Sunday, 27 November 2016

Thanksgiving week

Nov 27 2016.It seems blasphemous for a Canadian to celebrate a Thanksgiving in November, but when one is surrounded by American influence, what is one to do? We had a mission day of Thanksgiving, where the missionaries were to thank the members by service and small gifts of cookies. So we prepared by cooking some cookies as not all the missionaries have an oven. And frankly, ours are much better than theirs, Pride? No, reality. I have tasted both. Cookies with M and Ms, now there is something to be thankful for. Then we were asked to take them to a restaurant for dinner so we did not have to prepare a big meal, that was nice. There is a restaurant here, owned by an American, as pics will show, he had happy Thanksgiving on the board. What was the special dish for the special day? Not turkey, or curcan. It was chicken wings- they were good, but it did feel odd. Turkey was not on the menu. So we "were given" the opportunity to take 16 missionaries to dinner and pay for it. It was okay, but they were rather loud. We gave them a spending or ordering limit, and some pushed it right to the max- appetizers, main course and dessert. One complained of gaining weight on his mission-duh. Everyday we cooked this week, for one event or another. Made some wicked pumpkin cookies. The pumpkin is like a squash, but looks like a brown pumpkin, with  a very thick orange flesh. A very nice veggie. There was a lot of fog this week, and it continues through today. Does it mean rain, who knows, it rains so much already. We also had 4 new missionaries come in, will get to orient them. We  had 2 YSA teach line dancing and such at FHE, it was fun to watch. We read the handbook, it seemed okay for missionaries as long as no touching or pairing off. Deb got scolded twice on the bus yesterday, once by the driver and once by the ticket taker. There are blessings to not understanding language, she just shrugged and smiled. Frustrating to yell at someone and not have them understand you. We have an understanding that if ever we are stopped by the police again, we speak only English. Oh, this week, we watched a police car honk at someone to run a red light, they did and so did he. Hard to have respect at times. It was a peaceful week in the country anyway. Highlight, another baptism.
At the Smokehouse, Elder Savage and Kramer, 2 of the more mature Russian missionaries. They elected to sit with us.

The crew from L to R, Sister Sterrett, Sister Jerez, then Elders Griffith, Green, Tita, Hubbard, Blaylock, Gore, Lemon, Jensen and Rybyskyy

Other direction from L to R, Elder Gore, Lemon, Jensen, Rybyskyy, Brodskyy, Sisters Lee, Schow, Sterrett, Jerez

The next several pictures are from FHE, all learning dances, non partnered

Mihai Zgarbor and Anatoli Jobea; Tolia was baptized Saturday

Maria Gorea and Nina Scurtu, teaching dancing.
This week looks busy, we are starting the Christmas season, in addition to all else. Service this week, concert next week, all should be good. The stores here are starting the Christmas rush as well.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

People we love

Nov 20 2016. We are having a bit of a sober week, as several people we know well are either moving or being transferred. One of the great blessings of a mission is all the wonderful people you meet and get to know well. One of the tougher parts is saying goodbye to so many whom you may never see again. We do not live near the Church center and may not see many of the missionaries again. This week, Elder Bekker gets transferred to the office for his last 2 transfers, he is from Israel and is an absolute gem. We love him dearly, Elder Paterson has been here for ages , I think at least 6 transfers, and we will miss him. He is a humble and effective missionary, who for some reason, did not think highly of himself. We told him we thought he was great, which he was. Even though from Mesa, he was a small town boy who always chipped in to serve and help. I will mention others thru pictures. We went to a baptism in Bălți yesterday, it is a long drive that we have made a lot, we do not understand Russian, which the service was in, but the Saints there are genuine people, whom we love. Some are a little quirky, but have some life experiences. One man had to recover after a grenade accident, some one found an old one and threw it in his house. Lost his home and health, and was on the streets for a long time. Quite the group. We are lucky in that the Russian speaking elders just go between 2 cities, and we still always see them. As we get older, we appreciate relationships more and more. There are a lot of good people in this world, and we are lucky to meet a few of them.
These 3 are students from U of Utah, here on business internships, Hannah Gibson, Alessandro Baeilli, and Taylor Shippen. Hannah and Alessandro served missions here, Hannah was in Moldova. We got to know all 3 very well and have really grown to love them. All go home this week.

The Bălți branch at the baptism.

From L, Elder Soloviov, Elder Morgan, Elder Huntsman, Zarian, Elder Bekker. Zarian has come a long way, he used to show up to discussions drunk, people really change.

Our favorite Israeli elder , Bekker, also the only Israeli elder. Fluent in English, Hebrew and Russian

Elder Paterson, a great elder

He tried a new hair color, it will not last.

Mihai Zgarbor. our member in our neighborhood and a great new member. We really love Mihai, he is a very dedicated young man.
So today in Chișinău were protests again. The Pro-Russian candidate, Dodon, won, 52-48%. so the country is very divided which is not good. We hope any change can be peaceful, but it is a bit worrisome. We are safe, but a bit worried. So we do our thing, try to help others and keep busy. 

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Post Remembrance day

Nov 13 2016  It was Remembrance Day in Canada 2 days ago, we wore our poppies here in Moldova and got lots of questions and comments. Only negative one- they thought poppies were a weed. Well, they are a lot like weeds, but a beautiful weed, like the efforts of Canadian soldiers all over the world- a beautiful effort to protect freedom. Today is the second leg of the presidential elections here, between 2 candidates, Sandu, a pro-European, anti-corruption lady who seems genuinely sincere and honest, and Dodon, who wants to move back into the Russian sphere of influence, using a lot of dirty politics, fear, etc. He even got the backing of the Orthodox Church, who were very nasty to Sandu, questioning her morals. She is single, therefore must be immoral, according to the head of the Orthodox Church. Most progressive people here hope for Sandu, but the pro-Russian forces are well funded and have used a lot of scare tactics. We will know the results tomorrow. This is not the entire Parliament, but simply a direction. Members of our Church are all solidly behind Sandu. We have been growing in our Friday night FHE or activity. This week we played Bunko or Bunco, a dice game. It was a challenge with 52 people, in a small building. And food, we made scones and apple bread and Cooleys had to go buy 3 cakes as well. Oh my, the food consumed, and we have no food budget except us here on missions. It is a nice challenge to have. As I write, it is lightly snowing after a full day of rain, and is threatening winter weather. We are also in the middle of apartment inspections which is interesting. Some missionaries are very clean, some are not, and it is not always the men who are untidy. All of our other teaching activities have kept us hopping, but busy is good. Okay, here is the sad thing we found out this week.  A little know fact of Moldova is it is the #1 source of illegal organ donations. Those who practice this illegal medicine prey on the poor and the young, and it is encouraged by some in government who also take their share of the money cut. We have a young member who is desperate for money, and is donating part of his liver. He is dealing with crooks of course, was told there is a 20% mortality rate, and may wake up with more than part of a liver gone, if he wakes up. We had initially managed to get him to delay this, but the money spoke. If he ever gets it. There are some terrible people here preying on the poor. I think jail is too easy for these dishonest criminals. We can do little, but it is a shame. A supposedly illegal practice encouraged by politicians. No wonder people do not trust their government here. On a happier note, we did a visit to Orhei Vechi with some sisters this week, hence the following pictures.
 A nice wagon, with our red Opel in the background. He was spreading manure.

Calf on a rope,which they all are. The corn is all in stokes, to be used in winter and be able to shed some water.

Opening to the underground Church in Orhei Vechi, with a bell tower

Sister Nicol and Deb, looking at the limestone rock on the edge of the underground church. There are openings from old shells in the limestone with coins in them for luck

Each opening has a coin, most are Moldovan, but they are from  all over eastern Europe.

Hey, Russell, this coin is for you, for luck.

Building a wall from limestone, hard backbreaking work.

A famous old cross at Orhei Vechi, with sisters Nicol, Lee, Jerez and Schow.

An old guy near the church on top

Cute kid just wandering around.
There are weeks when the poverty just gets to you, this was one of those weeks. It is hard to realize you just cannot fix everything. Lots of the inequity in the world we can help with, but in the end, God is the great Equalizer for us all.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

?Hunting season

Nov 6 2016. It is fall, cool weather, leaves are falling and almost all on the ground and a young mans heart turns to deer hunting. Well, I am not a young man, but my heart did turn a little to deer hunting this week. I did not dwell on it excessively, but it was there. When one has a yearly tradition, it hurts a little to not be involved. I guess we are hunting like Jeremiah, in a much more useful eternal way. But some of us are still natural men and getting over our worldliness. Ahh. We are developing a tradition, that when ever we drive to Bălți, we drive in driving rain, there and back. We are trying to overcome this weakness, but it is still there. We pick our roads carefully. This week I gave a cortisone shot to a lady there, a poor member previously mentioned, then gave her a blanket Deb had made. It was truly touching, as she rubbed it against here face again and again, thanking us profusely in Russian, then giving a kiss I was to give to Deb. We also got a huge bag of unshelled walnuts out of the visit. Such sincere people. We made apple crisp for the members there this week, they are available at about 35 cents a kilo. And amazing taste. What are we to do but bake? For the young adults, we made apple bread, pear bread, apple cookies, they must have been good, we did get a small taste. I had a chance this week to go with 2 missionaries and meet with a group of 24 Orthodox priests and theology students, and talk about our church for about 2 hours. The elders gave 2-3 discussions, we answered questions, and gave out books. It was all quite civil, one was a little aggressive, but his colleagues kept him in check. After , they wanted pictures with us, an American, a Romanian- Elder Tita, and a Canuck. Not just an American sect. We did egg dropping at FHE, and also a bunch of games. Deb keeps the activities coming and the young adults keep coming. We had about 40 this week. We though we had tons of cookies, close to 150 between the 2 senior couples,-what a joke. There is never any left.  We still are not sure why everyone here is so thin, though we are doing our best to remedy the situation. One of our highlights this week, Adriana Josan is back in Moldova. she was in Germany trying to make some money. She is very dear to us and was over to supper yesterday with her younger brother, Chiril. An amazing lady raising a younger brother. Okay, a few random pics again.
We have been trying to decide what kind of Car Brendan needs in a year or so. There are just so many nice Ladas, that we are starting to think of shipping one home. This one is better than most, no tape or string.

People preparing their eggs for the drop- from the 3rd storey, Elder Hubbard in the foreground

Elder Sanchez busy

From right, Vitally, Elder Rybiskyy and Chiril at the end.

These were all trying to chew gum to blow the biggest bubble. None had done it except Elder Griffith, shown later. From L, Deb, Elder Vashchenko, Mihai, elder Griffith, Elder Rybiskyy, Nicolae, Tolio, Taylor Shipen, and Chiril Josan, who almost choked on his gum.

This was bouncing a balloon off your head the longest. Sora Lee in the foreground

Same, with Elder Savage on the L

A video of the drop

Elder Griffith won, see Chirils amazed look

More preparation.
A fun night , people here will try anything and really get into activity. Funniest activity, the hula hoop. So we continue on, learning more about ourselves and this country. We have the run off election in a week that will probably determine this countrys direction in the next few years.