What’s her story?

I’ll admit, that often when seeing other people my mind wanders, wondering their story. Like one time, I saw a pink Cadillac with a Mary Kay sticker on it and just three burly men were in the car…what’s up with that? What is their story?

I’ve flown a number of times, but never have had an experience like today.

I’ve been to Africa a few times and have met some absolutely wonderful people from remote areas that I would imagine could experience some big culture shock in my country.

Today, a woman from Mali flew next to me from Chicago to Paris (I’m on my way to Armenia). She was experiencing significant culture shock. She didn’t speak English or French (it was an Air France flight) or any other major language. I’m not sure what language she was speaking. The only way I got her name/country was when she showed me her passport. She’s in her 60s and the passport didn’t have any stamps in it. I didn’t understand the no stamps part.

The flight attendants…and I’ve not seen this before…were drawing pictures of cows and chickens on her menu, so she’d know her dinner choices. They even made cow and chicken noises. She got chicken.

When the plane started backing up from the gate, she got visibly scared, and kept holding on to the seat in front of her. I tried to calm her down. The flight attendant asked me if I wanted to move. “Nope.”

She looked at my cell phone with awe, as if she wondered what it was or something. As we started speeding down the runway, she grabbed my arm with both of hers and held on tightly for quite some time.

I grabbed my camera towards the end of the flight and took this photo…

She loved seeing it. I think it may have been one of the first digital cameras she’s seen up close.

Anyways, while it’s certainly none of my business, I wonder if she was visiting family. I wonder if she needed medical treatment. Vacation? Someone’s guest for a presentation or something? Wander-lust?

That all being said, she’s a child of God, and a special person. I don’t need to know her story, and will never learn it. However, He knows her and understands whatever language that was quite well.

What would you want?

So I’m on the road again, meeting up with the team soon in Armenia. I’m looking forward to blogging more about that…

I told the team when I last saw them to let me know what they wanted, and I’d try and bring it to them when I meet up with them later this week.

Here’s the list of what they requested:

  • Dove Dark Chocolate Promises
  • Tazo Green Tea
  • Burts Bees Chapstick (the regular kind, either comes in a tin or a tube)
  • Dove Milk Chocolate Promises (in the bag)
  • Excedrin Migrain
  • Diet Mountain Dew
  • A coat left in the boys room in the intern house
  • Reduced Fat Skippy Peanut Butter
  • Guitar Strings (I guess Chad needs more strings)

  • Tortilla Chips and Salsa

Some of those things are for individuals, and some are for the whole team. Don’t tell them (or do they read this? we’ll see…) but I also brought some pumpkin pie filling and stove top stuffing…they’ll celebrate Thanksgiving in this part of the world, gotta have some taste of home.

If you were in a place like Moldova or something for a month, what would you want from home?

Laughing with politicians

I’ve loved the last 11 days…lots and lots of time with family, staying late at the house and coming home early…and earning Incredible Pizza tickets. I’ve eaten some great food, and laughed with (at) our Presidential candidates.

Did you see them the other night? Great stuff.

I think it’s imperitive that leaders have the ability to laugh at themselves. We’re facing serious times, but we can’t be serious 24/7. Both candidates had some great lines. My favorite lines from McCain were about Hillary’s potential support and his willingness to help Keith Olbermann decorate the MSNBC office, and the favorite Obama lines were in regards to his not being born in a manger, because he wasn’t. It was a fun night.

It reminded me of President Bush and Clinton, etc. and thoughts they share at the Washington Correspondent’s Dinner.

Anyways, I’ll hit the road again tomorrow in the midst of a busier than usual fall. I look forward to sharing thoughts from the road…and then to getting home to family again soon.

Meet Maria

On Monday, the team and I went to a village church about 30 minutes from Sarata Galbena. Many of the homes in the village were abandoned as people had no money and left for other places. We worked with local Christians to share food with some gypsy families, the elderly, and some very poor people. Few times have I seen poverty on this scale.

Here, Claire gives us a bit of a tour and her thoughts…

Then, we went back to the small church building (it’s actually more of a home) where they fed us and we had a service for about 25 kids. What a wonderful time. There’s a family from the main church in Sarata that’s sees this village as their mission…we loved partnering with them for this day. (We also provided a lot of groceries for the church and food for the ministry.)

While there, I met Maria (not her real name…). We were sitting down, and there were balloons on the floor and we, not knowing each other’s language, got in a mild balloon fight. Fun. We palled around for the rest of the afternoon.

I then learned her story. She’s 10-years-old and has a little sister. Her father has been gone for years and her mother left last year as well. She’s taken care of her little sister for months now. This church found her, and has been helping her. In fact, the couple pastoring the church are letting Maria and her sister move in with them. She’s now well fed, warm and has some adults who love her and are telling her about Jesus.

The larger church is working towards perhaps starting an orphanage to help children such as Maria and her sister.

Great girl, fun afternoon, honor for Convoy of Hope and our interns to partner with churches like this.

Convoy of Hope in Sarata Galbena

Today we're about an hour from the capital of Moldova in Sarata Galbena. I'm sitting in the first Pentecostal Church sanctioned by the Soviet Union…a miracle story (blogged it in June).

Tomorrow we'll work with this church to host a Convoy of Hope outreach. We're finishing the bagging of 500 bags of groceries, we'll soon set up and then pass out even more invitations in this village.

Clear and beautiful day.

Some thoughts on Moldova


We’ve been in Moldova over a week now. I’ve heard that the best time to document some differences you see is at the beginning when they’re still abnormal. Things are quickly becoming normal, but here are a few fun things from Moldova.

Virtually all people in the villages and even many in the cities use wells with buckets for their water. They’re quaint, decorated wells, often near an Orthodox cross or small building which they build to help bless their water and land.

There are many horses/wagons in the villages, and again even some in the cities. People can use the horses in more locations than the land, and they’re better on snowy roads. Most don’t need to travel very far and a horse will get them there just fine. Also, the wagons can be filled with vegetables, wheat, corn, etc. to bring in from the fields.



People bring their cows home about 6:30 p.m. If you’re driving then, you’ll have to slow down for the cows. If you’re talking with someone, they’ll need to leave to go bring them in.

The fruits/vegetables are very, very good and very, very big here. The soil and climate are great for growing things. Virtually everyone has a garden where they get much (most?) of their food. Many have beehives, lambs for cheese, cows for milk/cheese, chickens for eggs, etc.

The people we’ve met have been very hospitable. They’ve prepared amazing food, have welcomed us in their churches and even homes, and they’ve gone out of their way to show us kindness. It’s been fun getting to know them.

Here’s a video of some random moments…


More from Dani and Lena’s

I texted a blog entry with a small photo as we left Dani and Lena’s yesterday, but wanted to write more.
The village of Mihaileni is a village of about 6000. There are hundreds of them around this country. We partnered with a growing church to help them by painting and reaching out to the poor in the community. In a meeting with the mayor, he told of a family of siblings. The father abandoned the family years ago and the mother is in another country working. She left some money with the market to take care of her children, but the money ran out a long time ago. Thankfully, there are some older siblings in this tiny home, but they’re gone all day, leaving the little ones home alone.
They clearly bathe quite seldomly, are malnourished and in need of some serious attention. Multiple team members have stopped by in the last few days, and I was able to go with some yesterday. They devoured the chicken and soup we brought them, and loved the ball and other toys we shared with them. Here’s Mikellah with Dani…

Not sure how to process that kind of poverty, but I know that God smiles on a young lady going out of her way to help. I know he really smiles on a young couple in the church that have commited to keeping in touch with the kids and doing whatever they can possibly do to help. Igor said, “I didn’t know that poverty like this exists in my village.”

Here are the kids devouring the food…

Is there poverty like that where you live? What can be done? I realize some soup, chicken and toys won’t change their lives…but in combination with a caring couple from a caring church who walks with those kids as they get older…I think it could.

Proud of Zach, Mikellah, Karen, Claire and the team. Here are Zach’s thoughts about the day… http://zachfornerministries.blogspot.com/.

Thanks for keeping Lena and Dani in prayer.

At Lena and Dani’s house…

I've been a lot of places, but few of them are like the home of Andre, Lena and Dani. These three siblings don't know where their father is and their mother has gone to another country for work. She left some money at the local market for her kids to have food. That was last summer and she hasn't returned.

There are older siblings who help watch them but they're in the fields all day. The kids stay home…when it's hot and when it's cold.

We got their information from the mayor. He said they were in desperate need.

Igor is a local pastor's son. He and his wife went with us to their home yesterday and today. Igor said he didn't know poverty like this existed in his village. They were moved.

More photos and video later…

Horses and wagons, wells, and some really nice people

We made it to Moldova. We’re staying in the north where we’re working in the village of Mihaleni. Only about 3000 of the village’s 6000 residents are in town…the rest have gone to other countries to try and make money. The ones we’ve met have been wonderful and friendly.

We’ll paint the interior of the church tomorrow and then enjoy their Thanksgiving service…and meal. It’s not so much a holiday as literal thanks to God for the harvest. This is an extremely agricultural society. In fact, it’s called a village only if there is no industry…pretty much just gardens and a farming in Mihaleni.
Here you see three very familiar sites: a horse/wagon driving through town, a well, an Orthodox Church shrine of sorts. Other than trees and things, it doesn’t get any more common than this.

The team is great, the food has been wonderful, we’re just a little jet-lagged, but all is well.
Thanks for praying. I’ll keep in touch. We’re here until Tuesday when we head south.

We made it and had some fun along the way

This team works hard, we might as well play hard. Our flights to Moldova took us through Vienna, where we had 5 1/2 hours to either purchase expensive gifts/food and sit on hard chairs at an airport, or to take a train to the heart of the historic city. We did the latter.

Here we are at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna.

We enjoyed the catacombs under the cathedral, and I enjoyed some good Vienna coffee.

Then, we left for Moldova. In all, for me it took 30 hours from my driveway (about 24 for the team, I had an earlier 1st leg) to the Pentecostal Union where we’re staying tonight. Though the trip was long, I got good sleep, everything was on time, we have all of our luggage, all are healthy and it’s a comfortable bed.

We met up with the missionaries with whom we’ll work, had a nice dinner and are excited about tomorrow. We’ll head north and work in the village of Mihailena. Likely won’t have internet access for a while…

Thanks for the prayers. All are well, and most are sleeping. Will blog again if I can get on line again. Until then, twitter updates via text are about all I’ll be able to do.