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!