Sunday, March 25, 2007

Pauza in Praga

Last week was very busy with our Challenge into Missions course and being involved with the students. I have especially enjoyed leading the second level students in a study of 2 Timothy. Doing so in Romanian has been a challenge and a blessing. So by Thursday I was ready for a break, a 'pauza'.

On Thursday I went to Prague. Ah... beautiful Prague. I wandered around the old city streets and saw the Easter market in the town square - very interesting - lots of stuff to see, eat, buy and I did all of the above. I was with a friend from Finland - Kokkamaria - and she and I had a good time wandering, taking pics, eating, poking in shops and generally enjoying the city. One great thing is that Prague has lots of toy stores so this grandma had lots of fun choosing some things for little Ali J.

Let me back up a bit and tell you why I was in Prague. I accompanied my field leader, Matthew, to two days of meetings for leaders of our various fields in the central European area. It was interesting meeting and talking with people from lots of places working with people in interesting places. I was sharing a room with an Austrian woman who is working in Austria, and then with a South African woman working in Bosnia, and a Finnish women working in Kosovo. Also at the meetings were people from the States, Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, England and I'm sure some others, who are all working in Central Europe. I was also really happy for the chance to see my former boss and colleague, Rafael, who is now working with OM in Romania.

While in Prague I had opportunity to visit some friends who also are originally from the east of Canada and who now work with Canadian Baptist Ministries in Prague. I had a pleasant evening with Jeff & Deann Carter and was especially blessed at the opportunity to meet their new son Matthew. Their older son Zachary is due for some major surgery in April so they continue to have their share of life's challenges as they faithfully serve the Lord. Thanks for your hospitality, my friends!

Why to avoid citations

This week I found out why so many Moldovans simply pay off the police as soon as they are threatened with receiving a ticket: it's way easier!!! Remember I got that ticket for turning right on a green light? (I kid you not) Tuesday I had to go to the police station to account for my wrongdoing. I got my Moldovan friend Tanea to go with me (she is a true blessing!) and we waited for almost an hour just to talk to the police inspector. He asked me to explain why I had done what I did, so - complete with diagram - I
explained but he still fined me 100 lei (@ $10). I would have been Me & Tanea (my angel of mercy!)
glad to whip out the 100 lei and give it to him, but in fact he informed me that I had to go to the bank to pay it. sigh. the bank. lineups. so off I went to the bank, without Tanea as she had another commitment and waited and waited and waited in line until finally I could pay my money. Then I had to take the receipt BACK to the police station. I got there and all the officers on duty were very busy outside admiring a big SUV that maybe they confiscated from a mafia boss, or maybe the police chief had just purchased that morning so I had to wait until that important meeting was over. Then I gave the receipt to the officer, received my license back and finally I was free to go. It had taken ALL afternoon. Moral of the story: don't get tickets.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

They tell me it's time to post again on my blog. And I see it's true - I didn't post anything last week but I have an excuse. I was busy writing and sending my newsletter last week. So - if you are not on the e-mail or mailing list for my newsletter - and you want to be - please do send me an e-mail ( and let me know. I will be glad to add you and send you the March 2007 edition.

But now please don't think that there has been nothing happening in my life. Obviously life goes on, even when the blog doesn't. You will be happy to know that my car is now faithfully chugging along and taking me where I need to go, carefully doing all she can to avoid being stopped by the friendly neighbourhood politei (police).

Some of the things that have happened recently include Cherise's departure from OM Moldova. Cherise was with us for six months and now has returned to Texas, with a few adventures on the way... (What happens when you get on the wrong train in London and consequently can't get to the airport in time to catch your flight, Cherise?) Here's a picture of me and Cherise in front of the girl's house on the day she left.

And just after Cherise left, the Challenge into Missions participants began to arrive. We have already had a week with the leadership group and just this past Thursday all the rest arrived - a total of more than 20 young adults to be with us for training over the next 10 weeks. One of the events we did with the leaders was to have a cross-cultural simulation experience in the form of a Moroccan meal!

Today is St. Patrick's Day (you may have noticed the green text) - a day to honour one of the great missionaries. It was also Matthew and David Skirton's birthday - and Jeanine Dommerholt's too! Happy birthday, to each one of you. I'll only tell you, though, that David is one year old - and he is a cutie - all boy, as you can tell by his handling of the birthday gift his folks gave him! In training we did a psychological inventory that determined whether we were drivers, harmonizers, motivators, or detailers. Doesn't it look like David may grow up to be a driver?!!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Bad News, Good News (vignette of a week in the life of a car owner)

Background Music:
Remember the Sesame Street song, “Who are the People in your Neighbourhood?”

Cast of characters:
Guys that helped push car
Team-mates that helped (Silas, Corinne, Mike, Lilian, Matthew)
Taxi driver with booster cables
Next-door neighbour, Boris
Woman neighbour mad about garbage
Insurance agent who helped move car
Man neighbour also mad about garbage
Police inspector
Police officers

Friday: Bad news… the car got stuck in the snow
Good news… some young fellows walking by helped to push it

Bad news… where I parked it was in a spot where it might get sideswiped by someone else having trouble in the snow
Good news…Silas, one of my team-mates, gave me a lift home and helped me to push the car to a place more out of the way
Bad news… when I tried to start the car the next morning, nothing happened
Good news…. I have learned all the routes for public transport to and from my new place of residence
Stupid news… after taking me grocery shopping and going out to supper together, it was late and dark so I told Corinne not to bother trying to help me get my car started
Bad news… the place where the car was parked (broken down!) now was in the way of the garbage truck when it came. The police were called and an inspector came looking for me at my apartment. I wasn’t home so he left his name and number with my neighbour.
Good news… last week I had prayed for opportunities to meet my neighbours. When I got home from prayer evening on Tuesday I met my neighbour Boris, who came to tell me to call the police inspector. Later I had the opportunity to meet several other irate neighbours who went out of their way to let me know how bad it was to leave my car in the way of the garbage truck. I had the opportunity to apologize profusely.
Good news… early on Wednesday morning, my team-mate Mike came to help me get my car moved out of the way. A taxi driver with booster cables got me started and Mike followed me through the snowy streets to the OM base, arriving in time to lead the Bible study that I was responsible for that morning.

Bad news … when I tried to drive the car to the mechanic’s shop, after Matthew gave me a boost to get it started, it broke down at an intersection
Good news… a brother from a local church saw me there and helped push the car out of the way. Then Lilian came to help get it started, without success. Then Andrei the mechanic arrived and towed it away to be repaired.
Stupid news…I had neglected to check the fluid levels in my engine – there was no water
Left- my team-mate, Lilian; Right - Andrei, the mechanic

Bad news… Lilian had tried unsuccessfully to call the police inspector on my behalf; when I got home, the police called me and told me to come to the Police station in the morning.
Good news… I eventually found my way to the police station ( a whole story in itself) and was able to understand the officer fairly well and paid my fine and had everything cleared up
Stupid news... The inspector told me that when he went to investigate the complaint about my car, there was a door unlocked
Good news... nothing had been taken. The policeman took all my legal car documents that I had left in the car and gave them to me when I came to the police station, and also locked the door. My tape player was not stolen.

More good news… Later in the day, Andrei arrived with my car all fixed and ready to go.

Bad news… On the way home, I got pulled over by the police for going through a red light (in reality the light was green but there was a green right turn arrow that I didn’t know about and you can’t turn right unless the arrow is green, but there’s no red arrow to indicate that – you’re just supposed to know)… so I got another ticket!
Good news… When I think back over the course of this week and of all the people who helped me in my misfortune – I counted at least twelve – I can only thank the Lord Jesus that I am not alone. He has put me in a place where I always have someone I can phone for help. Praise His name!

More good news... I found the secure parking lot near my building where I can safely leave my car, as there is a security guard.

You may wonder if, in the midst of all this, I ever do any work or ministry. In fact, although my time at work has been limited this week, I did lead a Bible study and spend some meaningful time with individuals and started preparation for our ‘Challenge into Missions’ training program that begins next week and answered a lot of e-mails and did some planning for the future programs that will be conducted in our new building. We have had a conference going on at our base this week, too, so it has been good to have some time to meet people from away.. thank you for your prayers in and through all things!