Tuesday, March 21, 2006
You wouldn't necessarily expect to find John Calvin in Budapest but sure enough, there he is standing in Kalvin ter (Calvin Square) presumably reminding those who pass of the great influence he had on the Reformation. It was near this statue that I attended a conference/consultation on member care in mission agencies in central and eastern Europe. This was an interesting time, with input from missionaries from Estonia, Poland, Slovakia, Bosnia, Hungary, Romania, Italy and of course, Moldova.
As well as enjoying the conference, I enjoyed the experience of simply being in Budapest once again. I had wonderful hosts during my stay there and my friend Sue was extremely generous with her time, showing me around and taking me on an adventure with her and another friend. She filled me in on many of the must-sees of the city and places I need to go next time I come.
When I left from Budapest, it had been a beautiful spring day. How delighted I was, when I woke up the next morning in Moldova, to discover that finally it is spring here too!
Monday, March 13, 2006
One of the ways I hope to make some new friends in Moldova is by joining the International Women's Club here. And so I did. Unfortunately, their regular meetings are on Tuesday, the same night as our OM prayer meeting so I was unable to attend. But I did sign up for interest groups of various kinds - book club, walking, cooking. Haven't heard much about these yet, but I did get a phone call from a woman who wanted to go walking. So we went walking. My apartment is right across the street from a good-sized park, so we arranged to meet and then we walked for about an hour and a half (my feet were very sore the next day). This woman is Scottish, from Edinburgh, and she works for a Commission of the European Union so she has some very interesting insights and experiences of living in different countries. I enjoyed her company a lot and the next Friday we met and had supper in a nice little restaurant that I hadn't been to before. She's on vacation now but when she returns, I expect that we shall re-connect and build a friendship as we both try to establish a social life here in Chisinau.
Another way that I have tried to find life apart from my work is by participating more fully in the life of my church. I enjoy attending the church on Sunday mornings, even though I still understand a minimal amount of the sermon. The music is good, they have a good choir and people are very friendly. So I have joined a small Bible study group. Those of you who know me well know that I love Precept Bible studies and have participated in and also led many over the years. Our small groups are all doing Precept Bible studies!! This is one way that God has helped me to feel at home in this church. And so I am in a group that is studying Philippians - a book that I have taught many times - but now I am a student as it is being taught in Romanian! You can be sure that this is stretching my language learning in a very good way.On Sunday mornings the pastor is even preaching on the book of Philippians. Being in a small group, though, also gives me opportunity to get to know some people. Tomorrow evening I have invited the youth pastor, an American, and his Moldovan wife over for supper. There is a very active ministry in this church with youth and young adults and I just want to offer my encouragement and support to this couple, who are also actively planting a church in a nearby small community. God is doing great things in and through the believers in Moldova and I see them all actively reaching out to share the good news of the gospel with their neighbours and friends.
Another neat thing that happened recently was the opportunity to meet another Moldovan friend through a contact with another missionary in Belgium. This other missionary had told me that they had baptized two Moldovan men in their church plant there. He said that the wife of one of the men was still here in Moldova, waiting for papers to enable her to join her husband.
And so I was able to make contact with this young woman who has not seen her husband in 2 years. And her 3 year-old daughter has not seen her father in all that time. This is not unusual for Moldova, where so many people go to other countries to obtain jobs and support their families. I had a lovely evening with this young woman, her daughter, and her brother-in-law, with whose family she is staying. She shared her story of how she and her husband, miles apart from each other, separately have come to faith in Jesus Christ. God does do amazing things, doesn't He?
I am learning some things, too, about Moldovan hospitality. Generally, when people come for a meal or a visit, they bring some sort of gift. Then- unless they have been specifically invited for a meal - when you offer tea or a snack, they decline. But I have learned that you are expected to offer again as it is not considered polite to accept the first time of asking ( I don't think I have remembered this YET when I've been on the receiving end!) The second or third time of invitation is when the person accepts, so I have to remind myself to offer again when they are at my place. This is easier to remember when I have made the effort to get something special in the house to serve when guests come. But how will I ever remember, when I am the guest, to say 'no' the first and maybe even the second time that I am offered something?? You can pray for me to be polite and gracious in this regard!
I have also had the privilege of being a guest, most recently in the home of other missionaries. I was invited to have supper with IFES missionaries Tanya and Kevin and their children. They are from the States but lived in Vancouver in Canada long enough for their son Stephen to be born there and to proudly claim his Canadian identity! I enjoyed a great evening with them, learning about their ministry with university students and their experience of living here in Moldova. Every interaction with other ex-patriates offers a chance to learn a few new things about how to get around in Chisinau, where to get what, and how to locate resources that I didn't know where to find. Not to mention the best blessing of beginning to establish supportive and hopefully mutually encouraging relationships.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Some of you may be wondering why I haven’t written in my blog lately. I’m wondering the same thing myself! It’s not like there’s nothing happening – and that could be exactly the problem. There is so much happening that when I get home in the evening I am simply exhausted and don’t have energy to do much more than prepare a light supper and then veg in front of the TV for a couple of hours. I’ve been told that it’s normal at about the 6-month mark to be feeling tired, and struggling to deal with the reality that begins to hit: I am living in Moldova!!!! It’s not a visit anymore. It’s not a great adventure full of questions and mystery – it’s a day-to-day life with normal everyday struggles, plus the fog of coping with those challenges in a new language. However, the good news is – I am indeed coping, and thriving, lest any of you begin to think you need to send cards of concern and sympathy. I am fine!! I am happy!! I LOVE what I am doing! I’m just tired, but spring is coming!
Speaking of spring, in Moldova, March 1st is considered the beginning of spring and the whole week till the 8th is some kind of festival which culminates in a day to honour women!! So on March 1st, guys give their girls and friends give their friends, etc. a little pin made of red and white yarn tied in a bow and decorated with some kind of flower or coin. It’s called a ‘Martisor’ and I was given one by Ana, one of my Moldovan team-mates. Then my Romanian teacher also gave me one – they are very pretty. You can follow these links to find out more about Martisor:
The wonderful thing is that March 8th, which would be the equivalent of our Mothers’ Day except that it’s not just for mothers. It’s for all women, and everything closes down so people can celebrate the wonderful women in their lives. At OM we have the day off and we are organizing a social event for all the women on the team – we’re going to go to a sauna for the afternoon!! Cool, eh? Well, actually, I suppose it will be hot.
Now you may be wondering what’s been keeping me so busy. One of the new things that I was responsible for last week was to welcome and host the new team members who arrived from USA – 5 of them! I’ve been helping them get oriented to Chisinau and life on our team, had them for dinner one night and have been trying to answer all their questions. As a member of the personnel department this falls in my court, and along with Ivanir I have been doing all possible to help them get settled, arrange their language lessons and language contacts and all the things that Personnel helped me with when I first came. It’s nice to be on this end of it and actually know some stuff!
This photo was taken the day after they arrived when I took them downtown to experience the fun of the rutieras and the joy of the Piata Centrala. Front row is Brandy, Donna, and Ersebeth. Back row is Myra, Mike and Ron. Ersebeth is Hungarian and here for a 3-week short term experience. Mike and Myra, as well as Brandy, are from Georgia. Ron and Donna are from Washington state.
One of the new recruits, Brandy, is doing the Global Action program and will be studying the core study program together with Dana and Claudia. Guess who gets to facilitate the study? Yours truly!! So that is another couple hours of group time plus preparation time each week for this course, which covers foundational things like Bible survey, hermeneutics, discipleship, mission and other subjects. I am excited about this, and the nice thing is it is in English.
I am also still teaching 3 English classes a week and with the addition of all these Americans, the Moldovans are really being encouraged to learn the language and being given lots of opportunity to do so. Another course that I will be teaching is a Missions course for Moldovans who plan to do cross-cultural missions. I am currently trying to find time to pull that course together so that when the students have enough English to take the course, I will be ready to teach it. And my Romanian will be getting better, too, so that I can help them more when the language is a problem. It’s all about communication!
As well as these things, I still have major responsibilities in the Public Relations Department. I will be picking up the Moldova News from the printer on Monday to send out to other OM offices, such as OM Canada, who will send it to your church if you let them know you are interested. E-mail me for more details.
But apart from my ministry with OM, I am also working on building a life and some relationships outside of work. I’ll tell you more about that in the next edition…