Thursday, May 31, 2007

Paicu Revisited

So there we were on the way to Paicu (this one's for you, Katy!) to visit the team there and the muffler fell off of my car. Odd thing for it to do, seeing that my exhaust system was repaired (after falling off) just a couple weeks ago. Mind you, the low carriage of my car and the dreadful conditions of the roads here are not a good combination. The thing was that when the muffler fell off - well, it sort of ripped off - it almost took the whole bumper with it. Fortunately I was able to use the string from my Tilley hat to tie the bumper together until we got to the village. There someone fastened it together better with a couple of pieces of wire that we found at the building site where the foundling Paicu church is constructing a church/community centre.

So, having seen my car begin to fall apart piece by piece, I have decided that it's much more reasonable to opt for the standard mode of transport in Moldova:

Sunday, May 27, 2007

You never know what's next...

When you go to work in the morning, you never really know what to expect. Before you get to the office, you might go down the stairs and directly to the door of the new Mission Centre, or you might go down the stairs, cross a questionable plank, and jump over a significantly deep hole dug for the water that we are praying will soon be connected.
I'm happy to say, though, that my department is now installed in our new offices and I am quite pleased with mine now that I have a desk.
With two windows in the office, even on a hot day you can get a decent cross-breeze. The same is true of my apartment so I have survived this past week well, with temperatures up in the 30's.

This week was the final week for our mission training program so there
were some interviews, evaluations, closing dinner and a group picture taken. Not long after the official group picture was taken, a bunch of the students were continuing to help with some practical work at the new centre. We asked them to gather for another more informal picture, so they stood outside the new building and some of the alumni students dumped water on them from the upper windows. In the pic you can see me watching from the safety of the office window on my level. It was a hot day so I think they were actually glad for the shower. :-) You never know what's next!

Today, another warm day, we had a sponsored mini-marathon to raise money for some various OM ministries, including our sports ministry. We all went out to the forest and ran or walked a pre-measured 2 km route. (Yes, I did too, carrying Lydia's bike part of the way!) Afterwards we found some shade in a nearby forest area and laid out our blankets and pulled out our food. We weren't too surprised to see a cute little puppy wandering about and Matthew's girls carried the tiny thing around all afternoon. We were a bit surprised to see some lovely horses/ponies wandering free through the area. But we really didn't expect to see a Momma pig and her 3 piglets wandering around the clearing and in fact it was quite funny to see the protective mother pig
chasing Corinne's dog Silas away from the piglets. Later the mother seemed to be coming towards some of our group in a somewhat threatening way. City-dwellers that some of us are, we weren't really sure how to handle the angry pig. Then one of our students - a guy from a village who keeps pigs himself - just came running over clapping his hands and chased the pig right away. It was all pretty funny. We didn't know what to expect.
Life can be like that, can't it? So often you don't know what to expect next and when the unexpected happens you can feel insecure, uncertain and even a bit frightened. Thankfully there is One who knows the character of all creatures and who can protect us from powers greater than us. He also promises to walk with us through any perils, any storms, and every day, whether hot and sunny or rainy and overcast. "The Lord is my Shepherd..."

Monday, May 21, 2007

Summer fare

It's only mid-May and already it's beginning to feel like summer. It is lovely and warm but generally not too hot. In my apartment I can keep my windows open and there is a nice breeze blowing through. This evening the sky is diamond-studded and a lovely breeze was gentle on my face as I stood and looked out at the darkened square. In the market there are strawberries already! Still expensive but I bought some on Friday and they were soooooo good! There are also new potatoes and chives and beets with greens - yummm. I made a stew and a big pot of soup this weekend. A friend from the US came with a mission team and brought me a huge care package including lots of Crisco and whole wheat flour and All-Bran. I haven't made any pies yet but I bought apples today and will make an apple pie this week, I do believe. Don't you love the growing season?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Here and there, this and that

so - Corinne tells me that I need to post on my blog. Sorry to leave you all waiting so long for the next installment. Now, let me think what I can talk about... well, I can always talk about my grandson - Alejandro - is he not the cutest baby you ever ever seen in the whole wide world? And already is 7 months old! In July I will finally get to see him again.

On Sunday I took my colleagues and drove my faithful little Ford (which recently had the exhaust system repaired) to a village called Stefan Voda to visit our team that was on outreach there. We enjoyed attending the little church, where the service was predominantly in Russian. I didn't understand the sermon, and am beginning to identify Cyrillic letters so I tried to read the words of the songs. Fortunately, one of the songs that was sung is a song that I heard sung recently and really liked it and so have been learning this - my first Russian song. I was able to join in wholeheartedly on the chorus (even though my pronunciation is horrid!). After church we were invited to the home of the woman who was hosting the girls and she fed us a wonderful Moldovan meal : stuffed peppers, sarmale, salad, bread and juice. I am soon going to have to start learning how to make Moldovan food. I will probably start with placinta, the Moldovan version of pie.

At the end of that day, and each day, I came home to my apartment. The building is not beautiful but now that the leaves on the trees have come and there are beautiful blossoms and flowers everywhere, the greyness of the apartment buildings is camouflaged. With all the spring flowers, one of my all-time favs is lily -of-the-valley with its wondrous aroma.
In Romanian they are called teardrops.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Road Trip to Ukraine

A group of our colleagues were unable to apply for residency until they had left the country for 90 days to fulfill visa requirements. Since the beginning of March they have been exiled in Ukraine, living and working in Romanian-speaking communities near the Moldovan border. This past weekend I made my annual trip to Ukraine. (I went to Odessa last April with my daughter Marah, if you remember, and so this being the second year I have gone to Ukraine in April, it is now an annual trip.) This time, though, I wised up and made sure that I took at least one Russian speaker with me. We actually went in Lilian's car, and also took Viorica to stay with our American friends there. Lilian is my adopted son - he and Viorica are both Moldovan members of our team.

The ride to Cernauti was about 5 hours, thankfully uneventful and no problems crossing the border. We had a pleasant weekend with the group there, visiting with them, learning about their ministry involvement during their 3-month stay. They are helping with a church plant, and also teaching English in several venues, including two villages where they
teach on weekends.

We were able to go to one of those villages on Saturday, and it was a real treat. Bahrinesti is a lovely spot and the spring foliage made it even more delightful. Our hosts, the young Baptist pastor and his wife, were extremely hospitable and we had such a wonderful time. On Sunday morning I was able to share my testimony in the church and Lillian preached (women don't have the freedom or opportunity to preach in eastern Europe).

On the trip back we brought some winter clothes and extra luggage back for our friends, which the border guards were very curious about. They had a real hard time figuring whether those cellophane-wrapped hand warmers and foot-warmers, labelled in English, were contraband until I was able to explain to them what they were. The only other hiccup on the trip back was having a blowout on a very lonely stretch of highway late at night and being very grateful that Lillian had purchased a monkey wrench that very afternoon. He was able to change the flat tire while I tried to be useful by holding an almost useless mini-flashlight. Finally he got his cellphone from the car and the light from that was much more helpful. It was late when we arrived home but I was grateful for a safe trip, great fellowship with my colleagues, and a new experience of the country of Ukraine.

Casa Noua

This week we moved our department into the new building. Those of you who have been to Moldova will of course ask, is there 'apa, lumina, gaz'? (water, electricity, gas) Well, you would think those would be prerequisites to working in a new building but in fact, no, we are still wading through the bureaucracy to get the necessary permits to be hooked up. Meanwhile we have a line of electricity coming into the building courtesy of a neighbour, and huge barrels of water being filled regularly courtesy of a neighbour on the other side, so we're good.

During the football conference last week, my office had been used as a dormitory for some of the guys, so it has been well aired out this week, and we did have to take apart several sets of bunkbeds in order to move our furniture in. But we did move in. This week I hope to buy some of the new furniture we need for my office - a bookcase, new desk, sofa and chair.

We had a bit of an adventure the day we moved in with trying to lock the door to the office. I couldn't get the key to work so Tanea tried it. Only thing was she went into the office to try from the other side of the door. She got it locked and took the key out of the lock, which I had not been able to do... but then she couldn't get it unlocked! One of the worker guys came to help and ended up having to climb in the window to rescue Princess Tanea, unlock the door, and repair the lock itself.

Don't Worry, Mom!

My bodyguards: Trevor, Slavic, and Ianosh.

Ask me if I feel safe!

what's been happening

When I looked and saw that my last post was two weeks ago I had to go check my date book to find out what I have been doing for the last two weeks and why I have been too busy to blog. It has been a busy time and I have had a houseguest and a few major events, so I guess it's time to catch you up a bit.

My houseguest was a lady from Scotland - Vivien - who came as a volunteer to teach English. Because we had a conference running at the OM facilities, there was no room for her there, so I enjoyed having her stay at my apartment for these last three weeks. Near the beginning of her stay we went on an outing with the Dommerholt family to Orhei Vechi, a place where there is beautiful natural landscape, and a monastery complex that includes caves cut into the cliff face. We went into one, where there was an old monk, a tiny chapel, and a simple sleeping place hewn out of the rock - quite something to experience!
That same week we were running a football (soccer to Canadians) conference in our new building. As we still have no gas, electricity or water, we had to bring the meals back and forth from the OM base and so there was a lot of coming and going that week. I also had the privilege of driving some of the guys to the field where they were playing.

On Sunday last, I went with one of my colleagues, Ianosh, to visit one of our student teams who were out on outreach in the village of Leuseni. We had a beautiful day for the 1 1/2 hour drive and enjoyed our time with the team there. One of the team members is an English guy who is taking the 10-week course adn so it was good to touch base with him. In the sea of Moldovan language, I think he was glad to be able to speak English for a little while anyway. He shared his testimony in the worship service and guess who translated for him? That's right - yours truly. translating from English into Moldovan is a much bigger challenge than the other way around. Praise God that He gives us strength in all things. This pic shows members of the team singing for the church and Trevor (England) is on the right. It was a beautiful little village and I also enjoyed the scenery.