Saturday, 31 December 2016

Christmas lights

Dec 31 2016, It is the last day of the year, we are preparing to have a group of YSA over tonight. We have just got info on transfers as well, and even though it is still daylight, the fireworks, noise anyway, are already starting. This post is all courtesy of Elder Jensen, who managed to get a lot of pictures of the lights of Chisinau, having a very good camera. So this post is mainly pictures and, technology permitting, a couple of videos. They love their Christmas decorations here.
These lights are hanging over all of the main streets of Chisinau, and are actually quite pretty

The continuous line of red tail lights also adds to the Christmas spirit

The main city hall, well lit

This net of lights is over the main center of the city, a lot of work, but looks very nice.

The Arch on Cathedral park

Crowds at the center

Missionaries at Malldova

More decorations at the center

Inside Malldova, the most American like mall here.

Nativity play at the Church, from L, Nick, Elder Griffeth, Vitaly , Elder Kramer, Elder Savage, Marina, Sasha, and Elder Rybyskyy

Monday, 26 December 2016

Christmas Day

Dec 25 2016 Christmas in a far away land, without a tree or any decorations except a small nativity. It felt unusual at first, but as the day went on , it felt like a very similar Christmas as home. First of all, this week we were able to help the Dutch organization, Regina Patis, with several things. On Monday we helped them with creating food hampers for about 200 people in the Chișinău area, then helped with the distribution of the bags of food, each weighing close to 20 kilos. There will be pictures about this, we were given 10 food hampers to distribute and we did this following helping them distribute the assigned hampers. It was interesting and gratifying, just cant say enough about these Dutch people and their generosity. Ruslan Stepanenco helped me on Tuesday to distribute a few and then we went to a nice older man in Dancu on Wednesday. It made Christmas more real, helping those in need and the need was truly great. Imagine a pension of $40 a month- to us from the west, almost inimaginable, yet that is their reality. This same organization was taking donations at 2 large stores here as well on Dec 24 of non perishable food items. Amazing people.   I had the chance to set up Skyping for our new Armenian missionary this week, we had to connect with Madrid MTC, it was not trouble free, but we did get things working. Elder Sargsyan speaks Armenian and a little Russian, so it is interesting. Yesterday we had a combined branch Christmas get together, program in Russian, songs in Romanian, sorry, I am very partial to Romanian songs, just do not like the Russian language sung. My bias, I admit it. Monotone missionaries do not help. Anyway, much food was served and we did help with that. Today we had an assigned program of scripture reading and song, it was very nice and only an hour long. We were to have 6 missionaries and the Stepanencos over for lunch, it morphed into a large YSa dinner as well and our small intimate lunch grew into well over 20 people or so. It was loud, it was rambunctious, it was just like a family dinner at home for us. Except there was no dispute over dishes, they all jumped in to do them. We got all the missionaries skyped as well, so it was a good time. Instead of turkey, we had KFC chicken we had bought the night before, as well as baked potatoes and lots of baking. As always , enough food. No one wanted to leave, I guess that was a success. We expect a quiet week or two with the mixed up Christmas here, but will manage. Oh, FHE this week was making gingerbread houses, we had no gingerbread so we used large cookies instead, went very well.
The next few pictures show the gathering of the food and the making of the hampers, all at our Church. this is Sister Sterrett, Deb and Elder Green moving food.

Ruslan with oranges

There were many hands involved in making up the hampers

These are heavy duty Dutch bags.

Elder Lemon is very intent on telling Elder Tita something important

We are moving the bags to vans for distribution, it was a cold day.

It was amazing how much adults enjoyed making houses with cookies and candy

Sister Lee, Schow, Nina and Mariana

Adriana and Chiril are very intent as well

Elder Blaylock got into it, Elder Griffeth just got into the candy

Mariana and Nina proud, it is held up by being absolutely stuffed with candy. 

So it was a good week, we are almost through Christmas, one dinner at our house and then Monday a Moldova dinner for all the missionaries- let me tell you that having a dinner on a non American holiday was a huge compromise for most.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Cold, Crăciun and Giving

Dec 18 2016 It is a cool time of the year in many ways, with one being temperature and the other being Christmas or Crăciun. We have been under zero for the entire week and it has been amazing how cold that is in a humid environment. Brrr. The wind does not blow like Alberta, but it does blow and make things interesting. There was another day of snow, and walking is becoming quite treacherous. Okay, Moldovans have 2 days for Christmas, Dec 25, like much of the world and also Jan 7, the Orthodox Christmas. When we ask which one they celebrate, the answer is usually both. When asked when gifts are given, the answer can be Dec 25, or Jan 7 or Jan 1, or all 3 or a combination of those. Or in Romania, the gifts are given on Dec 19, are any out there confused yet? So it matters little to Deb and I personally, as we have tried for the last few years to forego the personal gift giving to each other and try to give that to the needy or organizations, it just feels better. And I have to say, after viewing the poverty here, giving feels much better than receiving. Our married children agreed this year to help us in that, so they donated money they would have used for inter family gift giving to us and we used it here. We had talked to Doina Stepanenco, who works for a Dutch NGO ( which is a marvelous giving charitable organization) and she suggested helping a home in Hincești, for mentally and physically handicapped girls. So with her suggestions, we purchased 60 L of high quality shampoo, multiple brushes and hair supplies, personal supplies like toothbrushes, diapers, etc, using all the donated money. Today we took the supplies out to the home- think Alfred Egan Home in Bow Island, but with 276 residents. It was heartwarming to visit some of them, see that the staff, despite poor funding, truly try to help them, and to visit with the doctor on site. It felt very good to be there. Like our Alfred Egan home residents, they loved the attention , and just to hold anothers hand. We will return. The Church in Moldova tried something as well this year, holding an outdoor nativity, mainly on the inspiration of Sister Nancy Cooley. It was cool nights, but overall  went very well, with hot chocolate served. To do this in a foreign country, one had to hire an event organizer, caterer for hot chocolate, electrician, an 24 hour guard company and those to put up the tent. Wow. We helped set up, sing, and be support staff, the missionaries took turns staffing the place. A few glitches, but overall well, we were in the main park of Chișinău, Stefan cel Mare. At our FHE this week, Deb arranged a minute to win it, which was a lot of fun- most fun of all was the snowball fight with paper balls. We gave out boxes of Christmas candy, many said they had not received a present of candy since they were a little child. A lot of joy for 30 lei each. So just as at home in Alberta, it feels right to give, just as the Savior gave to each of us. At times here, we feel overwhelmed by the poverty and to give anything feels just like a drop in a bucket. But it is our drop, and it feels a blessing to drop it in.
Our outdoor nativity at night. Presentations were in Romanian, then in Russian

Nearby tent, far corner was the hot chocolate corner. Deb and Sister Cooley are preparing stuff on the table

The Romanian and Moldovan Christmas theme, as in the rest of the world

Russian members and missionaries singing carols. What they lacked in quality, they made up in effort

Nativity in the day. I accidentally cut out the angel

Minute to win it. Had to bounce a ping pong ball into the cup of water, From left Nina, Chiril, Elder Green, Elder Gore, Elder Blaylock and Nick at the end of the table

2 teams, first to have 3 people thread 6 pasta pieces on their spaghetti stick won.

This game had 5 bags of lessening heights, had to pick up bag with your mouth, without any part of your body touching the floor. Mihai is on bag 3.

This young girl is on bag 5, see the contortions.

Keeping 3 balloons in the air, no hands. Tolic is center stage.

The office of the building for the handicapped girls. The saying means Do not stop making or doing good.

Ruslan Stepanenco convincing Deb she should be in a picture

Doina and Deb with the secretary, with the pile of goods we brought. Thanks, kids!

Room with 10 beds, very well kept up and clean. We were most pleasantly surprised.

Some  of the residents, they loved  visiting us.

As you can tell, this girl was full of mischief and fun.

We are enjoying the season. An added bonus this week, I helped pick up an Armenian elder, who one day missed his plane, 2 days later came in 3.5 hours late and gave us the chance to visit repeatedly with the Moldovan border control. We were helped by the kindest Russian diplomat who spoke English, knew the Church and was there intervening for us. A great man, extremely kind. We believe he was there by the grace of God , just for us. Crăciun fericit!

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Christmas letter 2016

Dec 11, 2016  For our family and friends, who expect a Christmas letter, here is our version this year. Sorry, an unusual blog, but here it is, like it or leave it!
        Edwards Christmas Letter 2016 from the land of Moldova
1.     And it came to pass in the land of eastern Europe, in the country of Moldova, that Lynn and Debby Edwards had spent almost a year as missionaries. And they did reflect much on the past year and the many changes that had occurred in their lives.
2.     And they did especially rejoice for the blessing and presence of Skype and other electronic tools that did allow them to communicate with family freely and did see frequent pictures of grandchildren rapidly growing, yea, and even coming into the world [ well, not the entire process, just the end result]
3.     And they did marvel much at the sparing of their lives again and again on the road and streets of Chișinău, and the highways of Moldova, where much carnage takes place, and much craziness enters the roads in a very speedy and speeding manner, and where laws are something to be broken frequently. And they did thank their vehicle, a red Opel that did somewhat resemble a car.
4.     And Deb did refuse to drive because of exceeding great fear, and Lynn did drive and become much like a Moldovan, to his wifes dismay and terror.
5.     And they did delight in Moldovan cuisine, well, at least half of them, and taste foods like sarmale, and odd salads, and a corn meal dish like food, but called mamaliga, and verily, it was nasty and foul. And Deb did refuse to eat carp. And who knew walnuts could have worms?
6.     And it came to pass that they both realized quickly that living together in constant close proximity was interesting, yea, at times too interesting, and they did both repent and change and did still love each other, after the wounds did heal.
7.     And they did travel much on roads which did keep one awake when tired, and did often brake for horse and wagons. And Deb did realize that one cannot get enough pictures of wagons, though after 1000, it was verily close to enough.
8.     And they did visit piațas often and could find almost anything and everything in a piața, and the sales people did recognize us and smile often, and even try to speak to us in both words of English they knew. And they were exceedingly friendly.
9.     And Lynn and Deb did teach much, classes in 3 languages, medicine, cooking, English, Self-Reliance and other assorted things. And Deb did make quilts on a Toyota machine, which did sound much like a John Deere of ancient vintage. And they did help much in the branches of the Church in Moldova. And they grew to love many people, especially the young adults, and especially the humble , poor people of Moldova. For they were genuine, kind and caring despite much poverty.
10.                         And Deb and Lynn did marvel much at poverty, and corruption and inequality and the goodness of most people who manage in circumstances most could not imagine. And at times they were almost overwhelmed, but knew they could do some things to help. And they did wonder at the materialism of themselves and many others from our country.
11.                        And they were overjoyed at Brendan and how well he did on his mission to New Mexico, for he had matured, grown and changed, all for the better, even though he was very good to begin. And there was no pride, but they were exceedingly well pleased.
12.                        And they both were thankful for family, to watch a father , to watch a house and finances and to care for each other. And blessings were counted frequently, but the end was never accomplished.
13.                         And they did both realize that their brains were older and somewhat less plastic than in earlier years. But luckily with their age, this was often forgotten quickly, along with other assorted facts.
14.                          And they do thank all their  friends and family, but more especially those who remember to write to them. But they do love you all , and for those who have neglected to write, repent speedily and all will be well,
15.                        We do love and miss you all, have a happy and holy Christmas!
                                  Elder Lynn and Sister Debby Edwards