This past week we spent a lot of time reading and helping our Humanitarian Missionaries prepare Project Proposals. We’re the first step to approval and our job is to screen any problems that may develop. Since the Church’s primary goal—outside of helping the needy—is to teach self-reliance, one of our responsibilities is to be sure that when the Church leaves we have actually helped and not enabled. We also want to help the community learn how to rally around these organizations and help strengthen them. It’s really fun to watch how well our missionaries work with small charities to help offer care to the poor, disabled and aged—while attempting to develop a sense of self-reliance and networking. We do this by contacting organizations that are already established in the community, and help them become more viable and stronger--more capable of serving their people. As our friends, Bill & Kathy Clark who are serving in Mongolia as Humanitarian Country Directors said, “most people think we’re just out here passing out toothbrushes. They have no idea the service we do.”
That is so true. This past week we helped approve ten projects. As you can guess, one of the best parts of our day is to e-mail or call our missionaries and say, “your project has been approved.”
Romania: The Church provided furniture for an education/counseling room for children leaving orphanages. The goal is to help these children merge into society and find employment. We helped to repair a van to transport disabled and abandoned children to/from an education center and homecare. We provided tables with cabinets for a small pediatric hospital that care for malnourished babies/toddlers. They had no tables to do medical treatments on, so they used cribs. One of our favorite projects is the one that give the most for the least amount of money. Romania has hundreds-of-thousand Street Children, and there are organizations that do nothing more than provide a hot meal a day and a place to wash the one set of clothes they own. This week we provided a washing machine to an organization that offers these children a place to get a hug, a meal and have their clothes washed. 3000+ children were aided through these projects.
Croatia: Our humanitarian missionaries in Croatia have been asked to help in the Mission Office there, but they were so excited when they found the opportunity to help a school for blind children. We provided a Braille Printer for the school so that children can learn to read in Braille. 200+ children
Moldova: Moldova is an entirely new country for us. It is south of Russia and was once part of the USSR. Today its people work hard to develop a Democratic Society. Our missionaries there found a small organization that had purchased a building a few years ago that needed a lot of repair. Over the last 5 years we have tried to help them renovate the building for the use of caring for the aged and disabled of all ages. Community volunteers offered to help re-roof the building if we provided the materials. With the willingness to take care of their own, how could anyone say “No”? The home provides living, training and care for a 1000 persons.
We also approved a clean-water project for Moldova which will provide water to a small community of about 4500.
Slovakia: In this very poor country, physically & mentally disabled children are often completely abandoned. Parents have little or no means to care for their children, and so they “give” them away. Like Romania, small organizations take these children in and offer care, food and a home. Our missionaries there found two such centers, both needed play-ground equipment for physical activity for these children. One had a fenced yard with nothing for disabled children to play on. The other had two attached garages in the city where no play area is available. Our missionaries asked for playground equipment to help these small children use their bodies in constructive, physical ways. Can you imagine the smiles on these precious little faces as they play on a swing or monkey-Jim for the first time in their lives? 500 children
Jordan: Jordan has two couple missionaries working hard on Humanitarian projects as well as helping to establish LDS Charities at the Amman Center. One of our couples works primarily on projects. They have a clean-water project that is helping to supply water to villages and schools for close to 100 thousand people. This week we approved a container of 100 wheelchairs, blankets, hygiene kits, school kits and newborn kits. This one project will provide needed items for more than 7000 people.
Lebanon: Our missionaries in Lebanon have helped a group of Catholic Nuns care for 50orphaned children. Last year we help them develop a garden with vegetable plants and fruit trees to help feed these children. They asked if we could help them with a small water system so the Nuns did not have to walk to the well to water their garden and trees. The community offered to pay 1/3 the cost, so we agreed to help with the rest. Their willingness to take some responsibility showed their desire to be more self-reliant and willing to take care of themselves as much as possible.
These projects may seem small to us in the United States, but it means everything to developing nations, where so few have even the necessities of life. We continue to love this work and feel so much gratitude to our Heavenly Father for the opportunity to serve His children. We feel His love and help every day. There have been times when we have felt overwhelmed and unqualified for what we do. When this happens, we close our office door and ask Heavenly Father for His help and guidance. He is always there to show us the way and give us answers to our questions.
We are losing three of our couples this year and need replacements desperately. It saddens us to think that these countries, Albania, Croatia and Moldova, will lose their missionaries. We already feel a stewardship over these people and feel Heavenly Father’s love for them through this work.
Thursday, we leave for the Middle East to visit our missionaries there and see the projects they are working on. We will visit Jordan and Egypt, and then back up to Romania, where we have a new missionary couple working night and day to bring light into the lives of Heavenly Father’s children.
We look forward to telling you all about it next week.
Love always, Joe and Coni Dee
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