Monday, November 10, 2008

October 11-18 2008--Williams Trace Baptist Church, Sugarland, TX

The Williams Trace Baptist Church, pastored by Dr. Phil Lineberger, has given great support to Bulgaria over the years. For the past two years, they have sent containers of humanitarian aid, followed by a distribution team. We are so grateful for these teams of hard-working volunteers. There were some second and third timers on this team: Cynthia Jacobus and Les and Trisha Dolezal, and Stephanie Burke. First-timers were Dottie and Ken Hemme, Krystina Kram and Majed Khalifa.

These folks hit the ground running. We took them straight from the airport to our warehouse to finish loading our truck! Then we fed them and let them get some sleep.

On Sunday, the 12th we drove a few hours to Pleven where there is a home that houses about 70 preschoolers.

Besides bringing them lots of toys, the team put new socks and shoes on their feet! Actually, these kids got both tennis shoes and winter boots. In return, the children sang and recited poems for us.

The next morning we visited the home for babies from birth to 3 in Pleven. The numbers of children there have reached 250! Can you imagine that many little ones under one roof? We put shoes on 113 of these children and "socked" many more. We delivered baby beds, toys, diapers, baby formula (soy), clothing, and even bibs and blankets from the container.

The team delivered many items to the home for more than 100 kids in Roman. Besides giving them lots of clothing, the team brought chalkboards, bulletin boards, cafeteria tables, chairs, and other items of furniture. I think the kids liked all the balls the best! By this time the truck was empty so we returned to Sofia to fill it up again.

Tuesday morning we headed east to the beautiful town of Kazanluk. George Gurdev, the pastor of the Baptist Church there, had introduced us to a day care center for handicapped children a few weeks earlier. This center is to help provide an appropriate setting and even some therapy for special needs children who live with their families. We were happy to be able to deliver many special needs chairs and table/chair combinations to this center. We would love to see it succeed.

Then it was on to the home for deaf children in Muglish where we delivered chalkboards, bulletin boards, and chairs. The children were fitted with shoes, winter coats and several items of clothing.

Early evening found us at another baby home. This one is just outside of Kazanluk in the village of Buzovgrad. The are just under 100 babies and toddlers here. About 30 or so are older, handicapped children. We put new socks and shoes on the little ones. This is always a bit of a challenge as these kids like to take off their new shoes, hide them, and then go to a different volunteer for another pair! We left many toys and items of clothing with lots of happy children.

The next day we headed back toward Sofia, stopping in the town of Bratsigovo to put shoes, socks and coats on about 70 children in the home for children without parental care. This is a well-run home with very well-behaved children. Besides the shoes and clothing, we were able to leave some furniture items.

Our 8-ton truck was again empty so it was back to the warehouse in Sofia for a refill.

The final leg of the trip was south to homes in Gorna Koznitsa (home for mentally ill children),

Blagoevgrad, and Dren. We delivered furniture, toys, clothing, and other items to all these homes. The kids at Blagoevgrad were especially thrilled with all the balls. When we brought those out, every kid was outside playing. It was great fun.

At the preschool home in Dren we delivered several riding toys, large play kitchens, and many other toys. I think the best hit, though, was a red wagon with a backrest. It was wonderful. It was large enough for two children and engineered so well that even the smallest child could handle it. I hope we see lots more of these in the future.

All told, we fitted 335 pairs of shoes, 686 pairs of socks, 97 coats, 159 items of clothing, and 301 sets of underwear! That was in addition to the true purpose of the team to deliver the contents of their container. This team brought smiles and love with them, too. There was always joy on the faces of the children while we were with them.

We returned once again to Sofia with an empty truck, but very full hearts.

Then, the team really did go the extra mile - they completely loaded the truck for the shoe team arriving the next week. What a blessing!


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