Sunday, 29 January 2017

Just a small update

Jan 30 2017. As of yesterday, we have been in Moldova for one year. At times it has seemed to go by very quickly, and at times, it seems like forever since we were home. It has been a surreal experience in many ways. We still are in the grips of winter, with 3-4 bitter cold days with a nasty north wind which feels like our favorite Manyberries wind from SE Alberta. It is impossible to keep a car clean, but the snow has not continued to fall. And it is still January, after all. It was an odd week, with much preparation at the beginning of the week, and then a lot of meetings, cooking and such at the end. We were blessed to be able to watch the Worldwide Missionary broadcast, see the brethren and feel of their spirit and testimony. Having such close contact with young missionaries, it will be interesting to see how the changes impact them as well. We had been fasting, so had a supper at 2130, interesting to time to end a fast. Then we got to prepare food for zone conference on Friday, then food for FHE on Friday night, then a supper on Saturday with some young American friends, then a dinner for our missionary prep class. Much cooking, but I did learn how to make a dynamite pumpkin pie from scratch, that Deb thought was great. We will be making some decisions on missionary apartments in the next few days, as we try to get out of some problem places. There are literally hundreds of empty apartments in this city and hundreds being built. It is a place where people here feel safe investing any money they have. Oh, our FHE , which was a special night on missionaries and what they do, and had the mission president, President Ivory. We had about 60, making food for about 30. It was interesting.
Marin Iachimov was the main presenter at our FHE, one of our favorite people. A native Moldovan, he lives in Bucharest

Part of the group

Elder Cooley in the front with the food, President Ivory is center in the back

Marianna Gorea, who loves pictures

The group after, Sister Ivory is in the middle. Both she and President have had a nasty flu

Our missionary class, from left Iulia, Elder Brodskyy, Elder Huntsman, Vitalie, Chiril, Nina and Sister E
So that is the short update, all is well.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Busy with baptisms

Jan 22 2017, so first of all, sorry to those who worried about us last week, we were just very busy with a variety of things and did not get any blog writing done. We are still alive. We did have a tragedy in our mission though. One of our senior missionaries in Arad, Elder Randy Day, died on Jan 17, unexpectedly, He appeared to die quite suddenly and was found in his car. Our prayers go our to his wife, Sister Day, who is not able to get his body home until this coming Thursday. A very difficult time for her, and a sobering time for us. Deb and I had joked how she would get my body home, won't say what she decided on, but it certainly was not a humorous time. There has been a lot of individual one on one counselling and self reliance work lately. Winter let up a bit for a while, but we did have a dump of snow 10 days ago, we were unable to go to Balti, for the first time we had to cancel. Our Institute classes are going again, and my medical classes began. I did a class on what will you die from in Moldova. Did you know they have now the highest alcohol consumption per capita in the world, and also the highest rate of liver disease? Heart attack rates are also abysmal. A smoking rate of 45% in men is not helpful either. The older I get, the wiser the Word of Wisdom becomes. We have been apartment  hunting, trying to solve some chronic problems.We have some landlords who feel it is their right to enter whenever the missionaries leave, 2-3 times a week, to check the place they own. It just does not work well. Some nice baptisms, very nice young men. One , Arty, had his road to Damascus experience and is a wonderful young man. He investigated for close to 2 years. The boys, Nikita and Dima Stefanovic, have lived with their uncle for over 6 years, they are 15 and 12. Mom lives in Moscow working, Dad ??? This is a common problem here, parents leave and work else where, often abandoning children for many years. Some are supportive, many are not. We have dealt with many who have no food or money because a parent just forgets to send anything. Sad. So this week we had a photo scavenger hunt in our Malldova, closest thing to an American type mall. It is definitely a place for the wealthy. We had sent the young people all over, they had 34 pictures to obtain. Stupidly, we asked for one picture with a security guard, of which there are many. Soon one was coming up to us, so we feigned no other language than English. He was soon frustrated and left. Another soon came, told us to move coats, again we were pleasantly ignorant of the language- which this time we were as it was Russian. Deb gestured that she would move them onto the floor.We soon found to do anything in this mall, one needs written permission from management, and no games are  to be played. We did finish the activity, but likely will never be able to repeat it. We were also English at a traffic check stop type thing. The poor cop just said good bye to us, could not say anything else. It may not be fair, but it sure was enjoyable.
Christmas decorations are still up. This is a typical outdoor tree, decorations carefully thrown on  in large collections.

The next 2 pics are where Deb buys material, in a place called Gemeni. The shops are small booths, and this one has a lady that speaks English to her. You can see the whole shop here.

Around the corner, another shop and its materials

From left, Elder Lemon, Elder Hubbard, Elder Jensen, Artemie Stratulat, Elder Gore, Elder Gerber-Kai, and Elder Welling

Elder Jensen, Arty and Elder Green. Elder Jensen was the right elder in the right place for Arty.

Elder Sargsyan from Armenia, Russian speaking. He is the elder we had to arrange an MTC experience from Madrid with. He speaks Armenian and some Russian

One of Deb's favorites. What is the date? Jan 21, Deb wishes us to leave our tree at home up longer now, we were thinking of maybe March.

Dima, Elder Vashchenko, Nikita and Elder Griffeth. just before the baptism. These boys were so excited to get baptized

Elder Griffeth, Elder Vashchenko, Anatoli and Valeriu or something and us. Deb had made them both quilts and they just love her. Let's just say her cheeks were damp from kissing.
Dima and Nikita. They also love Deb and are regulars at our Institute class. They are real treasures.
So a death always makes one sober. We are thankful to be alive and to be here. Challenges aside, meeting some people is just such a blessing in our lives.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

It's cold!

Jan 8 Oh the weather outside is frightful! But that does not mean we get to stay home at all. It began to snow on Friday here and continues as I write- 3 days of snow, with a wicked NE wind and a windchill of -35 C. It sounds like a normal Alberta winter , but it is usually not quite as cold here. We expect this to continue for the week, warming towards the end. I have not missed my Chev 4x4 until today, when my Opel was getting high centered on small piles of snow. There are snowplows here, but the effect is minimal and rare, and sand is usually in piles along the roads, not on the roads, today we drove the car and should have taken the bus. Mind you, who drives a trolley bus and spins the tires and slips and slides? Our drivers who really seemed to enjoy the icy roads. They were like children with a new toy. Yesterday was the Orthodox Christmas, and the  city was quiet, but not as quiet as the first Christmas in December. It really is a mix here. There was a group of church goers walking down the snowy streets, with the caroling coming from a following car. Despite the music, none of the walkers were singing, just walking looking rather gloomy. Hard to keep the Spirit of Christmas with a brisk NE wind biting into your cheeks. The cold does keep the sellers of fruit off the streets, bananas really do not like -20 degrees. We still had a quiet week as all the classes were off this holiday week. We got some new missionaries, one , Elder Welling, is from Finland. He speaks perfect English, and could not tell me why he has such an English sounding name. A very fine young man. It has been a cold few days for the missionaries, about 12 dropped by tonight for hot chocolate, all unplanned. Can we say empty refrigerator and cupboards- they can eat - and eat- and eat. It is all good- we were glad to warm and feed them. When saw we Thee hungry and cold?- on a windy blustery Moldovan eve. So a few scattered pictures, we were able to go out and deliver some more food hampers this week, still had FHE for the young adults and managed to keep busier than we expected in holiday time.
The next 2 pictures show something we see daily- people begging at busy intersections in traffic. they are often old, crippled, in wheelchairs. This lady was out 2 days in the snow and cold, begging. It just rips our heart each time.

Shovelling snow at a bus stop

Sister Lee leaving on a train for Bucharest. A great sister who we grew to love.

This game at FHE was called the animal game. Each chair was named for some animal, then they would clap their hands, call out an animal and try to get someone to move down. You had to remember the chairs animal as you moved.

Called signs, this game has people decide n a sign , then try to give that sign without the person in the middle seeing them.

Coming out of my parking garage, I got high centered this morning on the drift- much higher for the first car

Snow around our apartment bloc

Trolley buses we take often, this is 24, and the new version. The old ones are a bit scary and noisy.

Outside our front door. When were those trees planted, you may ask? Beginning of December- rather interesting to see if they survive.
So we are warm inside, but have lots of travel this week. Could those at home send me a chinook, and not the Manyberries kind.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Anul nou

Jan 1 2017  Well we have wondered at times in this holiday season whether Moldovans celebrated Christmas on Dec 25 or Jan 7 or both, as some have told us. As it turns out, we were looking at the wrong holiday entirely, as it is New Years Eve that is the holiday of holidays for this country. We wondered as by Friday afternoon, the street were almost impassable, the stores were congested and people were bustling about everywhere. By Saturday morning, you almost could not get into any grocery store and the piatas were completely packed. There were fireworks for sale all along the streets at small vendors and the Christmas trees, live, were for sale until  the end of Dec 30. Then Saturday evening, about 1030 pm, the noise and the fireworks began. We wondered about a war at first, as there was so much banging all over. The fireworks in the sky did help us get orientated. By 1130 pm the noise and fireworks were increasing, and by midnight it was unbelievable, lasting in duration more than an hour of continuous fireworks , some even off of neighbors balconies.  Let us just say Deb did not sleep until well after 2 am. Now, the fact we had many YSA over as well as missionary drop-bys, did not help our sleep situation, and having 9 sleep on our floor after the get together, did not let us get to sleep early. But the holiday here is New Years Eve. This morning, the city was completely quiet until early afternoon- our church commute which is normally 30-40 minutes , was 12 minutes. Did I mention another earthquake this week? We woke, heard the lights and closet doors shaking and waited for the end, then went back to sleep. We are pros to this earthquake stuff now. Another interesting tradition- young people go door to door singing or reciting poetry or something. one of them rings a bell while they do their thing. Oh, and it is expected that if you listen, you will pay, the price is your choice. The first ones that came about Wednesday, asked if we wanted to receive something. I had no idea what this was about  and just said no. We learned later how rude we were. And repented, having two groups last night. Yeah, we paid. I asked them to slow down, like it helped. The missionaries went out carolling for service and were paid 250 lei, they were most surprised. {Now the Russians, we would pay to stop them, but the Romanians, again, like angels} Interesting times. We had a chocolate bar unwrapping game at FHE, have to roll 2 doubles , put on mitts and try to get into a wrapped candy bar. I have never seen people stuff a candy bar into their mouth so quickly. I was rehearsing my Heimlich manoveur as I was sure we would deal with aspiration. Squirrels have nothing on these competitive youth. Oh, and we are well into influenza season here, just like home. We never did find a place for flu shots here, so we are keeping our fingers crossed and our hands washed. Pictures again are assorted, will try to explain.
Elder Griffeth, in the candy bar game, Squirrels, eat your heart out.

This pic and the one 2 down are a house a guy lives in in the down town area, surrounded by apartments. It is rather unique

How to decorate a tree, outside, if you have too  many decorations and not enough tree

Beautiful yard and house again.

Sister Lee takes this game seriously, and is trying to explain the rules

Tibi, the short guy on the end , was visiting from Bucharest, and is a Church translator.

See the cool Canada mitts?

Note the gathering around food?

We took this picture to show that there is never too much tinsel, just not enough tree.

This tree, in front of a store, seemed an example of how to decorate in a wind. Throw the decorations in the air and see what sticks to the tree.

These next 3 pictures are in front of a guys workshop in Chisinau, he has a He is a metal artist as you can see by the work. We drive by this every day and had to stop and take some photos.

So sorry for 2 posts in one week, we look forward to finishing the holidays and having quiet at night again. Notice no snow, we are lucky as it all melts within a few days- so far.