Thursday, May 25, 2006

sorry it's been a while...

I guess I've been pretty busy lately. Part of it was that I had a cold - battled it for a couple weeks and eventually realized it had developed into a sinus infection. But that's all fine now and I can't claim illness as my excuse any longer. But when I try to figure out what I've been doing, not really sure. I did arrange a farewell celebration for our team-mate Victor, who has gone off to be a missionary in another country. Then I went with the group who saw him off at the airport one evening. There's always people coming and going. We have a new recruit here from Austria and getting her established in her program and in the team, is one of my responsibilities. I have also been working at arranging my schedule to allow time for preparation for a couple Bible studies I have led, for some sharing I was going to do, and for co-leading the Bibles studies at our annual team retreat coming up next week. So I guess it's fair to say that the time I have usually spent writing on my blog is starting to be used for preparation time for doing some of the teaching I love to do. Yesterday morning I led a study on Ephesians and on Sunday I went with Matthew to some village churches where I was able to share a word of testimony and sing a song. I do enjoy getting out to the villages and seeing a bit of the rural life in Moldova. Here's an example of the roads in the villages. I was just as glad not to be driving on Sunday!
But I am always happy to come back to my own little apartment where I can close the door, put up my feet, put on some music and relax.
One of my favourite responsibilities each week is leading our little Global Action group - a core study program that I am leading 3 girls in. So on Friday mornings I bring them to my apartment so we can drink coffee, eat muffins, and share in our Bible study. It's a very special time and Marah refers to these girls as my 'wannabe' daughters. They're not my Marah, but they are still pretty special.
Speaking of Marah, wedding plans are coming along - even half a world away. There was a bit of a glitch when someone somehow got my credit card number and started stealing money from my account. RBC Visa got right on it so, praise the Lord, I am not out any money but it's pretty unsettling to have this kind of scam defraud you of oodles of money without them even having the card itself!! So paying wedding bills has been put on hold until my new card arrives by courier. (I keep thinking of Tom Hanks, FedEx and the soccer ball, and wondering if and how the card will ever get here. The same is true, actually of my plane ticket to Canada - it is coming via courier. Five business days, they say. Wonder what that translates into in Moldova time...)
That's the other thing recently - there's been a lot of contact back and forth with family and friends in Canada. My sister and niece are coming to visit in July and I am trying to find a cheap and easy way for them to get here from Vienna. You wouldn't think that would be so complicated - but it is!
Also, Jenni went to my storage locker to get me some books which she will bring when they come this summer. In doing so, she had a visit with my son Ben. I was really delighted to receive this picture of Jenni and Ben.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Just in case (10 essentials for travelling in Moldova)

When you are asked to drive someone home for their mother’s funeral, you really should stop and think before you jump in the car. There are certain essentials you need for any trip and certain essentials you might need if you end up staying somewhere overnight when you didn’t expect to. This weekend I thought I was driving for three hours, dropping someone off, and driving back again. So Saturday morning I headed off, forgetting that a 3 hour drive on Moldovan roads can last many more hours, especially if every time you ask someone at the side of the road for directions, they ask you for a drive to that place (or nearby…) and somehow their directions take you on a different route than you had intended. But after all, what are backroads for but to explore!? So – here is my list of the 10 essentials for travelling in Moldova (even short trips):
1. Boots – I get an A for this one. As I was leaving, it was raining in Chisinau and so I did the math – spring + rain+ Moldovan village = “glud”, or Moldovan mud – lots of it! Walking in the funeral procession down a side “street” of a tiny village, I was very glad I had remembered not only my boots but shoes to wear when it was sunny. When I got home, I just left the boots in the car – you never know!
2. Map – after our adventurous trip to Odessa I discovered that I had a map of Moldova that was much better than the one I bought for 70 lei. This was very helpful driving to Paicu last week and then again this weekend heading down the same road and beyond.
It was also helpful as I was picking up the girls I was taking with me. On Thursday I had driven to Orhei, which is the other direction, and had it in my head we were going in that direction. Checking the map before I left, I realized we were going in the complete opposite direction; a good thing to know. Also, after we had our friendly assistants giving us directions (see above), the map helped us to make sure we were still on the right track.
3. Toothbrush & paste – a simple thing, and thankfully my travelling companion had toothpaste, but as I brushed my teeth with my finger out back by the rabbit hutches
this morning, after 24 hours without, I was grateful at least for the toothpaste! (I will also include in this category other personal items such as wet wipes, deodorant, and clean underwear.)
4. Water – I score full marks for this one too. I had been battling a cold so was drinking lots of water all the time anyway, so I made sure I had some with me. Not that they don’t have water in Moldovan villages but we have always been advised not to drink the water from the wells here – and that’s where they get it, straight from the well. However, I took great pleasure in partaking of the cherry compote (basically homemade cherry juice) we were served!
5. Brush & mirror – For some reason I often forget to put my brush in my purse. After sleeping, not to have a brush can be a problem – and even if I have a brush, if I don’t have a mirror I could do worse with the brush than without it. So I am going to purchase a small mirror to keep in my purse, along with my brush.
6. Headscarf- If it’s a Saturday night and you are staying overnight in a Baptist home, chances are you will go to a Baptist service on Sunday morning.
If you’re the only woman without a headscarf you might feel out of place, especially when they welcome their guests and invite you to share a testimony or a song or some poetry. Thankfully I did have my headscarf, though Liuba, my travelling companion, did not.
7. Something always ready to share in a worship service – In eastern Europe there is no such thing as a backrow Baptist, nor any hope of a visitor remaining anonymously hidden in the back row. Rather, visitors are ushered to the very front row and expected to share something (at the VERY least to bring greetings from their home church) with the congregation. I keep forgetting this. Liuba didn’t have a headscarf but she did have a poem at the ready in her Bible so she got full points for being a well-prepared guest in that aspect. In spite of my cold I decided, in desperation, to sing a song. During the first sermon, and then even the second, instead of listening attentively I spent the time trying to choose which song I would sing and trying to figure out if I knew the words and if I knew how to explain the English words with my limited Romanian vocabulary. Liuba said I did good – I hope so!
8. Bible – What kind of missionary goes anywhere without a Bible??! Well, I did. And not only did I have nothing to read before going to bed last night, this morning in church when I might have simply shared a Bible verse, both people I was sitting next to had Russian Bibles, so I couldn’t even find a Romanian Bible to read from. I was grateful that the hymn book was in Romanian, even though all the hymns seem to be somewhat doleful in their tone. They fit in well in the funeral procession this afternoon when the Baptist sisters were singing hymns enroute and as the procession stopped for a Bible reading at every corner we passed (much to the annoyance especially of truck drivers impatiently waiting to pass the procession).
9. Stickers – OK, well maybe not an essential, but a definite boon when there are children around. In the home where we stayed, there were two delightful children – Daniel, 3
and Viorica, 6. They took a real shining to Liuba (actually all children do – she’s like that) and during church they just wanted to be close to her once they returned from their Sunday School class. As well as poetry, Liuba had stickers in her Bible (yes, she had her Bible – a much better missionary than I!).
The children were absolutely thrilled to pieces to have these wonderful ‘Jesus Loves Me’ stickers to show to everyone. I thought, "Now there’s something I can ask my friends at home to send in the mail that won’t require a parcel and that will be a treasure for some Moldovan children."

10. Camera – Full marks for me here, too. I grabbed my camera as I went out the door, grateful that the batteries had been recharged. You, my friend, are enjoying the benefits of the fact that I took it with me. Southern Moldova was absolutely gorgeous and on the way home, after a sad but satisfying weekend, Liuba and I took lots of pictures, stopping every time we saw another breathtaking scene, or cows in the road, but not when we saw someone looking for a lift! We made it home in just over three hours. Took us 4 ½ to get there.