Monday, September 28, 2009

Harvest Time

I just came back from a visit to Paicu, a small village in the south. Every year they have a harvest festival and every year Tamara has invited me to come. This was the first time I was able to make it. The young church invites the whole village to a thanksgiving service and then a harvest feast. The women of the church worked all night the night before preparing all kinds of Moldovan delicacies - salads, potatoes & chicken, stuffed green peppers, clatite (a kind of crepe), wafer biscuits with honey - it was all lovely and delicious. Somebody in the village had donated grapes - lots and lots and lots of grapes - and I brought a big bag of leftover grapes home, as well as a bag of fresh tomatoes and a couple loaves of bread that weren't used. Harvest season in Moldova is really quite wonderful. On the way home today there were many roadside fruit vendors with watermelon, squash, grapes and tomatoes. Truly God is to be thanked for the abundance of the harvest.

And at the same time as the village has shared the physical blessings of the harvest, they have planted the seeds of the gospel - generosity, compassion and caring, hope, the love of God, and the word of God.

"As the rain and snow come down from heaven,
and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." - Isaiah 55:10,11

This morning as I led a Bible study on John 17 with the women of the church, I encouraged them to continue to do God's work of making Christ known, sharing His word, praying for those in their sphere of influence, and reflecting the glory of God in all that they do.

A chance to good to miss:

On the way home today we saw this sight and it was too good not to share with you. I was glad that Kate was with me to jump out of the car and go running to snap this photo. The driver thought she was crazy: "My car broke down - what do you expect me to do!?!" I never cease to be amazed at the ingenuity and practicality of Moldovans. See folks, I shouldn't be worrying about Rosie and whether she'll start or not - I should just get myself a horse!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Romance Capital of the World...

... too bad the romance wasn't mine! Well, never mind - it was the next best thing: I was invited to co-officiate at the wedding of my dear friend Emma. She and Alan had decided that they wanted to get married in the most romantic city in the world. I was so privileged to be a part of their special day! Not only did I get to be with them but I also met some more of Emma's family members, as well as Alan's parents. Emma comes from a large Italian family and it was fun seeing these wonderful people together - so vibrant and full of life and love and laughter.
On the day before the wedding, after we met with the pastor at the American Church in Paris, where the wedding was held, I spent the afternoon with Emma's brother Paul, and his wife Barb. We did one of those hop-off/hop-on bus tours and had a great time together. It was so nice to be able to see the sights with someone else to share them. Driving past the Place de Concorde we noticed that Emma was not the only bride getting married that weekend!! Can you count the brides in this photo?? We got off at the Champs-Elysees and had some lunch at one of the many cafe/restaurants. Later we ended up at the Eiffel Tower and went all the way to the top - what a view! One of the things that for some reason surprised me about Paris was how flat it is. I never really had thought about it before but somehow didn't expect that. The only real hill is Montmartre and I didn't have time to go there... oh well, next time!

The wedding was on Saturday at noontime (very approximately!!!) and the reception wasn't until the evening so in the in between time I went and saw a few more things, including the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. What a huge museum!!!
In the evening I was back with the family for the celebration together and we had such a nice time. It was fun to get to know the sister who lives in Ireland with her Danish husband, and the other sister and the aunt who came from Italy and the friend who came from England. Alan's parents had come from Toronto and Emma's brother and wife came from Manitoba. Paris is a beautiful city for an international gathering like this!

Now, I must mention somewhere in here that there was also a certain amount of frustration in my otherwise beautiful weekend. You may know that I studied French for a total of 9 years in school and university. I used to be able to speak it passably. I know the grammar. I have a reasonable amount of vocabulary. But in many ways French is similar to its Romance language cousin, Romanian. So I spent the weekend totally tongue-tied, twisting the tip of my tongue in circles trying to untangle the sentences that came readily in Romanian but one excruciating word at a time in French. Travelling on the Metro and the bus I found myself painfully putting together the correct French-only sentences and questions in my mind that I might possibly need, stumbling to find a pronoun or a verb that jumped headlong in Romanian into my mind but refused to show itself in French! Tongue -tied, I was - and so relieved to return to Moldova where I can actually put sentences together all in one language at a time!!

On Sunday I spent most of the day on my own visiting the Notre Dame Cathedral and the bookstalls nearby. I found an English used-book store there called Shakespeare & Co. (?) and went in to buy a copy of Victor Hugo's novel about the Hunchback, of course. It was an awesome store and I also found a very special book for my grandchildren but I won't say here what that is. (Marah, you and yours will just have to wait!) Anyway, the store put me in mind of John Doull's used bookstore in Halifax. The woman at the cash was obviously a native English speaker so I asked where she was from. I was expecting the usual answer - the United States but she totally took me aback. "Nova Scotia", she said. I was dumbfounded. Can you believe it? Turns out she knows my friend John Doull and she worked also in the Box of Delights bookstore in Wolfville, which of course I am familiar with. How cool is that?

Before meeting up with all the wedding people again I went on a boat cruise on the River Seine. It was lovely seeing all the sights of Paris from the water - so many beautiful buildings and so much history and lovely music to go with it. One of the most delightful things I saw en route was the people dancing on the quay, apparently a common past-time in Paris at this particular spot. Paris is definitely a romantic city. (Mr. Right, if you're out there, just put yourself in this picture and let me know - I'd be willing to go to Paris again!!) After the cruise I met up with the wedding crowd, including the new bride and groom, and we all went to an Italian restaurant to have supper together. It was a nice way to finish up a lovely weekend in Paris.