Thursday, July 17, 2008

Visiting Moldova - Leona

In May 2007 I made my first journey to Chisinau, Moldova. Accompanied by my husband and son, I saw for the first time what Leila had described to me. We found a once beautiful city marred by the effects of a corrupt government and a collapsed economy. We met a still beautiful people who loved their homeland but were beaten down by the daily struggle to find food and stay warm.

This former Soviet Union country is notably now the poorest country in Europe. Moldova’s children and elderly are oppressed and the middle aged and young are fleeing to other countries to find work. Young beautiful women are prime targets for human trafficking.

Amidst the overwhelming struggle for survival is a growing Christian movement. Churches are springing up all around the city and surrounding villages as people find love, hope and strength through a new relationship with Christ. One of these churches is Bethany Baptist in the Ciocano district of Chisinau. The pastors and people of this church have a heart for the people of its community, including the elderly.

While we were there the church held a special luncheon for the elderly in the community. It was like the ones they had done regularly before losing the funding. The grateful attendees were anxious to share their stories with us. We met women who showed us their bankbooks that once calculated a simple but growing retirement fund. Now the accounts were completely empty. They had lost everything in 1991 when the USSR collapsed. Their current pensions of $30-50 per month barely covered the cost of utilities, much less food and certainly not medicines or sufficient health care.

We vowed to bring their story back to the U.S. We promised that we would return and that somehow we would help feed the older people of Moldova. It was a calling we could not ignore.

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