This blog posting is a summary of my experience in Moldova. You can find pictures from the trip on my Facebook page in the album titled ‘Moldova’, or from our ‘Team Moldova’ page (https://www.facebook.com/TeamMoldova?ref=ts&fref=ts). I would like to thank the church in Straseni and the Darrin’s for their hospitality. It was very much appreciated and the team values the new friendships that were made.
After 18 months of preparation the team from Wisconsin has returned from Moldova. From October 11-20 we had the opportunity to help a church in Straseni with the expansion of their church building. We also had opportunities to preach and teach multiple times during the trip. The time we spent in Moldova gave us opportunities to make new friendships and see what God is doing in this country in Eastern Europe.
The trip started on Thursday morning in Madison, Wisconsin. After connections in Chicago, Frankfurt, and Munich (which included running through the airport), we arrived in Chisinau, Moldova on Friday afternoon. After checking into our hotel Troy Darrin, the missionary we worked with, drove us to the church in Straseni where we would be working. After meeting the pastor and going out dinner we were able to go to bed after being up for about 30 hours. Needless to say we were very tired.
Saturday, our first work day, was a very wet and dirty day. We started the day, like we did every day, with a great breakfast. We were also able to meet the workers from the crew that we would be assisting. They were really a great group of guys. Over the week we formed some great relationships and were able to pick up on a few Romanian words. The day was spent making cement and sending it up to the roof. The new cement is going to be the floor for the second story of the building. Around noon Paul and I went to Nagresti to speak at a youth gathering. The gathering consisted of 70-90 youth. The youth started the gathering by competing in a variety show that included what they had recently learned from the book of Jonah. Paul and I were on a panel of judges that were rating each category. It was a really fun time. After the variety show I had the opportunity to speak to the youth about God’s love.
Sunday started out by worshipping with the church in Straseni. After a great time of worship through music, Randy and Paul both had opportunities to preach. After church we had lunch. Lunch on this day, and every day , was great. The women of the church fed us very well and we enjoyed a many new foods. After lunch we went to a local orphanage where we were able to talk to some of the kids and give them bananas as a snack. It was amazing how a banana could bring a smile to a child’s face. In the late afternoon we went back to Negresti for an evening church service. The church in Negresti is a recent church plant. On Sunday night we went back to Chisinau and spent about an hour at the city’s anniversary celebration.
Monday through Wednesday we continued making and pouring more cement. On Monday night Paul met with local church leaders to talk about strategic planning. The group consisted of about twelve men. What amazed me was the age of the leaders. Of the twelve men present, ten of them were under the age of 40. It was great to see the church with so many young leaders. On Tuesday Paul facilitated a teaching with pastors from local villages. Since the rest of us (Bill, Randy, and Chris) didn’t have any responsibilities that night we went back to the hotel early. Wednesday night was a shorted work day because we needed to leave early to get to the church in Balti, which was about 90 minutes away. The drive to Balti gave us the chance to see the beautiful Moldovan landscape. During the church service in Balti Paul gave a greeting from our church, and Randy preached and lead in a couple of songs.
Thursday was our last full work day. By that time we were able to see progress. The floor was poured, the old roof was down, re-bar was up, and cinder blocks were going up. Over a two day period we manually moved over 8 tons of cinder blocks. Thursday night was our last night to have fellowship with the congregation in Straseni. Randy lead in a few songs and I had the opportunity to preach. At the end of the service each team member had the chance to share their experiences from the past week. It was a time for us to thank the congregation for allowing us to help them with their project. After the service we went to ‘Pizza Bob’s for dinner.
Friday was a half-day of work. After lunch we headed to Chisinau to see the sights and visit one of the markets. Our final meal in Moldova was at a Thai restaurant where we ate in huts. Who would have thought that we would have had pizza and Thai food while in Moldova?
Here are my final thoughts and things I learned while on the trip.
-This was the first time I had even been away from my wife and kids for 10 days. After 10 days away I saw that I was taking my family for granted over the years, and being away from them for so long really open my eyes to this.
-Many times we wonder how God can use us, especially in areas that are not our strengths. My example of that is in the area of construction. Those that know me know that I am not a construction guy. Before I left for the trip I was anxious about how I was going to be used in a construction project. After one day though I found a job that fit me very well.
-Although we spoke different languages (English and Romanian) the Body of Christ speaks a common language. It was incredible to see how God was using Moldovans and Americans to reach the people of Straseni.
-Hard work feels good, especially when you’re working with a great group of guys. Of the three other guys on the trip I only knew one of them very well prior to the trip. During our week together we shared a lot of laughs, food, and prayer together.
-A small group can get more work done than expected. When the foreman saw the size of our crew he was skeptical about how much work we could get done. By the end of the week we had exceeded his expectations. This was only possible through a combined effort of the American team and the Moldovan crew.
My hope is that this trip is just the start of a relationship between the churches in Wisconsin and the church in Straseni and others in Moldova.