On Tuesday April 29, Shane took Jordan and me to Newark Liberty International airport where our flight took off a little after 6pm and we landed in Munich Wednesday morning about 8 am. We left Munich about 9:15 and landed in Chisinau, Moldova about 12:15 pm. We were picked up at the airport by Dan Stafford of The Impact Exchange, and drove to Hincesti and had lunch with Viktor Kulyak.
Viktor is the pastor of the Pentecostal church in Sarata Galbana (Yellow Salt), a church with 300 + people attending. They also have an old people’s home – Sarepta – a home for about 50 elderly, and also some handicap youth. The church has a very active social program, where among other things, having a tutoring program for children after school, a youth program, a bakery where they make 3 kg (7 lb.) loaves of bread that they distribute 2 times a week in the village.
They have a small agriculture program going on, and want to expand that work. They currently are farming 5 hectares of land, 3 in corn and 2 in wheat that they use in their bakery. They would like to farm more land, but the land is one of two villages in Moldova that are still under a communal system, and until it is privatized and people are able to sell or lease the land they are holding off expanding that program.
They currently have about 250 chickens for eggs and meat, several hogs and cows, just started raising ducks, and would like to start a rabbitry and a dairy. The mayor in the village has assured them that when things are worked out with the land, it will be possible for them to purchase or lease a continual block 0f 30-50 hectares for a dairy and building larger poultry and hog operations.
This was my first meeting with this group, and they are the kind of organization, with visionary leadership that we would like to partner with. I already started talking to them about how to improve the feed that they are currently feeding, and talked about providing some basic agriculture training.
We then drove to Dancu, where we had supper with Slavic and Ana Duman. Jordan and I opted out of attending church in the evening, as we got very little sleep Tuesday night, and the rest of the week in Dancu looks to be a very busy one. I am staying with Slavic, and Jordan is staying with the Youth Leader and his wife,
Jordan spent the evening, and until after midnight, playing games with the youth, and enjoying a Moldovan BBQ.
On Thursday morning, we went to the fields where the No-Till Project will be planted in the next couple of days. They are currently finishing planting the remainder of 110 hectares of sunflower, hoping to be finished tonight. If the weather cooperates, planting will take place Friday or Saturday. The No-Till field has wheat planted as a cover crop, and there is a very nice stand in the field. It will be sprayed around the time of planting, as there has been plenty of rain this spring, and soil moisture is excellent.
After lunch, Bob Chaplin, who lives in the UK, and Peter Morar, who lives in Cluj, Romania, came in advance of a shipment of goods from Mission Moldova. We spent the afternoon showing them around Dancu Tabita, visiting the church, the community center and the dairy and cheese operation. Also, listened to the vision that Dumitru and Slavic have for future expansion of the ministry. There are lots of opportunities to do a variety of projects, from more playground equipment, to a park and community meeting room, greenhouses, a car repair shop and car wash, and more.
We ate a delicious supper of rabbit at Slavic’s and then hiked the hill behind the community center where we had a nice view of Romania. We spent some time at the community center, playing pool and Ping-Pong with some of the youth who were hanging out there.
Friday morning, after breakfast at Dumitru’s, Dan Stafford from Impact Exchange brought Richard Sanders from World Team, and Vitalie Belbov from Stella’s Voice, to meet with us and see Dancu Tabita. Vitalie also brought along a young man, Nicolae Singurean, one of the young men staying at Stella’s Voice. He is mentoring him, and is finding ways to involve him in ministry.
Richard is involved with pastoral and leadership training, and was very interested in how Dumitru and Slavic are using the farm as the center of social programs, for food, jobs and support. Vitalie has had a vision since he was a young man of starting a 100-cow dairy, and was extremely excited to see the potential of starting a similar program. We quickly connected, and there will be lots of conversations in the future as they develop their own plans.
We ate lunch at Dumitru’s, and had a great time sharing. It was especially rewarding to be at the table with 6 different ministries, talking about how we can work together, using our individual gifts to support the work of each other’s ministries. This was something new for Richard and Vitalie to experience, and opened their eyes as to how work in Moldova can move forward.
In the afternoon, we went to the village of Razesi, about 20 kms from Dancu, to visit Chris and Helen Ducker. They are from the UK, and have been in Moldova for 7 years, 5 of them working with Dumitru and Slavic and Dancu. They moved to Razesi to start a church, and they are building the church by starting a community center, where they have programs for children, youth, women, and community events.
They just put up a greenhouse to grow tomatoes and cucumbers to supplement their meals programs. They have no experience with this type of thing, so I was able to give a few ideas, and this is something that we will be able to help them with. They also are planning to grow strawberries to sell to help support the ministry.
We had a great time getting to know the Duckers, praying for them, and fellowshipping with them. They have a small group that meets in their house on Wednesdays, and they visit churches in neighboring villages on Sundays. So not being surrounded by believers, they were blessed to have a time of fellowship with us.
Friday night we had a late supper at Vasile Gulica, who is married to Dumitru’s oldest daughter Veronica. Vasile is the engineer for Dancu Tabita. He is an incredibly gifted mechanic, who is able to keep the entire ancient and well-worn equipment running, often making parts, which they don’t have, easy access to or the funds to purchase. He also has manufactured their grinder that makes the feed for the animals, made a butter churn, and many other things for the association.
Saturday morning Jordan and I went to the dairy barn to watch the morning milking. The lady, Galena Balta, who milks is very good with the cows, and does and excellent job of milking, given what she has to work with. As I observed procedures, it is very evident that they will need much new milking equipment as the herd grows both in size, and in production. They are currently milking 18 cows, and expect to be milking 40 within a year. Production averages 12-15 liters per cow now, and with some adjustments, it is very possible that they could be averaging 20-25 liters.
After breakfast we went to the No-Till Plot where we made sure the planter was working properly, sprayed an excellent wheat cover crop, and then planted the 3 hectare plot with sunflowers. It was decided to use sunflower again this year in the new, hopefully, permanent plot, because Dumitru was able to get a very good variety that we will be able to spray later in the season to control any late emerging weeds. Next year after a wheat, barley, radish cover crop, it will be planted with corn.
Dumitru was also able to get a nearby 8-hectare field that hadn’t been plowed last fall, so we decided to do a no-till experiment there as well. We planted about 5 hectares with sunflowers, and had just started to plant the remainder in corn, when we got chased from the field by a heavy shower. While we were extremely grateful for the rain, it would have been nice to have it wait another hour so we could finish planting the field. The spring has been exceptionally nice this year, with good rains and favorable temperatures. With some timely summer rains, this season has the potential to be a very good growing season.
The rest of the afternoon we spent back at the community center where Jordan spent time with the young guys, who were doing woodworking projects, playing Ping-Pong, pool and guitar with them. He took a bike ride with one of the guys to the Pruitt River, and is enjoying hanging out with them. I got caught up on some writing and studying, and then helped Slavic plant over 100 watermelon plants in his garden. We made beds covered with plastic and then planted into them. This is something new for them, and Slavic is excited about the possibility of having watermelons 2 weeks earlier, and being able to control the weeds much better.
Saturday night was another bountiful feast at Dumitru and Catrina’s, where the house was full with all the visitors, and the Dumitu’s family. We ate and visited until about 9:30 and Jordan went off with the youth to practice playing guitar with them for Sunday evening’s service.
Sunday morning we enjoyed worshiping with the believers at Dancu Baptist Church were I brought the morning message. Jordan played guitar for 3 songs that the youth sang in the morning service. We ate lunch at Dumitru and Catrina’s, since it started to rain and we were not able to have a picnic at the Pruitt River as planned. Jordan and I went back to Slavic’s about 3 pm to take a short rest and catch up with email and Facebook. Sunday evening service was mostly singing, with the youth doing many of the songs. Afterwards we went to Dumitru’s again for supper.
Monday morning Michael Caraivan picked us up and we left Dancu at 8 am to travel to Chisinau for a meeting with Ghena Russo. There we planned the fall seminars we will be doing for Invest Credit’s greenhouse growers. After the meeting with Ghena, we met Dumitru to meet with a seed company.
Alexei Botnari is the Director of Moldsem-Group SRL , a seed production company that specializes in vegetable seeds, and also sells corn, sunflower and other seeds for farmers. Dumitru works with this company, and trusts them. The purpose of the meeting was to see if they would be interested in being the company that we could work through to import products from the US. They are very interested, and in particular, were very interested in being able to import the Tillage Radish that I would like to be able to bring into Moldova for our cover crop work. We talked about the process of getting approval from the Ministry of Agriculture, and will continue discussions with them. Dumitru has another company he would like us to meet with, but the man there was taken to the hospital that morning, so we will plan another time to meet with him.
After that meeting, we met with Andy Otean, and Jordan went with him to recital practice. They had a good time, and want to spend more time being musicians together. They are trying to find another time that they can play guitar and speak their own language.
After lunch we were able to meet with Darryl and Joyce Henson, former associate pastors from Petra Christian Fellowship, who now have a mission called In-Step Ministry, a ministry to encourage and train pastors in Russia, Poland, Ukraine, and Moldova. They were in Moldova this past week with a team from the US building a house for a pastor in Vulcanesti. I had originally planned to meet with the team, but because of schedules, was not able to. It was somewhat of a disappointment when I learned that Dave Martin from Petra was one of the team members.
We had a great time visiting with them, and I particularly wanted Michael to meet with them, so that they could possibly have some connection in the future. It was rewarding to see how quickly Michael and the Henson’s found common ground, and also found people that they both knew. We were able to leave Chisinau about 4:30 and drive south to Vadul lui Isac in time for a quick bite to eat, and then make it to Youth Meeting.
As usual, as we were driving south, Michael asked if I would speak to the youth that night. I agreed, although I didn’t have anything prepared, thinking that I would be asked for next Monday night. But we had a good time anyway. Jordan played several pieces for them, and they were all on the edge of their seats, fascinated with his music, style and technique.
Some of the boys, who play the guitar, kept saying “No way! How does he do that!” and afterwards quickly asked if he would teach them how to do some of those things. So plans were made for Jordan to meet with a group of them afternoons and evenings to play with them, and teach them. The people of Moldova love music, and the youth in Vadul lui Isac are particularly talented so the language of music quickly overcomes native tongues. They also are planning to have a special program Friday evening in a neighboring village’s community center where he will give a mini concert and also accompany some of the youth who will be singing. He is quickly making an impact to the youth, and is already talking about plans for when he returns to Moldova.
Then it was back to Michael and Angelica’s for a late cup of tea, and then off to bed about midnight. Plans are to sleep late, have a good breakfast and then make plans for the rest of the time in Moldova. As usual, there are more people to see, and things to do than we have time for, and I am particularly interested in making Jordan’s time here as rewarding as possible, for both him and the youth in Moldova.