Thursday, September 11, 2008

Moldova, part unu

It's been two months since I was there, but I think it's finally time to talk about my trip to Moldova. I realized yesterday while talking to a friend that I have not portrayed my trip adequately even to the people I talk to a lot. So, here's my first attempt at writing about it.

On July 9th of this year, I traveled to Moldova with four other people to teach a group of people there how to run a summer camp, to teach English, help with recreation, and give nightly talks to camp-goers. I hesitate to call it a mission trip because, although we were all Christians going to a Christian camp and it was a trip with a mission, it was just a lot different than mission trips I've been on before. But, in essence, that's what it was.

I guess I should start with where Moldova actually is. It sits in Eastern Europe, sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, just above the Black Sea. An independent Republic since 1991, it has at times been part of Romania and the former U.S.S.R. The numerous conflicts over the last century in that area of the world has left Moldova the poorest country in Europe. Their major industries are wine making and sunflower product producing. (Which, by the way, makes for breath-taking fields upon fields of sunflowers and grape vines.) The capital city is Chisinau (pronounced like "quiche-now"), and people there live a comparatively modern, urban lifestyle. Outside of the main cities, however, many Moldovans who live in the country draw their water from often-ornately decorated wells and rely on horses and buggies for transportation. As I stated earlier, though, they live in almost constant beauty from the grapes to the sunflowers, to the steady hills and valleys that make up Moldova's landscape.

Many of the campers at the camp we were at came from such countryside. The camp itself was situated on a dirt road about 30 minutes from Chisinau, just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Dniester River. The sunsets over the fields there were like none I've ever seen before.

So that's pretty much an introduction to Moldova and my time there. In the next part, I'll talk more about what we did there. It was a wonderful time.

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