An Angel in Moldova

Wow.... where do I begin.

I intended to update my blog more regularly but everything has been a whirlwind, especially the last 3 days. I'm going to do my best to hit the highs and lows of this trip thus far... and I'll fill in details when I return to the States and have a real computer. Basically we traveled all day on Monday (3/18) nothing too crazy happened during travel, which was a good thing. We arrived in Chisinau on Tuesday (3/19) came to the hostel and checked in, went to the mall for a quick snack and caught up on some rest. Wednesday we had a Romanian lesson and then headed to the Internat to help with La Via. I loved the first day there... the kids were just so open and welcoming to us being there, it was great. Thursday we spent the whole day at the school, studying the Poor in Scripture and working with the kids. Friday, we went to a Moldovan "history" museum. It was really cool to see some of the tools,  weapons, clothes, etc. that made up the Moldovan culture. That afternoon we just played with the kids, and worked on building some form of relationship with them. Saturday we went to a village,  our experience deserves it's own post, so more on that later. I really want to focus on Sunday through today right this moment, because it's what is just causing my heart to break and God is restoring me slowly but surely. Sunday morning we went to a local Orthodox Church to worship for about an hour (a service usually lasts 4 hours). The worship was unlike anything else I had ever experienced. Very structured, and ritualistic. It intrigued me so much. That doesn't mean I necessarily enjoyed the way it was done, but I enjoyed experiencing something new. Here's where things start to pull on the heart strings...

After service, we met with a staff member at the school, who attends the Orthodox Church. She was so open and honest with us about her opinions of the church, the history of the church, etc. It was heartwarming to hear about her journey through faith, and her relationship with God. She is the epitome of a Proverbs 31 woman, and it shows in the way she serves others, mothers her children, and cares for all of us. Throughout this conversation she mentioned a family that the church was raising money for. This family of 8 had recently had a house fire... and lost everything. That's when the reality of the poverty in this country set in for me personally. I couldn't stop thinking about this family. I prayed for them right then and right there. I know what it's like to lose everything... but I don't know what it's like when "everything" is barely enough to survive on. When everything is most likely family heirlooms from clothes, to furniture to jewelry. When your neighbors and family can't afford to help because everyone is suffering from the poverty, when there is no insurance to cover your home or the contents... when all you have is the Church and your faith in God to rely on. The thoughts of this absolutely broke me... It took everything I had to hold things together. This same feeling stayed in the pit of my stomach until Monday evening. Don't get me wrong, there were bright spots throughout those days... but I'll talk about that more later. Then Monday evening came, and I got back to my room to wind down, check Facebook, the news, and read my Bible. That's when my heart was broken yet again...

Growing up, I had both sets of grandparents and two sets of great-grandparents. Aside from blood, I had a lot of older people I considered to be family. Warren Broady was one of those people. His daughter Amy, has always been my big sister... and her daugthers are my beloved nieces. I got word from Mom on Monday night that Warren had passed away. My heart was absolutely in shambles. Not only had I been mourning for a family I didn't know, that lost their home, but now I was mourning the loss of someone I loved. I was overwhelmed to say the least. I sat on the stairs of our Hostel crying, shaking, and praying for The Great Comforter to give me peace. God is so good. He brought peace to me through my conversation with my Mom, with Amy and with two other people who I consider two of my best friends. Lucky for me, one of those people is here in Moldova. The leader of our trip came out in the hall and talked to me... she didn't try to sugar coat it, she didn't say any of the cliche things we often say in difficult situations, she simply said "This really sucks, I'm sorry, and I'm here for you if you need me". I am so thankful for Amanda and her heart. The second was from Hayli Goode aka Hammie. I sent her a text shortly after I found out, and her responses were exactly what I needed to find peace in the situation. God used Hayli and her words to calm my heart, and I truly believe that is the only reason I slept at all last night. Thank you dear friends and family for helping me through yet another difficult situation.

As you can imagine, I awoke with a still burdened spirit. I wasn't sure how to react to everything that had happened the last few days. I knew that today had the potential of just adding to the burden. Today we visited a tuburculosis hospital. This hospital is where children would be sent for 6 months, after their TB had become dormant... just to be certain. We were told a lot of these kids didn't have families, and were from orphanages and that it would be incredibly sad and hard to deal with. Wow does God work in awesome ways. Today was such a blessing. The kids were excited to play with us, to do crafts with us, and just spend time with us. I was overjoyed. The smiles on those kids faces made the very sketchy 3 hour Maxi-Taxi ride completely worthwhile. One kid in particular for me. I have a strong connection with one of the boys at La Via, but other than that... I haven't really felt drawn to any child besides D. However, we walked into the room at the hospital, and I was looking at all the children, taking in everything around me, when one little girl smiled at me. She was precious beyond words. If I had to guess, I would say she was in 4th grade. She was so funny. As we were playing games, I could tell some of the older, bigger kids were kind of pushing her out, and she felt like she wasn't involved. I couldn't have that, so I made sure she got to play. When we started doing the craft, I taught her what to do and she picked up on it instantly. So, I moved on to help some boys that didn't quite understand. That's when I watched out of the corner of my eye as she started to mess up on purpose, so I would have to come back and help her again. It was adorable and heart-warming. She made me feel incredibly special, which helped take the pain I had been feeling away. She finished her Eye of God craft with a huge smile, and proudly showed it to me... about 12 times. She wanted to do another one, but we didn't have the materials...so I allowed her to finish mine for me. I then turned it into a necklace (which I then had to do to hers as well) She was excited that she could wear it around her neck... as I was walking out of the room, I passed the one I made to her and told her she could keep it. She had the biggest grin on her face... and it warmed my heart that something as small as popsicle sticks and yarn could make a little girls day. As we were leaving she followed us down to the lobby, she waited there, not saying a word, until we walked out the doors. As we were walking to the bus stop to leave, I turned back to take one more look at the hospital... and there she was, standing just outside the door, smiling and waving goodbye. She waved from inside the door until I was out of sight, and maybe even longer. She doesn't know this... but she made my day. She was an angel sent by God to lift my spirits today, and I will never forget her, or that precious smile.

The last three days have been a rollercoaster of emotions. And despite the pain of loss, and the joy of a child's smile.. the one constant has been God's soveriegnty. I am thankful, and overwhelmed by the love of my Heavenly Father for me, His son. We have one more full day here... and it's not going to be anywhere near long enough. Leaving this place will be hard, and pieces of my heart will always remain here with my Angel, La Via, the children, the staff, and the culture.

Noapte Buna

Grace and Peace,



6 days...

6 days.

Only 6 more days until we leave for Chisinau, Moldova. Each and every day that our departure grows closer my excitement grows exponentially. As do my worries about if 6 days is enough to finish all the things I still need to do before we leave. This is the first time I've gone on a mission trip in the midst of having a full time job (the other two I was still a college student). That adds a new and somewhat stressful twist to the planning and preparation for departure. I generally only have from around 5:30 to whenever I get too tired to keep working on things to spend thinking about what I still need to do, and taking action to do those things. That makes all of this just a little more interesting... Clarity is coming though, about my purpose, my passion, missions work, the corporate business world, etc. Hopefully over the course of the next 3 weeks even more clarity will be gained in each of those areas... which leads to the point of this post. 

Prayers are still needed.

Prayers are always appreciated when traveling overseas. I have seen the power of prayer first hand and know that we will need it during our travels. There are a 6 things I would ask you to pray for specifically TODAY:

1. Personal Growth. Pray that each team member, staff member, and child will see personal growth in our own relationships with Christ. 
2. Intentional Conversations. Sometimes it's difficult to have intentional conversations with those around us about Christ, The Kingdom, and matters of faith. Pray that our team invests time in being intentional about being relational with God, with each other, and with the people of Moldova. 
3. Travel Preparations. Pray that each of our team members can get things set and covered for the time in which we will be gone, with jobs, families, and other outlying responsibilities that we can't put on pause while we are gone. (Contributed by Amanda Martin)
4. Prepared Hearts. Pray that we can go without expectation but also hearts that are prepared for the work God is going to do both in the orphanage and in our lives. 
5. Families. Pray for our families as we leave them to do the work of the Lord in another country, and pray for the families of the missionaries that are already serving in Moldova. (This includes, mothers/fathers/brothers/sisters/grandparents/children/cats... especially Bobbett, Amanda's cat, she's kind of obsessed with that cat-- don't believe me? Check Instagram. I'm laughing as I write this, so the prayers for laughter that I requested in yesterday's post are working)
6. Energy/Rest. Pray that over the next six days our team is able to rest at night despite all the things running through our minds as we prepare. Also pray that we have the energy to tie up all loose ends before we leave. 

Those are the 6 things I would ask you to pray for today. Tomorrow I'll have 5 things, then 4, then 3... and so on and so forth. I am encouraged by yours prayers, and by the peace that God has put on my heart that He is going to do great things while I am in Moldova.

Grace and Peace,

Brad aka Evergreen Tree


7 Days...

Bună Ziua!!!!

7 days.

Only 7 more days until we leave for Chisinau, Moldova. I am beyond excited. I have been counting down the days for the last two months. During that two month span God has taken care of every little worry and concern I have had about this trip, the funding, the supplies, my own preparedness to go. I am happy to announce that our entire team is fully funded to leave. I was worried about the money, but so many wonderful people (both family and friends) have donated in ways that have literally melted my heart. I raised above and beyond my personal goal and the extra money has been a HUGE blessing to our team. Along with the financial aspect, the donations of markers and games has been unbelievable, and the prayers... oh how thankful I am for your prayers. I am just completely overwhelmed by the love and generosity that this community has shown (however I am in no way surprised by it). So here's a few thoughts to begin the one week countdown:

Prayers are still needed.

Prayers are always appreciated when traveling overseas. I have seen the power of prayer first hand and know that we will need it during our travels. There are a 7 things I would ask you to pray for specifically TODAY:

1.Safe Travel (I know this goes without saying, but I'm saying it anyway)
2. Open Hearts. God is going to work in each of our lives in different ways, pray that we will be open to hearing and learning what God has for us, no matter how difficult it may be.
3. Direction. For me in particular, this trip is going to be somewhat investigative on what's next for me. I have  a decision to make in the near future and am hoping that while I am away from home I will be given some clarity.
4. Laughter and Tears. I ask that you pray for these things because I know that while we are there, some of us will need to be broken by God, only to be rebuilt in His image. While at the same time, I ask that you pray that our team not take any moment for granted, from the time we pull out of the church parking lot.
5. Impact. Pray that we have an impact in the lives of the children at La Via and the staff as well. Pray that our time there will be used to revitalize the staff and help them in whatever ways they need us too. That God will use us to really make a difference.
6. Good Health. I for one am notorious for getting sick on mission trips. I think it's generally my "role" to be the one that suffers. I pray that this time, none of us have to worry about sickness, we can be healthy throughout our stay in Chisinau.
7. Change. Pray that our hearts and lives are changed by our trip. Whether that be that it motivates us individually to explore missions more in depth, or just simply that we decide to live more selflessly and less selfishly.

Those are the 7 things I would ask you to pray for today. Tomorrow I'll have 6 things, then 5, then 4... and so on and so forth. I am encouraged by yours prayers, and by the peace that God has put on my heart that He is going to do great things while I am in Moldova.

Grace and peace,

Brad (Which means Evergreen Tree in Romanian... awesome)