Ok, I know that I don't blog much but when something happens that makes my heart happy and my eyes tear up then I know that I have to share it.
Today was one of those days but the groundwork was laid earlier this week while I was speaking with Adam Cook (a varsity football coach at Whitehouse High). After another stimulating biblical discussion and knowing that I would be "subbing" on another campus on Thursday and Friday, I told Adam that we (Jonah and I would see him on Friday night). Since it's a home game, Jonah will get to go to the locker room and shake players hands & wish 'em luck . Jonah follows this up with a trip to the "session" stand for a Chick Fil A sandwich (no pickles), a bottle of blue POWERADE and a red bag of Skittles.
Now it's Friday, Mollie has been delivered to the High School and we are sitting in the parking lot of the football stadium waiting for the gates to open. Tonight they opened the gates early and Jonah saw this and was ready to go. We took our stadium seats in and placed them where we sit and then waited for the players that were on the field to head to the locker room. Jonah is all excited (not sure if its the football players or the thought of the trip to the "session" stand but we were off to see who we could see. As we were headed down the sidewalk Coach Cook came out and called to Jonah to let him know that the players were waiting. Jonah entered the locker room and made the rounds much like a politician running for office. He would look each player in the eyes as he shook the their hands (I am not sure what he said to them or if he said anything, I stand off to the side and just enjoy watching) and the he was off to the next group of players. This is where it really started getting to me. Coach Cook and Coach Dolan had the quarterbacks and receivers ready to start their pre-game talk when Jonah comes up saying "Coach Kook". Coach Cook walks up, gives Jonah a hug and tells him to go get 'em.
Jonah makes the rounds and then I see him getting a huge hug from Coach Dolan. Finally, as we were about to head off to the "session" stand, Jonah decides that I am to take a picture of him and Coach Dolan and as I was about to take the picture Jonah decides that Coach Cook should be in the picture as well. Needless to say, both coaches ended up in the
picture. Before I walked off Coleman Patterson walked up and asked me if Jonah participated in the yearly shopping trip to Target for the WISD Special Needs students. I told him that Jonah does and then Coleman said that if it was ok with me that he wanted to be Jonah's buddy/shopping partner that day. This young man made my day, knowing that it's October and he was planning ahead and wanted to be involved in this with Jonah. I was floating on cloud nine at this point and the night only gets better after this.
During the game, Mollie sent me a text to let me know that Hunter Taylor was here from SFA and she told me where he was located. I convinced Jonah that we should go say "hi" to Hunter (Jonah was busy playing games on my wife's iPhone at the time). So off we went to find Hunter. Well Hunter was not where we were told he was but a friend of mine spotted him and delivered a message to him letting him know that there was someone at the locker room gate to see him. When Hunter came over it was like he and Jonah picked their friendship up right where it left off last year. We spent most of the second quarter of the football game with Jonah and Hunter talking, playing kung foo, tag and anything else that Jonah could come up with.
Finally, I told Jonah that we had to go so that we could watch Mollie perform at halftime. I thanked Hunter for spending time with Jonah and Jonah gave him a big hug. Jonah and I made it into the stands, watched halftime and then decided to go for a walk. I asked Jonah where we were going and he said to see Hunter and play some more. Uh-oh, Hunter is not where we thought he would be. I sent Hunter a Facebook message, found out that he was in the stands talking to some friends. I told him that Jonah said he would wait till Hunter was done and Hunter showed up shortly after that. Game on. Those two played till I thought Hunter was going to pass out (not sure where all of this Jonah energy came from). Next thing I know this is what I see; Jonah and Hunter sitting next to a fence talking about movies that Jonah likes. This went on until there were on five minutes to go in the game. Hunter had spent almost half the game with Jonah.
I told Jonah that Hunter needed to go see his friends and Jonah said "No he doesn't". Hunter looked at me and said that he was fine and they could wait. In the end, in order to get Jonah to let Hunter go and for us to go get our stuff, we'll be making a trip to SFA, taking Hunter to dinner and hopefully a football game.
All of this just to say what an impact these men have had on Jonah and I.
I sent Hunter's mom a Facebook message letting her know what a great job that she has done with Hunter and she sent one back saying what a special place that Jonah has in Hunter's heart.
All I know is, I could not have asked for better role models for my son to see.
Thank you Coach Cook and Coach Dolan for allowing us to disrupt your meeting each home game (it's something we look forward to). Thank you Coleman Patterson for your wanting to buddy up with Jonah. Last but definitely not least, thank you Hunter Taylor for your friendship. You are blessing that keeps popping up in Jonah's life. Tonight, you showed the man that you are by placing your needs and desires aside just to hang out and play with Jonah.
I may not have seen the whole football game tonight but I was able to see four men show interest in and love for Jonah. I'll take that any day. I continue to pray that more people like Coach Adam Cook, Coach Andrew Dolan, Hunter Taylor and Coleman Patterson will want to take the time to get to know Jonah and experience the love that he has to offer.
I'll end my thoughts with this scripture - I Corinthians 13:4-7: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Oh, where to start? I keep looking at my watch to remind myself that today is Friday. I could tell you that two days ago we were visiting a special needs orphanage in Transnistria (a scouting trip for us to see the shape of the beds in this orphanage).
Transnistria is a portion of Moldova that still wants to live with Russian ties and Russian ways. They actually have the Russian military guarding the “border”. There were 260 children at the orphanage / boarding school. The beds there were in bad shape and now I know why we were to go see this.
Or I could tell you how beautiful that Chisinau is at night as we went down town to see the Christmas lights (most people here don’t celebrate Christmas until Jan 07) and that out team ended up getting multiple Christmas pictures made. Many may say, “I thought you were going to work in an orphanage building beds and sharing God’s love.”
Well, we arrived at the orphanage in Visoca Moldova yesterday afternoon (we are 150 km from Chisinau (the capital) and our base house). We visited the orphanage, viewed the rooms that we would be placing beds in, practiced putting a bed together and then spent some time with the kids and passed out bananas.
It amazes me how grateful they were with being given a single piece of fruit. I think about the reaction that children back home would have had if you said here, enjoy this banana.
After leaving the orphanage yesterday evening, we were treated to a guided tour of a fortress that was built in the 1530’s. It was amazing.
Today we were able to bless 24 children with new beds. Oh, the look on their faces when they received them and were told that God loves them. It seems that one little boy continued to try and tell people how beautiful the beds were (and he didn’t get one today; however, I believe that he will get his tomorrow).
After lunch we sang with the children and then divided up into three groups and we did crafts, had a Bible story and did recreation. I spent my time in crafts and was in awe of the artistic ability of some of these kids.
I started out with the goal of teaching the chicken dance but felt led to play something different. There faces lit up when I played Christmas music by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (and it didn’t matter whether it was a fast or slow song). We concluded our time with the children by singing to them,them singing to us and the then us passing out three bananas to each kid (I think I need to apologize to the produce guy at Metro for over selling bananas to us. It turns out that we had the right amount for what God wanted us to do with them and that was give them fruit two days in a row. It’s amazing how things can work when we get out of God’s way and stop questioning why things are happening). Before we left the orphanage, the director told us that she was amazed at how the children have accepted us, become attached to us and look forward to our returning visits (she just doesn’t know how much we look forward to our time with them as well). Before we could leave Joe just had to hug her (the orphanage director). This was followed by Tony hugging her and before I knew it, she pointed at me saying she wanted to hug or be hugged by me. Needless to say, that hug led to a second hug and then a picture of the two of us.
So far it’s been an awesome experience being used by God to share HIS love and to meet the needs of others. I can’t wait to see what He has in store for me / us tomorrow.
That’s right we finally made it here to Chisinau, Moldova. Our trip started Christmas night as we left home at about 8:30, stayed in a hotel in Irving (I was able to get between 3-4 hours of sleep) and was at the airport by 5:30 a.m. on the 26th. Three flights later, the layover in D.C. at Dulles will be memorable, and we finally arrived in Chisinau at 12:00 on Dec 27th (with all of our luggage and all of our people). We are going to be staying at the IMB House for the next couple of days, then we’ll be off to Soroca, Moldova. Tomorrow we are going to the Transnistria area of Moldova (we’ll get a taste of what the old Soviet Union was like while visiting here) to visit with 260 orphans. Hope they’ll be happy to see us; we are taking them bananas, Kit Kat bars and cookies for each one of these kids. We bought way too many bananas tonight (guess you can’t trust the produce guy at Metro) so the orphans that we see later this week in Visoca will no only get new beds but will get bananas daily (bananas are a big treat here). I am looking forward to seeing how God will use us this week. God has put us all here for an important reason, so I ask that you take time to pray for this team as we reach out to these special needs orphans in Slobozia and in Visoca later this week. More to come tomorrow. I should even have pics…
OK, I know that I don't blog nearly enough but I have to share this. This past Friday night was Homecoming at Whitehouse. I thought it would be fun to take Jonah down to the field house to see the Varsity football players. I sent a text to Adam Cook (a football coach and friend of mine) and was told what times would be OK. When we arrived at the field, Jonah was focused on seeing the BOYZ and then going to the concession stand (kid has his priorities). Off we went to shake some hands (at times it's like Jonah's a politician). The players that were coming off the field and made a point to swing by where Jonah was standing and shook his hand. Each one of these young men took the time to say a little something to him, it was great. We then went into the field house where Jonah had a captive audience. Before I knew it he had made his way down a row of players and was being hugged by a player. . I was worried about this because Jonah has been known to force his hugs onto people but the more that I observed this the more it looked like this player initiated the hug. Oh how sweet it is to be able to share this 10 year-old bundle of love with others. After the hug, Jonah made his way around the locker room, I am pretty sure he disrupted a player meditating (or sleeping)in order to shake his hand and as the defensive secondary were meeting, Jonah walked up to each player and shook their hands (the coach never even slowed down because of the interruption, he just kept going like everything was normal).. One would think that we were done and now it was time to head to the concession stand but nope, we headed over to interrupt Coach Cook's meeting with the quarterbacks, receivers and running backs. Coach Cook just stepped back and allowed Jonah once again to shake hands and get a few hugs..
Now this would be where I would have thought this great moment would have ended but it gets better. Whitehouse won Homecoming 35-24 and then the chaos of trying to get out of a packed stadium began. While waiting for the crowds to leave, Jonah and I walked along the edge of the bleachers and Jonah said "Go see Football Boyz"? I figured what the heck, we needed to waste some time anyway. Out onto the field we went and boom there was Coach Cook, who stopped what he was doing to shake Jonah's hand and tell him "Thank You for coming to see them". Jonah and I walked around, watching players talk with their families and celebrate the win with their friends. Next thing I know, Justin Bloom is headed for us to shake Jonah's hand again and to get a hug. It was cool watching the interaction between this football player and my son who is built like a lineman (you decide offensive or defensive). That was it our night was complete or so I thought. Out of no where comes Hunter Taylor (our starting quarterback). Hunter squats down to talk with Jonah and get a hug. Next thing I hear from Hunter was "Do you have your camera?" I told him yep and he said, take our picture. Now here is a guy that you would think that would be all over the place talking to people yet he was on his knees next to Jonah. Needless to say, I took their picture, thanked Hunter and went to find Coach Cook so that I could tell him how awesome the players had been with Jonah.
I am not sure that these young men understand the impact that they are having on us. To accept my son the way they have makes me proud to be a Whitehouse Wildcat. No, Jonah will never play football; but maybe, just maybe, he will be a water boy for them and will be able to share his magical love with those that he comes in contact him.
So, if any of the Whitehouse Football team reads this, I THANK YOU. I THANK YOU as the father of a special needs child, for accepting him as he is, for not be afraid to shake his hand or hug him. Someday, you will truly understand the impact that you have on this community.
OK, today we had a chance to receive one of God's true blessings. We had a chance to take the whole team and translators to Orhei's Casa de Copii (a special needs orphanage for boys). Ahh the impact it had on everyone, including those of us who had been there before. We had a chance to share yogurt and bananas with the boys. That's about all I'll share about because everyone else will be blogging about their experience.
Tonight, yep I am ahead of schedule, I want to share how talented the boys are at Casa de Copii. Below are some pictures of their art work:
Afterwards we went to lunch at Pizza Forte, bought ice cream then went back to Ivancea for another afternoon of VBS. The kids had a chance to experience a true Texas tradition and had a snack called a purple cow (grape soda and ice cream).
That's about it for today...
Check back tomorrow and see how God blesses us and the children..