At the moment, Lins and I find ourselves in limbo at some friends’ farm near Warsaw, Poland. We’re here because the Ukrainian government still has not given us the document we need to be able to get religious visas to remain and work in Ukriane. And, as of Oct. 18th, our 90-day tourist status was up. So, here we sit with the situation completely out of our control, able only to relax, spend some amazing time with God, and wait. And while we wait, I thought this would be an opportune time to fill everybody in on the Moldova conference.
It’s hard to believe that the conference was almost 3 weeks ago! I can’t even begin to adequately express with words what an amazing time it was.
First of all, let me just publicly thank my amazing Nana and Papa, without whose financial support I would never have been able to go. The Lord just never ceases to bless my life through y’all, and I couldn’t be more thankful to have you in my life! I love y’all and appreciate you so much!
So, the first part of my Moldova adventure included a 29-hour…yes, you read that right…29-HOUR train ride! Thank God He blessed my sleep on the train, which helped the trip go by much faster. But still, sometimes I didn’t think I was ever going to get off of that train. He also blessed me with a wonderful cabin-mate – an older woman who was born in Poland, grew up in Ukraine, and then married a Moldovan and has lived there ever since. We shared some fantastic conversation together, and I was honored to hear her first-hand accounts of WWII and living under the Soviet Communist regime.
Once my train finally rolled into Chisinau (the capital city), I had a day to spare before the conference started. So, after getting settled into my hotel room and getting a good-night’s sleep, I ventured out to discover a new city. Let me just say, THANK GOD for kind-hearted Moldovans! Without the kindness of strangers, I would probably still be wandering around Moldova on the public transportation system! Haha! But, with the help of people directing me onto the correct vans and buses, and then other people telling me where I should get off, I managed to find my way to the bus station (to buy my ticket back to Lviv – no way was I taking another train!), into the center of town, and even to the Museum of History where I soaked-in some culture and learned about history dating from the prehistoric age right up until WWII (it was a very big museum). I would have to say that the most humorous event of the day was lunchtime. I walked up and down Chisinau’s center street, wanting to find a local restaurant which would offer me the best possible taste of authentic Moldova. In my travel experience, I’ve learned that in order to find the best local restaurants, it’s best to look for the locals. So, as I passed every cafe and restaurant, I was looking for the biggest concentration of local Moldovans…but wasn’t finding any. One cafe was completely empty, and the next would have a few patrons, but all of whom looked considerably shady. So, I just kept walking through the city, getting hungrier and hungrier, but keeping an alert look-out for where the locals eat. Finally, it was almost 2PM, and I had almost walked the entire length of the center street, when I found it! The one cafe that was buzzing with local diners! McDonald’s. I should’ve known.
The conference itself was…well, the best way I can think to describe it is that it was “a little taste of Heaven“. There were around 150 of my Christian brothers and sisters from all over the world – each person with a burning passion for Jesus in their hearts, and a burning passion to be His hands and feet on the earth (more specifically, in the world of human trafficking and prostitution). I met so many amazing people – people who are working in orphanages in Ukraine to provide orphans with vital life training that will give them skills they can use to makes lives for themselves once they’re “of age” and are put out on the streets, in order to lessen the chances that they will fall into crime and prostitution; people who are working in the red-light district of Amsterdam, being friends to the prostitutes and offering escape and healing for any woman or girl who wants out; people who are working in schools and after-school programs in Moldova, teaching kids that they have value and have greater potential than crime and selling their bodies. The list goes on and on – I have never been around such a large group of tender-hearted, strong, passionate people who have the Spirit of God shining so brightly in their eyes and in their lives. It literally felt like Heaven on Earth.
As for me, I felt like at the conference God brought greater clarity to me, as far as where, exactly, I can serve. For at least 10 years, I have had a huge love for orphans. About 3 years ago, God gave me a huge love for the oppressed. And it wasn’t until the conference that I realized those 2 go hand-in-hand. I don’t remember the exact statistic, but I learned at the conference that a heart-breakingly large number of Ukrainian orphans end up in jail and/or in prostitution after they are “old enough” to be kicked out of the orphanages. The orphanages in Ukraine offer their children no life-training whatsoever. Kids grow up and leave the orphanages without knowing how to do even the most basic things – like how to budget and shop for groceries – much less how to do anything that would help them find jobs. They have no idea how to fend for themselves, so most of the boys will purposely commit petty crimes in order to be thrown into jail where at least they know they’ll be fed and have a bed to sleep on; and most girls will end up selling their bodies to anyone willing to pay, because they don’t have any other means of making money.
What’s really neat, though, is this: A couple of months ago, God started burdening my parents’ hearts for orphans and with a passion for our church in Lviv to begin loving the orphans of our city. Once I came back with the knowledge I had gained at the conference, we knew that God was connecting all of our passions together!
So, that’s my story of Moldova…well, the highlights, anyway. After Moldova, I went back to Ukraine for a few weeks and was able to celebrate my church family’s 7th birthday! And now I’m biding my time and hanging with Jesus at a farm in Poland.
Never a dull moment.
Blessings from somewhere in Eastern Europe…
(PS…the very weak internet signal that I’m managing to connect to here, at the farm, isn’t able to handle any photo uploading. So, for the moment, this update will have to be sans visuals. I’ll try to remember to upload some photos at a later date, though…with a stronger connection.)