Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Pastor Par Excellence

When I was at Missionary Training School I was very impressed by the fact that our trainer’s pastor came to visit him, and to support his work by teaching at our course, and giving us some words of encouragement. I thought how wonderful it was that he had a supportive church and a pastor that thought enough of his missionary to take time to come encourage him in this way, so far from home. I never really thought that any pastor would come and visit me. How low my expectations were!

This past weekend I had the privilege of being visited and encouraged by my lifelong pastor and friend, Win Clark. Win and his wife Nancy were visiting their daughter Amy in Frankfurt and decided that being so close, one of them should come and visit me. So for about 36 hours I was so blessed. Win arrived on Saturday evening, with a suitcase full of gifts and supplies and clothes for distribution to those in need, as well as a suitcase full of books and music to bless my soul!

We were able to talk and talk that evening. On Sunday Win and I went to the town of Cojusna with my team-mate Lilian, where Win preached in the church there. Afterwards, Win had the privilege of learning about Moldovan mud (glod) when we went to the home of one of the sisters in the church for a genuine Moldovan meal. We enjoyed the fellowship of the pastor and his wife, my teammates Mike & Myra, and Lilian.

The night before I had had a flood in my bathroom and so later in the afternoon, Win went above and beyond the call of pastoral care as he repaired a faucet under my sink. In the evening we had a lovely meal and more sharing time together in a real Moldovan restaurant, where once again Win continued to listen to me, encourage me, and affirm me in my calling to be here in Moldova. What a blessing this dear pastor and friend has been to me! And of course, because our families are similar ages, and we care about each other’s children, we prayed together for them – as well as for other concerns. Win and Nancy have also become grandparents within the last couple years so it was pretty neat to be able to share together from this new vantage point in life.

Truly the bar has been raised in the standard of pastoral care. Visiting a missionary on the mission field, encouraging me personally, encouraging the national church through the ministry of preaching, making house calls and house repairs and bringing material aid to the country – yes, this is a pastor par excellence! I would love to hear from some of my readers about the ways that your pastor has been a blessing to you. Maybe in so doing we can encourage these dear pastors to carry on with patience and perseverance in the ministry God has given them.


Last Friday, Claudia and I went to the Department of Immigration and received our long-awaited residency permits! Praise the Lord! I am now a legal resident in the country of Moldova and can stay here and travel in and out freely for the next year before I have to have my permit renewed. Thank you so much for all your prayers.

At the same time, though, the joy was somewhat muted by the sobering reality that all our team-mates with American passports must leave the country for 3 months before they will be able to continue with the application process. So currently, our 7 americans are preparing for a 3-month mission outreach in Moldovan speaking villages in Ukraine, near the border of Moldova. then they will be able to return and apply for the permit. There are a lot of gaps in ministry to be filled in their absence so you can imagine how our team is scrambling to care for all the responsibilities our American friends have had. Please pray for them and for all of us in these challenging months.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Getting settled again

Last Friday I moved into my new apartment. As you can see, I am secure inside the apartment, with a door like Fort Knox between me and anyone that might want to get at me. Everyone on our team has been sick and so I could hardly expect to escape the flu that was going around. It gave me a good chance to settle into my apartment last weekend as I spent the whole time resting and drinking lots of fluids and eating soup that I made in my new kitchen (oh I love my new kitchen…). The view from the kitchen isn’t much to get excited about.
As you can see, here I am in the midst of a jungle of soviet-style apartment buildings, with some kind of school or kindergarten right across the street from me. The view from the other side can be seen from the balcony of my bedroom, and it includes the Chisinau ‘zoo’. They say that sometimes you can hear the lions roar in the morning. I haven’t heard them yet and not sure if I will. The zoo here is pretty lame and if it were in Canada there’s no doubt the animal rights’ activists would be up in arms, but hey, it’s all we’ve got. And at least the bears and lions and tigers are being cared for more than all the stray dogs that wander around Moldova (It would break your heart if you’re a dog-lover).

As I publish this blog it is now over a week since I have been in my apartment and my internet still isn't connected. They came today but my landlady didn't tell me that they would come first thing in the morning and silly me, I went to work, thinking they were coming in the afternoon. So now I have to wait ANOTHER day for my internet and it's so hard not to have access to Skype and chat to keep in touch with my family in the evenings! All I can do is briefly check e-mails at work and occasionally take a bit more time to post a blog!
This week we advanced a bit on our residency application process. One day – as can only happen in Moldova – the group of four of us who are proceeding together had a call from the lawyer to meet him outside a certain government office. We expected to go in with him to sign some documents but instead waited outside on the street until he came back and, there on the street corner, had us sign our work permits so that he could prepare them for the next step of the process.
That was it – a quick trip downtown, standing around outside, sign a paper, then back to the office. The next day we had to go to the lawyer’s office to finalize all of our documents, with more photocopies of documents we had already submitted. Then the next morning Claudia and I were at the government department where we had to submit the final batch of official documents so that we could receive our residency permits. That went fairly smoothly, with the official who was taking the necessary photo even making suggestions and giving opportunity for the photo to be a nice one! Included with the documents we had to leave our passport so were issued a temporary document. This coming Friday afternoon we go back, and if all goes well, Lord willing, we will receive our permit. If, however, for some strange reason, our application for residency at this point is denied, that will be it. I will have to leave the country. Hopefully, though, that will not be the case. Postscript: As I edit this post again, trying to get the pictures to display, it is with the news that although things are looking good for me and Claudia and the Dutch family, our American friends are not faring so well. It looks like 7 of our team-mates will have to leave the country for the next three months. Please pray for them!