Sunday, April 20, 2008

Friendship and Prayer

Last Sunday in church this little girl, who has a beautiful voice, sang a couple of songs for the Lord. Accompaniment by an accordion is typical in Moldova, where few churches have pianos although some have small organs or electric keyboards. This week at the mission base was busy as usual. Our missions students are out of town on outreach projects and so the mission centre was used for a football conference. (Remember, North American people, football means soccer in Europe.) Here in Moldova sports ministries are developing more and more as a form of outreach. This conference was attended by coaches or people hoping to start a team in their village. At the conference they learned soccer skills along with how to share the gospel through sports. They received training in leading Bible studies and in mentoring and discipling young people. All who attended were guys, outside of our own team members, and all seemed very enthusiastic about keeping in touch with one another and encouraging each other in their new project. One of the things they learned, which we emphasize in our mission, is the importance of prayer.
How can we be part of the work God is doing if we never stop to consult the Master about the part that He has for us to play in His work? It was an encouragement and a joy to see these young men praying fervently as they launch out to share the gospel with young people who want distraction and fun but who desperately need a reason to hope, and a reason to live.
It always seems to me that prayer is one of those things that we must constantly struggle with. It's so easy to tell someone you will pray for them, but so hard to be faithful in that. I know that I don't pray nearly enough, although I intend to. But if we get together with other believers and spend time sharing and praying about the concerns of our lives, it is easier and makes us stronger. The hard part is that it also means we have to be vulnerable to truly benefit from praying for one another.

One of the joys for me of returning to Moldova was to see again some of the people I have been praying for and missing. One of them is my 'adopted son', Lilian. We had a chance this week to spend some time together and it is always a blessing to hear how God is working in his life. Mentoring young men and women like this is one of the privileges of my ministry here.
Our team is fairly close-knit and some have real servant hearts. Our friend V. is back from North Africa for a short while and we have learned that V. knows how to cut hair. He served Ivanir this week by cutting her hair for her, as she supervised as closely as she could. He did a great job! Before he leaves Moldova again, I may just ask him to cut my hair too!
On Friday evening of this week, I took one of our newest team members out for supper at a Moldovan 'fast food' called "La Placinte". What you see on the plate is placinta (pronounced pla-chin-ta) - a pastry that can have various types of filling: cabbage, potato, soft cheese (brinza) or sweet filling: cherry, apple or pumpkin. Alida has come to us from Holland and her main responsibility is teaching the children of the Dutch family who are here with us. They will be returning to Holland later in the year and they need their children to be sure to be prepared for entering the Dutch school system. I had a nice evening with Alida, who helped me shop and carry my groceries up to my apartment. Then we watched a movie together, and just enjoyed getting to know one another. It's been a good week, one hemmed in prayer and refreshed with friendships - new and old. I hope you have a great week this week!

Virtual Tour of my New Apartment!

Welcome to my new home! Come through the narrow entrance hall - but hang your jacket on the hook there, and leave your shoes by the door, as is the custom in Moldova. I bought fresh flowers at the market across the street today, and here is my guest book. Please be sure to sign it before you leave!
My friends just went home from my house-warming party so I haven't tidied up the living room, yet. After you and I have had a visit I will put the extra chairs back in the kitchen, blow out the candle and put the puzzle away. This evening our Brazilian family were here with their two children and they enjoyed working on this puzzle. When the British family return with their five children, I'll have to find more forms of entertainment than that!
Come on in and see my lovely little kitchen. Everything is clean and well-built and I love sitting at my little table looking out at the leaves and the birds as I eat my meals. I am getting organized - was really glad to find my electric kettle so that I can prepare tea more easily.
I was really surprised about this great stove/oven. It is gas AND electric, whereas most stoves are just gas for the burners and for the oven. And it has an automatic flint so I don't have to use matches to light the gas burners! Small things but they do make a difference.
Last night for my housewarming party I served individual pizzas, which I prepared easily in my oven. I had also baked oatmeal cookies and apple coffee cake to serve. There's still a bit of the coffee cake left - would you like a piece? I also had a huge vegie tray but that totally disappeared, along with the dip I made from sour cream and onion soup mix. (Inga, these details are for you!) Oh, by the way, to the right of the stove you can see a tall cupboard with a bottom door and a top door. The fridge is in the top part of that! Just a little one but adequate for my needs. In Moldova people generally just have small fridges, not the huge things we have in Canada,crammed with more food than you'll ever eat. Here in Moldova groceries are bought either daily or occasionally a week at a time, depending on one's situation. If you don't have a car, you buy your food at the market on the way home from work. Even if you have a car, as I do, you don't buy too many groceries. You have to remember that every bag of groceries has to be carried up 4 flights of stairs (60 steps) to my 4th floor apartment. That's right - no lift! (Lift is the word we use here for elevator.)
I won't include a photo of the bathroom - it's just tiny, with a shower, sink and toilet. But most important, there is a washing machine. And I can hang out my clothes on the lines on the balcony. So here's my bedroom/office. The apartment is basically a big rectangle, with the bedroom on one end and the living room on the other.
As you can see, there is a wonderful desk and cupboards for me to work at. There is storage space for everything! And there is a cozy chair that I can curl up in to read in the morning on days off or to watch movies on my computer in the evening. Shelves for books and a bed that I have made comfy with my single mattress and magic foamie (it's a double bed, but oh well). As you can see, once again the Lord has blessed me far beyond my hopes and expectations. So here's the photo of the outside of my building. My balcony is on the right, second from the top. You can see how perfect this location is, especially for those evenings when I am too tired to cook supper. Hope you enjoyed your tour! If you ever come to Moldova, I would love to give you the tour of my apartment and lots more in person.
Now, if you were here, I would ask you to sign my guest book. Since you're not, please sign my virtual guestbook by leaving a comment! Thanks!


Last night I had a group of friends over to help me 'warm up' my new apartment. It was great to have time together and to share with people I have missed being with over the last months. Silas & Mihaela were there, with news of a new place that God has provided for them as they await the arrival of their first child. Butje & Liuba were unable to come as Liuba is in the hospital with some complications with her pregnancy. It's going to be a busy summer on our OM team here!
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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Getting through the first week back

A week ago I arrived back in Moldova. It’s been a busy week. I went straight from the airport to my new apartment but it’s only today that I have been able to put any time into making it feel like home. Every day this week I was teaching a two-hour class on the Biblical Basis of Missions to our group of @ 20 students. I really enjoyed the teaching and was glad to be able to do it in English. That’s because Victor is home for this month and he translated for me – and did a great job. We both felt that we made a good team. Translating is a very challenging responsibility and there are only a few people who are so good at it that you are hardly even aware that it’s happening. Victor is one of those wonderful people.
Teaching each day meant studying and preparing every night. And because I was traveling public transport, just getting back and forth to work from my new home was a bit stressful and took more time. But it reinforced the fact that I am indeed back in Moldova. 
My hero of the week is my team-mate Eugen.
One of the blessings of being on a team here in Moldova is that the young men on my team are always so willing to help. And one of the amazing things about Moldovan culture is that you never hear “just a minute”, or “I’ll try to get to it next week”. An immediate need generally gets an immediate response, if at all possible.
*I needed a new SIM card for my mobile phone. Eugen took care of it for me. Then he wrote down all the phone numbers of people that I needed.
*I wanted to use my car. Eugen, Mihai, Andrei and Silas (with Ivanir overseeing!) all helped to move it – in fact, they actually LIFTED it at one point, with me in it!!! Then they changed the flat tire, and then they pushed it up and down the road trying to get it started. We ended up having to leave it until Slavic came back – then he took care of it and by Friday I was finally , and happily, driving again. After a week of trolleys and rutieras, I was relieved to have my car again.
*My computer cord seemed to not be working. I walked into the office where Eugen was working and asked if he could fix it. Within minutes, Eugen and two others had determined that it wasn’t the cord but the outlet adapter and they had repaired it!
*On Friday when the team van was finally available I asked for help moving the few pieces of furniture that I wanted to bring to my new apartment. Eugen, Lilian, and Sergiu rose to the occasion and helped carry furniture and boxes up four levels (no elevator in my new building!) with willing hearts and smiles on their faces. How blessed can one woman be?

Last few days in Canada

Did I fail to tell you about and show you my last days with my grandson and family in Vancouver? So sorry! It was wonderful to see Alejandro and to spend even a brief time with my daughter, who is expecting again in August. (Hallelujah!) Alejandro is at the stage where he only ever wants Mommy and Marah is rising to the challenge,while Dan is being a very patient husband and father. . At one point in my visit, Alejandro decided that Grandma needed a pedicure and tried to clip my nails. He is such an interesting darling!

I also, before I left Toronto, had some special meals with special people. One evening I took Ben out for his April 8 birthday and I did the same for Marah in Van for her April 7 birthday! Below on the left is Harold, Heather and my son Ben, whom I had for supper at my (temporary) home one evening. On the right, you can see me with Karen & Kathy at the Moldova restaurant in Toronto! Mamaliga - yum!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

a casa in Moldova

Just so you know, "a casa" means "at home" - and that's where I am. I arrived back in Moldova last night after many goodbyes and many hours of travelling. It was wonderful to arrive back, to be greeted by my teammates and to be welcomed into my new apartment. It will take a few days to get everything in order and gather all my belongings from where they are stored into my new home. I'm just glad to no longer be living out of a suitcase. I am also thankful for the homes I have had while I was in Canada, and the people I have stayed with. Thanks to Tom & Cher, John & Laura, Bob and Carol, my sister Bev, Mom, Lorraine and Kevin, Anna and Barry, Marah and Daniel, Janet, Bob & Jan, Gwen & Eddy, Marianne - wow! I stayed a lot of different places in the last 3 months. Now you know why I'm glad to be home in my own casa. I'll write more once I'm settled and re-oriented.
The photo shows my living room when still occupied by the previous tenants. They took the plants and the TV with them.