Sunday, December 17, 2006

Bucket Brigade

I guess it's time I filled you in on what's been going on around here. These past two weeks there's been a lot of focus on the new ministry centre that we are building.

Last week when our students were here, part of the practical service component of their course involved helping with the construction of the new building. In fact, everyone on our team was scheduled to help out at least once in the course of last week and again this week. Part of missionary life is being ready to help out at any number of types of things. Last week it was the bucket brigade.
You see, they were pouring the concrete floor of the third floor of the mission centre. We have no elevator. So how to get the buckets of cement up the stairs? Bucket brigade, of coure! So while our esteemed field leader, Matthew, helped to fill the buckets with the cement, the rest of the team passed the buckets up the two flights of stairs. The work became easier in the afternoon when it was 'only' sand that was being passed up. But what a great thing it was to watch the young people working so hard and so willingly together, seeing this as part of their service for the Lord. (My job was taking pictures, by the way.)
The group of students from our missions course consists mostly of Moldovans but our new foreign recruits were also participating. In this photo you can see the guy from Denmark passing the bucket to the girl from the USA, who passes it to the guy from Germany. And Stephanie, the American girl, kept the people near her entertained by reciting stories such as Dr. Seuss' 'Green Eggs and Ham'.
Of course one of the important duties is for someone to come over with tea for the break time. As well as taking pictures and being a gopher, my job was to drive the people with the tea and treats over to the construction site from the OM base. In this photo you can see the ministry centre in the background, through the fog that surrounded us last week....

I am excited to know that before too long I will be able to occupy my new office (pictured here as it is now), and we will be able to conduct our training courses in a larger space with more suitable and adequate accomodation space for the students. At the end of the week (Friday night) enough had been done that we were able to hold the farewell party for Rafael in the new building. This is the room where we had the party, and as soon as I have a picture of the room as it looked last night, I will post that too.
You may be interested also to see the picture of the hole that was dug (much of it by manual labour) for the septic tank. We go deep here in Moldova!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

On the Home Front

I know that a lot of my readers pray for me and also for my family. So I thought I’d share a few pics to give you a bit of an update. And thank you so much for your prayers.
First of all I should mention that my mother, at 87, is still going strong although her health has been more fragile this fall. She has had several hospital stays and eventually we all, including Mom, concluded that the time has come for her to move to a retirement home. Without having to wait very long at all, Mom was offered a room in a place where all her meals will be provided, nursing care is available, and the possibility exists that her husband Bob (who has Alzheimers and is in another care home) may eventually be able to stay in the same facility so she can visit him more easily. We are very thankful. So last week my sister Beverly and brother Brian drove to Hamilton from Fredericton to help Mom with her move. While she got settled into her new digs Bev and Brian got her house all sorted, emptied and cleaned with the help of other family members as well – no small task. Once that was all done, before Mom even had a week to get used to her new place, she went with them back to Fredericton for the Christmas season.
Here's Mom last Christmas in Fredericton with Bev and Brian and Brian's wife Debbie on the left.

I can hardly believe it is already December. But the pictures Marah sent me from Vancouver helped to convince me of the truth of the matter. Snow is unusual for Vancouver – but they have it! Here’s Marah and her husband Daniel and my little snowbunny Alejandro in their backyard.

My oldest son also lives in Vancouver. As you can see, he loves his new role as Uncle Josh. When he’s not busy being an uncle, he works as a behaviour interventionist with autistic children. Always did love kids, that one!

Ben continues to pursue his musical career in Toronto and although he hasn’t hit the top 10 charts yet, he had a ‘gig’ recently that he was excited about. Ben writes and sings his own songs, and I have been impressed by the ones he has shared with me. For employment, Ben works as a support worker at a homeless shelter, which is giving him a new perspective on the world.

I will have to say that one of the hardest things about being a missionary is missing out on the highs and lows of your own family life. I have been blessed to be able to go home not once but twice this year but consequently there won’t be any visits again until next fall when I have furlough. Marah is being faithful about sending photos of Ali but it’s not the same as holding him, or seeing his first smile, or watching him learn to crawl (well, no, not yet - but it won't be long!). Every time I see a small child here first I smile and then I wipe away a tear. So if you are a grandparent with your grandbabies nearby, know how blessed you are with every hug and every kiss. Give them lots!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Celebrating my 50th a world away

I am the youngest of four children in my family and I have watched each of my siblings go through the celebration of the big 5-0. Therefore, the reality is that for me I know it is probably a far safer thing to be on the other side of the world. After all, here I was treated very well by my team members, who surprised me with a celebration - complete with cake and gifts and flowers - at the end of our day of prayer and fasting. And at the beginning of the day they all gathered around and prayed for me, a very humbling experience - and I am so grateful to God for this place and for this team. I feel very loved today... in spite of the fact that they gave me some lovely headcoverings to wear! Here is a pic of a 'bunika' (grandmother) in Moldova!!

This morning we had opportunity to share testimonies and I have to tell you that as I look back at 50 years, I couldn't help but jump right to my feet to proclaim the faithfulness of God. He has seen me through sorrow and loss and struggles as a single parent and challenges of studying and working and moving a family and raising teenagers... he has been there in my loneliest moments and in my darkest valleys... he has provided for me - ABUNDANTLY - and has opened the doors of opportunity before me. He has surrounded me not only with His love, but with so many people who care about me and support me in very practical ways. He has blessed me with a wonderful family in both directions - my birth family and my children and son-in-law and GRANDson!!! He has given me His rich Word, that enriches my life and gives me direction, encouragement, and hope. He has given me a roof over my head and a job that challenges and fulfills me.
Yesterday I officially became department head so I have more responsibility than ever ... and carrying that out in a second language is a definite challenge. But this evening, as a group of my friends joined me in my tiny apartment, I gave thanks once more for the blessing of being here as a missionary and as part of an international team.
By the way, I will soon be moving. My rent was raised and so I will be house-sitting ( in a lovely large house!!) for the month of December, and then looking for an apartment probably with a friend in Jan-Feb.
Yes, this was a wonderful birthday... and more wonderful for all the blessings to which He has opened my eyes. Praise the Lord!!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Saturday afternoon

It should have been a simple thing. Take the rutiera #184 to Posta Vecchi, pick up my car from the mechanic, and then go home again. Simple, straightforward - just like we expect most of life to be.
Getting on the rutiera was not a problem - it wasn't even crowded so I had a seat for the whole ride! There were a couple moms with little children got on consecutively and I was cheered once again by the Moldovan willingness to help moms with kids. Children are almost always given a place to sit on the mini-bus, even if it is in a stranger's lap while the mother remains standing. And so when one mom got on the bus with her delightful 3or 4 year old, a woman closer to the front than I automatically picked up the child - who was totally accepting - and held her in her lap.
Anyway, as we got closer to where I knew I would have to get off, suddenly there was a big delay at an intersection, so the driver turned on to a different street. As we drove past the intersection I realized that he was avoiding a funeral procession. You may remember that in Moldova funeral processions are generally on foot following the coffin being carried or driven by someone. At every corner the procession stops for some Scripture or prayers or (if it's Baptist!) even preaching. Not something you want to be behind if you're in a hurry. So the driver avoided the whole thing but I wasn't sure he would end up wehre I was wanting to go. But - fortunately he did and I wasn't lost somewhere in a strange part of the city.
So, I get my car - the fuel pump has been replaced but the electric problem (that I didn't have before!) will be dealt with next week. Hmmm... I drive away, hoping I can remember the best route home but when I get to the traffic circle, I panic and take the easy way out by going right, rather than trying to get into the flow of traffic and go the other direction. fortunately this also brings me to a place where I can find my way home, so I'm ok. My cell phone rings while I am figuring out my location and I make arrangements to take two of our new recruits to church with me in the morning. Then I come to an intersection where I need to turn left. There are traffic lights but it is on the brow of a hill and I cannot tell whether I am at a regular intersection or T intersection. There are two cars in front of me also turning left and I pull into the intersection behind them just as I realize it is a regular intersection and the light is about to change. I'm too far ahead to go back so I risk just tagging after them for the left turn. And then AHA! - this is why the police hang out just beyond intersections!! I get flagged over. Third time since I bought the car. I know I shouldn't have run that intersection and he tells me so. I explain all my rationalization - first time in this intersection, didn't know it wasn't a T, different than in Canada - he looks at all my documents and says he will write me a 'proces verbal' (ticket). He asks for another document - hasn't started writing anything yet, and I explain again that this is the first time I was ever at this intersection. He asks what I'm doing in Moldova and I tell him I work with the churches here and I am a volunteer. He asks me if I understand what a proces verbal is - I look uncertain and he seems to be asking me if he should write it. I tell him I don't want him to and then he gets interrupted by some other guy. I start to put away my documents and by the time he finishes with the other guy, he just comes back and waves me on. Whew! I have learned that Moldovan police really don't seem to like writing tickets and they are not used to women arguing with them over whether they deserve one. So maybe I just throw them so off-kilter they figure they should steer clear of this one! Who knows?
So, I head home, remembering that I have to stop at the post office and then will have to stop to fill my gas tank as the indicator isn't working and if tank is full I will have no worries. Come to a major intersection near my home and I am 3 cars back waiting to turn left when an accident occurs - CRASH! - right in front of the line-up. Nobody appears to be seriously hurt although the cars are pretty bashed up. I'm actually surprised there aren't way more accidents than I have seen since I've been here. Anyway, the line of traffic behind is impatient and the guy in front of me starts around the accident scene (meanwhile cars going the other direcion have driven right through the area!) and I follow suit. Just as I drive away, the police arrive. People in Moldova prefer not to have the police involved when there is an accident as they will take the driver's license away automatically. If police not involved, often driver at fault will just pay some money to the other guy to settle things. also insurance really doesn't cover much of anything in these cases.
I stop for gas, and head home, also remembering to bring the stuff I had bought and left in the car previously, and to pick up a loaf of bread on the way home. It was only going to be a short stint, but what an adventure it was!
Sometimes we think life, or even a day of our life, will be easy and straightforward. But there are always other things to deal with than what we expect: future plans, boundaries that need to be observed, people's unexpected behaviour, obstacles in the path. In Moldova, people do a lot of 'making it up as you go along' and so planning ahead doesn't even always work. For every moment you have to realize that this is the moment I have. This is where God has placed me right now and in this situation I am in His care and am shining His light in the world around me. This week in particular there have been a lot of stresses, but this is normal life. We walk through each day, knowing whose we are, and praising God that His strength is clearly seen in our weakness. He will get us where we're going in His time and according to His plan, not ours.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Where does time go...

...when you're not looking? I had an e-mail today from one of my faithful readers who gently reminded me that the last time I posted here I was sailing around BC. So, already here it is November 9 and I have been blogligent. (if they can make up words in Romanian, surely we can make them up in English!)
So, I guess I could try telling you my excuses, as that will fill you in on my last week and a half. Heavens! Is that all the time I've been home? Seems like ages since I left Canada. Other than a one-day stopover in Hungary for a conference on my way back to Moldova, nothing exciting has happened since I returned! The conference was the reunion of my Missionary training school last September - all the people who have been on the mission field for the past year get to have a couple of weeks together to debrief and get refreshed to begin the second year. It was good to see everyone, but because of all the time I have already missed, I was unable to stay.
Jet lag, meetings, e-mails, connecting with people, and preparing to take over responsibilities from my department head sometime this month. Well, that's kind of scary as our department is responsible for a lot of stuff. Personnel and Training includes member care for everyone on our team, everything related to recruiting from overseas and nationally, our training programs (Challenge into Missions 1 & 2, Global Action, Moldovans in World Mission, English, computer skills), social events for the team, our annual team retreat, and all the glorious things that go with all those things. Before Rafael leaves, I have to get the lowdown on all these things and be able to oversee the people responsible for each program. It will be challenging but very exciting.
This first full week back has been a challenge because we have had some special leaders' training days with a trainer from our international team. Here's a photo of our trainers (the two men behind me) and all the department heads. The days and input have been wonderful but it has meant we had to do all our regular work during lunch break and after hours. At the same time, our Challenge into Missions students are at the base for their study week. I was supposed to be teaching a session tomorrow on Knowing God's Will, but plans were changed so I have a reprieve. Nice because I needed more time to prepare!
The other challenge this week has been that my car was in the shop - needed some work on the transmission - so I have been travelling by rutiera and trolley bus. I was very happy to get my little Ford back yesterday. Sixteen years old but when everything is taken care of she runs very happily. Of course the days that were wintery cold were the days I was travelling by public transport!
I miss my grandson - and my daughter - but love to show everyone the photos of little Alejandro Isaac. So... here I am back home in Moldova... settling in. Sorry there really isn't too much to say. a view of my apartment building approaching from the parking lot

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Canadian Experience

Lest you think that all I did during my time in Canada was to fall in love with my grandson, well, you are almost right. However, the truth is that I also had the tremendous opportunity on a beautiful October weekend of enjoying the definitive Canadian experience. My brother Bob took me out on his boat to the Gulf Islands for a two-day cruise. Once again I was reminded of the incredible beauty of my native land as I marvelled at the ocean and the landscape. So many trees, so much beauty and wildlife to be enjoyed freely. I want you to know that I did see a deer fairly close up - twice - but both times, the battery in my camera died at that moment! ARRRGHH. However, we also saw some spouting whales from a distance, and I did get a photo of an otter eating some breakfast, and a seal poked his head up from the water and came to check us out when we first docked in one harbour. Of course he was gone before I could get my camera too! It was a lovely time of just relaxing together with my brother and his wife, Jan and their daughter Anna. They were, as usual, the most incredibly wonderful hosts you could hope to have. The time with them was nice to share and it also gave Marah and Daniel a few days' break from the mother-in-law being in the small apartment. I was glad to get back, though, and take Alejandro back in my arms for a few more short days before I had to leave. This trip truly was a gift from God and I am so thankful to the Lord for making it possible, and for putting it in the heart of some very dear friends to donate the airmiles so I could go. I am back now in Moldova, and will always have these beautiful memories of Canada's west coast and my first few weeks as a grandmother!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Grandma on duty

Monday evening, after about 24 hours of travelling, I arrived in Vancouver and finally got to hold my gorgeous grandson in my arms. Alejandro is quite beautiful and easily the most handsome baby boy in the whole universe. (I have to acquiesce a bit to those friends who have had baby girls within the same week as Alejandro was born. Congratulations to Kim & Albert and to Laurie & Tim, who had twin girls!)
Being a grandmother is quite wonderful and I am so happy to be able to be here to help my daughter as she recovers from her C-section. Marah and Dan have recently moved into a cozy little ground floor apartment that is just perfect for a young family. I hope to be able to help a little bit in getting some things organized and some curtains up, but mostly I just want to make these first two weeks at home as easy as possible for Marah.
It’s nice to be in Canada, where there are lines on the roads, labels are in English and fast food places abound. Because I have never lived in Vancouver, though, it is still a place I visit, so there isn’t the same sense of ‘re-entry’ as there might be if I were spending this time in Toronto. The sad thing about Vancouver is they have no Second Cup, only Starbucks but the wonderful thing is that we can see mountains from the living room window of the apartment! There are also lots of Chinese and oriental food places, but the prices are astronomical in Moldovan terms. The reality of being in a country where there is no uncertainty in terms of language, no unfamiliarity with the culture and no stress in regards to what might or might not happen at the border or with police officers, is quite refreshing. Other than trying to coax a baby to sleep at night,
the most stressful thing this week was that my luggage didn’t arrive when I did. But even that was actually expected, given my flight schedule, and the nice people at Air Canada delivered my suitcase to the door the next day. How great is that! I am so thankful to the friends that made it possible to come on this trip, by donating air miles for the journey. You know who you are and may God bless you richly for your abounding kindness and generosity to me and my family!
My son Josh and son-in-law Daniel met me with flowers at the airport. Josh is pretty excited about being an uncle and Daniel is calmly delighting in the role of Daddy to this sweet child. Yesterday we had a visit with my sister-in-law Jan, who took us to the doctor’s office for baby’s one-week appointment. He is healthy and doing well, according to the doctor – but we knew that. Jan and my niece Jen are hosting a baby shower for Marah this Saturday, so that will be a fun event and chance to see again some of the friends who have been so supportive of Marah here in Vancouver. God is good – and how blessed I am to be a grandmother and a mother!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Grand so soon!

It's been busy at work over the last few weeks - hence too tired to write on my blog.. but now a noteworthy event has taken place. On October 10 a little boy named Alejandro Isaac Perez came into the world - my first grandchild!
He is gorgeous and my daughter is recovering well and both are healthy. Praise God! So- I want to say congratulations to Dan and Marah on their beautiful son, and I want to congratulate Alejandro on his fine choice of parents!
And here is a grandmother in Moldova. Waiting to go to Canada to see her grandson.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Here's to Uncle Nick!

The Cemetery
After seeing Gypsy Hill we went to visit the local graveyard. (OK, so this wasn’t the regular 4-star tour). The cemetery, in fact, was a most interesting experience. Although it was fairly quiet – surprise, surprise – for me it was an educational time. Almost every grave had a little fence around it and within the fenced area, as well as the grave, there was a table and a bench. Apparently on memorial days, or on the anniversary of someone’s death, the whole family would go and have a meal together at the table in the cemetery. Whenever a drink is poured, a bit is dumped on the ground for “Uncle Nick”(Nicolae) or whoever. Whenever food is eaten, a portion might be dropped on the grave, just so the dear departed don’t feel left out of the family gathering. Our host couple told of their experience of having walked through the cemetery and having been invited to share food with a family on their day of remembrance. One doesn’t say no to such hospitality, and in Moldova hospitality generally includes plenty of wine so best that Uncle Nick enjoys more than his fair share…

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Saturday in Soroca

The Fortress
In his book, ‘Playing the Moldovans at Tennis’, Tony Hawks recounts the story of his visit to the home of the gypsy king in Soroca. Today, I went with a group of people to the town of Soroca, which is in the north of Moldova, above the Transnistria district, and across the river from Ukraine. (The border there looked much easier to cross than the one I had crossed into Ukraine earlier this year. All one had to do was swim the river or jump on the small car ferry that was plying back and forth) Soroca is famous for its fortress, built in the 1500’s and having defended the borders of Bessarabia from invading Turks, Russians, Ukrainians, and Poles.

Gypsy Hill
Not only did we see the fortress there, but we also went up Gypsy Hill and saw the home of the gypsy “king” or "baron"! And as we gawked outside the gate, the nephew of the said ‘king’ came out and greeted us. I didn’t think fast enough to get my photo taken with him, but I did think fast enough to get a photo of him! Unlike Tony Hawks, though, I was not invited in for tea or a gift exchange or any such thing. (That could be because I was with a group of fifteen and hadn't brought a gift in any case…)
The home was one of a whole neighbourhood of ostentatious, mostly half-built houses high on a hill overlooking the town of Soroca, and the hill is known as ‘Gypsy Hill’. Apparently these are the richest gypsies in all of Europe! The houses seem to have been erected to declare in no uncertain terms, “I’m the king of the castle, and you’re the dirty rascal!” I can’t begin to tell you how interesting it was to wander the roads of this community and see the variety of buildings and houses.

Apple Pie & Single Guys

Friday evening I had a group of team members over for supper. Well, actually, I had all the single guys over for supper. Rough life, eh? They were all dropping hints about wanting a meal, so what could I say? I made apple pie - an unknown in Moldova. They seemed to like it and in fact this morning Vlad(in the red hat) was telling someone else on our team about the pie. This began another series of broad hints for an invitation to supper. I guess I better bring more Crisco back from Canada when I return from Vancouver.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

German Joys

Hello, dear friends! So - here I am back safely in Moldova. I had no problem getting back into the country - Praise the Lord! In fact, they even were giving out free visas this month so I saved some money. And upon return I was also greeted with the wonderful news that our Brazilian friends have obtained their residency permit and they are staying!!God answered our prayers. Hurray! This is all good. There are still some uncertainties with the visa situation but it's just keeping us all on our toes. :-)
My time in Germany was really quite wonderful. The course I took was very good and it was so great meeting people from so many fascinating places. I had two roommates - one from Australia and the other from Costa Rica. There were also people there from South Africa, a lady from Namibia, and several people who are working as tentmakers in restricted access countries. What amazing stories some of these people have!
Anyway, one of the blessings of the week was having a visit with dear Alma. Maybe you remember I introduced you to her last September when I was at Missionary Training School in Hungary... she was our host at that event. She is a real sweetheart and we appreciated her so much then. One person in our group (the only single male - James) especially appreciated her and is now engaged to be married to her in December! So, as Alma works at OM Germany, Aniko and I took her out for a 'wedding shower' girls night out and bought her some "little special things". It was fun and the Chinese restaurant we went to had great food! I will have a chance to see Alma (and James!) again at the end of October when I stop in Budapest on my way home from becoming a grandmother. The MTS 2 event will be held at that time - a reunion of the MTS people - and although I cannot attend the whole thing, it will be great to even stop in and say hello to my friends who have been in Albania, Czech Republic, Bosnia and Hungary. I suppose it's possible I may even have photos to show them of my new grandbaby...
Ask me if I'm getting excited!
Ok - so the other thing that happened in Germany was that we had a day to hang out in Frankfurt as we couldn't get a flight out till Friday. Since I have a friend, Amy, who lives there, this was a great opporunity to see her. Thanks, Amy for showing us around!! I have known Amy since she was 'in utero', as I was friends with her mother and I was pregnant with my oldest son at the time. Amy and Josh grew up going to each other's birthday parties... those were the days! anyway, back to Frankfurt... We went out for a great meal at a genuine German brauhaus and the waiter really gave Amy a hard time, in spite of her very fluent German. We had lots of laughs, though, and some real good food and caught each other up on family history while my friend Aniko patiently took it all in. I know this post makes it look like all we did was eat when we were in Germany but honest, there were some other things we did. (can't remember what - but some walking in pretty places, and some classes and seminars)
The next morning Aniko was catching a different, earlier flight than me so I had some more time to spend with Amy. Being a dog-lover, Amy and I went to pick up the dog that she 'borrows' to take for walks - Gino, whose owner is Italian (surprise, surprise). It was nice to have a very quick peek at the tourist area of Frankfurt - and hopefully I will have other opportunities to see this very beautiful city.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

miscellaneous musings from mosbach

So, as I started to tell you last night, I am in Mosbach. I will try again to post a photo of the place where I'm staying but if you don't see it, you will know I had no success.The weather has been quite lovely and the course I am taking on membercare is quite insightful. Today we talked about crisis, loss and how to debrief people who have gone through such situations. I was really pleased today that I got to see Alma, who was one of the leaders in my Missionary Training School last September - just one year ago! She works here at the OM Germany base.
Other than that, and a brief walk into the town, I've just been sitting in meetings all day. And I talked with my daughter on the phone (Skype)... - only a month or so till the baby arrives! Meanwhile several other friends are having babies or are due around the same time as Marah. Imagine - me a grandmother!!
I will attach another photo of some of my friends that I have met here. Last evening we had a lovely evening walk into the very picturesque town and enjoyed an ice cream cone together. On the left is Monika, from Namibia, who truly enjoyed her strawberry ice cream. Then you see Aniko, from Hungary, who works with me in Moldova. And on the right is Cathy, one of my roommates. Cathy is an American who is working in Costa Rica with her husband. We seem to get on quite well.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Guten Abend - a message from Mosbach

Hello, dear friends. I know I haven't blogged for a while so you will be glad to know this is an up-to-the-minute report, complete with photos. Yesterday I travelled to Mosbach, Germany, along with my team-mate, Aniko. We travelled together from the Frankfurt airport and when we missed our train in Mannheim we met a girl from Australia who was coming to the same conference. She is one of my roommates here. The conference is about member care - taking care of the people on your missionary team, which will be a large part of my responsibilities when I return to Moldova. The facility where we are staying is a lovely building - a former mill - the OM base in Germany.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


When you live in a foreign country, sometimes things are not as you expect them to be. Sometimes, due to poor or uncertain communication things happen seemingly out of the blue. Or sometimes you expect something based on your own cultural background and the experience here turns out to be totally different. More than once we have found ourselves saying SURPRIZA! when something unexpected occurs.
Take this morning for instance: This morning I went to church, expecting a normal worship service, as anyone would on Sunday morning. Well, it was Independence Day in Moldova, so first I had to get past all the blocked-off intersections.
Apparently there was going to be a parade or something. I couldn't turn up the street I wanted to go on as the police were directing people elsewhere - ever have that happen to you? So anyway, I figured out how to get where I was going even though I had to take a big detour from the route I was planning. So, I get to the church a half hour late. The friends I planned to meet had already gone in, of course. I've only been to this church for service once before and I'm sure there weren't this many cars here the last time. Gee, maybe it's a revival or something...
I found a parking space and as I walked to the entrance of the church I noticed a car with ribbons on it. Hmmm... looks like a wedding car... then I walked into the church and - SURPRIZA! - it's a wedding.
I had been told previously (but had forgotten) that sometimes weddings in Moldova are conducted as part of the morning worship service. This seemed odd to me but in the course of the service this morning, it all began to make sense. Especially it makes sense that a Christian wedding should be conducted in the context of the church family at worship. It's not a private party but a public commitment. In spite of the fact that when I first entered, someone was preaching in Russian, by the end of the service I was quite comfortable and quite impressed. The Russian sermon was only the first sermon; the Romanian-speaking pastor preached a wonderful sermon a bit later on, after the band played its whole repertoire, someone recited poetry, and several people sang solos. It really was a loving wedding and a wonderful service of worship - my friends agreed too.
Now tonight I have Dana and Esther staying overnight at my house so we can drive Esther to the airport early, early in the morning.
Esther is from Austria and she has been with us for a few months but now is going to the OM orientation conference and then Missionary Training School. Like I've said before, there is always coming and going on our OM team here. Lately, the concern is whether people will be able to come once they go, because the visa laws have changed. Even our field leader had trouble getting back into the country when he came to the Moldovan border today. Stay tuned for more on this subject... In Moldova you never know when there might be a -positive or negative - SURPRIZA!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Watermelon & Wanderings

Before I came to Moldova I had heard that they eat a lot of watermelon here in the summer. Now I know it is true. For about 50 Canadian cents you can buy a delicious, juicy ripe watermelon to slurp to your heart’s content. At various spots along the highway and at random spots throughout the city, people park their truck or their wagon-load of watermelons day by day to sell. Today I bought one on the way home and ate a quarter of it as soon as I got home! I also bought another melon that I’ve not seen in Canada. It is a golden colour and similar in texture to a cantaloupe and the taste is a cross between a cantaloupe and a honeydew melon. Very yummy.

It’s been a good week and a good weekend. During the week, along with my colleague Ivanir, I had the opportunity to go to one of our outreach sites to encourage the team that were running the program there. How we do VBS in Moldova is very different from what I’m familiar with in Canada. Basically, a team of our young missionaries go into a village, usually working in partnership with the local church if there is one, and spend the first day inviting children to the daily program. They hand out flyers to all the children they find hanging around and go door to door to invite families to send their children to this program. The next morning any number of children show up and participate in crafts, songs, games, sports, face-paintiing and balloon animals. They enjoy Bible stories and puppet shows and a delicious lunch and drinks as well. As well as hearing about the love God has for them, they experience the care and interest of these missionaries who do what they can to demonstrate to each child that he or she is precious in the eyes of the Lord. Many of these children live in homes with an alcoholic parent, or in a home where their own parents have gone abroad to work so they are staying with grandparents, aunts or older siblings. They don’t have daycamps to attend or nannies to care for them every moment, or parents who take them on road trips or to the beach or cottage; so for the most part, during the summer, a lot of them are just passing the time each day without any direction.

At the day camp we visited there were about a dozen kids on the first day and 30 by the end of the week. Members of the local church were part of the team working with our OMers and that church will do the follow-up with families who have been contacted. I was talking with another one of our missionaries today who told me about a community where they did an outreach, with a short-term mission team that came from the US. They expected about 25 children to show up for the program but when she went on Wednesday there were 85 children there!

This morning(Sunday) it was my privilege to go with some team members to the home church of two of them, which is about 2 hours’ drive from Chisinau. These two young women were giving reports of their mission work to this sending church. The rest of us supported them with our presence but also had a song prepared to sing when we were invited, and one of the other girls gave her testimony. (I am gradually learning to be prepared for these ‘spontaneous’ invitations.) As the leader of the group I made a few introductory remarks, in Moldovan, in front of the church… and was told afterwards that I am speaking their language well (well, at least they could understand what I said!). It was nice afterwards to be invited to a family’s home for lunch and to sit under their grape arbour enjoying the shade on a hot day.
Having got up at 6 a.m., when I arrived home I laid down for a nap, which lasted 3 hours! Ahhhh… Sunday afternoons….