Let Your Light Shine

Let Your Light Shine

Our time in Sofia went by very quickly. The Deaflympics kept us busy during the days and the evenings were spent taking walks, watching movies or hanging out with the people in the village.

The neighbors invited Daniel and I over for dinner 2 nights ago. The hospitality of these people is something else. Vasile and his wife live in this home in the summer time and during the year they live in the city. They have a daughter and son-in-law who are living there with them for the summer. Such kind people. Our dinner experience was one we won’t soon forget. Something as simple as dinner is different all over the world. We did not go to their house until 9pm and began eating closer to 9:45pm. This is their normal dinnertime.

With dinner we were served one food at a time starting with a slavska salad that consists of chopped tomato, cucumber, green bell pepper, olive oil, with a hint of fresh squeezed lemon. Once we were finished with the salad, we were offered anchovies, feta cheese and toast. Daniel enjoyed the anchovies while I enjoyed watching him eat them. Later we were served pork meatballs and veal sausages. With that, we had two ‘salads’ we could choose from, mayonnaise and cucumber or a potato salad with ham. Both were delicious! Our plates, drinks and conversations were never empty. We were blessed that all 4 spoke English. They told us stories about their lives during Soviet Union, how they met and gave us encouragement for our marriage. It is great to have been surrounded by positive marriage role models everywhere we turn around this month. Daniel and I were able to share our story of what we do in Moldova and their reaction was the same as the other Europeans.. “You are such kind people…” We understand that this culture doesn’t understand why American’s come over to help. They don’t have the same opportunities that we do. So, we make it clear that it’s not just because we nice, but we are doing it because we feel called by God. He could have called us to do anything else and we would have done that. Slava boga! (Praise to God) He gets all the glory for what we are doing.

Everywhere we have turned around we have met Christians. We have probably shared our testimony with 10+ people and were able to hear theirs in return. On top of that, being a witness to people by our actions, speech and faith. Although, we are not in Sofia specifically for a missionary purpose, it is becoming our life. God is bringing people for us to be a light to and encourage, and in return we are filled and blessed. Being a missionary is not about being in another country and helping people, it’s about living it out in your daily life. Daniel and I fail daily, but that is why there is grace. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch (sinner) like me (and you).

-thewoodalls

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Why doesn’t America support their Deaf Olympians?

I don’t know how many of you know, or if it is to any importance to you but America is one of three countries out of the 100 countries represented here who do NOT support/sponsor their Deaf Olympians. The other two are Great Britain and Canada. Help me understand this… The three countries who are the pioneers for disability equality rights, who all the other countries look up to and strive to become cannot show any support for their own. When millions of dollars are put out every 4 years for the abled bodies Olympics and special Olympics, the Deaf get out on a back burner. It’s not that Deaflympics are in it’s early stages. It’s been around since 1924! All 126 Olympians are having to raise support for themselves to come. Not a penny from any US sponsorship from government or endorsements.

Why is this important to blog about? are most of you involved in the Deaf community like we are on a daily basis?? I don’t know. Awareness I guess. The games are so awesome to be a part of. Seeing the Deaf come together with other Deaf is a beautiful thing. Some of these athletes never have the chance to communicate with other people due to ignorance or lack of importance their culture has placed on Deafness. Here, they can communicate with everyone! Those who don’t sign are weird, abnormal, disabled and unimportant. Being Deaf means beauty, importance, accessibility, normality and gives a sense of identity.

For all you severely hearing out there, keep your hearts and eyes open. There will always be more to see than to hear.

-thewoodalls

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Deaflympics 2013 Sofia, Bulgaria

Dobre Den! Sorry it has been a few days since our last blog, but we have been busy, getting home late and being just plain worn out when we got home! We arrived to Sofia, Bulgaria on Tuesday the 23rd, after a 30 hour train ride! It turned out Daniel and I didn’t get roommates 🙂 whoo hoo! Upon arrival, we were picked up by Johnny, an assistant at the church, who brought us to the hotel where the American Deaf Olympic Team was staying. There I met Debbie! A short history… Daniel’s dad, Roy, went to college with her back in the day. She fell in love with a man in Bulgaria, Plamon, who pastors a church. So, she moved to Bulgaria and has lived here ever since! Even better, she is an interpreter! Here she is in the picture below!

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Once at the hotel, we volunteered to interpret whatever was needed; checking people in, asking questions, tours, etc. Pretty busy day! To get to Debbie’s house we get to take the metro! It is REALLY nice compared to the metros we have been using this last month! It was air conditioned, practically brand new! And only cost 55 cents per ride! (busy, busy)

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We had the opportunity to interpret a “free Sofia tour” (walking) for a few Deafies that we thought was only going to be any hour… turns out it was 3.. but the experience and information was great! While on the tour, a group of 5 British Deaf joined in. If you don’t already know, sign language is NOT universal and even people in Britain have a different sign language than we do in America. Needless to say, it was fun trying to interpret for them as well, picking up some of their signs as we went. Sofia is BEAUTIFUL! A very tourist friendly place!Image

 

Below you can see bells from all over the world! Daniel did a great job at editing this picture! He took a walk with Josiah, their 10 year old son, and toured the nearby country side. Image

 

Here is a picture from the first games we watched… USA vs. Slovenia men’s basketball. WE WON!Image

 

The guards at the president’s office…

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And finally… Tonight. Tonight was the opening ceremonies! There are more than 100 countries represented. Moldova has 1 participant in wrestling! Sadly, the ceremony was a bit disorganized. For being a Deaf event it was not accessible to the vast majority that were there. The interpreter on the screen was in the small box in the left corner… really hard to see and some of the time he wasn’t even signing. Then, they waited until the end to do any of the ‘entertainment’ which consisted of drum playing, bells and bag pipes…. REALLY boring for someone who can’t hear. By the time everyone had left they FINALLY had visual entertainment with acrobatics and river dancing, but at that point half the stadium was gone. We were a little disappointed to say the least. On a positive note, we were able to be the same room with people from all over the world! I’ll be honest, a few countries I didn’t even know existed! We ended up sitting with the British Deaf that we met 2 days before. Nice, NICE people!Image

USA! USA! USA!Image

 

We have had the opportunity to share our testimonies with a few people, which is such  God thing! He always brings people into your life at the right time. Only four more days until our travels are over… looking forward to more Deaf people, games and God talk.

#goingwithGod

-thewoodalls

The joy of the Lord

The joy of the Lord

Dorbre den (Good morning)! This morning we had the pleasure of being a part of the Blessing’s church, Living Water. Daniel and I were practicing our song in another room when a small, bright-faced woman peeked her head in the door excitedly saying something in Ukrainian. A little taken back with her excitement, we gestured for her to come in. We were oblivious to the fact that we were about to encounter the most joyful, energetic, loving, excited woman you will ever meet. She handed me a bouquet of roses and Daniel and small L’viv gift and begin saying in English, “I love you too!! I love you too!!” (Which we found out later is the only thing in English she knows) All the while jumping up and down, laughing and hugging us. Right away we both realized who this was. It was Nelia. We were told her story a few days before of how personality and uncontrollable exuberance is not accepted or understood by people in Ukraine. All we saw was God’s love radiating through her. Within 30 seconds we were trying our best to hold back tears while she danced around in the room to the sound of Daniel’s guitar. We tried to continue singing but there were no words coming out. We were filled to the top with joy, so much it was coming out our eyelids.

The Blessings asked us to be a part of their Sunday morning worship. It was so cool to see people worshiping using the same songs just like we do on a regular Sunday basis, but in a different language. We sang in English while the other worship leaders sang in Ukrainian. The songs we sang were Oh, Happy Day, How Great is Our God, Cornerstone, Blessed be the Name and Still. I can’t explain the joy it gave my heart to experience God’s love like never before. To realize and begin to understand how small I am in the perspective of how big the world is and how awesome God is. I am only a very small part of the Christian body but equally as important. Different time zones, languages and people can’t stop the message of Gods love being proclaimed all over the universe.  “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being. So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-21

English Club

Good morning America! Happy Thursday!

Yesterday, the Blessing’s dropped us off in the center to spend the afternoon together. We went to the pizza place we ate last year to reminisce on how far a year has taken us! After some delicious pizza and conversation we walked over to the open market looking for an artist we bought two floral paintings from last year. With no luck, we began asking people if they knew where he was. The only thing we had was a description of what he looked like and where he was sitting a year ago.  Finally, someone was sure they knew who we were looking for and pointed us in the direction of another market. About 15 minutes later, we arrived to find that the only thing sold was books… maybe out Ukrainian isn’t as good as we thought it was J We figured maybe it isn’t meant to be that we buy paintings this year and God has us saving our money for something else.

Later in the afternoon, we met up with Lindsay and Krista to go to an English Club they host. They gave us the privilege of being their guest speakers! All meetings begin with an icebreaker, some kind of ‘getting to know you’ game. So we paired up and wrote 10 things that were the same and 10 things that were different from our partner. My partner’s name was Elena. She wrote English very well! I was impressed! When the game was over, Daniel and I began teaching them about Deaf culture in America. The discussion started with what our ministry is in Moldova, what kinds of jobs we have in America, what kinds of jobs Deaf have, the difference in sign languages and other varies topics. It was a foreign thought to them that there was so much awareness on Deafness in America or even worldwide. It was great to watch their faces as they began to understand what Deafness really is. After some discussion, we played a few games with them that used no words and showed them a song in sign language, “Way Down Deep”. It is mostly uses gestures, which allowed them to have open discussion about what it meant. It also is a Christian song so it allowed us to discuss God as well. The goal of the meeting is to have them use their English, so discussion is important but somewhat hard to get out of them! They were a bit nervous. The Blessing’s have a great ministry with the English Club! It is bringing in people aged 13-50+. We pray God’s blessing over it!

In all, it was a great experience and gave Daniel and I some practice on teamwork! When we left Daniel said to me, “We are like a married team.” I responded, “Well, yes, I guess we are!”

We only have a few more days here in L’viv and they will be working along side with the Blessings helping them with whatever they need done! Love you all, have a blessed day!

Let my life be the proof of Your love

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In case you didn’t already know, Daniel and I are visiting family friends (from my mom’s side) in L’viv, Ukraine. They are a servant family who gave up their lives in America in 1993 to do full time missions here. Mark and Rhonda along with their daughters Bria, who currently is visiting the states, Lindsey and Krista work hard at varies ministries all over the city. Some of those ministries include hosting an English club, visiting an orphanage twice a week, feeding the elderly, all while running their church of about 50 members. They have taken Daniel and I under their wing this week and have been showing us the ropes!

Today we visited the orphanage for those aged 0-3 and was able to play with them outside for about 2 hours. They each had their own little playground we could cross back and forth from. Three year olds were the most interactive with us. The nurses have blue sacks filled with all kinds of toys. These toys are definitely used and goodness knows how old they are.  After seeing a play gun in all three age groups I assumed they take whatever they can get. The play equipment is not adequate for their ages. The children are unable to enjoy what little they have because of their physical limitations due to their age. We were told that a Bulgarian team came in and painted the equipment in the last week to make it look a little nicer. This orphanage is actually one of the nicer ones in Ukraine because it has many donors.

There are a number of children who have parents but for whatever they circumstance they are unable to care for them. In this case, the parents bring them to the orphanage and in order keep them from being adopted they are required to make one visit a month. I watched as a family came to visit their 3 year old. They were sitting with her and taking pictures and eating. When ready to leave, they placed the little girl in the fence and I watched while they desperately tried to get her attention to wave goodbye. Trying to take pictures of her playing, yelling her name, telling her to look and wave goodbye, but the girl just went on playing with her friends. I had mixed feelings. What can the parents expect if they only see their child once a month, does she really know who they are? Do I feel bad for them? Are they being loving towards her because they don’t want anyone to think differently? I have no idea how often they really visit or not. It hurt my heart to think that parent’s leave their children in the orphanage ‘hoping’ for their situation to change thus keeping their children from being adopted.  The likelihood for the situation to change in this country is so slim. The more I thought about it, I had to remember I am not the one to judge someone else’s situation.  All we could do was play and love on the kids, which wasn’t hard. They are beautiful creations that just want to be loved.

“If I can speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy
But I don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate
If I speak God’s word with power, revealing all His mysteries
And making everything as plain as day
And if I say to a mountain jump and it jumps
But I don’t love, I’m nothing
If i give all I own to the poor
Or if I even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr
But I don’t have love, I’ve gotten nowhere
So, no matter what we say, no matter what we believe, no matter what we do
We’re bankrupt without love”   1 Corinthians 13: 1-3

“Let my life be the proof of Your love”  -For King and Country-thewoodalls

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Kiev

Kiev

Hello! Daniel here. Sorry my wife has been hogging the computer lately. (she’s much better at this than me anyways…shhh!) These past 4 days have been really awesome and I have been thinking of some things we have seen and experienced that have impacted our lives in some big ways. One of the most amazing parts about our tour of Kiev was how kind the people are. There were several instances that we didn’t know where to go, or needed a phone, when someone would almost jump to help us out. Coincidence maybe, but we don’t believe in that. Prayer works. We pray everyday that God would bring people into our lives that we can be a blessing to and that we will meet people that are a blessing to us. Simply put, God answers our prayers. Today was our last day and we decided we would walk around a few different areas we hadn’t seen before getting on the train to L’viv. With 7 hours to spare we took the metro to the Centro. Once off the subway, we saw 3 Deaf people and quickly introduced ourselves. They used Russian Sign Language, which was expected, and eagerly invited us to join them for lunch. We enjoyed a Ukrainian style buffet and conversation followed by a tour of Centro. Our guided tour was more than we could have ever asked for! We finally were able to communicate in a native’s language without relying on them knowing ours. When we said our goodbye’s tears fell from one of lady’s faces and we knew that not only had we been blessed, but they had been also. God is so good.

We have seen several Ukrainian Orthodox churches that were absolutely astounding. For us, there was simply one thing missing: a disconnect with Christ. This view is based only on what we could see as outsiders. As protestant Christians, we are so blessed to know that everything we have in Christ starts with a direct relationship with Him- our Creator, the one who loves us. At one church, we walked through caves that different saints had been buried in. It was very enlightening to see how people paid tribute to them in different ways. Some honored through candles, others honored through prayers, kissing the coffins and laying their heads on pictures and monuments. It was more ritualistic than we are able to understand at this time, but the reverence shown was awe-inspiring. There is a lot of emphasis placed on the buildings and how they are honored and respected. We don’t have the same traditions or values, so there were points that we felt very out of place for not understanding the significance placed in honoring the dead. In all, it was worth the experience to see how other’s worship and gain a better understanding of our own beliefs.
Kiev is a beautiful city full of hospitable people right and left. Even though we were unable to communicate with everyone, God brought the right people at the right time, allowing us to minister to those He led us to.

Traveling to Ukraine

How the other half travels

Good morning world!
Daniel and I are on a train to Kiev, Ukraine! The total ride is 16 hours and with only 2 hours left I wish we could say we slept most of it. These trains are old Soviet trains that haven’t been modified since the 60’s (Daniel is guessing based on the fixtures). Rooms sleep four people, bunk bed style. When sitting down the space is so small your knees touch each other. I think it may even be smaller than a prison cell. No AC, no restaurant or modern bathroom. The windows only come down from the top, just barley enough to stick your head through. As you can see it is quite the experience for us who have ever taken Amtrak. Last summer, we experienced the train but in very different circumstances compared to this year. We feel that we are spoiled because it just so happens that we are the only two in our room! As the train made stops throughout the night we prayer that we would be able to keep the room to ourselves! So far, we have been! What a blessing. In Chisinau we bought a chicken, ham, bread, cheese, cucumber salad and vegetables to eat for dinner and lunch. Once on the train we realized we forgot utensils. So eating with our hands was our next best bet! We kept ourselves cool by sitting on the top bunk up against the window and put our feet out. to be cooled down by the breeze We also have two small fans to blow on us while we slept. We crossed the boarder from Moldova to Ukraine at about 5:00am. The train had to stop on both sides of the line to check passports and luggage in our room. We showed our passports to at least 4 people and maybe 10 came by at different times to check on varies other things. We made it through with no problem, thank goodness, and didn’t even have to get out of bed ☺ It is getting warmer as the sun comes up, Daniel is back asleep and I am looking forward to our three days to spend together in Kiev as an extended honeymoon before going to L’viv to continue God’s work for us this summer with the Blessing’s. If you ever get the chance to come to Eastern Europe, I would definitely recommend experiencing the train! You can see how the other half lives and cherish what we have in America even more.
God bless you! See you in Kiev!

-thewoodalls

The Boxeneanu Family

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We would like to recognize the family who is the biggest blessing we could ask for while we are in Moldova. Vitaly and Natasha Boxeneanu, along with their children Laura, Arthur and Evelyn. They help us throughout the year by going to the Deaf schools, recruiting kids for camp and buying supplies that we need. They also help facilitate ongoing Bible studies that Natalia has with the youth leaders and so much more behind the scenes ministry that we are unaware of. Once we Americans are here, they take care of all the logistics by picking us up from the airport, arranging taxis, interpreting, bringing their entire apartment to camp and giving up their lives for 13 days to help us make camp successful. If they were not there, there is no way it would go as smoothly as it does. Vitaly is a man of God. He serves with everything he has and is the most selfless man we have ever seen. He takes care of all the things that make camp what it is. Natasha serves relentlessly, making crafts, helping with bible studies, and organizing our lives –all while taking care of 3 kids. What a woman! They are a beautiful couple and a Godly example of true love. Their work is their ministry. After the American team left they have been taking Daniel and I around Chisinau seeing different sights and spending quality time with us. They are trying every year to come to America and waiting on God to open up that opportunity for them! We look forward to the next few days being blessed and being in touch all year planning for camp! (We love you guys!!!)

Have a blessed day everyone, find someone you can encourage and DO IT.

-The Woodalls