Thursday, November 29, 2007

Precious Things (in no particular order)

1. Every year of life, and the good friends that go with it..
Last week I celebrated my birthday. Again. Every year, another one. Last year was a very significant one but this year, I have announced to everyone that I have made a turnaround, a u-turn - and instead of the numbers increasing, they are decreasing. So this was my 49th birthday. Again. :-) It was nice to have a few of my dear friends over for supper and the evening. Corinne, Claudia, Viorica and of course, Corinne's best friend, Silutsu(Silas) all helped me to enjoy a quiet but very pleasant evening. This was possibly the last time I will entertain in this apartment as I will be moving out just before I head to Canada. Not sure where I will live when I come back at the end of February, but I know that the Lord has just the right place for me.

2. Family, especially grandbabies!

Speaking of birthdays, last month my wonderful grandson Alejandro celebrated his 1st birthday! Take a look at these photos and see how much he has grown in the space of a year!

He's walking all over the place and I can hardly wait to get to the Vancouver airport and see him walk straight to his Grandma. (OK - maybe he won't remember me and it will take a few days, but he will walk into my arms at some point. Of this I am sure.)

3. Relationship with God through Jesus Christ

So, for a couple more weeks I will enjoy life here in Moldova as the weather is getting colder and colder. Several of my teammates live in the villages and making the long trip to the little house in the backyard in the bitter cold is not something I would want to do every day. But they are willing to live simply and to recognize that the comforts of modern life and suburban 'success' are nothing compared to the joy of sharing the love of God and the hope of Jesus Christ with people whose lives are hard and whose hope is lost. All of us missionaries are not living as simply as those in the villages, but whether our lifestyle is easy or hard the most important thing is what we value. We seek to value what Jesus valued. Jesus valued His relationship with His Father above all. His life was a walking demonstration of the love of the Father for all people and His death was a sacrifice that made it possible for all of us, for each of us, to have an intimate relationship with the Father who forgives those who trust in His Son.
What do you value most in life?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Pig Snout Soup

One never knows what will be in the soup. At missionary training school we were warned not to be surprised to find a chicken's beak or feet in the soup. And sure enough one day in a village we were served chicken, not in a soup but just as pieces of meat. And on the plate were the chicken's legs and feet. Not attractive at all but we laughed as we watched the Moldovan guys pick them up and tear off what little bit of meat was on them.

So the other day we went to Nisporeni to visit one of our outreach teams. Their meals were being generously prepared by members of the church and so we joined them for lunch. We had lovely bowls of cabbage soup, with a few bits of meat. One girl claimed she had a pig's ear, which is generally a delicacy in Moldova. Afterwards I was passing through the kitchen and one of the girls called me over to have a look in the soup pot. I kid you not - this is what was there. We had just enjoyed pig snout soup! Don't you wish you were here to enjoy the epicurean delights of Moldova?

Before we enjoyed lunch, though, we had gone with the team to watch them present a program for a local kindergarten. These are government-subsidized day programs for very young children. They were so little and soooo cute! Our team sang some action songs and the littlest wee ones made a valiant effort to follow the actions. There was a play presented with a moral and a spiritual lesson, a puppet show and a magic trick and another song rounded out the program. In all of this the team had freedom to present moral lessons that were also including spiritual truths about a Creator who loves each person unconditionally. I'm sure that in each presentation these teams make in various kindergartens, precious seed is being sown as children hear of God's unconditional love for them and of someone named Jesus who loves every parent and every child.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Back to Antioch

'From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.' - Acts 14:26,27

In December, I will be heading back to Canada for my home assignment, or furlough. This is an extended time in my home country when I will have the opportunity to report to my sending church, and my sending denomination, and others who are interested, about the work that I have been doing here in Moldova. As well as presenting the ministry of OM Moldova in various places, I will also be spending some time with family and hopefully having some opportunity for R&R and possibly look into some educational opportunities.

I thought it would be a good idea to post on this blog the dates of where I will be when. That way if you or your church group would like to invite me to share, you will know if and when I will be in your area. Please feel free to contact me at

December 14 - 31 - Vancouver (time with family over Christmas)

January 1 -23, 2008 - Lower Mainland, British Columbia

Jan. 9-13 (tentatively) - Vancouver Island

January 24 - February 4 - Maritime Provinces

February 5 - 25 - Toronto & southern Ontario

Feb. 22-24 - Participation in Missions Conference at YPBC

February 28 - Return to Moldova

a new princess

This week a new little girl joined our OM Moldova family. Ianosh and Mariana (see my blog of Aug.14/06 - Moldovan wedding) welcomed the arrival of their first child, a daughter. Her name is Beatrice Sofia and she appears lovely and healthy. I have not yet had an opportunity to visit but I hope to soon. Ianosh was involved in a serious car accident the week before and was still recovering from his bruises at the time of the baby's birth. We are thankful that the whole family is safe and well.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Joy of Teaching

My friend Corinne tells me that I am delinquent in my blog entries. So here I am. Can you believe it is well into November already? The weather has been getting colder and yesterday morning there was even a dusting of snow. I am holding off on wearing winter coat and boots until it is truly, officially cold. My niece in northern British Columbia tells me that already they have lots of snow there. But here the leaves are still on the trees, although the colours have changed.

Recently I have been enjoying the opportunities that are mine to do some teaching within our training programs. I have one group of Moldovan young people whom I am leading in an inductive Bible study of 2 Timothy. This is a challenging assignment because it is being done completely in Romanian. There are a couple Russian-speaking members of the group so the only translation that is happening is from Russian to Romanian.(No, I don't speak or understand Russian - one of the girls translates into Russian for the others.) I look forward to the time when I can do this kind of interaction without having to use my English Bible at all. The group is very patient with me and gracious in not laughing at my many Romanian language mistakes.

** Moldova trivia quiz: What is the purpose of the blue bucket-shaped object in the picture?

I also had opportunity to teach a Bible lesson to the level 1 mission training program, with a translator beside me. The topic was 'The Father Heart of God'. I know that it is very possible, even likely, that some or most of these students have had absentee, abusive or alcoholic parents. Understanding the true nature of their heavenly Father as having a character of love, patience, compassion, tenderness and forgiveness is essential for their spiritual growth and development. As they did last week, in the coming weeks these young people will be involved in outreaches into the villages of Moldova. There they will share the love of God the Father with their words and through their deeds.

Another group I am involved with is the small group of foreigners who are enrolled in our mission training program. Participants from US, Canada, Australia, and Switzerland are bravely taking on the challenge - over the course of 10 weeks - of being immersed in another culture, with minimal language training and many challenges in terms of living conditions and relationships with nationals. The cross-cultural international nature of the course is in itself a huge learning curve for all involved. Part of the challenge for us as leaders is ensuring that not only the foreigners, but also the nationals have some degree of cross-cultural training and sensitivity. Even such small things as common health remedies can become an issue of contention when the views from various cultures are diametrically opposite. For example, will sleeping with the windows open keep you healthy or make you sick?

Tomorrow evening I will have this small group over to my house for supper and an evening of relaxing away from the stress of trying to communicate in another language. They are a fun group and I'm hoping I can come up with a good idea of what to cook for supper. This evening I made chocolate chip cookies. I might just go with spaghetti and meat sauce for the main course - we'll see.

My other teaching challenge this fall is the course for Viorica, who is planning to go to Angola as a missionary. In her course thus far we have covered the biblical basis of missions and now we are supposed to be working on the history of missions. This is more of a challenge for me and I am stumbling in how and what to include in our lessons and discussions. Soon we will spend a fair bit of time looking at cross-cultural issues and cultural adaptation. At the same time we are beginning to obtain more and more information on all that is required in order for her to even get to Angola. Visa applications for 3 different countries, vaccinations, work permits, communication with her sending church, is a huge challenge but also very exciting. We are learning about Angola and as we do, I am reminded once more of what a thrill and joy it is for me to be here - to be part of what God is doing in the lives of individual believers as well as what He is doing in the world. And I pray that my heart will constantly be open to what He wants to do in me.