Each day we travel to villages and set up under trees. Most of the children have never seen the balloons that I twist into animals as I explain that God created all things. They stare at me with big eyes; many look so much older than their years.
Alcoholism is an enormous problem here. There is a tradition here to make homemade Vodka and wine. People are empty, their souls ache for what only Jesus can give, but they don’t know Jesus, so they drink. They suffer, but the children are the ones who really pay for their parent’s sin.
We have a friend named Andrew who is a fine young man. He loves God and is so faithful, traveling to two villages to teach Bible studies. His father is dead and he lives with his mother who is always drunk. She has sold most things in the house and lives a very bad life. Her son stays in the hope that his mother will listen to the truth of the Gospel. Though he is often hungry because she does not care for him, he loves her and tries to help her.
Andrew is one of thousands of children and teenagers that we have met who live in great difficulty and sometimes terror because of their parent’s alcoholism. I am so proud of Andrew! He loves his mother with the love that Jesus has shown him. Please pray for Andrew as he faithfully leads one of our puppet teams. Ask the Lord to call his mother to faith. His father died from drinking and I ask you to pray that this is not the same ending for his mother.
WE WILL REMEMBER
We will always remember so many precious things that we have seen God do in Moldova. Here are just some of the remembrances that bless our hearts and sometimes, break our hearts:
1) At one school, as we finished the program, a group of teenagers rushed forward and showered us with flowers, roses and zinnias, to thank us for coming.
2) In a village where we did a puppet show, there is only one person there who is a believer. Nine hundred people live there. In all of Moldova, less than 1% are believers.
3) A dog almost bit a little girl on the neck at one of our shows, but our translator, Greg, kicked it away. We often have problems with dogs.
4) I got hit in the head with a piece of equipment and there was immediately a large knot on my forehead. We had no ice so my friend gave me two coins to hold against it. Gwen broke her toe , but she has not missed a single show!
5) One principal nearly cried when she heard that we were coming. She said, "No one ever comes here. Thank you."
6) Another principal said that she did not allow "propaganda" in her school, so we could not come. She was an old communist.
7) We passed an evangelical church that is now 70% empty because most of the congregation moved to America.
8) A tired, worn out looking old man spoke to me after a show. All of his sons and daughters had moved to America and he was so lonely. I talked with him about Jesus who could be his Friend, but he kept saying that he had too many bad habits to be able to trust Jesus. Please pray for him!
9) Each school had to be visited personally, even the ones in remote villages, to ask permission for us to come. The believers here worked so hard before we got here!
10) A lady watched the entire program from the other side of the fence. I spoke with her afterwards and she told me through tears that she could not be good enough for God. I told her, "I have great news for you! You don’t have to be good. God will change you from the inside out. He will give you a new heart." Please pray for her to meet Jesus!
11) Our programs have not been without difficulties. A twelve year old boy came drunk to a show and cussed at me. His friends said he had just drunk three bottles of gin tonic. Another boy used an air soft pistol to shoot at other students. Several bigger boys stomped a younger boy’s bicycle wheel and made him cry during our program. He was so poorly dressed, wearing rags, and so dirty. I put my arms around him and comforted him while the boys ran away. Two boys almost punched each other out during the time when I was sharing with the children how they could pray. Please pray against these kinds of problems!
12) Another older man came up to me today in a village. I was shocked by what he said, "I’m not of satan. I am of God. I walk with a cane because I was with many women." It is sometimes hard to know what to say because so many people here are so broken by their sins. They are very honest. I introduced him to a Christian man who was with us and he shared with him.
Please pray for our three remaining days of ministry as we have nine puppet shows and two evenings of training. Please pray for the children here! Today in the car, I wept for so many children that we have seen today who were suffering so much. I am overwhelmed by how they live, how desperately they need simply to be loved.
Love in Jesus,Linda for Marsha, Gwen, Kim, and Drew