Monday, November 10, 2008

October 25 - November 1, 2008--The Heights Baptist Church, Richardson TX Shoe Team

The Heights Baptist Church has been a great partner in ministry in Bulgaria for many years. We are blessed that they continue to serve here in so many ways and that they have hearts for the children living in Bulgarian istitutions.

Each year for the past several years they have sent at least one shoe team each spring and fall. This fall they sent 12 eager volunteers. Jim Abernathy led the team.

He has been to Bulgaria several times and is recognized by many each time he returns. Several other team members are well-known here after repeated trips: Jan Margrave and Rhonda Caldwell have been here 6 or 7 times each! Dwayne Hansen made his third trip, this time bringing with him two of his sons. Tom and Jennifer Schleef were here for the second time this year and so was Brandy Baker. Besides Chuck and Doug Hansen, there were 3 other first-timers on the team: Ronda Horton, David Yu and Mayee Lam.

Fortunately, this team was up for a challenge. Several days we worked after dark and had very late dinners, but they all managed the difficult schedule.

It was a great week of hard work and lots of blessings. We visited 15 orphanages and drove hundreds and hundreds of miles.

Our grand total distribution for the week was:
881 pairs of winter shoes/boots.
452 coats
704 hats, gloves, scarves
968 articles of winter clothing
384 pieces of underwear - with Spiderman being the undies of choice
1,256 pairs of socks.

Though Bulgarian Child bought a few hundred pairs of shoes and socks and about the same number of coats, the rest of the items were all donated.

Thank you, Buckner International, for supplying most of these wonderful shoes. Thank you, Kelly's Kids, for the winter clothing. Thank you, Burlington Coat Factory, for the donation of so many winter coats last January. Thank you, Heights, for shipping them and other items to us.
Sunday afternoon we visited the home in Lom for children without parental care ranging from 3-18 years of age. Our afternoon arrival found the little ones down for naps so we "shoed" the older children first, then the sleepyheads. Our limited space here made the distribution of clothing quite a challenge. But the ladies gave coats and clothing to everyone.

Then we packed up and traveled about an hour to the preschool home at Georgi Damyonovo. To say the kids were glad to see us would be putting it mildly. Some one has described the home like a box full of puppies with everyone climbing over each other to get in a better position to get attention! Anyway, we gave them wonderful shoes and lots of hugs. I doubt that they settled down very easily for bed that night!

Monday was another long day as we visited the baby home in Montana in the morning. This is always a poignant experience. The babies are so sweet and the staff is caring, but it is so sad to see so many babies living in a institution. They all deserve loving families.

Then in the afternoon we visited all 3 of the homes in Berkovitsa. Of course the young people at the home for handicapped were excited about getting their new shoes - and about seeing old friends on the team. They were also very proud to show us all the wonderful things they are making in their textiles workshop.

Tuesday morning we visited the baby home in the city of Vratsa. We had never been to this homes, so we were a little slow in getting accepted and getting to see the kids. The director and the workers provide the best care they can for the 110+ babies living here. While we were there, some of the workers from Berk 4 arrived to move 3 of the older handicapped kids to Berkovitsa. It was very touching to the several of the workers crying because they loved these little ones and didn't want to send them away. It was good to be able to reassure them that the home in Berkovitsa was the best one of its kind in the country.

In the afternoon we visited another home in Vratsa, this one for 70+ school-age children. We were all shocked to see about 25 little boys come in for shoes. They were all 1st and 2nd graders!

Then it was on to the big home in Roman. There we put shoes on nearly 100 kids. There was also coat and clothing distribution here!

We arrived for the night in Pravets a bunch of very tired people.

The next morning we visited the home for handicapped in Vidrare. Another good director provides as much care as he can in this home for nearly 100 children and youth. This is always a difficult place because so many of the children are very hard to fit. Many have mis-shapen feet. But we managed to fit them all and to show them some attention. We clap and "celebrate" as each child is fitted.

We returned to Sofia this day to load the truck with more boots, socks, clothing, and teeshirts.
On Thursday the team headed south, first visiting the home for mentally ill children in Gorna Koznitsa. This is another very difficult place. BCI, along with Come Over and Help (a Dutch foundation) and Reach Out Bulgaria (British group), supports a baba program here. These are Christian grandparents from the Dupnitsa Baptist Church and have really made a great positive impact on this home. The home is supposed to be closed, but that is sometime in the future. In the meantime, we do what we can to improve their lives.

Later we visited the home in Stob and then the one for older kids in Blagoevgrad.
So, another long day and we were ready for bed!

On Friday morning we visited the home for severely handicapped in Petrovo. This home has shown great improvement over the last few years, but still is a place of suffering children. This day, though, we saw lots of smiles and excitement. They were certainly glad to get new shoes!

On Saturday, we visited our last orphanage of the trip - the home for preschoolers in Dren. The children here are always delightful. Since the weather was warm, we were able to fit them with shoes outside. This is somewhat more challenging, but we got the job done! It was a great end to a great week.
Click here and here for slideshows from the team!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home