Who knew? When we decided to take the leap of faith and serve a mission for the Church, the absolute furthest thing from our minds was that we would go to Romania, travel the country, spreading sacred funds to poor people. Someone told us last week that we are "Disciples of Christ" and although that's pushing it a bit, we are humbled that we can be His hands, sharing His love and His comfort and His gospel for this short 18 months. Besides giving birth, it's just about the most awesome experience I've ever had! Denny says it's better than scoring the winning touchdown that sent his team to the finals! Truthfully, we can't compare these experiences to anything.
The basic principles of the Church Welfare Services are simple. We strive to follow the Savior's admonition to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, take in the stranger, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and those in prison. (Matthew 25:35-36) We talk daily about helping people to help themselves and to help them to be self-reliant. When people learn to use their own resources and see themselves achieving results with their own efforts, there is a sense of self-esteem and dignity that is self-perpetuating. This is our challenge and when we succeed in developing a project that teaches self-reliance, it's a home run!
Last week we traveled to the countryside near the Black Sea to meet the people who are benefiting from what we consider our pet project (no pun intended), "Goats For Poor Families". Simply, with help of a charity worker who facilitated the project, we provided goats and pigs to five families, each of which has an HIV infected child. The goats are herded during the week by a village goat herder who milks the goats and saves the milk (don't ask) for pick up by the families. The families have an income from the milk and cheese they make. As the goats graze, the Nannys and the Billys become frisky friends and soon, the family has a herd of their own! It's genius! The pigs are kept close to home and provide bacon. This is the second year of this project and the families have truly become independent.
We took a 4-hour train to Constanta for this adventure. We were driven in a van by Mr. Toad (Mr. Toad's Wild Ride) nearly a hundred bumpy miles to villages and spent the entire afternoon in the rain and mud visiting families and their goats. It was crazy and we loved it.
The welcoming committee.
Luckily, lunch wasn't ready.
Kittens were everywhere!
Romanians are so generous and to thank us for our visit, Violetta scooped up handfuls of leaves and blossoms she was drying for tea. Alrighty.
We learned after we arrived that the goats were in the field so we just enjoyed looking around. The family offered us juice and cookies (and tea leaves).
Fifty miles later, we pulled up to this house. By the time we made it to the front door, we were wet and muddy.
The steps into the house were doozies! Of course, I didn't think to wear pants and Denny was in his suit. Everything went to the cleaners when we got home!
I tried to get a picture of the running water and mud but you "just had to be there".
Fresh feed just in from the fields.
This bread was just being brought in from an outdoor oven and was delicious! The cook sells it in the neighborhood, along with goat milk and goat cheese!
Fifteen people live in this house. We had a hot bread party!
Denny, enjoying the bread. It was crusty and a lot like sour dough.
The grandma and grandpa of the house with a grandson. They walked us out and thanked us.
And there you have it. The perfect project!
We love being here and helping where there is need. Romania is such a poor country and everywhere, there is need. We constantly remind each other about the "Starfish Story". To these people, we made a difference.