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!

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