Today was a beautiful Sunday here in sunny (and pleasantly cool) Moldova. We began the day with an excellent home cooked breakfast and then loaded up the buses (technically vans, I think--I'm not really sure where the line of distinction should be drawn there).
Our destination was our partner church in Drochia. This was my (by the way, this is John, in case you were wondering) first time in a church service in Moldova, which is fitting given that it's my first time in Moldova.
The service was similar to what we have at home, but slightly reorganized and substantially extended. If there had been an official order of service, it would've gone something like this:
4) Introduction from our team to the church
6) Sermon #1
8) Singing (this time led by our team)
9) Singing (specifically for the 70+ crowd)
10) Sermon #2
Note that there were additional 'mini-sermons' built in to this schedule that I can't fully classify due to my lack of Russian fluency. Also note that except for items 4 & 8, the above were all in Russian (ok, or maybe some Romanian as well). Thankfully, our translators were sitting with us; so we did our best to pay attention to both the preacher and the translators.
Despite the differences of format and language, the love of the people in the church was definitely visible for us. They welcomed us with open arms and prayed for us and our mission this week. Additionally, they spoke and prayed about how our work this week would be visible to the greater community--showing many people the love of God through our work (a prayer echoed by this team).
After church, we decided to go to a great little local spot for lunch. Unfortunately, the restaurant didn't really have a desire to serve us. This seemed a little odd, and seemed moreso when the next restaurant refused as well. I'm fairly sure we all took showers and had on clean clothes, so I'm not sure what the problem was.
Having given up on having lunch in Drochia, we returned to Balti and ate at Andy's Pizza. (In case you were wondering, Andy wasn't there--apparently Andy doesn't own Andy's Pizza anymore.) The food and fellowship was great. (If you're in the area, the Rancho pizza--hold the mushrooms--is a good choice. I'd also recommend the potato balls. Imagine fried round bits of potato--yum!)
Finally, we returned to the team house for some rest and preparation for our work this week. We closed out the evening by having dinner at another restaurant (accepted on the first try, this time) and then returning to the team house to fellowship and then head to bed.
I think that today set up the rest of the week very well: the team is working very well together and the people we've met so far are amazing in their willingness to welcome and serve.
God is definitely here (not that that fact was ever in question) and I know He's going to be using us this week. Thanks to all of you for all of your prayers both in preparation for this trip and while we're over here.
To paraphrase one of our translators, saying that God has a plan here is like saying wet water.