Kids ‘n Boots in Eastern Europe, December 6 – 17, 2013
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photos, and the brief team updates.
Update from Romania team’s JoeLynn Concepcion, Friday December 13th
Our team has safely arrived home to our families in the U.S. – and we are so gracious to have been so deeply moved by the Spirit during our time spent in Romania.
The final day of the mission was spent at The Ruth School distributing shoes to the 200+ children we’ve connected with earlier in the week. As each grade group entered the room they greeted us with smiling faces, and at some points even knew our names! To know that in the few moments we had with them previously as we visited their classrooms and after-school care, that they too were just as impacted as we were in the brief interactions we had.
A small group of our team also traveled to the village of Glina, just outside of Bucharest, to distribute shoes and socks to 78 children at a local church. In the afternoon, the families of the children attending The Ruth School had the opportunity to also be fit for shoes.
In total, our team fit over 1,500 children throughout our mission. It has been an absolutely phenomenal journey.
Our team would like to thank the staff at Project Ruth, the women of the Naomi Center, the translators who were so willing to travel with us in our mission, and most of all the people of Romania for their loving spirits. There is no kinder gesture than to have welcomed us into your country with open hearts and partnering hands in this journey together to share the love and good news of Jesus. Thank you for being testaments of Gods infinite love and grace towards all people; we will continue to pray for works you are doing in His name. With hopes that our paths will cross once again, pacea!
This mission is dedicated to Trey Stiles and the honorable work he has done. In his passing, we lift his family up in our prayers during this difficult time.
Update from Ukraine Team B, Jeff Hutcheson Friday December 13th
Today was our longest scheduled journey as we had to travel an estimated 3 hours into the Carpathian Mountains to the remote village of Turka. Due to the length of our drive this was our only stop for the day. Sixty-four children heard the word of God and received new winter boots, socks, and hats.
This has been an amazing journey and so many seeds have been planted. Thank you to everyone who had a part in making this happen and thanks be to God for opening so many doors for us in Ukraine.
Update from Romania team, JoeLynn Concepcion Thursday December 12th
On Thursday, our team traveled to Southern Romania to deliver shoes to four different churches, beginning with the impoverished villages of Padureni and Tantava. The need was great, although having already fit over 800 children in the days prior our team had a concern in the inventory of sizes.
Before our arrival to the third village of Steara, team leader Scott Reed led our group in prayer reminding us of Jesus feeding the multitude and God’s provision and promise in His word, and in our mission. With trusting hearts our team walked into the small, crowded church where we were welcomed in praise songs by the children.
After successfully fitting each child in Steara, we traveled to the city of Giurgui where we greeted by the local news. Scott had the opportunity to tell them the purpose of our mission, and that we were ‘here in the name of Jesus!’
Among the many people in the crowd sat a young autistic teenage girl being fit for her new shoes. In the midst of the buzzing conversations, the news cameras, and excitement – there was a beautiful silence and peace as you watched the pure joy in this young girl’s face. She stared at the ceiling above with the smile that was so infectious, and it was evident that she was aware of the grace in that moment.
“God talked to my heart when she came in, she was so happy and so excited to get new shoes,” says team member Katy Lavender. “Her mom was excited for her as well, and kissed my cheeks and told me ‘God bless you’ before she left.”
In total, we fit 380 children today. We are so honored to be witnessing His work, and once again, thank you for your continued prayers and encouragement!
Update from L’Viv Team B with Jeffrey Hutcheson, Wednesday December 11th
Wednesday was our busiest day yet. We traveled to Boryslav approximately 2 hours outside L’Viv first and provided winter boots, socks, hats, and gloves to 62 children. After lunch we visited Drogobych City where we served our largest group of children – 116. The director was so thankful for us that she insisted that we stay for tea and dessert which of course we took some time to enjoy. Altogether, 178 children were blessed by God’s love.
Update from L’Viv Team B with Jeffrey Hutcheson, Thursday December 12th
Today we traveled east from L’Viv to the city of Zolochiv. Here we were able to serve 57 children. After lunch we traveled to Peremyshlyany where 46 children were served with new winter boots, hats, gloves, and socks. Here the director shared with us how the children have treated our visit as a special occasion and have worn their best clothes. In many cases the children don’t have any nice clothes so they have borrowed from friends just so they can look their best. God has shown his love to these children today! Thank you for your prayers and support.
Update from JoeLynn Concepcion of Romania team, Wednesday December 11th
Today our team traveled to the village of Tufeni. Pastor Alexandru Ghita of Holy Trinity Baptist Church greeted us outside of the school we were making our first delivery to. The children, ranging from grades kindergarten through high school, were all waiting outside in excitement for their new shoes and hats.
“A five-year-old girl was waiting to be fitted for shoes, I told her ‘come here’, and instead of sitting on the chair in front of me she climbed on my lap. She was so eager to come see me, a stranger. It was the sweetest thing,” says team member Jamie Smith. She was immediately moved by the trust and connection this child had for her.
We then traveled to a second school in the same village. As we entered the cold building with just two classrooms, the children sat in excitement and greeted us with a song. The school’s kindergarten teacher expressed her overwhelming gratitude, and said she too wishes she could one day share the works of God with those around the world. Before leaving, a group of teenage girls sang “Jingle Bells” to our team with great thanks.
In total, our team fit over 600 children today, and could not be more moved by the presence of God in the places we have been. It has been an absolute privilege to be conduits of our Father’s love, and to glorify His name among the beautiful people of Romania. We’d like to extend our gratitude to the Project Ruth staff and the translators assisting us in our travels. Thank you, once again, to our family and friends at home for your continued prayers!
Update from JoeLynn Concepcion of Romania team, Tuesday December 10th
Today we departed to the cities of Stejaru, Borăscu, and Miluta. Our CERI team of 15 was accompanied by seven Project Ruth volunteers to assist us with translating, as well as distributing the shoes. We were able to share God’s love with 229 beautiful Roma children as we fitted each one with brand new boots and socks. Praise God and thank you for your prayers!
Update from Jeff Hutcheson on Team B, Tuesday December 10th
Today we had the pleasure to visit two different cities outside of L’Viv. We started the morning in the village of Kamyanka at a government building in the center of town. We shared a play about the birth of Jesus and Pastor Tim shared with the children how Jesus died on the cross for them. I was personally moved by the story of two young sisters, Iryna and Adriana, who were very eager to meet Pastor Tim. They shared with him how they were recently taken in by a priest and his family. This was the first time that it really hit me that these two girls have no family, but were still so full of joy and absolutely thrilled to meet Pastor Tim.
In total we were able to provide 48 children in Kamyanka with new pairs of winter boots, socks, hats and gloves. Just as we were about to leave we were approached by a caretaker for one of the children who thanked us over and over through tears of joy for what we did today. She was so thankful that we traveled across the world to give to these children. Her emotions were overwhelming and filled my heart with joy.In the afternoon we arrived at our second location in Radehiv. Many children were waiting for us in a cold and dark community building in the center of town. The orphanage director was so grateful for our visit and couldn’t believe that we would travel so far to their little village. Again I was overwhelmed by the gratitude of the children that we served. All together in Radehiv, 50 children received new winter boots, socks, hats and gloves. Thank you again for all your prayers and support!
Update from JoeLynn Concepcion, Monday December 9th
Our team would like to thank all of those who have prayed relentlessly for the boots to finally be released from Romanian Customs. The truck arrived late this evening and we have sorted the boots, bibles, and scarves for our first delivery to three churches tomorrow morning. Praise God!
Today we had the opportunity to learn more about the Ruth School and the Naomi Center. Tours of the buildings were led by Brittany Garton, a full-time volunteer at Project Ruth, and Alex Ghita, pastor of two churches. We will be delivering shoes to them in the coming week.
Our team was informed of the mission and objectives of the Ruth School, the history of the Roma people and the children attending, as well as pastoral training and educational programs offered. The Ruth School is unique as it is the only school offering a free educational opportunity to Roma children and their families, as well as resources to help them reach their highest potential.
After the tours, our team assisted the staff with their after-school program where we created crafts with the children. We are overjoyed in the time we’ve spent so closely with the children today, to share the love of Christ, and to begin our work in distributing shoes throughout the week. Thank you again, so much, for your prayers!
Update from Dearing Garner, Monday December 9th
Shoe shipment released from customs three minutes before closing on Monday. We unload Zorile truck and reload our truck in 2 hours. Leave 5 am in the morning to start delivery. Much praise to The Lord and Mihai Ciopasiu who walked all the papers through as humanitarian aid (no taxes)! Pray for us – the fun begins now!
Update from JoeLynn Concepcion, Sunday December 8th
Our team all arrived safely Friday night. Our time together Saturday was spent touring both Castelul Peleș (Peles Castle) in Sinaia, and Castelul Bran (Bran Castle) in Brasov. We then had lunch at a Villa de Bran, enjoying a delicious traditional Romanian dinner which included sarmale (cabbage rolls), mămăligă, vegetables, and different meat options.
It is now Sunday and as you may know, we are awaiting the boots to pass through customs. Our morning began with service at Providence Baptist, which shares the same building as the Project Ruth’s mission home, where we are staying.
The men’s choir from Theological Baptist Institute led worship, and the pastor spoke about ‘pacea’ (peace) – peace that was brought to Israel in the book of Isaiah, as well as the peace we should desire among one another. We then toured Muzeul Țăranului Român, the Romanian Peasant Museum, where we learned the history of the Romanian culture.
We ended the night with an evening service at Providence Baptist. The Mandarin Orchestra accompanied the church’s choir, singing traditional Christmas carols and songs of worship. Ralph Stocks, a full-time missionary with Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) working as a supervisor at Project Ruth, gave a sermon today about the second theme of advent, peace. He told the story of Don and Carol Richardson, missionaries who worked to bring peace to three specific tribes of Western New Guinea, Indonesia. Dearing also spoke to the church about Jeremiah’s plea to the Isaelites to change their wicked ways, and how we should take any opportunity we have to help children.
As you may know, we are still awaiting the boots. Our plan tomorrow, should we receive them, is to begin the mission. If not, we will split into separate teams. One will work with the after-school program at Project Ruth, and the other will take a few gypsy families to the local grocery store and buy essential food items for them.
Update from Jeff Hutcheson, Sunday December 8th
Today Sunday December 8 we started the day with a wonderful worship service at Bethany Baptist church in L’Viv where we were treated to beautiful music from the worship team and the small children of the church shared a poetry reading with us. Dr. Gary Huckabay also had an opportunity to share a short message with the congregation thanks to the help of a translator.
We would like to thank Pastor Vasile and his congregation for welcoming us into their church home. After worship we traveled downtown to enjoy lunch at Buzata Hata where some on our team had their first opportunity to try borscht soup. Once our stomachs were full we made our way to the warehouse where the winter boots were stored awaiting our arrival.
We spent the afternoon sorting and preparing the winter boots, hats, and gloves for the week ahead. We are looking forward to the beginning of our service to the orphan children of Ukraine tomorrow. We want to thank every one of you who are praying for us as we are working hard to reach the children of Ukraine for Jesus.