PROJECT MOLDOVA ‒ A PLYMOUTH YOUTH ADVENTURE
14th September 2017
After a year of planning and fundraising the team of 12 from Plymouth church, led by Pastor Clifford Herman, flew out to Moldova on 17 August for two weeks of hard work and adventure. We were warmly greeted at the airport by Pastor Simion Sprinceana and his daughter, Natalia, who spent the last few days of her holiday showing us around and flawlessly translating for us.
We stayed together on the top floor of a large house owned by Pastor Sprinceana's sister. This was a blessing as it meant the team was able to start and end the day together in worship. Before travelling to Moldova, the Plymouth church worked hard raising over £6300 towards Project Moldova through fundraising concerts, meals, car boot sales and sponsored walks. Each member of the team paid for their own flights, food and travel within the country so every penny raised went to help the people in Moldova.
The team comprised of Pastor Clifford Herman, his wife Ophelia and children Matthew and Meghan, Glessy Guillas, Clishlyn (Kit) Portunova, Jackie Hall, Jennie Hall (writer), Bruce Daka, Jordan Masuku and sisters, Kelly and Shirley Manungo. We were later joined by Daniel and Alex Costin, Denis Dubaev and Violeta Dulgher.
We visited all 3 of Pastor Sprinceana's churches, Molești, Costești, and Ialoveni as well as the Costin brothers home church in Ghidighici. We contributed to each service with a special item and Pastor Herman preached with the help of translators.
After each service, the group split into two teams to conduct a health expo and messy church. Church members and friends from the local community came for the simple health checks and advice. The programme ran smoothly with the aid of translators and was well received by everyone. Whilst the adults were having their health checks the children were being entertained with crafts. The younger children did a series of crafts based on Creation and even had a colouring book translated into Romanian to complete whilst the older children intricately painted T-shirts. It was refreshing to see how much the children appreciated the simple crafts.
The majority of the money raised was for two building projects. Pastors Herman and Sprinceana along with Pastor Sprinceana's son, Ion, a member of Plymouth church, identified the two most needy families, one in Costesti and the other in Ialoveni. Over the two weeks seven days were spent working at the two houses, which meant early mornings, and eventful busy bus rides to and from site.
The house in Costesti was home to Elena and her three young children. Her husband was abusive and non-supportive so the courts banned him from seeing her or the children. Now she works two jobs and struggles to make ends meet. The initial project was to build her a new kitchen with solid foundations, however, when the team arrived they found that plans had changed. Officially the house is joint owned by Elena and her brother and he highlighted a more urgent need. The small house was poorly designed which meant that the wastewater from the house ran straight into the foundations. Therefore, the new project was to dig around the house and remove the original mud/hay/manure rendering and apply a coat of concrete rendering to weatherproof the house and lay a drainage pipe. People from the local church skilled in rendering over a layer of metal mesh nailed to the outside of the house came to help every day. One of the team's main responsibilities was to keep them supplied with concrete, a task that was very tiring and repetitive. Whilst there the team also helped with clearing the garden and started rebuilding the porch.
The second project house was located in Ialoveni and home to Helena and her granddaughter, Andrea. They live in half of a house that was split when Helena separated from her husband and could not afford the whole house. At the time she could not afford to finish the house so her daughter and husband helped her to purchase some windows and doors. When her daughter became ill with dementia her husband left and took the doors and windows with him. Since then the local church was able to buy some cheap windows and doors as a quick temporary measure. Whilst there the team's job was to remove the old wooden windows and doors and replace them with plastic ones. As Moldova has such extremes of weather, +40c in summer and -30c in winter, windows, doors and solid walls are essential for insulation.
Reflecting on the whole mission project,Pastor Clifford Herman remarked:"My lasting impressions that will stay with me a long time, will be about a team who never really 'camped' together before, gelled with each other from day one, and stayed like that until the final minute. The comfort with each other was so obvious and seen through the creativity in the daily worship sessions, patience with one another, and support for those who have never done it before or been away from home for the first time. Mission trips do tend to do that to people when they focus on blessing someone else. A principle for all relationships."
Other reflections showed the wonderful impact this venture had on everyone:
"Project Moldova was a great experience. The two weeks gave us an insight into their way of life and culture and the homemade food will definitely be missed. Although working on the houses was tiring it was also much fun to work as one with the group and do new things like making cement and cutting through bricks. It was hot and dirty but worth it knowing we've contributed, if only a little, to the families we helped. I would definitely recommend it to anyone thinking of doing a mission trip!" Kit remarked.
Glessy commented:"Doing this mission trip gave all of us a push to venture out of our comfort zone which has helped us build up our teamwork and our personal confidence. Giving free health checks to the adults felt very fulfilling. The children became creative by making artworks and painting T-shirts which they totally enjoyed. Communication had been a little tricky because of the language barrier, but making a connection to the people has never been an issue. Each day had been tiring for each one of us, but at the end of the day, seeing the smiles of the people we've helped made it all worth it."
The youngest member of the team, 10-year-old Meghan, commented,"Going to Moldova on a mission trip was a lovely experience. I would recommend it to anyone. Just being together and creating a team was lovely. Although I wasn't working much I was still sociable to the children and the team, not tucked up in my own corner. Moldova made me realise we shouldn't be unhappy with what we have, as some are happy but have less than us. I would definitely go on a mission trip again."
Unfortunately, not all the work was completed whilst we were there, but the funds raised will be used to finish the bathroom and kitchen under the direction of Pastor Sprinceana. The team plan to continue raising funds to help finish Helena's house and make it a home.
It was a tiring but rewarding two weeks. For many, like Jackie, it was their first mission trip. She remarked, "Not only was it great to get to know each other on a new level but the experience of getting stuck in and working hard for the benefit of others, whether it be shovelling cement or running the health expo and messy church, was incredibly rewarding. It was a fantastic two weeks and I've come away with so many great memories; I would recommend such a trip to anyone, even if you've never done anything like it before."
Jordan commented,"After living in England for 17 years, it was a really exciting experience to go to Moldova. I really enjoyed seeing their culture and their way of life and it was great to experience it with such an amazing group of friends. I really enjoyed doing activities like the health expo because it made me feel really good to be able to help other people and even though the language barrier was difficult, I couldn't stop smiling the whole time. The work we did on the two houses was tough, and even though I'll never be able to look at cement again, it was truly fulfilling to be able to help people and do God's work. I would definitely recommend doing a mission trip to anyone and am excited to see what our next one will be."
We felt incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to go to another country and help others. Here's what Matthew and Ophelia had to say:
"Definitely an amazing trip. Even though there was a lot of cement making and other hard work, I enjoyed working on the houses as it was helping to make someone's life better. I also enjoyed experiencing a different culture through being at church, eating their food and through sightseeing." (Matthew)
"Would I do it again? Definitely! With the same group? A resounding yes. Why do it again? ‒ I learnt to be thankful in all circumstances, to smile no matter what, made a new friend and learnt more about my own group and I can now mix cement. The smiles on those we helped were priceless and even though we had challenges, if we work and pray together and trust in God we can get the job done." (Ophelia)
More photos can be found on the Plymouth church website.