Friday, July 24, 2009

Chillin' with the Children

Sorry you may not see me here for a couple of weeks. God has blessed me with an opportunity to spend time with all three of my children AND my grandchildren somewhere on Vancouver Island near a beach. When I get back, there will be pictures! I hope you are all having some precious family time as well. God bless you!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Short Term Mission Teams

One of the weekly highlights in our team, all year round, is our Tuesday prayer evenings. This is something we take very seriously, praying not only for our own ministries and country where we work, but also interceding for other countries and world needs and issues. We take turns preparing the program for our prayer evenings and each group tries to be creative in how we spend our four hours of prayer together. Last week Michaela and Kate hosted the 'World Report' and brought news and information and even an interview with Austin, one of our short-term participants. After each 'news segment' we prayed for the needs that had been identified.
One of the main things that we have been praying for over the past few weeks has been our Global Challenge program. Short term missioners have come to be with us for usually 2 weeks at a time and we are sending out teams to the many villages of Moldova where they will run children's programs, bring food parcels and visit the elderly, participate in sports outreach events, and worship together with the local church. This summer we are excited to have several families participate and on Friday I went to visit a team where a Dutch family is involved. These friends drove from Holland with their three daughters to be involved in our summer outreaches. They want their children to know that they have something to offer the Lord and that many people do not live such easy lives as those in the west. On Friday I went to visit the team that was working in a nearby village and it was great to see this enthusiastic family teaching a Dutch song to the Moldovan children who were attending.
On Sunday I had the joy of visiting another church where a group doing sports ministry are visiting and preparing to reach the village with sports activities. The team had a small presentation to make in front of the church. Then there was a presentation by Viorica, on furlough from Angola, about her work in Africa. Then Justin, one of our team members, brought the message. This also happened to be at the church where our team member Eugen is from. And it also happened to be on the day when Eugen and Dana were having their engagement officially announced in the church. I was really delighted to be able to be there for all this involvement on the part of our team but more than anything for the celebration of this dear couple' commitment to one another. Dana is a very good friend so I am just thrilled for her. She and Eugen have both made a very good choice here.
After the service in that church, and sharing lunch with the team, Viorica and I went on to another church not far away. This was the first time I had been at either of these churches and we also have team members from the other church. It seems that the Lord has really been at work in this church and despite their not having a pastor, the number of believers is growing rapidly. Our team member, Andrei, came back from visiting home last week to tell us that his mother had accepted Christ. When I arrived at the church I was really surprised to see how full it was on a Sunday evening. One of the women greeted me especially warmly and it turned out that she had attended one of our conferences for day centre workers, where I had been the Bible study leader. The young people filled the first few rows - and did a music program to begin with and then Viorica made her Angola presentation. The church listened attentively and again I was surprised by the fact that the men's side of the church was as full as the women's side! I love this photo of the men listening with so much interest to what Viorica was telling them about Angola and her ministry there. She will benefit greatly from the prayers of this church, I am sure.

After the worship service, my friend from the day centre conference invited me across the street to see their new day centre. Here several women from the church feed 20 children every day of the school year and provide them with care and Bible teaching as well. These same women also fed us that evening and we were blessed by their hospitality. The church is waiting in anticipation for one of our summer teams to come in a few weeks' time as the team will be building a playground for the day centre. It was exciting to see how our mission's partnership with this church over the years is bearing fruit. Not only is there meaningful care and ministry for children but the church is growing in number and spiritually as well.
What a special day I had seeing the things the Lord is doing in Moldova!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Goodbyes & Hellos

Life on our team is always full of comings and goings. The only constant is change, and sometimes it is harder than other times. One of the most difficult recent changes was to say goodbye to the Christovam family. Vitor, Ivanir, Marina, and Joao have been with us for the last 5 years - since before I arrived - and I have worked closely especially with Ivanir. These Brazilians are precious friends who are full of life and love and a desire to serve the Lord. They have a been a huge blessing to our team and their absence is deeply felt. Before they left, we had a team day of prayer and saying farewell to them. We went to an awesome place called Orhei Vechi (Old Orhei) which has an old monastery as well as fascinating geological formations. It was a very hot day and the only shade was under the single tree on the hill. So we set up there for the morning and in the shade of the tree we prayed for this family as they return to Brazil, that they would continue to remain under the shadow of the Almighty. A few days later a whole group of us gathered at the airport at 3 a.m. to say goodbye to them.

Just a few days befor our team day at Orhei Vechi we said hello to our sister Viorica, who is on furlough from Angola. It's wonderful to reconnect with her, to hear her stories and to help her to prepare to return for ongoing ministry with children and young girls. One prayer evening Viorica made a presentation of her work, and here is a photo of her modelling a traditional African outfit.
For a while now we have been waiting to say hello to a new member of the team. Slavic and Snejana, who were married last summer, have been expecting their first child. Little Samuel was born on June 13 and I went with Jessie and Justin to visit Snejana and the new little darling in the hospital. What a beautiful child! Of course, this just makes me miss my own grandchildren even more! But it isn't hard to rejoice together with this young couple in the new joy they are experiencing.
Not long after saying goodbye to the Christovams we have bade our farewells to yet another family, Silas & Michaela Mullis and their little daughter Carmen. They had actually planned to leave at the end of the summer but their departure date was moved ahead for reasons related to visas and the new challenges created by strained relations with Moldova and Romania. Moldova now requires Romanians to have a visa to enter the country (and vice versa) and Michaela is Romanian. She had gone out of the country to visit her family and was planning to return but obtaining an invitation and a visa became increasingly difficult. Meanwhile, Silas was in Moldova finishing up his work and Michaela was in Romania and it was very difficult for them as a family to be separated. Finally, they decided to not continue trying but to just go directly back to the USA. So Michaela was not able to be here in Moldova for us to say goodbye to her and Carmen. We did the next best thing - had her join us on Skype, projecting the webcam image on the wall and giving the whole team an opportunity to say goodbye to the family all together.
And so goes life here in Moldova. People coming and going, going and coming. Today we are looking forward to the return of Dana, another Romanian who has been stuck without a visa longer than she wished. Today our first group of short term missionaries are leaving after two weeks in Moldovan villages. Tomorrow about 30 new short-termers will arrive. This week I said farewell to the four girls heading out to Central Asia for 3 weeks. Summer is a busy time here, and with the departure of Silas and Vitor, members of our leadership team, it means more responsibility for those of us who remain. Thankfully, we have a God who promises never to leave us, and who provides strength equal to the tasks He calls us to.

The Church at Prayer

One of the girls on our team is from Transnistria, the breakaway region of Moldova. Olea came to our team speaking only Russian but in a short time has become much more fluent in Romanian than I am after 4 years here! This young woman feels a call in her heart to missions and this summer is travelling with three other girls to Central Asia for a short term mission. I had the privilege of going with her and our Field Leader to her church on the Sunday when she reported to them and they prayed for her as she headed out on this mission. When Moldovans pray, there is nothing half-hearted about it.