RaulI was once told that “people will not remember the things you say, but they will remember the way you made them feel”. Sound piece of advice. With this in mind, spreading God’s love matures into its real essence. Showing His love has never been about disputing His existence or debating doctrinal technicalities; it has been about showing His love. In Moldova, we were ready and able to accomplish that, to the best of our limited abilities.

I was also told that “life is like a box of chocolates”. However, every box of chocolates I have ever opened, has indeed contained a type or form of chocolate. Such was not the case in Moldova. Our “box of chocolate” was more vast; it included unknown teams, unknown children and unknown locations. All we could do ahead of time was pray.

As the mystery of team placements arrived, I had suddenly discovered I had very few companions, for the moment. Nevertheless, God had lodged the perfect people in the perfect place. Our team became my family, our family.

Following a little training session, we reached our destination. As the kids began rolling in, I started falling in love with them, as did the remainder of the team. I had no difficulty relating with the boys; using soccer as common ground never fails (in Moldova). More importantly, showing them love on the field was surely an unprecedented situation in their lives (and mine). We created a bond that only soccer players understand, a bond of respect. This relationship transpired into something deeper, and though I had yet to learn their names, we were able to converse as if being best friends. In fact, we were. Together, we participated and competed in many activities, too many to list individually, so I chose one.

Alongside games, lessons, verses, songs, stories, conversations, crafts, prayer, lunch and sports, we had spontaneously determined, upon request of our marvelous leader, to throw a memorable night for the older kids. The idea was to forge a restaurant. We undertook the challenge of producing a ceremonial night, with both jubilant and solemn moments. Our preparations were inadequate and rather poor, but we had done our best and God had done the rest. The night was a tremendous success, and evolved into my most cherished memory. The girls had decorated the “restaurant”, and prepared the food, naturally. The guys were granted the responsibility of providing music and serving the food. I received the honor of being a restaurant server. With menus, pizza and other cuisines, the night began. It was a night of games and songs, laughter and jokes. But ultimately, it was a night of prayer, testimonies, and tears. The kids were touched, but so were we.

As the night was wrapping up, and the kids were slowly retiring to their homes, a girl approached me, teary-eyed, and told me that this was the best restaurant she has ever been to. Not because we did a good job, but because she has never been to one before…

– Raul