Mission team journal
April 14, 2012
I've been in Moldova for just over 6 weeks now. Living in Chisinau is starting to feel much more normal. Finding my way around, taking public transportation, shopping at piata (the big outdoor markets where people go grocery shopping), hearing and speaking basic Romanian, and living with my roommates has all become much more familiar. I am really enjoying living life here.
Me and my 2 team members/roommates Amanda and Jessie, continue to go the boarding school each afternoon, Mon to Fri. This has been getting better and better over the weeks. Getting to know the kids more personally has been a source of so much joy for me. Although the language barrier is still a big challenge, I've been learning more Romanian, and being able to speak basic Romanian phrases has made things a lot easier in communicating with the kids. The program always begins with an hour of free game time when we play card games or colour with the kids. If it's sunny we go outside to play. On Mon through Wed I help with the sewing program that the staff member Rachel recently begun. I work one-on-one with 4 different girls between 12-14 years old. I don't have much experience sewing, so we are all learning together. It's been challenging at times, but really fun. On Thursdays I help in the 4th grade classroom, which made up of 9 boys. They are so much fun and super cute. As I've gotten to know some of their stories I have come to love and care about these kids more and more. Many of them do not have parents or they have very difficult family situations. My biggest prayer for these kids is that they will be safe and protected from harm, that they would understand their true worth and value, and that they would come to know Jesus and the love he has for them. It's beautiful to see how much the Word Made Flesh staff loves, respects, and cares for these kids.
As a team we have been doing book studies every Tues and Thurs morning. I've been learning a lot as we read and discuss various books together. We recently finished reading Compassion by Henri Nouwen. This was a very inspiring book and I recommend it to everyone. Next we are reading The Challenge of Jesus by N.T. Wright. It's a little more challenging but really good!
Getting to know the Word Made Flesh staff and seeing how they live their lives here in Moldova has been absolutely amazing. The staff is made up of Moldovans, Romanians, and Americans. The staff are all very integrated in the community and culture here. They live spread out throughout the city, attend a variety of churches and denominations, have friends and roommates who aren't part of the ministry, can speak or are learning to speak Romanian fluently, and are all committed to living simply. They highly value living in community and all have a passion and desire to live out the Kingdom of Jesus. It has been a huge blessing to be a part of the ministry and see God at work through them.
Thank you for all your prayers. I've been learning lots and having an amazing time. Also, Happy Easter! Easter is celebrated a week later in Moldova, so we are celebrating big this weekend. We will be going to a church service that begins at 10pm and goes all night long. We probably won't last the whole night, but I'm sure it'll be an a great cultural experience. Christ is risen!!
P.S. If you're interested, here are some Moldovan cultural norms that I've had to get used to:
-Saying Hi or smiling at people you don't know is not at all normal here. People on the street are very serious, which is a huge difference from Vancouver where people are known for being extremely polite, friendly, and apologizing for everything.
-Going outside with wet hair is culturally unacceptable. It was funny because none of the girls on my team, including me, brought a hair dryer.
-Outward appearance is very important. Even if they are just taking the garbage out or running to the grocery store, they always look their best.
-The cleanliness and type of shoes they wear is especially important. Wearing dirty or old shoes is a sign of poverty. People often stare at me when I'm wearing my dirty running shoes.
-Placing bags, purses, or even sitting on the ground is never done. The ground is seen as dirty and nothing should be placed on it.
-Moldovans do not use serving spoons during meals. Everyone just takes what they want with their own fork and puts it on their plate. "double dipping" isn't an issue :). I think it's great.