Sunday, October 28, 2007
So I had arranged to catch my usual ride to church with Ghena and Alina this morning, and I was supposed to be at their house at 8:45. I purposefully arrived a few minutes late, because 8:45 Moldovan time is never earlier than 8:55 American time. :) However, I waited and waited outside their house, and they never came! I called and Alina wasn't answering her cell phone... So I waited until 9:05 and finally gave up and just went back home. I figured they had left me behind since I was late.
So I went back home, planning to just do my own house church. However, I got a call from Alina at 9:30. "Joni, I saw you called me earlier. We were still in bed. Did you not know that Moldova's time changed last night?!" Umm, nope. Yes, I was standing outside your house at 7:45 this morning. Yes, I did get out of bed at 6:45 this morning. ARGH! So I had just enough time to wash my breakfast dishes, change BACK into my church clothes, and go back to their house to get a ride a go to church.
As I was walking to their house, though, I prayed, "Lord, I am REALLY tired, and I know I won't be able to sit through a long Romanian service without getting too sleepy. Please, PLEASE let the sermon be in English today!" Isn't God so good?! Not only was the preacher visiting from Texas, so the sermon was indeed in English. But ALSO the choir sang their special music in English! The choir made up of Moldovans! Of all the church services I've been to, I've never heard a Moldovan choir sing in English. They sang "You Raise Me Up." The soloist did the verses and first chorus in Romanian, but then the last several choruses when the choir joined in, they sang in English. What a blessing to my soul! It brought tears to my eyes. I asked, and God answered more than I even imagined. What a good and kind God we have to show His marvelous love for me in that way!
Friday, October 26, 2007
As Americans who drink lots of water we either have to filter it, boil it, or buy it bottled... until now. Introducing (if you've never met it) The SteriPEN. Yes, it's the clever combination of two words: "sterile" and "pen." Clever, because it's shaped sort of like a pen and it makes water sterile to drink. It says so on the box, and we're still alive as further proof that it works!
Readers Digest named it one of the top 10 products of 2007 that will change your life. It changed ours, and Googling it shows us several other happy customers.
It uses UV light to kill microbes in water and can do up to a liter at a time. We bought a 1-liter bottle of Fanta, lopped off the top and voila. The light it emits isn't harmful to your eyes if you use a plastic or glass bottle, but our bottle is clear and the glare sort of frightens me. So, here I am wearing my UV-resistant sunglasses while I stir. It's a bright light, so I usually look away. Actually, I often wear sunglasses around the house because my wife is so hot. And I'm shady. (Take your pick in which one you believe, or believe both if you want).
You push a button, it lights up, runs for 90 seconds and you have clean water. No hassles with boiling water and waiting for it to cool. We then pour it right into our Brita filter (which we brought from home, but we discovered they sell them here too) and have happy, clean water.
We picked it up for $99 at Bass Pro Shops just before we left. That may sound expensive, but the amount we would have spent buying bottled water here over 5 months comes out to much more than that. We use rechargeable AA batteries and that saves us some money too.
If nothing else, the SteriPEN also entertains American houseguests. The only Moldovan that's seen it was scared of the water afterwards (think Chernobyl), so we don't show it to locals. We highly recommend it to anyone needing to filter water for traveling, camping, etc.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
- My Moldovan friend Irina sent me a text-message yesterday that she was hit by a trolleybus!! She says she is fine, just that her back hurts. Praise the Lord that she didn't have any worse injuries, and pray that she will recover quickly. Pray that I will be able to minister to her in any way that I can. And please also continue to pray for our safety in navigating the city's transportation system.
- It has been RAINING here for the past several days nonstop, and it has definitely gotten cold. I don't know if this applies to most people, but I've been known to get kinda sad when I don't see the sun for a while. So pray the sun will come out and we won't have a whole country of sad people!! Pray also that I will bask in the light of the Son so that no amount of cold and gloomy weather can steal my joy. :)
- I haven't been posting on this blog much, because I don't have much to say that I think pertains to it. In case any of you are wondering what I DO have to say, though, feel free to check out my personal blog, http://jonitapp.blogspot.com. I'm blogging on there about my pregnancy experience and any other things I have to say about life that don't fit on the Moldova blog.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Yesterday, the team began work in the CAMED office. I lent Vasily my computer to use, so we have 3 guys working at one time. I took some pictures today. They didn't really want to pose for them, and they aren't patient enough to wait for my camera to recharge the flash. So, here is what they look like most of the time.
Vasily is our chief architect. He programs and teaches programming for a living. He's in his early 20's and is a Believer. We've been talking with him about this from Day 1. Notice the cup of coffee with separate cup of sugar. Every programmer needs his coffee.
This is Dima and Sasha (notice the cool faux-hawk). They are 17, and are not yet known believers. I don't know much about them, they don't seem to speak much Russian, only Romanian and a wide English vocabulary of programming terms. I know that Vasily is their teacher and mentor. I suggested that we come up with a team name, but Vasily told me they already have one and it's secret until they build the site good enough to publicly put their name on it.
I'm very thankful for the work they're volunteering to do. Please pray for them! Pray that this site would glorify God, and that they'd come to know Christ personally!
Friday, October 19, 2007
2. We received our "green cards" this week! So, after 3 weeks of not having our passports we have them back (can't leave the country without them) along with permission to live here! Aren't they real nice pictures of us?
3. Justin had a great meeting with our programmer on Wednesday. He's finally got some free time and is enlisting at least 1 or 2 other people to help out on the site. He's been given a detailed list of things that need to be done, so hopefully starting on Monday we'll have an office full of programmers making things for the site! That's a huge praise as well.
Thanks for the prayers and the support! Much appreciated!!!
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
We were mostly complete strangers, the only connection being each other, Christ, and the work that we're doing on this side of the world. But, it's weird how you can be among American believers and feel like you've known them your whole life.
I took a picture of our group because there are 5 missions agencies represented here. I wanted to introduce the ministries that we were newly acquainted with.
At our gathering, we met Tanya Velardo, who works with Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) here in Moldova. She's been here for 6 years and speaks fluent Russian. CEF has an amazing ministry of doing correspondence Bible courses for kids, they have over 6,000 children who subscribe. They also work with orphanages, schools, and local villages to put on summer camps and also train local churches in how to do Sunday School and children's outreach. She's the only foreign worker with CEF, the rest are Moldovan. I was quite impressed with their ministry. I think some of the church planters reaching adults could learn a lot from how they do Bible correspondence courses. Tanya is from NY City, complete with accent.
We also met Kelly's new roomate, Shauna Caldwell, who is here for a 2-year commitment with Assemblies of God, home-schooling a missionary family's children. She's from Memphis (also complete with accent) and joined me in ordering "liver in cheese sauce" at the restaurant. (BTW-- it was delicious. Don't ever dare say I'm not Southern. The next day I went somewhere else for lunch and ordered a big crepe stuffed with liver and onions. Mmmmm...liver and onions).
Also pictured are several people from Word Made Flesh ministries in Romania, who just happened to be visiting Moldova. These folks serve in various capacities, mainly doing outreach to kids and running a community center in Bucharest. Several of them were on 4-month stays but were already decent enough in Romanian to order for themselves at the restaurant and get around Chisinau, thus I was impressed. One of them used to live in Moldova in the bad old days (pre 1998), has been living in Romania for several years, and married a Romanian. It always impresses me to find people who lay down permanent roots like that and seem genuinely happy.
Please check out the linked blogs and websites to learn about the awesome things God is doing in Eastern Europe. It's always great to hear about other ministries here in Moldova! Speaking of which, I hope to post an update very soon on the strides we're beginning to make on our website project.
Monday, October 15, 2007
I was quite impressed with the pageantry and the quality of the environment downtown. Traditional singers and dancers were on stage performing. In the park, there were dozens of mini restaurants set up selling kebab ("shashlik") and kiosks selling tons of pastries. There were also a lot of vendors selling all kinds of arts and crafts. I met up with some American friends and we enjoyed the fresh kebab and pastries. I learned I can eat way more kebab than 3 American girls combined (that may not actually be a good thing for me).
The setup was the same on Sunday for City Day, celebrating the establishment of Chisinau, but the crowds and atmosphere were much larger as the city shuts down to celebrate. Joni came with me after house church on Sunday and we did some souvenir shopping (as well as more kebab eating!). The weather got down to ZERO degrees Celsius and was very wet, so we didn't last long. These are some pictures I took on Saturday, as well as some I found on the official Moldovan Photography website.
Young and old alike engage in spontaneous traditional dancing here, gotta love it.
Notice brides and grooms are all dancing with wine glasses in their hands being amazingly careful not to spill them on their dresses."Wait a minute, that's not Moldova!" you're probably saying. You're right, it's the celebration of Kentucky beating #1 LSU 43-37 in 3OT on Saturday night. This was also a big part of my holiday weekend, as I stayed up listening to it until 3 am at which time my hollering woke up Joni and she also enjoyed the jubilation.
We topped Sunday night off by watching the latest episodes of The Office, playing a round of Phase 10, and eating delicious pizza with some missionary friends here. A very fun holiday weekend, indeed!
Friday, October 12, 2007
"Moldova's churches hope in God, country."
The Moldova Baptist Union president has this quote:
Emigration likewise is the one of the biggest losses and challenges for churches, Ghiletchi says. Each month, a different leader or rising leader decides to emigrate.
"We baptize around 1,000 people every year, but we lose about 500 each year from our churches due to emigration," Ghiletchi says. "This issue greatly affects our churches, especially in the villages where there are no longer young people, just children and grandparents."
Baptists as well as other groups in
"If all the young leave, who will change the country?" Ghiletchi asks.
This article drives home the importance of the work of CAMED/Invest-Credit: Helping believers create jobs to keep the witness going and provide an economic base for Moldova to develop from. Every job that's created gives someone the opportunity to stay in Moldova, tithe to his/her church, and gives the potential for his/her company to grow to employ more people and witness to the community. Please email us if you're interested in how you can donate funds to create jobs for Moldovans.
I asked "What am I supposed to do with this? There's nothing written on it."
The receptionist replied "So? Was there bacteria before?"
I replied "Yes, is there not now?"
Receptionist: "No, there's nothing now."
Me: "Okay... thanks."
So... we'll take that to mean that Joni is bacteria-free! I'm told that even in America it's pretty common for bacteria to show up in samples due to contamination in the lab. We're going to suppose that's what happened at the previous clinic. So, either it was a miracle due in large part to your prayers, or it was a false positive by the first lab's 2 tests. Either way, we're thankful!
The obstetrician was pleased with the news. So, the next step will be to do a blood test at the gastro clinic next week, then the obstetrician wants to see Joni again after we get the results.
What's up next for us?
Tomorrow brings the giant Wine Day festival. This is a huge Moldovan holiday, and we're not sure what to expect.
Sunday is City Day, where downtown will be mostly shut down and there will be craft vendors, food, concerts, dancing, fireworks, etc. Great times!
I hope to update you very soon on our website project here. I can say that work has gone slower than hoped and we hope to see it speeded up as soon as today. Enjoy your weekend!
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
The office is in a newly renovated building and is modern-looking on the inside.
The walls inside the office are bare and boring, but that's typical for offices here. It's the people that give it life. It's usually pretty calm and quiet, but on days where many clients have to pay the office is full of people and quite busy. And, for whatever reason, today they wanted to smile for my pictures, which is quite unusual here. They're used to Americans expecting smiles in their pictures, I guess.
This is Roman; he's basically the client-relations guy. He has 2 cellphones and at least 1 office phone on his desk at all times. He's tall, fit, and I joke that he's the ladies man. He's taken various dancing lessons 3 days a week for the past year, and is quite the dancer. He helped me go shopping for a hip outfit for the office. Roman's heart language is Romanian, but his English isn't too bad. He's learning French and is hoping to emigrate to Canada soon. His mom has terminal brain cancer, and this is a great concern to everyone.
This is Victor, the "office manager" and Ghena's right-hand man. Joni says he looks like Kenny Byler. He's usually pretty serious, almost melancholy. He's a nice guy and speaks excellent English, although his heart language is Russian. He does a lot of the overview of the office finances, keeps the network running, and more.
This is Kolya (real name Nikolai), "operations manager." Kolya is the newest addition to the team, and is always smiling and happy to be here (he's trying hard not to smile in this pic). I don't know how his English is because we always communicate in Russian, which is his heart language.
This is Tatiana, sitting in her cashier's office. She takes the money from clients when they make payments and does some bookkeeping. She's ethnic Ukranian, which is her heart language and speaks no English.
This is Kelly, hard at work on a video project she's making. She's here with Hope International, one of several Western partners that Invest-Credit works with.
This is Sasha (real name Alexander), Invest-Credit's lawyer who just recently returned from his honeymoon (our post about his wedding). Sasha is a fun guy. He gives me interesting information about laws and business here in Moldova. He pretty much only operates in Russian, though he tries hard to speak English as well.
This is Ghena, the boss and CEO. I caught him at lunch (hot dogs and salad) looking uncharacteristically unprofessional, though he's a really friendly boss to have. He lives about 2 blocks away from us, so he often gives me a lift to work in the morning so I don't have to ride the minibus. He has some potentially-serious medical issues right now that also need prayer. While Ghena speaks both Romanian and Russian, he prefers to keep all language in the office Romanian. He and his wife Alina speak fluent English.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
So I don't really have anything to update you with, besides the fact that we've submitted all my samples to the lab and have to go back Friday for the results. Other than that, things have settled into a pretty normal routine. I have finished my language lessons, so my only occupation is keeping the house, trying to stay healthy, and attempting to show Justin gratitude for the amazing tender care he is taking of me throughout this ordeal. He seems to be pleased with the dinners I'm crafting for him, and I have to say I'm rather enjoying them myself! :)
So I just wanted to let you know that I'm still alive and kicking, and I'm unbelievably grateful for your prayers and support, and I wanted to publicly acknowledge how wonderful my husband has been in taking care of me. Please keep up your prayers for my health, the baby, and Justin's perseverance in caring for us. Please pray also that Justin will be encouraged by being able to get back to the office this week and making progress on his projects.
Friday, October 5, 2007
So, Joni and I had to go to two clinics today. I hesitate to write the more humorous (albeit gross) stories about our adventures, even though I want to give an accurate picture of what we've done so far in Moldova. I suppose we should take pictures of these places for the blog, but we usually have other things on our mind. Hopefully, we'll look back on these days and laugh.
We had an English-speaking friend call the first clinic to get some information about it, and what we needed to do there. She told us to show up in the morning with Joni's liquid sample [I'm not typing the actual word here, you figure it out] in a jar. That's how most Moldovan clinics do this, you just use whatever you have handy at home, like a jar, and bring it in yourself. We showed up this morning with our jar and the lady looked at us with horror and promptly gave us a "sterile container" to put a sample in. She told us: "Come back tomorrow with the sample in the sterile container, only."
So, Joni and I stepped outside and decided it wasn't worth it to carry a jar of our sample in her purse all around town today, and also a waste to have gotten up so early to get across town by 8am.
I went back inside and asked: "Can she just make the sample here?"
Receptionist: "If you're ready to, I suppose so. The bathroom is downstairs."
So, Joni quickly disappeared and magically came back without our jar, but with the full "sterile container."
We're hoping it's not too contaminated. We actually have to go back again Saturday and Sunday to do the same thing over again. They need 3 days worth of tests, I guess. The clinic is new, nice, and modern.
Joni points out:
"In the states, they put you on antibiotics immediately after they find some sort of bacteria. Here, they tested me 2 weeks ago and found bacteria, tested me 2 weeks later and found bacteria again, and now I have to do another 3 days of tests before we can even get any diagnosis."
Alas, we went on to the liver specialist, who was tucked away in an impossible-to-find place downtown.
Her English isn't good, so we did most of it in Russian. She decided that Joni's bilirubin isn't high enough to be dangerous, so we'll wait another 10 days and then do another blood test. She said the most important thing is for Joni not to over-exert herself. The baby might be born jaundiced baby if the bilirubin stays high.
She also prescribed Duphalac to her, to take twice a day for a month. Looks like Duphalac is a lactulose medicine prescribed for various gastrointestinal things, and is safe for pregnant women. Some studies have shown that it has positive effects in treating liver problems that cause high bilirubin. That's about all we know. One of my co-worker's wives was on Duphalac for another reason and said it's what she'd recommend too. This was also a humorous phone conversation in Russian in the middle of the office. I got some looks from some of people here: "Is he really saying that word right here in the middle of the office?!"
If anyone has any information on this drug, we'd appreciate it. So far, Joni isn't jaundice and I'm
pretty sure she doesn't have hepatitis or liver cirrhosis.
Thanks again for all of your prayers!
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Our problems are actually pretty small in comparison to the other medical problems we're seeing among friends and co-workers here. Ghena (my boss) has been out all week with a mysterious throat ailment. He's unable to eat solid foods at all, and the doctors have many concerns. Please pray for healing for him.
One of my co-worker's mother has also just been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, and it's been very hard on him and his family. She's not a believer, so pray for her as well.
The medical stuff has kept me from going to the office much. Our main project is behind schedule, and I am trying to find some ways to get it back on track. We're all sure that Satan is at work in all of the above. Wish I had happier news to blog about.
Thanks so much for your prayers and kind emails! We very much appreciate them!
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
The obstetrician wants to refer us to other doctors here in Chisinau. I will speak to her tomorrow to get the details. Hopefully, these doctors will be on the Embassy's list of English-speakers.
As a concerned husband and expectant father, I have a myriad of concerns:
1. We have no medical/pregnancy books here. Anyone with any medical/pregnancy expertise is invited to help us find information about the above problems. Are these serious concerns? Is this something normal that they're just calling "abnormal?"
2. My Russian isn't good enough to translate medical stuff word-for-word, which is needed. It's good enough to get us through the clinic and to understand what we're doing, but there's a whole other vocabulary there that I'm just now beginning to learn.
If these doctors don't speak English, then we'll have to find someone we can trust to use as a translator.
3. If these doctors are wanting some weird Soviet-style tests, then we'll have to make the decision about whether to continue with the medical stuff here. Medicine is the same as other professions in Moldova, which I've written about: People who are good at it tend to go to Europe or Russia to practice.
So, please pray for the health and safety of Joni and child, as well as wisdom for us and the doctors. Pray also for good translators as need be.
Monday, October 1, 2007
Sunday was "Thanksgiving Day" ("День Благодарения") for several local churches. This is a holiday that all churches in Moldova celebrate, but some choose to do it at different times. It is sort of a celebration of the harvest, like we do in America.
Slavik's church, which I normally attend, was doing a joint service with another Baptist church and we went because Slavik promised an exciting service and some Romanian for Joni. Well, he was wrong about the Romanian, but the service was incredible! It was done differently than most services here in order to attract visitors.
You can see the decorations in the pictures, notice the elaborate grape bunches made with balloons. Many people brought fruit and vegetables, which were put up front as decorations. These were later distributed to 2 orphanages in town.
Coolest of all, they had a real jazz band performing much of the music! Piano, trumpet, bass guitar, 2 percussionists, a one-armed pan flutist(!), and a lounge-style singer. They were great! We took a short video of them, so you can watch it an get an idea of what it was like.
They sang a secular song about Fall, as well as some praise stuff. Even the old grandma-types were clapping along!
The churches' combined choirs dressed in traditional Moldovan dress and led some singing. There was also an "interpretive movement" sketch to the Jaci Velasquez song "Flower in the Rain." (This was actually the low point of the service for me-- there's no way you could understand the interpretive movements without understanding the English lyrics of the song, which few people there could, and it even had American Sign Language in it... why?). Very progressive for a Baptist church here!
The songs and sermons also featured PowerPoint animation that went along with the main points. These were hugely effective in holding peoples' attention, and looked really professional.
There was only 1 sermon, and it was a very thorough presentation of the Gospel, which several people raised their hands at the end indicating they wanted to receive.
Joni didn't understand much, but she had a great time. Probably the most fun church service we've been to in a really long time.