Monday, 29 February 2016

Feb 29 2016, An odd day in a leap year. We had a cold wind today and it made our walk a little chilly. I still wear my Canadian toque and it fits right in , even if it does say Scentlock. Keeps the old bald head warm, I tell you. So the first picture is a handout from our Learning Center here in Chisinau. The 2 Cooleys and myself are the missionaries here, Brother Plumb is an ex mission president here with the University of Utah and President Ivory is our mission president. A very distinguished group except the last fellow. This is for making us available to teach classes in English for businesses, and is to raise the profile of the Church. 95% of businessmen are completely unfamiliar with us. So it may be interesting. Sorry for the sideways view, although I do look better that way. Next we have Deb giving our old bread to the pigeons, yes kids, that is your mother. she had some flock around us, well , her. I kept my distance taking the pictures. There are a lot of pigeons and crows with a smattering of magpies. Next is some handiwork all made of paper, sorry the plastic made a sheen, but there was a light rain today. The last 2 pictures are of Martisor, small red and white decorations that are worn to celebrate the coming of spring. The last ones were all hand made; Grand daughters, expect some of these next year, your grandma loves them. As you can see, some have the flag colors in them. There are literally hundreds of people selling these, of every size imaginable. Some are really works of art, Deb gave some away on Sunday as bracelets. We have learned 2 things this week, well more , but here is the 2. First, never give flowers away in an even number. Deb went to buy 6 daffodils, that was a no-no. If you buy 2, 4 or 6, it means a funeral or something very sad. So dozen roses guys-never. Second, if there has not been a TV show on Chisinau as a place where people should not drive, there should be. Seriously, these drivers have suppressed anger issues- well it is not always suppressed. Traffic laws are at best a poor suggestion, lines are actually usually nonexistent and roundabouts, oh my, where is the Ativan? Absolutely insane ; when you give a prayer of thanks after getting thru, you know it is bad. We may just use the bus some days just to get a break. We at times use the bus as a blocker for the car; then the oncoming can't run into us.Today we decided to go thru an area because it was the middle of the day, even though a good member friend said we could die there. He was right, enough said. We are alive and probably will be just as insane and aggressive in a few months. I started some language tutoring today to try to get back in that mode. Oh where oh where has my little brain gone?

Friday, 26 February 2016


Just a couple more pictures, one of the terraced hillsides. I went out for a walk, pink blossom buds everywhere. Going to be beautiful in a month or so.

Feb 27 2016, Denise Curliss's birthday, happy birthday Sis or as they say here, la multe ani! It is hard to buy a birthday card here, most are in Russian and we are not really sure what they say. Well, a lot of pictures as we went to Iasi, Romania to pick up our car, well for the next 2.5 months. Then we get to trade again. Picture 7 is a picture of the main road from Chisinau to Iasi, as well as a maxitaxi, how we got to Iasi. As you can see , the road is narrow, bumpy and is also winds a lot. How bumpy is it? Elder Cooley [he and his wife Nancy are in pic #3] had on a Fitbit and he "took 8000 steps" while we rode the maxitaxi. We got up early Wednesday, took a bus to Gara de Sud and bought a ticket to Iasi. Deb decided to use the facilities [3 lei] and could not quite make it work when squatting over a hole. Funny, although not funny with a bumpy road. Anyway, just before we left, the driver kicked the tires, decided one was low and detoured to get some air. We made it to Iasi after 5 hours with 2 stops to pick up more people and spent an hour at the border, getting checked over well on both sides. The Politia de Frontiere took their public relation training at Dachau. We were some worried about coming back , I tell you. Anyway, we made it to Iasi, had to find a MacDonalds to download a map with the free WIFI and find our way to the Church there. We waited in the cold for an hour, and finally someone came. We made our way to a hotel, a Ramada, very nice. The castle in the first few pictures is the main tourist attraction, but has been under renovation for some time; we did not get in. Got a few pictures. Next to it is a gigantic mall which looks so out of place in a relatively poor country- 4 huge levels and hundreds of stores. We also got solicited by our first gypsy; have seen none in Moldova. Picture 4 also has a statue of Stefan cel Mare or Stephen the Great. He is the hero of this area, lived in the 1400s and there are multiple statues, parks, streets, you name it, he is the man. We have a friend Steve Alston who would like his name, because he is also called Stephen the great and holy. Wow. Anyway, we got our car, got started early on Thursday and there were a lot of prayers earnestly said that morning. got to the border, friendly people on both sides, paid a car tax of 660 lei and were on our way in less than 20 minutes. Incredible blessing we will tell you. We were blessed and thankful. Pic #5 is of a shepherd herding his sheep, no fences anywhere. He waved and was happy to see us. Black sheep are common. Pic #6 is a shrine, Orthodox, which are very common along the roads, could be every kilometer or so. They are often alongside of wells, and are much more common in the country. Pic #8 is along the road- did I mention my Canadiens jacket bought in Moldova?  Last picture is a horse and wagon along the road, often on the highway. It was an adventure, and now we have a car to use, a stunning Opel Corsa, used but useful. The first time we parked in our underground parking, I had to squeeze it in , even my RAV4 would have been too big. So now we get to experience driving in our crazy city. We drove home from FHE with a nice young man who guided us thru the rain, found out the wipers need replacing bad. We had a very busy week and are feeling blessed. I should be able to resume some language training now we have found our feet, so to speak. Deb had her first hair cut, did well.  The lady was kind, spent over an hour, all for 230 lei or $12. Another hurdle leapt. We may be travelling more, this next week we teach some temple prep classes in addition to others. Did I mention the bread- Deb is already well addicted.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Feb 23, It has been a warm day in Moldova, up to 18 deg C. We are planning to go to Romania tomorrow to pick up a car, so we took a bus to see how close we can get to Gara de Sud, where we will take a Maxi taxi, just a big van. We thought early afternoon, how crowded can it get? Answer, Very! Like we are talking packed like sardines, full body contact, the whole deal. It was funny, I got up for a lady, a very big lady, and a teenage boy grabbed the seat. A very nice young lady told him nicely to get up and be polite, or something like that. He did. Anyway, there is no such thing as personal space here, you better not be shy about touching me, touching you. Reminded me of security in Bucharest. So a nice cousin of mine, Dan Heninger, told me to eat a covrig for him. Well, we were not sure what a covrig was. Answer a sinfully delicious pretzel, in a multitude of flavors. Unfortunately, those flavors are easy to say, like ciocolata, carmello, salted. One place has the audacity to just have a big sign saying pretzels. Dang are they good. filled with chocolate or carmel, dipped in chocolate or nuts, many coverings-salt, icing sugar, poppyseeds, And never more than 40 cents. Curse you, Dan Heninger! We were actually losing weight- well, maybe we will walk 2.5 hours a day and not only 2. I could just imagine Jon Pinet here with those pretzels. I am sure somewhere it is a sin. Til then, we will enjoy. Andy's Pizza, the quintessential Moldovan name, but it has great food. Probably one of the better places with lots of options. They have a salmon suflet that is mind boggling and for less than $8. And only a 10 minute walk. Finally, the market where we do most of the food buying, unabashedly number 1. Funny how women make attachments to food markets, but this one has Deb. Okay enough of food- oh did I mention I made dynamite chocolate chip cookies- the butter here is wonderful, And chocolate yoghurt with kiwi who would have thought?

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Feb 21 2016. It is a wintery morning, as it snowed and rained most of yesterday. The poor sellers in the Piata were frantically trying to cover their wares with plastic sheeting and it was often not successful. The cold does keep the meat from spoiling. Okay, the first 2 pictures are just the winter landscape from our terrace. The third is a picture of what the parking lot is like just below us, imagine trying to wind your car out of that. It is the place for a Smartcar. Also , not a place for the timid. #4 is a picture of how our place is heated; it is all hot water heating on wall radiators- one adjusts the temperature with a valve at the bottom- no thermostats.  #5 is a picture of the towel rack in the bathroom. This is a very nice feature of Moldova as you can turn on the hot water thru the rack, both to dry your towel and to have a nice warm one after a shower. #6 is our drying rack. Remember there are very few dryers here, so clothes get to dry inside. In the warmer weather [a few now] you hang them out of your window. The language here continues to be very frustrating; in our neck of the city. I would guess there is about 75% Russian spoken and written up here. We are trying to figure out just how to learn it here and there is no easy solution. Having said that, our English is no easy task. We were meeting with Pres. Sergei Covali, one of the councillors in the mission presidency who is fluent in Romanian, Russian and English. I said I did not want to ruffle any feathers and he had no idea what I was saying. In Romanian, it would be "ciufule cateva pene" and has no useful meaning other than to bother some poor duck. Ah, what a learning experience. By the way, Deb found out a stuffed potato in Moldova is a potato skin filled with chicken, peppers, celery, cream and the potato. Way good- well, at least to me. Something to try, Russell. Well, Wednesday, we get to go to Romania to Iasi to get a car. I am a little apprehensive getting it across the border, but we will have the Cooleys with us. Oh yeah, he speaks only American.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Village people

Feb 17 2016, Okay no YMCA here, but we went on a trip today with the humanitarian missionaries, the Vogelsbergs from North Carolina. They were going to 2 villages to look  at their water systems to have LDS Humanitarian services help with funding clean water. We went to help and for the ride. We went to 2 villages, Sertaci and Mascauti, both with Romanian letters. They also had a Russian interpreter along to help. So first the pictures, in order as usual. #1-outside the mayors office the chickens were in the yard- there are 2 pictures here for Mette, just in case she misses us. The outhouse was an outhouse with only a hole in the floor and no paper, one needs good hips here. #2 The Vogelsberg's with their interpreter- note the dirt road and mud, no cement or pavement in this town.#3 Us along a typical fence in the villages-old rocks put together, occasionally with mortar. #4 A picture of a field in fallow, incredibly rich chernozem soil, and any farmer should salivate at how rich this soil is. Ary Van Es from Burdett told me of the soil before we came over, he probably understated how rich it is. The Primar or mayor farmed sunflowers, corn and wheat, and raised cows, goats and rabbits. #5 A farmer more than happy to have his picture taken, he had a wagon full of oranges- where he got them we could not guess.#6 A Russian Orthodox church- the incredible difference between it and surrounding houses is easy to note. #7  I was trying to hold up that wall which was probably much older that I- hard as that is to believe. Trust me , it was mortar. #8 Well, our favorite couple,we needed a picture of us to send to Germany, this shows we are well. #9 We had to stop on the road to let turkeys cross, this one is for Max, can't you taste those drumsticks?  We were astounded by the poverty in these villages. We were told today the average income in Chisinau was 4000 lei, or $200 US a month. It is much less in these villages- really subsistence living. It was hard to believe with such incredible farm land, but these people have been thru much and continue to deal with difficult politics. They are kind, gracious  people who give all- when we talked with the first mayor, we could not leave until he fed us lunch. Deb really salivated as it was sardine sandwiches which were really delicious. As a Canadian, it is hard to imagine what we complain about at home when seeing how these villagers live, how they survive in such conditions. We will not ever complain about Bow Island roads for sure. The roads today that we travelled were gravel optional.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Feb 16 Well I did the last pictures from a phone, thus the shortness of it all. This picture is from a YSA activity at the Cooley's apartment with the various kids from all over eastern Europe. The guy on the far right in the blue checked shirt is Ben Giles from Arkansas, doing a business internship here. He served a mission here speaking Russian and the Church in Moldova depends a lot on him. He is a wonderful guy. The 6th person from the left is Nina, who is the heart and soul of the group. She is a ray of sunshine, always smiling, Sevghi, 4th from the R is preparing for a mission and is also a gem. Now more on the Piata. We will obviously have more pictures, as it is a fascinating place. The size defies description, as there are so many booths and alleys and selling places. Every produce imaginable, one area had only huge piles of nuts, next to it huge piles [pun intended] of prunes. All ask you to try their wares or food. Deb got hopelessly lost, but luckily had her trusty husband by her side. I was able to find our way in and then out. Funny thing, we had to buy some light jackets as our winter ones were killing us in the warm weather here. We went into a small shop and the jacket that fit me best- a jacket with a Canada flag that said Canadien- obviously not NHL approved. So I do get my Canada flag to walk around in. It was 18 above today and people were beginning to smile. By the way, on the previous post, the lady near the shredded carrot- does that not look like solemn eastern Europe? Also as I said, we could not find a birthday card in the Piata, did find a Russian one in an underground kiosk. Today I got to converse with a pharmacist about a cough syrup, all  in Romanian. Dang it, no codeine, just some Icelandic concoction- but I did find Strepsils. Maybe Deb will get some sleep tonight.

Feb 16 Just a few community pictures. The first is of how people park on the sidewalk. Today a guy drove down the sidewalk beeping at people to get out of his way. Funny. The others are all of the Central piaČ›a  and the hundreds of vendors. An amazing place , but we could not find a birthday card.

Sunday, 14 February 2016


Feb 14 Happy Valentines Day, a big day in Moldova. Deb did get some flowers so her husband did not totally blow it, but here it seems chocolate and other treats are also in order. I did cook dinner anyway. Okay, for any who are not family, this may well be a boring post, but for family, these are some pics of where we live and it is not shabby. Eighth floor for country folks is a long way up though. #1 Out of our balcony, looking SE down Mircea cel Batrin, our main street we commute on. I have no idea how many people live here in Ciocana, but it must be tens of thousands. #2- Main bedroom with tropical doors, for those winter days when one yearns for warmth. #3 A living room shot, big couch that makes into an enormous bed- 3 young ladies from out of town slept there last night.#4 Front hallway, again with fancy closet doors, lots of closet space. The main door has locks that are unbelievable, the deadlock has 4 bolts, the door lock has 3 and there is a lock top and bottom on the door. Add to that a metal door and no one is kicking this door down. #5 Front bathroom with tub and sink, toilet is next door, very nice fancy tile, a dandelion theme- who knew that could ever be anything but an ugly weed! #6 the kitchen, all on one wall. The device near the sink is a water filter which our mission insists on. Again beautiful tile and Deb in that place she loves most, the sink. Sorry , second favorite place because the ironing board is number 1. Guess what having no dryer does to permanent press clothes? #7 back bathroom, nice shower, and the wash machine in the corner. People here have only a washer in almost all homes, and no hot water hooked up to it. The fun part- all the instructions on the washer are in Russian. That makes every wash day a new challenge. #8 is the dining room, full of computer stuff until we get a desk, which will be after we get a car. Last night we had a YSA activity, 15 youth, besides us and the Cooleys. The youth were about half members of our Church, there were 2 from Poland, 1 from Hungary, 1 from Balti [2 hours away] 2 from Orhei[ one hour away] and the Chisinau regulars. They played a lot of games between eating and love some game called Mafia, apparently an eastern Europe invention. Rather odd to us old ducks, but they loved it. Don't ask the rules, it needs a much younger mind. Anyway, for those who think we are roughing it here in Chisinau, these pictures should dispel those thoughts.