Local woman follows mission call to Moldova
When faced with the prospect of an aid trip to Moldova, River Falls resident Linda Amundsen thought to herself: "Me, a missionary?!"
Yet the story of Moldova and its challenges stuck with her, and she put the issue to prayer.
Feeling as though mission work would be fulfilling, Amundsen was soon raising through family and friends the $2,500 needed for travel to eastern Europe.
She left July 9 and stayed 20 days, even extending the trip to stay for Moldova's celebration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 after the fall of communism.
Amundsen said Troy and Heidi Darrin, from the Waukesha Assembly church, went on several mission trips to Moldova before deciding to move there. Their website says it is a place in great need of hope and of the Gospel.
The Darrins' Waukesha church is related to the Christ Center in Hudson, where Amundsen goes and where the Darrins visited to make a presentation. She said their message "really stuck" with her and coincided with a Bible reading she had learned at an intensive eight-week training course.
As Romans 10:15 says in the new International Bible version: "And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news."
Many sources call Moldova the poorest country in Europe.
Amundsen confirms that children become orphans not just when their parents die but also when they can no longer afford to feed or care for their kids.
Amundsen said, "In Moldova, kids leave home when they're 12 or 13 years old."
They go to trade school for a few years, then start work.
Amundsen also learned that Moldova is in one of the world's most active locations for human trafficking.
Many sources address the issue, including the series of documentaries "Nefarious, Merchant of Souls;" PBS in its online video "The Price of Sex;" and the BBC's online article from nearly 10 years ago named "Trafficking troubles poor Moldova."
Thugs often lure poor people and kids of both genders far from home with promises of legitimate work, but then sell them into a life that is damaging and nearly impossible to escape.
Moved to action, Amundsen and 20 others spent about 12 total hours in the air and helped tote along 16-foot lockers of donated materials.
The broader mission includes building dorms at a church where young people can take refuge. (See a six-minute YouTube video online showing a finished side of the project -- search for Christian Dormitory for Girls, Moldova.)
In the dorms, Amundsen hung sheetrock, applied "mud," sanded walls, filled holes, installed hardwood floors and helped finish electrical work.
She also filled tote bags or backpacks with toiletries for the young men and women.
She said everyone appreciated being able to shower and have "expensive" items such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste. Some needed help to control lice, and they all considered deodorant a luxury item.
Amundsen said about the local languages, 'It's actually a dialect of Romanian," adding that most people in the region spoke Russian or Romanian.
She said if a translator wasn't around, people communicated through diagrams or gestures.
Amundsen laughs about when she was learning to mud the wall, her teacher would just walk by and say "no," then demonstrate the technique again.
She said the group gathered daily for prayer. Amundsen stayed at the dorm during most of the trip then at the Darrins' house for the last few days.
Beyond the mission
Amundsen says Moldova's climate and landscape reminded her of Wisconsin, though it was unusual to see people's farm animals staked near the road for grazing. She did not see a lot of wildlife, such as rabbits, squirrels or deer.
She says meals included big portions of pasta, rice, hearty soups, fruits, vegetables including peppers, fresh bread and more.
The group also ate pizza a few times, which is offered in only a few combinations.
"The mashed potatoes were incredible," she commented about one of her favorites.
Amundsen said Moldovans are extremely hospitable and made sacrifices so that guests would have a hearty meal. Also, if a guest admired an object in a host's home, the host would try to give them the object, even it was an heirloom.
"The people of Moldova are physically beautiful and beautiful inside," she said.
The trip - Amundsen's first one abroad -- helped her realize how much Americans take for granted, including safe drinking water, window screens, toilets that flush and have a seat, air conditioning, etc.
The group of missionaries also went into villages for church.
Amundsen describes the scenarios as "old school," with women wearing skirts or dresses and a scarf-like head covering. She also observed how well-behaved children were.
"In one church we went to," she said, "they're still segregating," with females on one side and males on the other.
The church in Moldova held the country's independence celebration -- in Romanian on Saturday and in Russian on Sunday -- plus paid for buses to transport people who wanted to attend.
The mission worker calls the Moldovans "a very thoughtful people" and says she could see returning there for more mission work in the future.
Learn more about the Darrins' mission online at www.themoldovamission.org.
From one pastor to another
After her return to River Falls and after this story was written, Amundsen said Pastor Darrin shared a letter with her he'd received from another pastor:
"Dear Brother Pavel, Who better than us, generation at the turn of two millennia had the wonderful opportunity and privilege to openly preach the gospel at the post-Soviet space? Who if not us, will take to his responsibility the Great Commission entrusted by The Lord Jesus Christ? When, if not today, we will be able to do this?
Recognizing this responsibility, the Pentecostal Union of Moldova, on the occasion of the 20th Jubilee of the unity of Pentecostal churches, organized on 28-29 July 2012 Evangelistic crusades in different regions of the country: Slobozia Mare, Cantemir, Congaz, Hancesti, Straseni and Balti. Most of the Pentecostal churches from Moldova have joined these events - they prayed and worked actively preparing the ground for effective sowing of the Word of God in the hearts of people.
Although, initially, the plan to rent 300 buses to transport people to the Evangelization seemed to be unattainable because of financial barriers, but nothing is impossible for God. This problem was solved through the faithful and devoted people. Your sacrifice and the desire to become a part of this project through donation of $300.00 allowed us to surpass the original plan and the number of buses that have brought people to Evangelization, has increased to 342.
Despite the fact that the sun temperature during the service at the stadium in Balti reached 47 O? degrees (116F), people were willing to come by buses, their own cars and on foot to hear the Word of God. During two days about 20,000 people have heard the Gospel and as a result, more than 730 people came to repentance, 648 of which have completed decision making cards.
It should be mentioned that, on average, each bus has brought back home at least two people who have accepted Jesus, thanks to someone who has worked physically, to someone who has sponsored ... Some sow, some reap, but together we can rejoice!
Think! If a soul worth's more than the treasures of the whole world, than what is the meaning of your contribution to the rescue, at least of two souls through our joint ministry? We'd like to believe that in the future we all will be opened for the joint cooperation to build the Kingdom of God! If not we - then WHO? If not now - then WHEN? With gratitude, on behalf of the Pentecostal Union of Molodva."