"God looks at the world through the eyes of love. If we, therefore, as human beings made in the image of God also want to see reality rationally, that it, as it truly is, then we, too, must learn to look at what we see with love." Roberta Bondi
In the few short days that I have spent here, my heart has broken again and again. Not of my own pain and suffering but of those that surround me. I have listened to story after story of heartache, of separation, starvation and sometimes hopelessness. Some people tell their stories with a matter-of-factness that accompanies the truth of stark reality. Others are open books, riddled with the pain of the past, unable to overcome the events that have thus far shaped their lives. Still others simply shut down and turn away, empty shadows of the humans that they were meant to be. And their lives, their stories, the pain of their past, remains a mystery to all but themselves. Take Tamara for example. I first met her as she was peeking out from behind one of the other leaders, and I immediately fell in love with her. At the fragile age of 16, she has seen and felt more then her share of hardships. It is difficult to explain the sweet, complex personality of this girl. The amazing thing is that she does not carry an ounce of pity for herself or her situation, but rather chooses to embrace the little joys that come her way. Even beyond that, rather then wallow in self pity, she has compassion for a mom that abandoned her at an early age. But I am getting ahead of myself. At an early age, Tamara’s father died, leaving just Tamara, her brother and their mom. Unable to cope with the loss, her mother turned to alcohol for solace. After a time, life became unbearable so Tamara and her brother were taking to live in an orphanage at the age of 7. She spent her childhood in a place surrounded by other children, a place where individuality is difficult to maintain. Several years ago, she has moved to a family-type of orphanage, meaning that there is a “mom” and a “dad” and ten “children that all live in the same house, who grow up together as a family. This type of “orphanage” is Christian based, supported by a local church “Philadelphia” in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. Ten families live with their adopted children in a community 15 minutes outside of Chisinau, totaling to about 100 people. During the school year, they commute to Chisinau every day for classes. Despite having a safe place to sleep and ample food on the table, nothing can replace the love of a mother or spending time with daddy. While these children are truly blessed to be in this type of environment, it is not what God intended for His beloved children. Crippling sins such as alcoholism, drug abuse, and an ungodly lifestyles affect children such as Tamara and her brother. I wish you could meet Tamara, give her a hug, but more then anything, be encouraged by her positive attitude, her love for the Lord Jesus Christ. The second day during chapel for the Girls of God camp, she helped lead over 100 girls in worship. With her hands lifted high, I’m sure that for a few brief moments, Tamara forgot about the trials she encounters in life on a daily basis and simply turned her heart toward God. One of the lessons I learned from Tamara and other girls from the group home was unconditional love. They didn’t know anything about me, where I came from, what I did, how much money I made, but they loved spending time with me, holding my hand, giving me hugs, and simply being with me. They didn’t ask for anything. Instead, they wrote me little notes of appreciation, gave me little gifts, and even volunteered to give me a manicure ☺. It’s difficult to describe, let alone try to imagine the love extended to me by these girls who, by every standard, should be lacking in that department. God used these girls to pour His love into me, to touch my heart and my soul. God poured Himself out through the most unexpected vessels. Please pray for these girls. Pray for Tamara, that God continues to bless her and be a light unto her path. She has big dreams…to learn English and travel all over Europe and America. Ultimately she wants to become a dentist. Regardless of her past, Tamara chooses to look forward, rely on God, and dream big! As I sit here in a room overlooking Moldova, I have a simple prayer. My prayer is that our hearts would break for the things that break the heart of God. In such, we know that we are called to make a difference!