Sunday, June 29, 2008

Comings and Goings

On Friday I went with some team members and with my friend Carolyn, who is visiting from Canada, to visit one of our outreach teams in a nearby town. The outreach team consists of several girls from England, a guy from Germany and a couple of our Moldovan team members. For one week they will work in this town, doing a children's program in the morning, teaching English in the afternoon, and playing soccer with young people in the early evening. Through building relationships and helping in any way they can, they hope to share the love and hope of Christ in this community. We enjoyed watching the children play games, work at a craft project and learn a Bible verse. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves.
The day ended up requiring more driving than I originally expected as one of the girls had lost her luggage. Finally, on this Friday, the airport called that it had arrived but she had to pick it up personally. Since I was there, and it wasn't that far (an hour's drive) I took her to the airport to get her long-awaited baggage. She was very happy to get it after 5 days of borrowing and buying clothes.
As I mentioned, a friend is visiting this week - Carolyn - and she so kindly brought me a care package from Canada, including some skirts that my favourite sister made for me. Thanks, Bev! There were a few other specially requested items and I am really thankful that God has sent her for this visit. Today we had a free day and it was nice to have company on my relaxing day so we did a bit of an in-city explore. Downtown to 'Artists' Square' to buy some souvenirs and then to the park so she could see the fountain and have her photo taken in front of Stephen the Great. It was a beautiful sunny day and so nice to just sit on a bench in the shade of the park, relaxing and chatting. I thought we would see a wedding there, but we didn't. Maybe it was too early in the day. So then we went to see another park which I have just never bothered going to before.

This one is a memorial park of the World War 2 and has an 'eternal flame' which appears to be guarded by soldiers - not sure if that's 24 hours a day or not. Anyway, I am trying to upload the video from the park from where the soldiers were changing the guard. I think you will enjoy seeing them march! Adjacent to the park was a military graveyard and then in behind that was another large cemetery that I was not aware existed. Moldovan graveyards are very interesting and both Carolyn and I enjoyed wandering through and taking pictures and discussing the presence of benches and tables in the individual grave plots. Do you know what they are for?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Completing the Work

It was quite a few years ago that these two young ladies started working in a very small, very poor village in the south of Moldova. They worked with children and also shared Christ with village people of all ages. Gradually, people started committing their lives to Jesus. There is no church in the village and some had never really heard the gospel at all. Those who came to faith were people whose lives were truly transformed by the new faith they had found in Christ Jesus. Tamara shared the Word of God with them and encouraged them in their new faith and helped them to grow. We sent a team to help with the work in the village and several people have been based there over the last few years. This year a building has been contructed in which the small growing church can meet. It also provides a location for the ministry to children, providing food and assistance on a daily basis. The new building will essentially serve as a community centre as well as a church. It was exciting to see that over 150 people came to join in the celebrations, many whom had never been to a service before. Although it was a hot, sunny day, people seemed to enjoy listiening to the music and the preaching. There were at least 4 different speakers and in typical Moldova fashion several of them gave a message from the word of God. I was especially pleased that Tamara, who has done so much in bringing people to faith and essentially planting and leading the church, was given an opportunity to share a public testimony. As a woman, she rarely receives any kind of acknowledgement for her leadership as women are perceived as not suitable to be leaders. This is a difficult thing for a gifted young woman such as she is. Afterwards, of course, there was food and a chance to see the inside of the building. It is still pretty rough on the outside and we continue to raise funds to complete it. For example I personally did not see the upstairs as the stairway has not yet been built and I was not about to climb up the ladder you see in the photo! But much on the inside has been completed and it is lovely. I think that is how God sometimes works in our lives - from the inside out. He begins the work of transformation and healing where nobody can see it easily and sometimes people only see what is still rough on the outside. Thankfully, God sees our hearts and He is committed to complete the work which He has begun. This is true for individuals, as well as for communities such as this one. God has begun a work there, and He will complete it! Praise be to His Name!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Welcome to the world!

His name is Ivan Bogdan and he arrived on June 12. Liuba is glad to at last hold her little son in her arms. And I was blessed to be able to hold him also during the brief visit I had with Liuba last week. Is he not perfect?!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

God brings forth life!

It's strawberry season, and last Sunday Claudia and I were invited to the home of a friend, Maria, for lunch. After a lovely meal of sarmale - made with stuffed vine leaves - dessert was placed on the table: a huge platter of fresh-from -the-garden strawberries. After dinner we went outside to see the garden. They have a large garden with strawberries, beans, cabbage, radishes, lettuce, carrots and some other things as well. On that day it was dry and we spoke of how the land was in need of rain. It's important to pray for rain, we said, as we headed home. Last year there was no rain and the land suffered greatly. Even until recently prices have been much higher than before. Thankfully, this week God has answered our prayers as we seem to have had one rain storm after another. Always a relief as the air is so humid leading up to a storm and I have been sweating, red-faced and virtually useless on those days when the heat just weighs on you. I am becoming more and more of a nocturnal creature so that I can have cool air in which to function.

Other than strawberries, the more significant highlight of this week was the birth of a baby boy to my team-mates, Butje and Liuba. Earlier in the week I got a picture of Liuba practising holding a baby with James. Tomorrow I hope to go and visit Liuba and little baby Ivan. Congratulations, Butje & Liuba!!

James, until this most recent birth, was the cutest baby on this side of the ocean. He especially looks cute in a Canadian t-shirt, don't you think?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Close Encounters of the Cultural Kind

Christina, Marella, Ivanir - having safely
arrived at the Mission Centre, thanks to my bravery
This past week two new girls arrived from the USA. One of them is doing an internship for her degree in sports and recreation. She is working together with our sports ministry team helping to set up football(soccer) clubs around the country, and organizing tournaments and camps, all for the purpose of sharing the gospel through sports.
The other girl is doing an internship related to her degree in Teaching English and Inter-cultural studies. So she is teaching english, of course, and seeking to have as many cross-cultural experiences as possible. Not to worry, Christina, there will be LOTS of cross-cultural experiences. We started on Monday morning. It was the first day and I was taking the girls to our new building for their orientation time.
I parked the car in the field above the building as I wasn't sure whether the road was passable or not. (Mud, you know.) From the field there is a path that goes over the embankment and down to the road by our building. As we parked, I looked up and saw that, right beside our footpath that we had to go on was a large black and white cow. This cow from time to time is randomly tied up in the field, but usually not right beside our path. Now, I have said 'cow' but looking at this immense beast on our path, and looking at the horns on its head, it occurred to me that I really wasn't sure whether it was a cow or a bull. The grass was very long and deep so from our vantage point I couldn't tell by the underneath part. Choosing to err on the side of caution, I suggested that we needed to get the bovine to move away from the path. It was tied to quite a long rope, staked in the ground, so I courageously volunteered to try to haul the animal away from the path. "When it starts to move away," I instructed, "you guys run!!!!" Meanwhile I was thinking, if it moves toward me, I'll be running too - and hopefully faster than it so as not to get gored.
The girls were .... ok, we all were,... pretty giddy and amused but nervous at our predicament. Apparently this doesn't happen on the way to the office in America. Nor do I remember it every happening on my way to work in Toronto.
I bravely, with no thought for my own safety, started pulling on the rope and Ivanir decided that we really needed to get some pictures of this. So while I am risking my life for their safety, Ivanir is buckling up in laughter and taking pictures from all angles.
Finally, I get the beast off the path - and out of the deep grass. The girls have disappeared over the hill and I am alone with the creature who... as it emerges from the grass.... proves to be... just a cow. Yup, there's the udder. I say thanks to Bessie the cow and walk by with relief, knowing that that's no bull.

And the winner is...

Cherise and Laurie!!
On my last blog post I posted a photo of an item for you to guess its purpose. I was very pleased to have several people guessing as to the purpose of this metal thing. This quiz must have been more fun than the last one because even my sons ventured a guess. But no,Ben, it isn't a catapult. Nor Josh, is it for hitching my horse nor is it a real Moldovan playground. Janine thought it might be to hold a sign for my parking place and Sarah thought it was for beating rugs. Sorry, Sarah, but even having been here you didn't quite guess right.You're just going to have to come back for some remedial education! I suspect Ms. Beall knows what it is as she said she used it for years. But Ms. Beall, I don't know you and would love to know more about your connection with Moldova - so please drop me an e-mail if you don't want to reveal yourself on my blog (
So the winners are two people who have been here and were here long enough to have experienced a few muddy days. Those kind of rainy, muddy days when you arrive at a home or a church and you find your shoes absolutely conglomerated with mud. Wiping them on a mat just isn't good enough - before you do that you have to remove at least one or two layers of mud. So it isn't uncommon for people to place this kind of mud-scraper-off-er just at the bottom of the stairs to the building or outside the entrance gate. It's the first stage of mud removal before wiping on an outside mat, then an inside mat, then removing the shoes altogether upon entrance.
I'm hoping that my boys will see just what an interesting country this is and sooner or later you will have to come and visit me. I've got lots more things to show you that you will have lots of fun figuring out. For example, do you know how to tell whether a baby chick is male or female?
Thanks for participating, everyone! And thanks for reading my blog and taking an interest in life in Moldova. God bless you!