Monday, September 29, 2008

June 2008-First United Methodist Morristown, TN

I am pleased to report on the great successes of the recent team from First United Methodist Church, Morristown, TN. It was quite a week!
The trip began with Sunday morning activities at the Rakovitsa church. First, the team members told stories and acted them out for somewhere between 60 and 70 children in this gypsy village. Then they sang several numbers as a group in the morning worship service. It was touching when the gypsy congregation began singing along. Skip Frierson gave the message and blessed us all with his singing.
During the week, Dr. Tom Hyde tested the eyes of over 170 children and orphanage workers. For the first few days, he was joined in this work by Lisa Vredegood, an Anerican pediatric eye surgeon currently living in Sofia.
They screened many children who will need treatment, if not surgery, at a hospital here in Sofia. This included a 3 month old baby with glaucoma. The director of the baby home was quite frustrated because surgery could not be scheduled without the consent of the parent. No one could locate the parent, but the police finally found a grandparent who gave permission for the surgery. Another week would be too late to save the sight of this precious child. Another child needs a corneal transplant.

All in all, 72 people received glasses – and a new look on life.
Dr. Mary Bukovitz, or Midge Allum, as most know her, was our children's pediatrician many years ago. She performed exams on many children, acted as a medical consultant at one home, and helped with the retina screenings at other homes. The folks at the baby home were especially interested in her evaluation of the way they cared for the children. She was assisted by nurse Phyllis Hime. Andrew was the translator for the exams and worked with Dr. B with some of the more handicapped little ones at Berk. 4.

The rest of the crew, Ann Brooks, Leanne Brooks, Sharla Conklin, Skip Frierson, Debbie Hyde, Rachel Hyde, Blain Potter,Greg Ritter, and Donna Winstead had prepared Bible stories and activities for the children. The men were worked especially hard as the actors in the group. Skip Frierson spent a lot of time as either Goliath or the tree for Zacheus. The costumes were simple but very effective. The children loved to have an opportunity to portray the characters as the story was retold a number of times. Minka Graham and Vladi Raichinov were the translators with this group.

During the craft/coloring time, the team members were very attentive to the kids, even reaching some of the most troubled. We were all blessed when one young girl who frightens everyone away by biting and scratching, actually brightened the room with her smile as Blain and Midge spoke to her. She is generally nonverbal, but made the tremendous effort to say their names. These are just a few examples of how this team touched lives.


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