This past weekend we had the opportunity to travel to Moldova with President and Sora Howells. We were very excited as we had not expected to get to Moldova while we were here. The purpose of our trip was to provide training to the branches there. Moldova was part of the USSR until 1989 and some areas speak Romanian and some speak Russian. On Sunday we joined with the two senior couples assigned in Moldova and went to church in Balti (pronounced "belts" if you speak Russian and "bults" if you speak Romanian). In Chisinau branch the meetings are conducted in Russian and translated into Romanian (and hymns are sung in both languages simultaniously), but in Balti only Russian is used. As they sang the hymns we tried to follow along in the Russian hymnal but the Russian alphabet defeated us.
The McGoverns, Howells, Kitchens and Wahlquists
We have a nephew serving a mission in the Ukraine. His name is Elder Eric Garlock. Here is our picture with Elder Garlick who is a Russian speaking missionary in Balti. As much as we would love to visit the Ukraine which is just north of Romania and borders Moldova, this is probably as close as we will get to Elder Garlock.
Before we left Chisinau we visited a huge piata where everything you can think of was being sold. The fruits and vegetables were beautiful and there were lots of things we didn't recognize but this was our favorite. These black radishes are the size of softballs.
Along the streets and throughout the piata there were women who were selling clothing items without needing to pay for a space. Very efficient - you stand holding something for sale and when the police come along you just slide it into a bag, walk away and blend into the crowd. We also saw people selling things out of cardboard boxes that hang from cords around their necks. Just another way to beat the tax system.
In Moldova they have lovely concrete blocs much like we have in Bucuresti.
We saw some interesting things on the drive to and from Moldova. In both countries there are many religious monuments along the roads. But Moldova's monuments seemed much more elaborate than the ones in Romania. Often they are in unpopulated areas and we don't quite know what their purpose is.
The little villages have one or more village wells.
Notice the bucket hanging on the right that is lowered on the chain.
A thatched roof cottage in a vineyard.
We have become accustomed to seeing horse drawn wagons. We even see them out our apartment window going down our busy street. But this was something we hadn't seen before. A horse cart was traveling toward us on the road with no driver. We saw him several minutes later walking down the road. He didn't seem concerned that his horse and cart were ahead of him by almost a mile.
We were intrigued by the many tall, leafless trees along the road that had these big green balls in their branches. They are balls of mistletoe. At Christmas time we saw lots of mistletoe for sale in big clumps with real berries on them. At home we only see little tiny plastic bags of mistletoe that have plastic berries.
It was a wonderful experience to meet with the saints in Moldova and get better acquainted with the senior couples that we very seldom see.
Something to remind me of Moldova!