out on the street for the highest bidder.  They toss out their principles, morals, and integrity, hoping for some reward and return.  Our media is full of people who "sold their soul" for their moment of fame.  I've seen girls sell their character (and body) in a false notion that that some guy will then like them.  Our politics are full of men and women purchased by lobbyists and influencers.

Come to think of it, as sinners, all we possessed was a pile of used, worthless junk, a dead life.  But Christ came and bought the whole thing...including us, the owner.  He paid the ultimate price for our souls...then gave them back to us with freedom. 

God looks at our pitiful offers of value and sees a treasure, an eternal soul worth more than all the money in every bank in this entire world  To him, you are not junk.  Receive His purchase offer...and find freedom!


Early Morning

I love the morning, especially my mornings in Moldova.

I try to wake early, slip downstairs without waking the kids, stepping lightly on each squeaky tread.  I always let the dogs out first, hoping that I can do it without waking up Natalie.  If I can do that, I've succeeded in a major way!  I need that girl to quit waking up at 6 am so I can those few minutes of peace!

I then start the coffee, flip up the laptop and relax in the gliding rocker.  We bought that rocker 13 years ago when Elissa was born, and it is still the favorite chair in the house.  I'll read email while the coffee is brewing.  Gracie the Schnauzer usually crawls up on the couch.  I used to sit there, but she wants to snuggle so close it is uncomfortable.  I'm always feeling like I going to squash her.

I can't think until the coffee is finished.  I give thanks each morning for the friend who sent us that Caribou coffee.  Another friend once sent us a box of Starbucks (long since finished), but I'll drink anything.  Caribou is the best, and their Mahogany and Obsidian reign above all.  Today I'm enjoying Caribou Daybreak.

In the summer, Nancy will take her cup of coffee and go outside to the swing to read her Bible.  I always prefer the living room, in the comfortable chair.  Either location, I listen to the neighbors' roosters discussing their plans with each other.  I'll often hear a few sheep or goats off in the distance.  One year, the neighbor to our right had a bunch of ducks.  They quacked incessantly, but I kind of got used to it.  It probably has a good biblical authenticity to read about Jesus in the village.

I'll usually hear the Orthodox church bell ringing.  I barely notice it anymore, and have actually forgot what time it does ring!

Yes, morning is the time of day when there is peace in the world, good memories, good smells and sounds.  It is what makes life worth living, my sabbath of the morning.

Anxiety and Peace

For some reason, I'm feeling the stress of today.  Last night was a relatively sleepless night, worrying about one of the girls at the Home of Hope.  She is just a 14-year-old, but already faced a lot of issues of trafficking.  When I realized she is only a year older than our oldest daughter, I become very sobered.

In addition, Nancy is gone this week, so I'm playing Mr. Mom.  The house isn't clean enough, the bathrooms aren't scrubbed, and our washer is still not fixed.  I wanted to get the entire job list finished, yet I feel like there are more things to do than before.  I sometimes freeze staring at all that lies ahead, not sure even where to start. 

I am also speaking at a youth conference tomorrow.  I need to drive up in the morning to Ribnitsa, going through the "border" at Transdnistria.  That is always interesting, occasionally aggravating.  It can take 15 minutes or 2 hours.  I am trying to get my mind around my message, seeing if I can pull it off in Russian.  How do I say "faithfulness" in Russian again?

Yet peace also is in my mind.  I listened to two daughters practice their violins.  Their teacher is so patient, and I enjoy listening to them play.  I REALLY enjoy seeing my oldest daughter's facebook post that she "loves playing the violin."  That at least makes all the past struggles worth it! 

And I'm listening to Alan Jackson's hymn cd right now, with Blessed Assurance echoing through my mind.  For some reason, his country twang seems appropriate for the old hymns, and I love the words.  When I hear "tis so sweet to trust in Jesus..." it all seems so easy to do that very thing.

How can I learn to live each day with that kind of peace?  Why does anxiety rear its ugly head?  Is it my self-pressure to "do," to achieve that creates that anxiety?  Can I learn how to rest and produce?  Can I both achieve and relax?

All I know is that I am feeling anxious and I want to feel His peace.  I want the peace of God that is beyond all understanding to guard my heart and mind.  I want to understand "what a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!  What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!"

Heavy Hearts

Just got off the phone with Elena.  One of the girls at the Home of Hope is missing tonight.  She didn't show up at school this morning, and hasn't returned tonight.  Our hearts are heavy.  The girls and I have prayed, and don't know what else to do. 

We are living Jesus' parable. One of our little lambs is missing, lost somewhere.  We are praying right now that the Good Shepherd will find that little sheep.


Getting our washing machine is approaching the stage of absolutely ridiculous.  I really don't know if I should be upset or cry.  We are now 2 1/2 months into the fiasco, and I am still unable to get the correct part sent!  Our washer is still laying on its side, the transmission ripped open.  And I am missing a one-inch piece of metal.  (You can click here to see the cursed item).

I have waited on the phone for hours now, talking to both Whirlpool and to a secondary appliance part store.  I have received the wrong part four times now, with Fedex LOSING my package another time.  I am about to research my birth certificate to see if my real birth wasn't Murphy.

I have come to the conclusion that missions is like having a baby.  If you knew how many times you would be totally frustrated, you'd never want to go into it!  With babies, the diapers start out pretty mild, not too severe to the senses.  That is just God's way to get you used to it before those squirts starting making serious messes.

In missions, you start out with simple stresses like driving the wild roads, shopping for items labeled in foreign languages, and getting haircuts before you know how to tell them details.  Then it sneaks up on you--the ridiculous, frustrating, and hair-pulling situations of life. 

No washer for months.
No electricity for Thanksgiving dinner.
No idea if you'll get your next living permit.

Should I start crying now?