Sunday, September 23, 2007

Momentous events

So in the last few weeks our team has been busy preparing for the opening of our missions centre. We had several work days when our whole team rolled up our sleeves and pulled out the drills and paint cans and screwdrivers and mops to get everything ready for the Big Day. We watched as the long dreamed-of sports area miraculously became a reality with the laying of lovely terra cotta bricks where once was the construction site which was our front yard. In the space of 3 or 4 days the outside area of the building was transformed and we were amazed and delighted. The day before the opening some of the team members were putting together this tent frame and covering up the unsightly construction scraps with the colourful parachute.

International guests arrived to participate in the opening ceremonies and to celebrate with us the completion of the building and the possibilities for ministry and blessing that are made possible with the use of this facility. The photo on the steps includes guests from Germany, Switzerland, and England as well as our team leader, Matthew on the right at the top and me and Corinne at the foot of the stairs. On the day of the opening, pastors arrived from all over Moldova to join with us and to hear about our various ministries. We had information booths set up throughout the building and international food tables set up on each level. Downstairs was European food, on the main level was Asian food, upstairs was South American food, and outside in the courtyard was North American food (barbecued shish-kebabas and chocolate chip cookies). I helped to man the booth that represented our Moldovans who have been sent into other countries as missionaries. We had put up a world map with photos of our missionaries and strings directed to the countries of service. I had prepared a little trivia quiz with questions such as 'What is the second largest country in the world?' and 'In which countries are Moldovans currently serving with OM?' Not too many took the quiz but it provided some interest. Mostly people just chatted with the different pastors that came along and gave information about programs that OM offers to assist the local churches in sharing the gospel and the love of Christ in their communities. It was a good day and the food didn't run out and the sun shone brightly all day. In fact, on Sunday afternoon we had a team social just to get together with our international guests and relax and enjoy the sports area and have a meal together - which consisted of all the leftovers from Saturday, supplemented by pizza.

Meanwhile, in other news, while my daughter Marah and her husband Dan and my grandson Alejandro were visiting Dan's mother in England, Alejandro began in earnest to enjoy the world of upright living. :-) He started to walk! Wow! Can you believe that it was almost a year ago that he came into our lives? Ali will be 1 year old on October 10.

Bravo, Alejandro!!!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Random Glimpses

It's harvest season, and the main crop harvested in Moldova is grapes! The other evening on the way home from work we were behind this truck and, as you can see, it is full to the brim with... grapes! We have a grapevine in the garden of the OM base and on the way to and from the office, you can just hide under the grape arbor and have your fill - or grab a bunch of grapes and take with you. :-)

One morning when I parked my car in the upper parking area (actually an empty lot) there was a horrendous, loud, continual bleating sound. Not far from where I was, there was a goat, fastened on a rope and standing on a pile of sound. Crying. Bleating. All day long. His mournful cry echoed in the empty lot surrounded by half-constructed building. Poor thing. Other days there is a cow fastened by the path to the Mission Centre. Or sometimes there is a horse tied up near the driveway. You never know what the animal accompaniment for the day might be. But if you're wondering whether Corinne is at the office or the Mission Centre, just take a look to see if her dog Silas is anywhere nearby. Where Silas is, Corinne is - and vice versa. Corinne had a few of us over to her place for supper last Saturday. She and her dog and her cat Jonah entertained us in fine style.

Every property is generally surrounded by a fence. It's the first thing you build when you're starting a new construction. Our new building is fairly high so I can get some good perspective on what's beneath. Here's a picture of our side and the neighbour's side of the fence. Actually, it's a picture of their outhouse. We demolished the pathetic outhouse we had because we now have indoor plumbing - and electricity too so you don't have to light a candle to see in the bathroom anymore. On the right side of the fence, you can see the beginning of the terra cotta basketball court we are installing.

I wanted my roommate Viorica to teach me how to make Moldovan food. One of the basic foods is mamaliga. She showed me how the other night. Basically, mamaliga is cornmeal and water. They serve it with meat sauce or eggs, brinza (sheep cheese), sour cream, and garlic mixed in oil. Here's the evening meal in my apartment, with the mamaliga in the middle of the table. Lilia is on the left and Viorica on the right.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Team Retreat

This past week was our team retreat and we did have a great time. We had originally planned to go to Romania, as we have done in the past. The problem is that Romania is now part of the European Union. Why is that a problem? Well, it makes it easier for many of us to travel in and out of, but for Moldovans it means that they now need a visa to enter Romania. That is a problem. There are waiting lists for weeks to get an appointment to stand in line to apply for a visa. The Moldovans on our team were not able to get visas in time for our retreat - so we changed venues.

We went to a Christian camp facility just an hour away from Chisinau and it was really quite wonderful. Well, not the Ritz but decent, clean rooms and beds with mattresses, indoor toilets, a lovely outdoor chapel, camp food prepared for us by the camp cook, trails through the woods, staff to help us, sports fields and equipment for playing soccer, volleyball, basketball, tether ball and to have team-building activities. We had a good Bible study leader, a man who has been with OM for over 30 years and who started out as one of the people preparing vehicles that they used for smuggling Bibles into the Soviet Union. He led a very meaningful study on the book of Hosea and God's covenant love for us - and he had plenty of great stories to illustrate his teaching. The only slight discontent was over the quality of the food, which was good but was definitely Moldovan camp food. The first morning, for example, we had spaghetti soup - sort of like rice pudding (with milk, sugar, butter) but with spaghetti instead of rice...hmmm... Next time we will know to order the highest end menu rather than the middle one - and we'll bring our own desserts (there were none - imagine!!). Actually, it's not very often that we have dessert in Moldova, which doesn't hurt me any.

The last evening of the retreat we had a variety show that was quite hilarious. I think everyone that did a drama was making fun of someone else on the team - all in good sport - and it really was funny. Monday we are back to 'normal' life as we begin our fall schedule. I am starting a mission training program with a woman who senses God calling her to serve him in Angola. What a blessing to be part of equipping others for service throughout the world!
On September 22 we will have the Grand Opening of our new World Mission Training Centre so lots of plans and preparations are being put in place for that big event. The Centre looks great and is already being well used. In October we will have a new group of students arriving for a 10-week mission training program here in Moldova. The weather has cooled down to a respectable fall temperature and I am glad to be getting out the socks and sweaters after the high temperatures we endured in August. In whatever preparations and new beginnings you are having this fall, I wish you God's blessing.

Team OM Moldova 2007