I was first introduced to the beautiful country of Moldova and JMI through the University I attend in Nashville, Tennessee, and have now returned for three years. This past year, however, I was determined that one week was not enough, and that I would do anything to spend more time in Moldova. That brings me to the Vintage City Church, who graciously allowed me to not only join their team, but also accepted me as one of their own.
Together we spent most of our time in northern Moldova, serving in Rujniţa; a little village in Edineţ District. When we first arrived, I was humbled by its simple beauty, the houses quaint and small. The people of Rujniţa may not have much, many of the them lacking in basic necessities. Yet for the first time in my life, I experienced what true community looks like, and I have never felt more loved and valued. Each day in the village we hosted VBS for the children, and several times over the boys and girls would nearly tackle me with their hugs. Initially I was concerned about the language barrier, but again and again, the Lord reminded me that His love transcends all language. God reminded me when we – our team and the children – sang His praises together. When we danced, ran, and played together. When we laughed and loved together. And when one little boy, came up to me and told me with a bright smile that I was his best friend. And all the while, I forgot we were of different native tongues. True community, God’s community, has one language, and it is love.
Before VBS in the afternoons, our team would commit the mornings to visiting families. With us we brought food bags, and gifts for the children that were being sponsored. Some of the families openly invited us into their homes. They were overwhelmed with joy and gratitude, the parents thanking us for simply being there first and foremost. One mother in particular had the warmest smile that I will remember for a long time. She thanked us continually the entire time we were in her home. She and the other families may not realize it, but they were serving us just as much as we thirsted to serve them.
On our final day in the village, we had a big celebration with all of the families and children that wanted to come. This was my favorite day. The whole community came out, and together we played games, indulged in laughter, and spent moments in prayer. I am certain our Lord rejoiced in those moments with our team. And I believe the love reflected through community, is what drew us closer to one another. And later that evening, the church pastor Alexandr, and his wife, hosted our team for dinner. Once again we were welcomed into a home, and as adorned guests. Their hospitality, their humility, and their genuine joy once again humbled me to the way the body of Christ should live amongst one another.
After reflecting on our team’s time together, I realized that with them, I felt completely myself. I didn’t feel pressured to hold back my opinions. I was free to speak openly and encouraged to share my thoughts. I felt accepted and appreciated. I felt humbled and grateful for it all. And after just a week spent together, I felt that I had known them for years. This is community, this is love, and we were only reflecting what we had been witness to in Rujniţa.
I praise the Lord for what JMI has done, and will continue to do for the communities of Moldova, and for The Lord’s kingdom. Their staff, and their dedication to live out JMI’s motto – to make justice personal for the poor, the orphaned, and the forgotten – is giving the opportunity for the voice of Moldova to be known by doing just that.
– Hope Harmon
If you would like to join JMI on one of the 2019 mission trips please contact us at [email protected] for more information.