Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Post Birthday

June 28 2017. We are now 2 days post Deb's birthday. She kept it mostly secret, I had hinted to a couple of sister missionaries about it, they put it in their planner and forgot about it. but we had a good day overall anyway. The weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth was kept to a minimum. She did what she wished, doing service by giving toys, books and games to a lady in a village who helps a lot of poor kids with care. What she loves doing most.We had a weekend in Brasov, a beautiful city in Romania, one of our favorites for sure. We left here on a Friday night at 9 pm on a minibus we rented, 18 youth and youong adults and Deb and I. We travelled all night and arrived at Brasov at 6 am. We were the majority, only about 10-12 showed up from Romania. We had to find breakfast, then they had dance instruction from Victor, who travelled from Hungary, then they checked into a hostel, Casa Sforii, then hiked around, then back to the Church for supper [pizza of course] then dance again. I might say that by 930 pm all were tired and temperments got a little raw. Add some strong Eastern European opinions and it was a bit testy for a while. All was solved with some kind words. We went to Church in Brasov, then had a lunch and back on a bus at 230 pm, for a nice long drive. The Young Adults were loud, singing and talking lots. The driver, foolishly, had his bad music on loud, so then stopped and made some very uncalled for comments. That put a damper on things for a while. I had thoughts to express , but restrained myself. They were actually all very good, just loud. He was an interesting man, crossed himself at every church, but displayed no Christian behavior at all. We had to browbeat him to get him to let off someone a stop early. He was dealt with by his company, let us say. So we are in a heat wave, 35+ every day, last Friday we had an outdour activity planned and got a terrible thunderstorm, heavy rain, trees down, etc. So we ended up with Bingo which can be much more competitive than one would think. So what are my thoughts regarding people here? I have observed many young people here with immense challenges. Most have dysfunctional families, either dead parents [ an amazing number have dead parents], divorces, parents living abroad, poverty, etc. Still with this they seek truth and try to embrace it. Many struggle because of the heavy burdens they must bear, like trying to find enough money to buy food, or to deal with parent abuse and alcoholism, and much more. We admire and love them a lot, despite all the glitches that come into their lives. I have often wondered why them, why not me? I was blessed to live in a good country with good parents. That is a dream for most here. It is a challenge to live here, to struggle to live and to still try to follow the Savior. The lady whose picture will be shown, Tatiana, is as good a Christian as I have met. So one of the joys of a mission is meeting so many good people who have touched our lives. We marvel at their goodness. Nina, Mariana, Diana, Alina, Chiril, Alex, Mihai, Adriana, Adrian,Corina, Sasha, Olga, Roma, Anatoli, Nikita, Dima, and the list goes on. We love them all . Might I also mention the Covalis, the Stepanencos, the Cebans, the Bezedes. We will miss them terribly.
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Us in Brașov

The toilet in a nice new restaurant, elegant, no?

Tatiana s children

Deb and Tatiana

Apple orchards for intense apple growing

Next 3 pictures are all dance practice

Biserica Neagra is in the backround

It is close to a smile.

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We would travel back to see Brașov again, it is a beautiful city

The dance, only about 30

The young lady in the middle, Daniela Pascan, organized it. OUr kids are in the back, Nina, Mariana, and Marina.
We are now under 2 weeks left, it is scary. We want to get as much done as we can.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Thought of Moldova and such

June 20 2017 Another late post , in the middle of a heat wave. We have been in the middle of missionary transfers, with some early mornings. Deb and I were just out for a walk before the heat really hits. We had a concert here last Friday, Bret Bryce of Jericho Road came to Moldova and Romania to give some concerts, free, at the buildings. He was a very gracious man, very kind and happy to demonstrate his talents. I was asked at the last minute to conduct the concert and did not get a chance for pictures, we had over 100 to the concert, a great turnout for us. We were going to go to a park and have him play, we realized by the time we got people moved and having no good sound system , it was better to stay at the Church building. Problem? We planned for about 40 for food and had about 75, Elder Godfrey and me scrambled with extra bread, cheese and sausage. I had about 150 cookies or so, they were gone in under 2 minutes, I joke not. All the food was gone in under 5 minutes, even with extra that we got. One of the most interesting parts of this mission is watching people eat and jostle for food. We also went to Bălți for a dinner with the YSA there, I do have pictures of that. We just love that place and those people. So what are my thoughts regarding Moldova? This post I will say what I feel about this country, and in another post I will discuss the Church here. These are my own opinions and do not reflect LDS opinion at all. I wish to be frank. What do we love here? Overall the people are friendly , but do not like to initiate conversation. There is an inherent suspicion of strangers. Those who are not native stick out, and are often viewed suspiciously. Most likely this is from years of communism and bad governance. We find the poverty at times overwhelming and very sad. Yesterday I was at a bus station watching the village people bring in their produce, beginning at 5 am. They are dirt poor. We love the piațas.and the variety, but realize there are so many people working there because of a need for work. We will miss them. I have found that the medical care here leaves much to be desired. Much of that appears to be poor training, much is the incredibly  bad wages of physicians. They tend to overprescribe, giving at least 4 prescriptions for every encounter, and seem to delight in frightening people at every chance. It is just bad medicine. The governance here is a mess, with people drifting towards Russian influence, despite Russian still having troops in Transnistria, despite Russian providing no assistance to this country at all. The problem is that the present corrupt regime says it is pro European, but are truly pro money and corruption. Most of the population pay a stiff penalty for this corruption in poverty and crumbling infrastructure. If the Russian drift continues, this country will be a long time in reaching its potential. Most of the elite here are not honest and seem to have complete disdain for those less fortunate. We see little charity from that level of society. At the risk of appearing intolerant, we have found the Orthodox Church to be a great hindrance in this country. They seem to take money at every turn, and worse, to block any charitable efforts by others that are not initiated by themselves. They refuse to work with other charities,of which there are many. We have personally been blocked by Orthodox priests from helping the less fortunate, for no reason other that we are not Orthodox. This church is unlike anything I have seen in our country. This church also seems to delight in keeping people steeped in tradition, because it keeps them in control and in the money. In my book, it is called priestcraft. Sorry, my opinion. Having said this, we have seen many good people outside of the Orthodox circle who try to help in the best way they can, but are frustrated by the system. I hope it will not take a revolution for things to change, but for this country to ever change, the corrupt must lose control and the Orthodox church must lose its tight grip on the population. I truly hope this country will joint the EU one day as this will help the corruption, but it may take decades. An abundance of Christianity,true Christianity, not tradition, will move this forward. There, that is my soapbox. Now, some random pictures.
This is what 3 days of no garbage pickup looks like, the garbage dump was blocked by a village, took some serious negotiations to re-open it. It was smelly.

How road hazards are marked, usually by sticks or branches.

Our Friday night, Bret Bryce in in the lower left of both pictures in a grey jacket.

From left, President Ivory, Marin Iachimov, Sergei Covali, Mariana Covali. Marin was in CES and was the most useful person on our arrival to Moldova. Pres Covali is the district and a good friend. He and I consult a lot on many issues.

Elder Forsyth and Evgeni Bekker in our kitchen

Stork young in a nest

Brother Păduraru and Elder Welling and Housington in his garden

My good friend, Gheorghe Păduraru, I love this man.

Our Bălți dinner. elder Aleman on the left.from right, Nikita, Elder Rybyskyy, Dacia, Elder Sargsyan

on L, Ana and Venea or John, on R, anatoli, Sasha, Sasha and the Elders Kohler and Griffeth

The biggest Stefan cel Mare statue in Moldova, in Bălți
Yet more storks, they are everywhere this year
So that is the way the world stands today. A great country , great people and lots of problems. Note I did not mention the crazy drivers? I have become one of them . 

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Time is flying

June 13 We continue in beautiful summer weather, we had one day of rain this week, just what was needed. This country gets really good growing weather. Lots of sun and heat, and rain just when it is needed. And remember the chernozem, that beautiful soil . Oh, for some black soil! I wander. This week I went with Ruslan Stepanenco to a village, Borceag, where he has headed up a project of greenhouses, a center to feed the elderly and beginning to build small houses for the elderly who need them. This again is funded by a Dutch NGO, and is truly wonderful to see. We also had a chance this week to help a young mother in a village to the east, who feeds kids who have precarious living situations, she needed a bit of help and she was a true Christian lady. Tatiana was her name, and it was really nice to visit and help. The PR people fromGermany came this week, a missionary couple the Orlawskis, and Gabby, an employee of the Church. Why mention it? They came to our FHE, and we had about 45 there as well, so we had to be prepared and well fed. It all worked out well. We also had a branch conference, I was released as a councillor in the branch and it felt really odd. I was told I still have some  training to do, so I will. Sunday dinner this week was pulled pork, actually delicious, or so we heard. 25 showed up to eat, so there were no leftovers at all. We , or rather I , enjoy cooking for crowds. We will have to do something back in Canada. Who knows what. We are now under a month, had our exit interview with President Ivory, it all feels weird.
This is a war monument in a village, it is rather unique

A village picture, just nice a typical, with some lupine type flowers

Summer day in the river

The domestic ducks have a lot of freedom here

These next three pictures are all near the Gara, or train station. People bring their livea and belongings and lay them on the street. It is like a giant flea market, on the ground. It is rather sad, we are talking abject poverty here.

This is a home built by the Dutch NGO, it is for a senior lady, It is a village and these are built for 14,000 euros and are very nice. It is wonderful for the homeless.

Ruslan in his greenhouse with cucumbers, producing like mad

This was across from the green house.

Jesse and Catherine Stricklan, an American family here for a year. He works as a newlawyer for the Leavitt Institute, a group of lawyers from the USA and Canada, trying to help reform the legal mess here, Read that as trying to overcome corrption. They come over often to eat, their kids , Nicolai and Miriam are like grandkids.

A view above our activity, with President Ivory front and center. You may notice the table is mostly empty of food.

Marianna and Sister Nemelka, tryng to photobomb.
All is well, we have a few major things to do. Our bucket list is rather interesting, service things that need to be done. That is probably the best type of bucket list.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Holy cow!

June 11 2017  Warning- this post may be hazardous to your health if you detest puns. You have been warned. So, Deb herd that there were some cows being painted at Cathedral park. I thought the idea udderly ridiculous, but she would not let me brush the thought away. So Saturday we were mooved to go and take pictures- no bull. So here is our tail, and a sad one it is. That is why I have milked these puns for all they are worth, it is a little cheesey, but what the hock. As long as we are a  head of the game with pictures, and Deb did want them saved. If you have any beefs with this, take it up with Deb.  I thought the pictures rather ordinary, she thought they were bovine.

So actually the art work is very Moldovan , lots of country themes and painting, I really did not mind posting these pictures at all. Now I will just hoof it to the next post.