Saturday, April 14, 2007

A Sunday in the Life...

Tomorrow, once again, our students will go out to the villages on outreach, sharing the love of God and the good news of Jesus Christ. One of my responsibilities is to visit the teams when they are away, ensuring that all is going well and touching base with them to encourage and pray for them. A few weeks ago we went to visit a team in a large village not too far away from Chisinau. We arrived just in time for the morning worship service, entering into a packed church and somehow finding a bench to sit on. Our team was participating in the service and here you see them singing. Among our students is a married couple with absolutely adorable twins. Can you spot the twins? The tall guy in the photo is the team leader, a guy named Spirodon. Behind the team you can see the balcony, which in this case became the 'overflow' area. For several days the team had been serving in this area and I am not sure if the church is always this full, but some of the people attending were new believers who had come to faith through the testimony of our students. At the end of the service those people eagerly went to the front, when called upon, to publicly profess their new-found faith. It was exciting to be there.
After the service, we were invited to join the team for their free afternoon as they were going to the 'forest' for a barbecue. It was a beautiful spring day so I was happy to be able to spend some time with them. We didn't have directions but we were going to follow the truck driven by one of our students, which carried the whole group in the back. That was fine until, carefully picking my way down the rutted road behind the truck, I got left behind. We turned a corner and Slavic and his truck had disappeared. In every direction the road looked absolutely impossible to drive on. I wasn't sure which way to go, or indeed, which way I COULD go! A lady walking along suggested we head down the hill and described how to get where we were going. I started down the hill and at one point stopped and took these pictures - not sure whether to go back or forward! The photo on the left is where we had been and the next photo is where we were about to go!
It seemed impossible but my trusty little Ford eventually got us there. More than once I was convinced we were destined to lose the bottom of the car or get stuck in a river but we fortunately had the services of a young boy whom we had seen at the church. He was whizzing around and in front of us on a bicycle 5 times too big for him, and guiding us to where we needed to go. Here is the photo of our intrepid guide, who coaxed, urged, led and encouraged us towards our seemingly unreachable destination. Once we got there we realized that we could have gone back the way we had originally come and it would have been far easier - but not nearly the adventure!
Spring flowers were blooming and the girls were enjoying picking nosegays and everyone was relaxing. The group gathered sticks and got a fire going and someone brought the bucket full of chicken, which had been kept soaked in beer, and was then cooked over the open fire. This is a Moldovan style barbecue. It was a lovely afternoon and I expect to be equally blessed at the next opportunity I have to visit an outreach team.

This is me with Olga, one of our student leaders.

Slavic tends the grilled chicken

Friday, April 06, 2007

Lucrul Practica

As part of our Challenge into Missions program, we send the students out to the villages to proclaim the gospel in action and in word. We not only train them how to present the message of salvation but we also teach them that our actions are just as important, if not moreso, to demonstrate the love of Christ. So before they begin singing or passing out literature or sharing testimonies, they are expected to care for the needs of the people in the village. This can take many forms: helping to plant a garden, chop wood, clean up a yard, build a fence, paint a wall, visit the elderly, feed the poor. God's love expresses itself in meeting the needs of those God loves. The people whom the students serve are often the ones who then come to a worship service at the local church with whom we partner and want to know more about this Jesus who cares not only for their souls, but also for their bodies and who understands the sorrows and challenges we face in our everyday lives.

Those of us who work at the office in Chisinau can easily forget that missionary work is practical as well as spiritual. So our field leader, Matthew, helps us to remember by regularly giving us the opportunity to be involved in "lucrul practica" (practical work). These past two weeks we have been working hard at the office and also at the construction site of our Mission Training Centre. Last week the students spent a day over there with us painting the main meeting room, the personnel offices, and the kitchen/dining areas downstairs. This week, while the students were away, our regular team turned off the computers for a day and went back to the new Centre to build stairs, to clean and to prepare the floors for installing carpet. It's coming along - slowly but surely. There are still two more levels up above that have a lot left to do, but the main two levels are almost ready to move into. The only problem is that we are still waiting to be hooked up to water, gas, and electricity.

Last Saturday a group of us went to the nearby village of Malcoci to help our team-mate Corinne (from Holland) to prepare her newly rented house for liveability. Some of us painted, others repaired concrete and we all enjoyed the fun of working together and eating together, hosted by Corinne's next-door neighbour. Corinne's house is more basic than my accomodations in Chisinau. She has no running water, but there is a well right in front of the house and an outhouse up in the corner of the back yard. She has no gas to heat the house, but there is a woodstove, the kind that heats the whole central wall of the house. The nice thing for her and her dog Silas is that they have a nice big yard in front and in back. The challenges of simplicity will be worth it for her to be able to grow a garden and have a safe place for Silas to relax.