In full swing

Post date: May 15, 2019 8:07:30 PM

For Tuesday (14 May), we had various things to do in Bălţi. It’s Moldova’s second city, a bit bigger than Crawley, with a population around 150,000.

That’s a fridge magnet we bought of the statue at the Southern approach: the name is in Cyrillic letters as it is a mainly Russian speaking city.

Bălţi has a branch of the Metro hypermarket, where we went to purchase various supplies.

We spent several (not overly happy!) hours getting nappies and washing materials for families with small children, the sanitary supplies for the bed bound adults, food for the Community Centre meals and for food parcels to make up, and the necessaries to cook curries for the volunteer team on Wednesday.

Job done, we then had a little time to get a feel of the city.

There are the usual Soviet concrete apartment blocks, municipal buildings and wide central boulevards.

We also took a foray into the city’s Central Market.

Maybe not quite as chaotic as the Piaţa Centrală in Chişinău but nonetheless a hive of activity and commerce.

Then we popped into the oasis of calm that was Oliva to have pizza for lunch, and to discuss what we're doing and Neemia's work generally.

A few of us had a doze in Victor’s van on the way home, partly because it was warm and partly well… It was about 5pm when we got back to Cobani, and having been told on Monday that the British always have Afternoon Tea at 5pm we felt obliged to comply with our national stereotype.

Although to be fair this looks more like a factory tea break!

We had a little time before dinner, so got on with putting together the food packages for delivery to poor families.

These consist of nine food items (inc. oil, salt, pasta, rice and other staples) plus a couple of cleaning materials.

Once up to Victor & Lili’s house, Mia was picking radishes for our salad.

You can’t get much fresher than that! And you can’t get more homemade than Mrs. Zama senior’s plăcinte, made with potato, cheese or apple. This was only a small part of the batch she’d made that afternoon.

Over dinner, Victor shared a couple of things. That day, 14 May, was the 40th anniversary of his father’s passing, when he was 5 years old. During his childhood he had missed having a father but when he went to university and began reading the Bible he found his Heavenly Father, and that had been a great comfort in taking away some of the pain.

He also told us about a Romanian charity through which Neemia had facilitated the distribution of 4000 ‘shoe box’ gifts in Glodeni. This had been a significant undertaking for them, but at a gathering after this, he was able to share about Neemia’s work. In response, the leaders of the Romanian charity have offer to cover the cost of accommodation, food and transport for a group of 30 to use a facility they have near Cluj in the Summer. He was blown away by this, and Rob & Jo were particularly encouraged as this year they had not been able to commit to a third Summer camp for the volunteers. The Lord indeed moves in mysterious ways!

Wednesday morning, with everything fresh from the previous evening’s rain, we set off early to visit the weekly village market.

Regular readers will know this is a place with all sorts of things on sale, whether from local people or those who travel the village market circuit.

Stallholders including Victor’s mum, who still turns out every week to sell seeds, salt and other odds and ends, despite her advancing years.

After breakfast we started on the deliveries: first it was some of the food parcels.

As well as her own children, this lady is looking after her sister-in-law’s two children and drinking husband, as the sister-in-law’s gone to work in Cyprus, but doesn’t send much help back. So not surprisingly things are difficult.

This boy has something like cerebral palsy (it's hard for people in villages to get a reliable diagnosis), and there is little real support from the state here. The family has also been further hit when an uncle was severely injured in a car accident and is now wheelchair bound.

There are plenty of needy cases in the village, especially as there is no proper social safety net, and Neemia focuses on reaching those in the most difficult situations. That does not, however, exempt them from bureaucracy and paperwork, as they need to get a signed document with the recipient’s ID card no. to satisfy the authorities that they are operating properly.

But irrespective of people’s circumstances they are often hospitable and willing to share what they do have.

It may have been before lunch but it would have been impolite to have refused a little homemade wine!

We then moved on to the lunchtime meal deliveries to elderly people. Again, there are plenty in desperate situations. This lady still has her husband, but his health is very bad and he spends most of the day in bed, which is just to the right of this photo.

And from the outside you can see just how small their house is.

Some of us have bigger sheds in our gardens.

The couple at the house below have been married around 67 years and until recently had still been working their garden and growing crops.

But the husband has had a fall and is not doing well, which is sad.

It’s not easy going round these different families and houses, and Victor finds it emotionally draining at times. But he has also had opportunities to share the Gospel and see a change in lives, and that makes it worth it.

We finally got back to the Community Centre in time to grab a late lunch with the children who had come for the After-School Club.

Across from the Community Centre is a piece of land owned by the local authority, which children use to play on.

Victor would like to do something to improve this to be a proper facility for them and has asked if they can also be given the (derelict) house at the end to use as a workshop to train some of the boys in woodwork skills. Something to pray for!

On a not too distant parallel, we shortly after visited the Mayor’s office for a quick chat. It’s good PR and appropriate to pop in when we’re in the village. Olly was particularly honoured and somewhat taken aback to be presented with a Moldova mug by the Mayor.

That should provide a good talking point at Uni in September!

On the Mayor’s desk was an interesting sketch.

It shows the design for a monument that is being built at one entrance to the village. Apparently Cobani is one of the oldest villages in Moldova, so something worth commemorating.

Rob’s consolation for not getting a mug was to be allowed to sit in the seat of power for a team photo with the Mayor.

And on the walk back, ANOTHER team photo!

For the more observant and now confused, the village name can be spelt with an ‘o’ or a ‘u’, with ‘o’ being the more usual.

In the evening we had a gathering with Victor’s volunteer team, for which we had been commissioned to provide dinner. Pataks again came up trumps.

Rob has done food like this before and this table certainly seemed happy.

It went down well for the most part – there are always SOME fussy kids – and Victor always enjoys a good curry.

We had some games and Martin brought a Scripture message from John 6, so it was a good evening.

Rob’s selfie skills were called upon for the group photo.

So two pretty action packed days, with more to come tomorrow and Friday. We shall see how things go and whether we can post another entry before we fly home.