After a late breakfast Tuesday morning, we all traveled to Cahul, where we dropped Adriana off at her college and then traveled into the center where we spent time shopping for food and supplies. I was also able to get what was needed to assemble a soil-testing bucket, and when we got home, Michael and I made the bucket. I was also able to purchase a drill bit that will work well to pull the samples.
We then visited Nicolae Cheptene, who is doing a very good job growing tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers in greenhouses. He also has cabbage planted in his field, under cover, and this year has planted some zucchini, and will also try some eggplant. We didn’t pull a soil sample today because the area I wanted to sample is the cabbage field that still completely covered. Nicolae will be taking the cover off today, and we will wait a few days for the soil to dry a bit before sampling.
We then went back to Michael’s for lunch, and to do some work on his greenhouse. I got caught up on some work I needed to do, while Jordan helped Michael some more before heading off to meet with some of the youth to give some guitar lessons.
Tuesday night we met with Andrei Ciobanu, the pastor at Vadul lui Isac, and head of the Southern Region. They are having an evangelistic campaign in all of the region the first week of November, and are interested in doing seminars during the day, before the evening services. I brought a message at the pastor’s meeting in March, and they are very interested in how we may be able to help them. There are 11 pastors who would like to hold seminars in their village that week, so it will take some organizing to be able to do that for them. I suggested that we may want to have some seminars later in the winter, but they would like to be able to synchronize it with their evangelistic campaign in order to create more enthusiasm in the region. We will have to work on what we are able to do, with the people and resources available to us.
Wednesday May 7 we went to Gotesti to visit with Igor and Vera Costeleanu. We met them March a year ago, and helped by purchasing the necessary feed for a couple of sows. I was greatly impressed by their gifts of animal husbandry, doing an outstanding job will poor facilities and little resources. I knew in my heart that someday we would be able to help them in a much more significant way.
This past March we met with them again. They moved to a new place that they had an agreement on to be able to buy. They had done an incredible amount of work from when they moved there in November until we met them early in March. Igor had added two additions to the house to be able to keep grain and other supplies in a better place, built a barn for cows, several smaller buildings for his sows and horse, built a corn crib and did other numerous things to turn a hill-side plot into a farmstead.
At that time we agreed to advance them the funds to plant a 3-hectare field of alfalfa, and to purchase two more cows. They are selling milk in the village, and are doing an outstanding job of producing quality dairy products. We also made arrangements for funds for them to purchase the property.
Igor was able to purchase one of the cows he was interested in, another that was offered to him that he would have liked to have, the owner backed out of selling now, saying he could buy it in the fall. So Igor invested that money into building a couple more buildings to house some chickens and another shed for piglets. He also purchased a small grinder to now be able to grind his own feed instead of paying someone else to do it for him – excellent use of the resources we gave him.
Currently the 5 cows are producing 80-100 liters of milk per day, including what the calves drink. That amounts to 37-40 lbs. of milk per animal, for those who don’t do metrics, an impressive amount from the genetics he has. The milk, butter, sweet cream and cheese that they are making is some of the best I have ever tasted, and they are working hard to market their products, not just in their village, but in Cahul, a larger city in their area. They are doing quite well, and I am convinced that they will continue to make progress.
One of the more rewarding things to observe is how God is doing an incredible work in their lives, and how God has used us to be an encouragement to them. Igor shared that God has been dealing with his temper, and he is a much gentler, kinder person, especially when dealing with people who have been negative to what he is doing with his farm. In the past he would react with anger, saying it’s none of their business, I will do what I want, and now he has been able to yield to some of their requests, even if he is within his rights.
Also, he is starting to realize that he can use his gifts in agriculture as a way to spread God’s love. I had encouraged him to believe that the gifts he had were from God, and he should view them as his own personal calling, and to use them as a way to minister to others. They both shared how people are seeing the joy and peace in their lives, as they have received hope and encouragement from us, and how they have been able to stand up to criticism from the mostly Orthodox people in the village, and how Igor is now addressed as Igor, the Believer. Also, he has been able to show the church that just because he isn’t able to be at all of the meetings in church, he is able to do things at other times, and in other ways that make an impact in the church and in the community.
I believe that this is a couple that God will use in a mighty way, rewarding them for their hard work, and their commitment to Him. I want to be able to be an encouragement to them, not just by helping them in their dream to farm, but by helping them to realize God’s calling in their lives, by the gifts that He gave them. Please pray for them, as they want to serve God, and want to make a better life, not just for themselves, but for their church and their community – the kind of people that I believe God wants us to find here in Moldova.
We were with Igor and Vera much longer than I had originally planned, but it was important time to spend with them, sharing, listening and encouraging. After stopping at Michaels parents for what was to be a quick glass of compote – turning into a full-blown meal, we didn’t get back to Michael’s until 5 pm. I got caught up on some emails, and then helped Angelica hoe some carrots and sweet corn in the garden, while Michael painted the metal trusses in the greenhouse in advance of covering it with plastic.
Thursday May 8 I pulled a soil sample from Nicolae Cheptene’s cabbage field, and then we met Ion Semeret, where he was planting sunflowers for another man. He took the time to go look at his fields, and I was able to pull a soil sample from a field he planted sunflowers in on Friday. His wheat looked good, especially in a couple of fields that followed last years pea crop. The wheat is just starting to head out, and he was asking about putting fertilizer on it. I told him to save his money, as it was a little too late to have much benefit now.
Overall, Ion’s fields look very good. His corn that he planted 5 days ago was sprouting, and should emerge in a few days with the nice weather we are having. Soil moisture is very good, and the season is off to a good start. We will meet with Ion tomorrow morning, when he has some time to sit a visit with him.
We got back to Michaels by early afternoon, had some lunch, and then I was able to catch up on some email, phone calls, ECT. Jordan headed off to meet with some of the youth and play guitar with them, before we head to church for this evenings service.
Friday morning we met early with Ion to look at the new roto-tiller he was able to purchase to work his large vegetable plots. We also spent some time looking at his potato plot, and talked about how he is fertilizing them. He is over applying nitrogen, and with some adjustments, can raise more potatoes with investing his money into different types of fertility. We also looked at his greenhouse where he is starting his plants, and talked about how he could do some small things that could make a difference in growing his plants.
We had quite a discussion on the use of manure as a fertilizer. Many people still don’t believe that you can do it. He said he put 3 wagonloads of sheep manure on .3 hectares and got as much corn from what was a poor plot as he normally got in 5 years. He also had some old sheep manure that he was going to throw away, but I explained to him that is was gold, and he could use that in his vegetable plots and greenhouse, and save a lot of money on the fertilizer that he is buying. This will need to be a topic for the seminars we will be having in the future.
We went back to Michael’s for breakfast, and then drove to Calibas and met with Zechariah Vasilache, a pastor I met in March. He has a greenhouse where he is growing cucumber for the first time this year. He has grown tomatoes in the past, but wanted to try something different. I showed him how the plants are struggling to fill out the abundant fruit on them, but don’t have enough nutrients. He needs to figure out a way that he can put a little bit of fertilizer through his drip irrigation each week. We also talked about his irrigation system, and watering procedures. This is one of the villages that will benefit greatly from seminars.
We then visited a neighboring greenhouse where Mihail is growing tomatoes. Again, we talked about feeding the plants properly, and plant spacing, and tying them up properly. There are a lot of people trying to make a success of growing produce in greenhouses, and only a small percentage are really making a good living at it. Many of the issues are related to being able to invest in the supplies necessary to do it properly, having the knowledge of what to look for and how to adjust what they are seeing because of what they see.
Zechariah then took us to the property close to the church where they are in the process of building a facility to feed the elderly, and to have youth programs. They are nearly complete, but need about $35,000 to finish it and make it ready to use. They are currently feeding people in the church, but need to move to a facility that that is inspected and licensed. They also have started the excavation for the home for girls-at-risk program they are starting. They have the vision to eventually build up to 6 homes, again trusting God will provide the resources necessary to fulfill the vision they have.
The rest of the afternoon was spent in preparation for upcoming meetings, both with the youth, and with projects we are working with or anticipate working with.
Late in the afternoon, Michael came into the house and said there was a swarm of bees in the backyard. We all went to look at it, and I said he should call Zechariah, the man we had seen earlier in the day. He came quickly with a hive, and we enjoyed watching him scoop up the bees and put them into the hive. He didn’t wear any protective clothing, and was stung only a few times, and didn’t mind it at all, if fact, said the bee stings help his arthritis.
Friday evening we drove to a small village just outside of Ursoaya. The church in Vadul lui Isac is starting a youth program in the community center there. Another youth group joined them, and put a program on for them. I gave a short word of encouragement; Jordan played his guitar and did a couple numbers solo, and also a complied the youth singing. They asked if we could come back next Friday evening so that they could invite more youth from the village to come and watch Jordan play.
Saturday we spent most of the day in Cahul, where the youth were participating in a Bible Quizzing Contest. Again, Jordan played guitar, and I brought a message. There were 6 different churches represented, and the youth from Vadul Lui Isac won, taking first and third places in the individual categories.
Saturday evening Angelica’s brother Julian and his family were here for supper. They are living in France where he has found work. They had been in Moldova for the wedding of Angelica’s youngest sister, and were leaving for France the next day.
Sunday morning I was to preach in Brinza at 10:00 am, but at 8:30 Michael came and said the plans changed, we were now going to Valeni, the next village. Church started at 9:00 am and it was a 15-minute drive. We hadn’t eaten breakfast or dressed for church, so a mad scramble, and we were only a few minutes late. Again, Jordan was asked to play guitar, and then I brought the morning message.
We got back to Vadul Lui Isac just as church was getting out, so we had a chance stop in a visit our friends there. One of the girls said they had a guest speaker, from the UK who spoke perfect Romanian. I asked why he was in Moldova, and she said he lives here now. I said it wouldn’t happen to be Chris Ducker, and indeed, that is who it was.
Chris and his family joined us for lunch, and we had a great time strengthening the relationship we formed just a week earlier. We talked more about how we could assist them in their work in Raseti, and I will send them a pdf of our Romanian booklet on agriculture.
Sunday evening was youth night at Vadul Lui Isac, and they did a great job of singing. Jordan did 2 pieces on the guitar, and I brought the evening message. After the service a couple men who are musicians came and talked to Jordan. He ended up doing an impromptu jam session with one who plays jazz on the piano. He is going to try to find time to spend with a couple of them, perhaps preparing a couple of pieces to play at church next Sunday night.
Monday morning we went to Cahul to try and find supplies for greenhouses. We could find a few things, but were not able to find a lot of the things that will be very helpful for growers, like fertilizers, and injectors. There are many things that could make it possible to do a much better job, but it is hard to find locally. We will look for more supplies when we go to Chisinau later this week.
We then visited the Daycare, and spent a bit of time with the children, who were outside playing. They enjoyed playing with us on the seesaw, kicking a soccer ball, and various other games. It was a blessing to see their joy and happiness, and to know that we have a part in that ministry.
The cook was especially grateful for the new kitchen utensils, cups, dishes, knives and cutting boards that the Daycare was able to purchase thanks to funds sent thru Agri Service Moldova. The children look forward to eating out of the new bowls, and seeing what picture will be at the bottom of their bowl. She also commented how much easier it is for her to keep the new equipment clean, and she is proud of the fact that in all of her years as cook, not one child has ever been sick from eating the food that she prepared. It continues to amaze what she is able to do with the limited resources she has to work with.
Monday evening we spent with the youth, where Jordan played guitar with them, and I shared a message. The youth at Vadul Lui Isac are an enthusiastic, committed group, who are blessed with some great leaders.
On Tuesday morning we traveled to Dubasarii Vechi, and met with Alexi and Marica Nipomici, one of the greenhouse growers we met in March, and I was able to pull a soil sample from 2 of their greenhouses. I am glad we will finally have some trust-worthy information about the fertility levels that we are working with, so that we will be better able to make recommendations that are accurate, and allow them to do a much better job of producing quality products. I was impressed with this grower when I met him in March, and he and his family are doing an excellent job of growing mostly tomatoes.
They took us to another greenhouse tomato grower in the village, a lady that is growing a specialty tomato, also doing a very good job. After that visit, they invited into their house for tea, which of course, turned into much more than just tea. We had a very good time getting to know them, and look forward to being able to work more closely in the future.
We made it back to Chisinau in the early afternoon, and stopped at a business that sold supplies for irrigation, and were able to buy a fertilizer injector for Michael’s drip irrigation system for his greenhouse. They had a lot of supplies that we will find useful to be able to recommend to growers as we work with more greenhouses.
We then found a music store, and Jordan was able test some good guitars, and purchase some guitar pegs and strings to update the guitars at Dancu and Vadul Lui Isac. He was also pleased that in the future he might be able to purchase a guitar that he can leave here in Moldova to use himself, and to let others use.
After the music store, we went to BioProtect, a farm supply store, and were able to buy herbicide that Ion Semeret needs for his fields. I also was able to find some soluble fertilizers that will be good to put thru the drip irrigation, and pricing so that we can put programs together for growers here. I asked if they knew of a soil-testing laboratory here in Chisinau and they were able to direct us to the lab.
There we met Vicinau Ciutac, who is the vice-director of the country’s soil testing laboratory. After looking over what they could test for, we made arrangements to drop off some soil samples, so that we can compare the accuracy of their work to what we will be having done in the US. If we are able to get something even reasonable to work with, it will help us a lot as we work with our various projects.
So all in all, it was an extremely profitable day, with more contacts and possible available resources.