Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and that your new year is blessed! I have certainly had an interesting year and continue to be so grateful for the opportunities that I have had. The chance to come here to
Spending Christmas and New Year's here was definitely different than what I’m used to but I really enjoyed being somewhere new for Christmas. It was really nice not being bombarded with Christmas commercials and tinsel every two feet. One thing that I mentioned in one of my past posts was that Christmas here is mostly celebrated on the 7th of January because the majority of the population here is Orthodox and therefore follow an older calendar for holidays. Only some Christians that are Protestant celebrate on the 25th so for the most part it was just a regular work day for everyone else. I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas with my roommate Shauna and the American family that she teaches for. It was so nice to have a family to be with and I really appreciated their hospitality and amazing food! New Year’s Eve is more of a holiday here than Christmas…I spent this night with some missionary families and then went downtown to see what it would be like. It was one big crazy party going on there with kids running all over the place and fireworks going off left and right.
At 12 there was a big firework show so that was fun to see. I don’t think there are any sorts of fireworks regulations here because there were fireworks going off everywhere and little kids shooting Roman candles in the middle of the crowds…. definitely not my safest New Year’s Eve! My favorite part was coming home to see these huge fireworks right next to my apartment and all the car alarms in the parking lot going off because of the noise and commotion. One Christmas/New Year’s Eve tradition that Moldovans have is caroling for money or other goodies. On the major holidays here, some of the children go around knocking on doors to carol for the people there. The only catch is that you have to pay them money or something else if you open up your door to listen to them. There are also a lot of Christians that go around too but don’t expect money in return...here are some that came on Christmas to share some Moldovan Christian carols.
(here I was “vacuuming too hard” in the words of Shauna and completely knocked over our Christmas tree…at least it was a good time to take it down anyway) One of the interesting things about the holiday season here was that the government declared a ten day break in which no one had to work if they didn’t want to. There were some places open still because the workers get paid double if they decided to work but still most people didn’t work at all. On the 6th of January which is Christmas Eve here, a lot of people go to church and I read somewhere that mass at the Orthodox churches can go until two and three in the morning. Many also go to church on the 7th and generally celebrate as we do by getting together with family and eating large meals. I went to mass a little Orthodox Church on Christmas here and it was definitely interesting to see the dedication of some of these people. These masses are generally three hours long and everyone stands the whole time...I came way late so I didn’t end up standing for three hours but I was definitely dying to move around after a while. The choir at this church was amazing and even though I didn’t understand anything that was going on, it was very beautiful to just be there and pray on my own.
The organization that I work for, Invest-Credit, recently had an employee get-together to celebrate both Christmas and the fact that we now have 300 active clients. This means that there are now 300 entrepreneurs/business owners who are currently repaying the business loans that they have taken out from Invest-Credit. The organization has grown very rapidly in the past few years and it is very exciting to reach this number of clients. For the celebration the entire staff along with their families went bowling which was certainly an interesting thing for me to see since some had never been b
owling before. Some of them would just pick up any ball no matter how much it weighed and throw it down the lane! Some of the techniques for getting the ball down there were very unique and it made for a much more interesting time bowling than I would ever have in
Shauna and I recently went to a traveling wax figures museum that they have set
up here in the city and overall it was pretty fascinating. It was actually creepier than I thought it would be because so many of the figures looked so real and they kept the lights a little to low, I kept expecting them to move or something. A large amount of the figures were popular Russian rulers and military people that I had never heard of before but some of the others were more well-known around the world. Definitely worth the $1.25 we paid to get in!
I finally posted the video that I made for Invest-Credit on youtube. Here it is in case you are interested in seeing it.
I’m now working on two shorter videos for Invest-Credit that will focus on the microloans and the spiritual impact of the organization and am definitely a little stressed about the whole thing. I will be coming home at the end of February and I really don’t know if I’ll be able to get two more videos finished. I never realized just how much work goes into producing videos…just watching the news I’m just amazed at how good some of the camera angles are and just how much research must go into everything that they say…these projects have definitely given me a new appreciation for communications and media, I can’t even watch anything anymore without trying to figure out how everything is done. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as my time here is coming to a close and as I am struggling to get things going for these projects. Also I am trying to figure out what’s going on job-wise when I get home so please pray that I will be guided in the right direction! Thanks for your emails over the past few months, I hope you all are doing great! Let me know if you have anything that I can pray about.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas here!! Over night on Friday we got about a foot of snow much to everyone's surprise (or at least to my surprise....I'm not sure if other people follow weather reports here or not but I certainly had no idea it was coming!) and its been snowing on and off since then so quite a lot has accumulated! It really makes everything here so much more beautiful...there are so many trees in the city and seeing all of them covered in snow makes me forget sometimes that I'm in the middle of a city.
Saturday night I was able to experience the snow in a true Molodovan way. After Bible study, a bunch of youth from my church and I went outside for a snowball fight which included me being white-washed about ten times. We then went to a hill for some rolling, yes rolling down the hill like a bunch of little kids. No one had been in this snow yet and we didn't have sleds so everyone just rolled down the hill like logs in the deep snow (now more than a foot). It was definitely one of the craziest things I've done here yet! Then they showed me the best way to go down the hill without a sled: you lay on your back and put your feet up and slide down head first! It was the funniest thing to see people sliding backwards down the hill like that. The best thing was that it really worked...if you are ever without a sled and see a steep hill you gotta try this because it is so fun, just make sure there are no trees, cars or anything else that you can run into because there is no way to see where you are going. By the end of the night I was completely covered in snow and it was certainly awkward getting on the minibus to go home with everyone on it looking at me like I was crazy!
Saturday I went to a craft fair for items sold by different humanitarian organizations from around the world that are here in Moldova. It felt very different to be at a Christmas fair like that in Moldova and even weirder that so many people were speaking English everywhere. There was a Santa Clause that yelled out greetings to the vendors and this giant children's choir that went with him and sang carols along the way. The weird thing was that this Santa looked absolutely terrifying! (this picture definitely doesn't do him justice...he really was scary up close). He was not only too skinny but there was something wrong with his face. It also seemed like everywhere we went he and his entourage followed us so we were constantly trying to escape him. Besides that it was really fun to get to hear some Moldovan carols and look at all the crafts from different parts of the world. My roommate Shauna bought a can of Campbell's tomato soup from an American organization and I even was able to enjoy some Turkish espresso! It hasn't really felt like Christmas is coming lately but this weekend definitely set off the season for me!
Sunday, December 9, 2007
So anyway the new living situation has been awesome. I loved my living-with-Moldovans experience but it was really hard to be myself there and do what I wanted. (This is my new roommate Shauna, we had just gotten back from getting new haircuts...its totally inexpensive to get a haircut here but its really hard to communicate what we wanted with our limited Romanian vocabularies) My new apartment is really big and I have definitely enjoyed being able to cook for myself and experiment with new types of food….its not always easy to find ingredients here for American recipes so its been quite the challenge trying to find substitutes. Just going to the grocery stores here can be an adventure! You never quite know what you are buying until you try it out here. The other day I tried to buy rolls for hamburgers but they ended up having a big glob of caramel in the middle when I cut them open! Not really the type of sauce you want for your hamburger. The best thing about the food situation here is how cheap it is to go out to eat when cooking gets too rough. Most of the restaurants here have decent prices and some of them are even down-right cheap for good quality food. Just last night I had a great meal that I paid less than four dollars for….certainly not starving here by any means! Traditional Moldovan food is really good for the most part….they eat a lot of soup, meat-filled crepes, sausage, chicken and beef plus a lot of different types of fruits and vegetables since Moldova grows lots of fruits and vegetables. Its pretty rare to see a young person who is overweight here but a lot of the older people are not skinny at all. I think that it is very unacceptable to be overweight is you are young but not a problem once you reach a certain age. Another interesting thing is how open and honest they are about weight issues…they are not afraid at all to say that they think someone weighs too much. It certainly catches me off guard because in
I just finished up a book that I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to know more about Moldovan culture and be entertained at the same time. The book is called Playing the Moldovans at Tennis and is the true story of this English guy who goes to
A month or so ago I got the chance to go to a cave monastery North of the city. It had been built in the sixteen hundreds and was positioned basically on the edge of a cliff. It was very interesting to see how Orthodox monks lived hundreds of years ago to escape religious persecution and to live lives of discomfort in obedience to God. The church inside the monastery is still in operation and so there were people in there worshipping while we were there. I also had the opportunity to go to the big Orthodox church here in Chisinau a few weeks ago for a Sunday morning service. Its really interesting to me how their services and most of the rituals that they go through are exactly the same way that many early Christians worshiped God. The Orthodox services are so different than how most Evangelical/Protestant Christians worship but still both are part of the religion of Christianity. It was still hard for me to believe that I was in a Christian church when I was there since it is so much more formal than I’m used to and there are so many rituals that I didn’t understand. (this is a monk at Old Orhei, the cave monastery)
The weather’s been about the same as I think it would be in
My Thanksgiving was just about as great as it could have been. I’m very blessed with the American friends that I have here who are just as excited to celebrate American holidays as I am. It was really fun being able to cook some of the meal and actually be a part of the preparations for the day. It was nice because a lot of the ingredients came from
Last week my friends surprised me with a birthday party since they are all going to be gone for Christmas when my birthday rolls around. It was quite the surprise since my b-day won’t be for another month! We also went bowling which was fun since none of us have been for a while. I’m certainly blessed with great friends here! They even bought me a sparkly wig for the event!
Thanks to all you that send me updates of what’s going on. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and that your holidays will be great if I don't hear from ya!
Monday, October 1, 2007
(this doesn't have to do with anything I was talking about-this is a picture of a bunch of old guys playing chess and backgammon...its really cute, a group of them are always on these benches at this park playing games)
So there have been a lot of new things going on lately. About a month ago I was really starting to get bored and was feeling like my time here was just dragging on (hopefully not the feeling you get when you read these incredibly long updates). I began praying a lot about it and I figured out that my problem was that I had too much free time and not enough things to do. It was about this time that one of my friends from work invited me to come to a ball-room dancing lesson with him. I figured that it would be something cool to go to once and then politely decline to ever go again. Well, it turned out to be really fun so I decided that even though the lessons are in Russian, I’ve taken enough dance lessons in the past to understand what’s going on. The crazy thing is that lessons are three nights a week for an hour and a half each lesson. Man, when Moldovans want to learn something, they really go crazy over lots of lessons. I’ve heard that its like this for all types of things that they want to learn, they’ll have three or four lessons a week. In America, we hardly ever have more than one lesson a week for anything like this. So anyway its been a total blast and I’ve met a lot of cool Moldovans that aren’t Christian so I finally feel like I have the chance to witness a bit. There certainly aren’t many Moldovan Christians in dance lessons because it is considered a sin here by some churches to dance in any way. Yeah, thought I was getting away from the “dancing is a sin” thing when I left NNU but I guess its true that your sins follow you wherever you go!!
In Moldova around this time all of the Protestant churches have harvest celebrations that are somewhat like our Thanksgiving. Its not a holiday here or anything but rather the churches just chose a Sunday to have their celebration. Basically for the harvest celebration, people in the church donate all different types of food to the church and then the church gives this food to those in need. The church also puts on a big service much like something we would see for a Christmas program. This past Sunday was the “Seceris”, as the day is called in Romanian, at the church that I’ve been going to here. The service was outside and consisted of three hours of sermons and different performances by musical groups. Luckily one of the sermons was given by an American in English and then translated so at least I could understand some of what was going on. There were also these amazing displays of different kinds of food like a display for fruits and vegetable and then another display for bread and sugar. There were also these giant bunches of grapes that were made up of normal sized grape bunches (yeah see the picture, way to hard to explain). It was really interesting to see how big of a deal harvest time is to the people here. In America, unless you’re a farmer, the harvest time doesn’t really mean very much any more. Anyway, Seceris is definitely different than our Thanksgiving because it doesn’t involve a meal for the people involved. It is all about giving food to the church for the needy. I didn’t actually know that until I went to church expecting a potluck and afterwards was like “so, where’s the food?” only to find out that the point was to bring food for the poor. Good thing I didn’t bring a dish for the non-existent potluck!
My work here has been going good…I’m still in the middle of this video project that I’ve been working on for a long time. I never realized how much goes into a video like this. Its definitely got me watching movies and videos with more appreciation for all the different things that need to come together for the right effect to be created. Please keep me in your prayers about this project. I’m starting to get a little frustrated that its taking this long and that certain parts haven’t worked themselves out yet. I gave myself a deadline today for two weeks from today for it to be done…I think that lack of pressure has definitely been a factor for why its taking so long. Even though I hated the pressure of homework and deadlines in college I think that I really need motivation in order to get anything done. Like I said, please keep me in your prayers! One thing that you may be able to help me with is music. I’m trying to find Christian instrumental worship music for the background of my video. It sounds like easy music to find but I have been looking everywhere and can’t find what I need. I suppose why it is so hard is because I need upbeat (let me emphasize- not slow) music without any voices and not from the 80’s or orchestra-like. Oh and it also has to be popular enough that I can buy it through iTunes. Basically, I need music from a modern day worship band that isn’t afraid to rock out a bit but at the same time isn’t too crazy for a Christian business video. If you have any ideas, shoot me an email with the artist name and/or song title…your song could be a little bit famous if it works!
Some of the most exciting news for me is that I’m moving soon to an apartment here. I’ve really enjoyed living with a family but I think that it has been hard adjusting to both being in a strange country and not living on my own anymore as I did in college (well, sorta if you consider living in the dorms “on my own”). I had been praying about if for a while and was starting to think that there was no way that I was going to be able to find both a place that was affordable and a roommate who wouldn’t drive me crazy. Then out of the blue one of my American missionary friends here asked me if I knew anyone who was looking for an apartment because she was looking for a roommate. So God definitely worked that one out! I’m moving in two weeks to a fully furnished and affordable apartment completely free of Russian dance music. Yeah, so all the younger people here love this techno/disco dance music and all three boys in the house I’m in now listen to it at full volume all the time (even if it is a sin to dance, I guess listening to dance music is okay). I’m so excited to be moving and its made my outlook of being here for an other five months so much better. It was hard trying to explain why I wanted to move out to my host family. The culture is so much different than in America because most young people here live with their parents until they get married, and a lot even stay with their parents after they’re married too.
Last weekend the American embassy put on a weeklong American western film festival….I only had the chance to go to one movie but it was a great one. It was the movie “Maverick” and if you ever get the chance to see it, you should watch it because it is pretty ridiculous and entertaining at the same time. It was weird to get to go to a theater and see an American western playing in English…made me feel like I was home for a little bit. (This is a giant cowboy hat and a regular sized cactus that was part of the decorations for the film festival)
Thanks again for keeping me updated on what’s going on in your lives…I really love hearing the latest news! Please remember me in your prayers if you think about it. I’ve been having these strange headaches for about a month and a half and I don’t think its anything serious but they’re still annoying when they hit. I haven’t had one for a week so maybe that was the end of them or maybe they’re waiting to hit again. Its so interesting to see how God answers prayers, reading back over my prayer requests from my last few newsletters I realized that God has taken care of all of the requests that I’ve had....yeah one cool thing I wanted to share was that I had said in my last letter that I was struggling to get into a daily habit of reading my Bible. It suddenly hit me a month ago or so that if I was on some sort of reading plan that I would probably be able to stick to it better. I found a website that has reading plans for reading the Bible in a year. Its pretty cool because it has the reading on the website and it keeps track of how many days I’ve read and how many consecutive days I’ve been there. I’m definitely a little bit behind and will have to catch up if I want to be done with the whole Bible in a year but it has really helped me to read consistently. Here’s the website in case you want to try it out : http://www.biblereadthrough.com.
(Sorry, I'm a little short on relevant photos this update, this is a very beautiful Orthodox church/monastery that is right by my house) I’ve had some interesting food experiences in the past few weeks and my water bottle recently had an adventure so I’m going to be writing some more blog entries soon so check back if you’re interested. I’m hoping that by saying I’m going to write about this stuff that I’ll actually have enough pressure to do it.
Hope you’re all doing great!
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Have you ever wondered what outer space smells like? Well wonder no more! This air freshener has managed to capture the smell of space in a can and bring it right to your home for your smelling pleasure. Not only that but this freshener claims to be both a “neutraliser” and an “antibacteriser”….see picture for verification! (if any of you were curious, outer space actually smells a lot like cinnamon).