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.
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.
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.
Still sitting in the O’Hare airport with time to share some thoughts…
The team and I are on our way to Chisnau, Moldova. I’ve had some fun conversations about Moldova lately:
With a TRAVEL agent:
Him: “Where’s Boldova? Is that in Africa?”
Him: “Is Moldova in Africa?”
With the INTERNATIONAL desk at ATT:
Her: “What country is this city in?”
Me: “It’s a country called Moldova”
Her: “Really? I don’t see it here? Is it a city?”
Me: “No…it’s a country in Europe.”
Her: “What country is Armenia in?”
Me: “It’s not a city, it’s a country in the Middle East.”
With the guy at the AIRPORT as I checked in my bags this morning:
Him: You’re going to Chisnau, Moldova…where is that?
Me: It’s in Europe, between Romania and Ukraine near the Black Sea.
Him: “Oh…I’ve never seen that before. Cool.”
That being said, I probably couldn’t have pointed it out on a map until a few months ago either. However, I’ve been there and I’m going back. It’s a beautiful place where the people are considered the poorerst in Europe. I look forward to telling stories from this place over the next few weeks. Here’s a map with some Photoshopped spots on the cities in which we’ll serve (Mihaileni, Saralta Galbena, Straseni):
Pastor Victor faced communism with courage. Nearly 20 years ago he defied the authorities in his Soviet-eera Moldovan village and held an open air presentation of the gospel. Thousands of people came. Life in his village changed forever. Here he shares the short version:
About a year later, his church became the first officially sanctioned in the Soviet Union…it’s approval came from the top. It’s now a large mother church that has planted churches across Moldova.
While the country is in great need (Eric Weiner called it the “least happy country” on earth in a Newsweek article), people like Pastor Victor are seeing to it that people learn of truth. He’s not sad. The elderly people who’ve moved from their cold in the winter/no running water homes to the retirement center his church has built are not sad. The men at the Teen Challenge weren’t sad. Still, many others are.
I’m excited to work with our team and Pastor Victor there this fall…and to see some sad people find joy.
Yezide Kurds are scattered around the northern mountains of Armenia and other places. In this village, where missionary Nick Puccini has made some great connections, they struggle to find clean water.
We’re strategizing the best response of not only getting them water but helping them filter it, which would help keep them well, etc. This is their only consistent water source, and it’s over 1 km from the village.
The area was absolutely beautiful, looking more like Ireland than what I pictured Armenia looking like…at least before it starts snowing here again. It’s hard to imagine we’re only 450 miles from Baghdad.
Here, you see Nick explaining a bit of the situation. I’ll let you know what role our interns will be able to play in helping these great people.
That’s similar to a phrase used in a missions video I saw on Armenia back in ’03. I first learned of this tiny country on that day and have been excited about possibilities since.
I’m here now.
This country is full of history (saw a 1600 year old monastery today),
Beauty (I see Mt. Arrarat each morning…it’s where they believe Noah’s ark is),
Strategy (I was in some rooms where pastors go over some courageous strategy…and I won’t say more about that on the web),
and Need (I saw a group of people hoping with all in them to receive a home so they can move out of the container…much like a shipping container…that their families have lived in since a massive earthquake 20 years ago that killed 25,000 people).
I also see opportunity. Here’s a short word from our missionary host, Nick Puccini.
What a place. After some rest I’ll post some more thoughts, but I’m really enjoying time here in Moldova. I’ve met some amazing people, seen some amazing ministry and have begun the dreaming process for what it could look like as our Convoy of Hope Interns come here this fall. Andy hosted me during my stay. Here he is in front of the former Soviet Union’s first officially sanctioned Pentecostal Church.
I’ll share more later about this beautiful place, which tragically is amongst the world’s poorest and was recently listed by a major U.S. magazine as being the “saddest” country in the world. Can’t wait to return this fall.
I’m on my way to Moldova and then Armenia to do some set-up for our fall intern teeam. It’s been a long process of delays/cancelled flights and stuff like that. I’ll skip the details. I’m on a rerouted journey, currently in transit in Frankfurt, Germany. I grabbed a Starbucks (Americano with 2 sweet-n-lows and cream) which is what’s keeping me awake to write this. While in line, I saw these two shelves…
It’s the largest collection of Starbucks mugs I’ve seen outside my kitchen or Jeff Nene’s office. I only have carry on bags…no checked luggage. Won’t waste my space on them,
and purchased none, but it got me to thinking…
1. This world is getting smaller. It’s sad in some ways, cool in some ways, but regardless of the implications, it’s getting smaller. I wonder how long it will be until this tribe will have their own Starbucks…sadly, it may be quicker than we think. Globilization.
2. I like to drink coffee.
A few moments ago, I met David, a new Facebook friend. He’s returning from Iraq where he was injured as a gunner in the National Guard. Good talk.I’ll write more from Moldova when I’ve had a bit more sleep!