Sunday, August 19, 2012

Stella's Voice: Making a Difference

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Once a year, Philip Cameron brings a busload of kids to our church.  These are kids who didn't grow up with Saturday morning cartoons, or McDonald's Happy Meals, or  electronic toys, or even Crayola crayons and Pink Pearl erasers.  These are kids who have come from horrific conditions and have survived and are now in safe houses where they are learning that they are important, that they are loved, and that they have a purpose.

These are the kids of Stella's Voice.

We have been connected with the Moldova ministry really from the beginning, sharing in the task of renovating the orphanage at Cupcui so that there were indoor toilets, hot water, and roofs that didn't leak.  When the first group of girls moved into the first Stella's House, so they could go to high school instead of being shipped off to nowhere, Philip brought one girl over to the States.  Her name was Constantia.  (Here is her story )  During that first summer, Constantia surprised Philip by requesting to be baptized. This is a very unusual thing, because for someone in Moldova to be baptized they are considered to have rejected the orthodox faith of the region.  It is often cause for estrangement from family and friends.  But she had made up her mind, and when Philip came to us that summer she came with him and was baptized at our church.

I can't describe to you the impact it made on me to see this young lady so determined to follow her faith, making a statement with something that we in America almost take for granted.  The smile on her face as she came up out of the water was absolutely dazzling.

I came home that day and sat down to my sewing blog to do my weekly post about what I'd worn in choir.  Now, there's nothing wrong with that, since most of my sewing is related to what I need for choir and this is my chance to show how these wardrobe pieces are working together.  But that day it felt so...superficial.

That was the day the idea for what became Beer Lahai Roi  was born.  It was a while before I settled on a name and actually started it, but that was the day I decided it needed to happen.

Constantia was with the group today; she'd spent the summer in Moldova, working in the orphanage (which has been completely rebuilt as part of the Stella's Voice ministry), but she was able to join the group for the tail end of the tour.  She is in her early 20's now and incredibly beautiful.  Since she was baptized, a number of other of the kids from Moldova have been baptized at our church, all at their request.  It is profoundly moving.  The kids all approach it somberly; they relate what God has done for them, and they come out of the water smiling.

It is hard for them to repeat the things they have gone through.  But they do.  They take deep breaths and fight back the tears and they tell their stories - neglect and abuse as a way of life.  Hopeless despair.  For some, attempted suicide.  But now, life is different.  They have met people who care.  They have heard of a God who loves them.  They are getting educations, they are helping others, and they have started a church.

And, God willing, they are going to change their nation. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Snapshot 8/17/12

Yesterday was our 32nd wedding anniversary.

32 years is a lot of years;  hard to believe it has been that many, or that our kids are as old as they are.

Makes that line in 'Sunrise, Sunset' really profound, talking about kids, 'I don't remember growing older; when did they?'

I'm still playing catch up from two-out-of-three weeks of travel in July, both at home and at work.

And the Girl's Ministry advancement/awards celebration is Wednesday night; we're about to start again with a bunch of fresh faces in the classroom.

Which is already full.

Gonna be interesting.

Got one more weekend trip coming up next week; The Princess and I are going back home to attend my niece's wedding. 

Also gonna be interesting.

Maybe by Labor Day weekend I can actually catch my breath...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

No Thru Traffic, part 2

A bit of revelation about the change in roadway I lamented a few weeks back ...

I heard an explanation for the removed bit of road when I was at my class reunion... several years back, there was a horrific accident at that first stoplight past the overpass: an eastbound trucker apparently missed the signage stating that the interstate traffic should exit onto the southbound loop and came over that overpass with no idea that he was no longer on the interstate. With the early morning sun in his eyes, he didn't even see the stoplights and plowed into several stopped cars at full speed.

Something like 6 people died.

I see now why all traffic must exit.

And it's still a good spiritual analogy...what we think is a roadblock may actually be a protection from something we can't even imagine...

Friday, August 10, 2012


Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Class reunions...folks I haven't seen in years and year showing up like strangers, then something happens... a turn of phrase, a characteristic gesture...and suddenly the focus shifts and I know who I'm talking too.  Yes, there have been changes, but , really, how could I not have seen that right off?

I floated around from group to group; catching them in a break in conversation or the moment when one person moved away and left a place for me to step into.  I really thought I was going to be able to talk to everyone, because the attendance was small...but after it's all over I realized there were folks there I never managed to catch, including one who apparently left before dinner.  Rats.

But there was one....

She came late, as we were finishing dinner and gnoshing on the excellent desserts that one of our classmates had created.  I saw her and her companion come in and didn't recognize either of them.  In fact, I didn't realize which one of them was our classmate until I saw her greet someone, hugging and petting as if he had been her most cherished friend.  Those of us at our table looked at each other.  "Do you recognize her?"  No one did.  It wasn't surprising; years of abuse of one kind or another had left visible evidence.  I expected her to be one of the classmates that had attended the other elementary school; nothing about her was familiar at all.

I watched her out of the corner of my eye for a while, still trying to see that clue that would tip me off as to who she was.  Nothing.

Finally, as I was chatting with folks who'd organized the event, I asked if anyone knew who she was.

They did, and my jaw hit the floor.  We'd been in class together since 4th grade. If I remember right, we'd even worked together briefly at the local ice cream shop. I remembered talking to her at the 10 - year reunion 25 years ago; she'd surprised me by being intentional about talking to me.

One of the guys in the group commented, 'Oh, but that's what reunions are for, right?  Talking to your old classmates?'

I knew that she was one person I had to speak to before I left.

And it was just before we left.  Standing in the hall, knowing it was time to go but not feeling quite like I could yet, she walked by and I said her name.  She turned and looked at me, then saw the name tag and exclaimed, "Oh!  I was hoping to run into you!"  I got the embrace, the hair petting, the kiss on the cheek. 'Oh,  God is so good!' she told me.  Then she launched into an apology for the person she'd been in high school.  As she talked, I looked closely, still trying to see a shred of the cute gal she'd been.  A bit of something about her eyes was all I could perceive; it might've been a mask she was wearing for all I could see that looked familiar.    If she had been intentionally parodying Jack Sparrow,  it might've been funny, but the speech patterns, the memory lapses and the fidgeting all told me she wasn't playing.  My heart broke for her.

And her apology was earnest, almost desperate.  In truth, I couldn't remember her doing anything worse than following the crowd, but I knew the power of forgiveness.  And I held nothing against her; I could look her in the eye and say with all honesty, "I forgive you."

She repeated how glad she was to see me. 'I think about you all the time,' she said. 'I have dreams about you."

We really had not had that much interaction in high school.  In elementary, yes, because we were all in one classroom, but after that...we went into separate tracks.  Why I was important to her...I have no idea.

It occurred to me that she could very well be saying the same things to everyone she talked to that night.  And being as truthful as she could. She was trying to exorcise something that was tormenting her.

But the pain, the horror of whatever she'd walked through since I last saw her was so clear that, I'll be honest, the altar worker training kicked in.  What do you do with pain like that?  You take it to God.

And she had already mentioned God.  That she felt God had connected us.

I consciously decided not to listen to the voice that hollered 'You're at a class reunion!  Not church!  That's crazy!' and said..."Let me pray for you."

I got about 3 sentences in, simply asking God to wrap His arms around her and remind her of how much He loves her, and she stopped me.  "No!" she said, tears slipping out of her eyes. "I'm not worthy of your don't know...I'm not's been so hard...I'm so tired..."  then she shook herself, wiped her face and said, 'Come on!  Let's celebrate!'

She pulled me back into the party room, to the dance floor.  The band was good...loud, but good...and she wanted to dance.  I tried.  For her sake.  I couldn't brush her off.  But I'm no boogie dancer.  I tried to laugh it off, but I felt very awkward.  After a couple of minutes, she leaned over and said, 'I think I've apologized to about a thousand people tonight.'

I looked at her and answered for myself, at least. 'It's ok.  Really. It's ok.'

And she hugged me once more, 'I love you!' she said... and flitted off to another classmate.

And suddenly I felt cleared to go home.  My Sweet Baboo, who only knew a couple of my classmates because they'd gone to college together (one of whom had introduced us), was waiting patiently in the hallway, and it was pushing towards midnight.

As we left, we passed her companion, smoking a cigarette in the parking lot.  He asked us what time it was, and we told him.  "Oh, I gotta go get my girlfriend," he said, stomping his smoke and heading back in.  God, I thought, protect her.

I hadn't thought of her in years; now daily I'm asking the Father to bring her deliverance and peace and healing. To restore the years the locust has eaten. To assure her that 'worthy' doesn't matter.  She is loved.