Friday, November 26, 2010

Still Re-Entering

Well, here I am at the end of November and I'm no closer to knowing what I'm doing than I was a month ago. I have been in Toronto for the last month, able to unpack my things in an apartment for the whole month. That has been a blessing. I've had time with friends and time with my son and his girlfriend and time with my church. But on Saturday, I'm moving out of the apartment. I have made a decision - to go to British Columbia and stay there. Hopefully, once I'm there and making myself known to the appropriate people in the appropriate circles I may be able to find an appropriate position. This morning I was packing boxes (again) to return them to my storage locker until such time as I know where I will be living permanently. But there was one item I decided I really need to keep with me to serve as a constant reminder. It's the stone plaque someone gave me five years ago, with the verse from Jeremiah 29: "I know the plans I have for you." How wonderful to be assured that even when I don't know what lies beyond the next bend, God does have a plan and it is for my good and for His glory. And so I continue, confident in Him.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I have missed the coloured leaves each autum
and this year they have been a highlight for me.

As the seasons change here in Canada, so my life is moving into a new season and a new chapter. Right now I am in British Columbia, Canada trying to be patient and diligent in seeking a job and in helping my mother also transition to a new reality.

After some travel time (which I think I will start another blog to document!!) in Europe, I returned to Canada at the beginning of October. I made a presentation at a mission fellowship in my church, celebrated Thanksgiving (with LOTS of turkey and pumpkin pie!) and spent time with friends, with my son Ben and his girlfriend Shawna, niece Peggy and with my sister Beverly.
Bev and I met in Hamilton to get my mother packed and ready for her big move to the west coast, no small thing for a 91-year-old! It was a very special time with Bev and an emotional time for us to watch our mother say goodbye to her husband(who has Alzheimer's and no longer knows her) and her home, even though she did not seem to be fully aware of all that was about to happen.
Bev saying goodbye to Mom at the Toronto airport.
The week after I arrived in Ontario I was on a plane accompanying my mother out to her new home on the west coast of Canada. So this week I have been busy getting Mom settled and organized and communicating with the staff at the wonderful Westminster House and with my brother Bob and his wife Jan.
Jan tucking Mom into her new bed.
It has been fantastic to spend time with them and their family and to share together in getting Mom settled in her new place. It has also been great to visit with my son Josh who even took Jan and me to see his new apartment!
Jan visiting with Josh in his new apartment.
This coming weekend I am excited at the prospect of a visit from Marah and her entourage - my grandbabies!! Mom will have the opportunity to meet her great-granddaughter Mikayla for the first time.

While there is lots to do it is challenging to be in the situation of being unemployed. Aside from minimal cash flow, just the sense of not always knowing what I should be doing next and what direction I should be heading in my job search. The fact that I have no car and no computer also is a very odd reality! Most of my internet time has been the one hour daily allotment at the local public library!

I am feeling a bit like a leaf floating in a river, carried by the current and not really sure of the direction. And even when I do start looking at possible job positions I begin to feel overwhelmed and uncertain if I can actually do the job or whether I want to do that job. However, I keep coming back to God, who is my Rock, and to the certainty that I have that HE has my next assignment well in hand. I may have to work to discover what it is but it is HIS assignment for me and I just need to be sure that I am indeed fully at His disposition. For now my role has to do with family and I need to just focus on that and be thankful that I can be here at this time and in this place. As always has been in the past, the Lord will open the right door at the right time. The only question is whether I am really listening for His voice or so busy filling up time that I don't take the time available to just spend with Jesus.So this morning I walked out the front door of the place where I am staying (free of charge!) and this sunrise met my gaze. How could I worry when the Creator of such beauty is my Father?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Making Juice

My friend Corinne bought a house and while it was being renovated there was a huge harvest of grapes in the arbor of her yard. She decided to make grape juice and asked a friend how to do it. Following her instructions, Corinne picked many clusters of grapes and put them, stems and all, into a barrel-like container. She crushed them with a stick and then left the juice to sit for several days. I was visiting on the day she remembered that she had to strain the juice and boil it.

She was a bit concerned that the juice may have ‘worked’ a bit, as she had left it longer than intended but it seemed to be fine. (Honest!) I helped her to strain the huge amount of juice, lifting out colander after colander of skins and stems, carrying them to a corner of the backyard and dumping them while the other person began straining the next lot. Once it was all strained, we poured the juice back into the barrel and transported it to Corinne’s apartment. There we poured it into pots and Corinne boiled it, skimming the top from time to time.

She then poured the juice into large bottles that she had sterilized previously and left them to cool. While it was still hot I enjoyed a lovely glass of the fruitful drink.

The next day we went together to Corinne’s new place with the jars of cooled and sealed grape juice and took them down to her storage cellar, placing them on the shelves that would – in true Moldovan style – soon be filled with jars of fruits and vegetables and juices put up for the long winter ahead.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Coming to an end

This might possibly be my last blog entry as a missionary in Moldova. Tomorrow is my last official day as a member of this mission team. It's been an amazing five years! Last week I travelled with my team to Romania for our annual team retreat in the mountains of Transylvania. We had a wonderful time together and an opportunity to see some beautiful sights.

We travelled to the village of Sinaia and went up a cable car to the top of the mountain there. We took a team photo on the mountain top. Many of my team members walked back down the mountain - and the next day almost all of them were very sore. I had the good fortune of accompanying our guest speaker back down the mountain in a cable car and then doing a bit of shopping in the town. (Picked up some very cute Romanian things for my grand-daughters!) I also had the opportunity to go and see the nearby Castle Peles - one of the most beautiful castles I have ever seen! I took the regular tour which was just the ground floor - and that was well worth seeing. Someday I would love to go back and see the whole thing!

Besides sight-seeing we spent time in Bible study with our guest speaker, Dave. Dave is an old-timer with our mission and he has a lot of wisdom. His presentation of Scripture is always provocative and challenging and we were blessed by a look at Jonah with him. On the last evening he told us some stories from the "old days" when he was involved with smuggling Bibles into the Soviet Union. Arrested many times, Dave is full of fascinating stories of the adventures of earlier missionaries who took great risks to provide Bibles for the underground church.

Our last evening was not only Dave's stories but some hilarious skits about those of us who are leaving the team. I was in stitches over Matthew's portrayal of me (with his British accent!), with enough truth to make it embarassing but enough exaggeration to make it hilarious. After the laughs there was prayer for those of us leaving.

Can it really be true that the time has come to say farewell? Over the next weeks I will be doing some travelling and visiting in Europe before I leave for Canada early in October. It will be good to get home and see my mother and my darling children and beautiful grandchildren, but I will so much miss my friends here. I'm glad for this in-between time to be able to process some of my experiences and debrief a bit with my travelling companion. But I will always hold in my heart those who have journeyed with me these past years.
Five years ago, Dana and Claudia and I arrived in Moldova together.

A sad note to add: my friend Corinne left her dog Silas with a friend rather than bringing him with us to Romania. Silas ran away in the middle of the week and there has been no sign of him since. Please pray that he will find his way either back to the friend's place, or home to Corinne.

Come back, Silas!!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

It's Inga's day!

Little Jamie points out the obvious - it's Inga's birthday!!!

Sometimes into one's life God sends a friend who is special. I have been blessed in my life to have many special friends - some of them are women whose soul has embraced my own with unwavering affection and caring concern. My friend Inga is one of those people and today, August 17, is her birthday. Of course I didn't remember in time to send a card and I'm too leary of the postal system here to send a gift. Sorry, Inga. But I can do something better than that. First of all I will NOT put your photo on my blog because I don't want to upset or embarass you. (You're welcome.)
Secondly, I will talk to our loving Father and ask Him to give you a birthday that is filled with good things and the overflowing joy of His presence with you. And I will remind you that all the gifts that you have given to others have brought joy to many hearts and thanksgiving to many lives.

Thirdly, could anyone who knows Inga and reads this please give her a BIG hug from me today and wish her a very happy um...30th (????) birthday!

Nistru River, Moldova

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Belles, Balls, Bubbles, and Beads

All summer long we have had teams coming from various countries, seeking to share the love of God and the good news about Jesus Christ with the people of Moldova. Last week I had the opportunity of going to visit one of our outreach teams - to encourage them and to see what kind of ministry they are involved in. This was a group of Irish girls, with one British guy added in so the team leader wouldn't be the only guy! These girls were awesome - never stopped talking! - but they were full of the joy and love of the Lord. I went with them one afternoon as they visited a nearby village to do a children's program.

They divided into two groups; one went with the pastor to teach English in a nearby village, and the other went to another village to do a children's program. Eugen was the only guy on the team and so he went with balls and nets and sports equipment to gather the guys in the group. They flocked to him and in no time he had 40+ young guys doing drills and soccer skills and having a great time playing their favourite sport, soccer (known as football here!). Some other of the older kids played some volleyball.

Some of the girls on the team gathered the rest of the children to do a variety of activities. The younger children did some crafts, sang some songs, learned some English words and heard a story about Jesus.
They also really enjoyed blowing and chasing bubbles and later had their faces painted. Children in Moldova have very few
planned activities in the 3-month summer holiday. Mostly they are left to fend for themselves and find their own entertainment. So when a group of young people arrive with a program for the children, they gather round in no time!

The older girls were excited about making jewelry with the plastic beads that the team had brought. One of the Irish girls just sat down on the ground with them and showed them how. It was hard for her because she didn't know the language but she just tried to communicate the best she could and for sure the girls appreciated it. It was nice to be there that day, and to see how a lively group of Irish girls could interact and share the love of Jesus with about 80 children in Moldova.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The People you meet

At the wedding I attended on Sunday, I met a woman - close to my age, I think - who has been in this country for 3 years, sent by her church to be a missionary on her own. And so she came, sensing God's call in her life, and here she has worked to open and run a home for the elderly. If you had seen some of the conditions in which pensioners here live, you would well understand why there is a huge need for such facilities. I was impressed by this lovely British lady, whose love for God was obvious and whose dedication to her task is exemplary.

In the course of this summer, our team is hosting over 150 short-term missioners. Each outreach begins with a day of orientation for the visiting teams. Last week as we guided a large group through the cross-cultural sensitivity seminar, team-building games, a seminar on ministry with children in Moldova, and an introduction to our mission organization, I was impressed with the calibre of young people who have come. I was especially pleased to talk with a Dutch family who have come here with their two children, to give them a different kind of summer vacation. How wonderful to meet Christian parents whose desire for their children to grow and learn is walked out in sacrificial service to others as a family. Their children will never forget this experience.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Forgotten Places, Forgotten People

First of all, I want to wish everyone a very happy Canada day!! I hope that my Canadian friends have had a wonderful day of celebrating the beauty and peace and freedom and prosperity of such an incredible country. Canada is worth celebrating. I understand that better each day.

Today I was thinking and speaking of Canada even as I enjoyed the beauty of Moldova, appreciated its people, and grieved for its deep sorrows.

I travelled with a colleague to the little village of Pripiceni to visit a summer day camp being conducted by our local ministry team from Rezina. After spending the morning with the children at the day camp, I went together with two of my team members to visit an elderly lady who is bedridden.

We were guided through the village roads and forest paths to a dilapidated house in the woods. We had to wade through shoulder-high undergrowth to reach the front dooryard of the house.

Let me share with you this lady's story so that you can weep with me and pray for God's mercy on her and so many others like her in Moldova.

Efemea is probably in her 60's and she has a husband and two sons and several grandchildren. One of her sons lives and works in Russia and she doesn't hear much from him at all. Her other son was married but his wife died after the birth of their second child. Efemea cared for the one grandson but the other one was severely handicapped and he has been cared for by another family. Efemea also cared for the two children that her son had by his second wife because that wife left her husband and children. So for probably eight or so years this woman raised these three grandchildren, even though their father was not around much and often drank too much. Her husband also is alcoholic. And her son right now is in prison. But three years ago Efemea had a stroke and was paralyzed, unable to leave her bed or to care for her grandchildren. Social services took the children away and now two of them are staying in an orphanage in the town where our local ministry team lives. I think the other child is living with a family. Efemea was left virtually alone in this isolated house, uncared for and even physically abused at times by her son when he was drinking. She developed horrendous bedsores and it was only recently that some sisters from the local church began to visit her, clean her, bring her food and care for her. The wife of the local orthodox priest also comes and cares for her regularly. Efemea might possibly be able to go to a home for seniors where she could be better cared for but if that happened, the little pension that she receives would go to the care facility and her husband would not be able to stay in the house where they live, as her pension helps to pay for that.

And so she remains in unthinkable conditions, lying alone day after day and thrilled to have visitors come to encourage her. When we arrived she was very happy to see Aurica and these foreign visitors who came with her. She wanted a song and we sang a song to the Lord. She asked Aurica to tell her a story and she shared a missionary story that the children had heard at the day camp. We reminded her that God loved her and that He would never ever leave her. But I have to confess that as I stood by the bed of this helpless woman and tried not to think about the unpleasant smell that had accosted us as we entered the room, I couldn't help thinking that maybe God had left. Quite honestly, if I were that woman I think it would be easy to believe that God had abandoned me. Her children had left her and her grandchildren had been ripped from her arms and her health had been lost and she was alone. And as I thought angrily about her children who had left her in such conditions and didn't care for her who had raised and cared for them, I thought of my own mother.

Although physically my mother's conditions are much much much better, she also feels alone and possibly sometimes abandoned. But hopefully she knows that her children love her and sees that we have done what we can and are continuing to do what we can to care for her. Knowing that in spite of that she still feels lonely, at the same time I am feeling angry at the children of this poor soul before me, I sense my own responsibility to return home and be present for my mother in her old age.

I want my mother to know that she is loved and respected and appreciated. But I also want Efemea to know that she is loved - if not by her family, certainly by God. My eyes took in the dark dinginess of the room, the grubbiness of the bedding, and the brokenness of this suffering friend. We told her of God's love for her and faithfulness to always be with her. And although it would be easy to doubt that, who but God could move the hearts of those who came regularly to care for Efemea? Because of the Lord, she did have people who, out of love for Jesus, also loved her. I understand that as we stood in that forgotten place with a woman forgotten by many, God was present. "I was sick, and you visited me." said Jesus in Matthew 25. The One who bore our sins and carried our sorrows identifies with all who suffer. Today we visited a broken, sufferning woman and Jesus was present. Thanks be to God.
There are many more stories and realities very similar to this one. Care for the elderly in Moldova is desperately lacking. Through our mission we help churches to provide meals for seniors and to take food parcels. I'm glad we are able to do something. But for every one that we help, there are many more who remain forgotten and isolated and believing that God has abandoned them. Only when God's people show up are they likely to begin to understand the presence of Jesus in their suffering and the redemptive power of our living Lord.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer has begun...

...and with it, heat, outreach programs, and lots and lots of short term visitors. Last week we had a group of 10 Americans who came to work with a church that some of them had worked with previously. My department (Personnel) is responsible for running the Orientation day so we were able to hear from them about their hopes and expectations for the week coming. Their plan was to build a playground in a village and also run a day camp for whatever children showed up. By the end of the week, they had lots of stories and excitement to share with us as we conducted the debriefing session with them.

For the last months, Ianosh ( a member of our team) has been working hard on getting a bunch of bicycles across the border into Moldova. The bikes had been donated by someone and were to be used for the new summer outreach we are initiating this year - a cycling outreach. Dealing with all the documents that were required and just the logistics of getting the bikes here was no small feat but with the Lord's help, Ianosh managed to do it and so today the cyclists had opportunity to try out the bikes and choose which one each will use. Last week at our prayer meeting we also prayed over these bikes and for the villages through which they would travel.

Today, my personnel team conducted an orientation day for the first-ever cycling outreach. Nine brave souls will venture forth to cycle from village to village sharing the good news of the gospel and encouraging and assisting the local churches in their ministry. The team is being led by newlyweds, Vlad and Veronica, and they are excited about this opportunity. (Hopefully, they won't have trouble deciding which direction to go!!) The group, consisting of Germans, Moldovans, an American and a Brit will have a challenge to communicate with one another and to work together in presenting children's programs in the different villages. Moldovan children have three months off school in the summer and there are not many planned activities in small villages. The arrival of a foreign team will be a source of great excitement and the programs that will be run and the attention the teams will give to the children will be a source of great joy. Today the cyclists learned some Romanian children's songs as well as began to put together dramas for the programs they will do. We know that the children in each village where they go will be thrilled to have this team among them. When they all come back, I'll post some photos of this exciting outreach.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It's a Girl!!

On Sunday, May 23 at 10.45 p.m. we welcomed into the world my newest grandchild, Mikayla Emilia Perez. She weighed in at 8 pounds, 1 ounce and measured 20 inches. It was my joy and privilege and blessing to be present throughout the birthing process - what an amazing experience! Marah and the baby are both well. Daniel is pleased as punch. Alejandro is proud to be a big brother to two little sisters and Eliana is fascinated with her new little sister. Grandma is burstin' buttons! :-))