Two years ago, I went to a foreign country for the first time. Aside from igniting my love for travel, it changed my life in a profound way.
This is Veronica. In January of 2011 Holly and I felt called to sponsor a child through Justice and Mercy International. JMI is a non-profit run through our church, and we’d heard many stories of how lives were being changed through the organization. We looked through the listings, but there was something simple and innocent about her biography. Three simple words, and I knew I was hooked:
“I like sheep”.
I’ll admit, when I saw it Holly and I chuckled for a few solid minutes, but it won us over. We’ve sponsored Veronica for nearly 3 years now and receive constant updates from her on how she’s doing in school and in her life. She’s in 3rd grade now — older than even our oldest son — but we see her as one of our family.
Most people have never heard of Moldova — where Veronica is from — but two years ago I had the opportunity to travel there with Holly for two weeks to minister to the kids there. I had never been out of the country, and the thought of going to a former Soviet run country was more than a little daunting. Still, there was something pulling me there, and I knew I couldn’t ignore it.
I didn’t get to meet Veronica, but seeing the other kids there — and how they lived — really opened my eyes to just how bad it is over there. A few statistics: Moldova is only the size of Maryland, but most of the human trafficking in that section of the world has a footprint there. It’s one of the most poverty-stricken countries in Eastern Europe. If you’re an orphan there, you’ll most likely end up either sold into trafficking or arrested for a survival crime.
I was there specifically with two separate groups. The first was in the capital, Chishinau. The second group went into the northern region (the city of Balti), and visited the cities of Costesi (on the Prut river) and Scoala to explore sponsorship opportunities there. While we were there, we led church camp for the kids, played games with them, and gave them something that no one else had: attention and love.
Since then, I’ve travelled a lot more — both out of the country and within — but there’s something about Eastern Europe and Moldova that has captured my heart. There are dozens of orphans over there who are desperately in need of someone to be a light to them in the darkness.
The link above will take you to the sponsorship page. You can see kids just like Veronica who are needing a sponsor — just for the basic needs in life.
Sponsorship is $40, and includes:
1. A quarterly gift to your child that varies depending on needs and time of year and can include items such as clothing, shoes, school supplies, etc. You can also send ad-hoc gifts with the mission teams and they will do their best to get them to the orphanages.
2. A Christmas gift to all the children in the orphanages visited, usually consisting of fruit and a stocking.
3. Medical and dental care as needed.
4. JMI translators and staff to facilitate communication between sponsors and children and to deliver the letters, gifts and care the children receive throughout the year. This allows you to send letters via email and receive translated replies to your sponsored child.
One this is for certain: That’s not the last time I will ever visit Moldova. I hope that I get to visit Veronica and meet the child that I’ve communicated with for 3 years. I also hope that I can meet kids that friends and family have sponsored.
I left a part of my heart in Moldova, and I know that it’ll always remain there as long as there are more kids in need.