This summer JMI sent each of our National Directors in Moldova and Brazil to visit each other’s countries with mission teams. It was the first time we had been able to do this and we are excited to hear about Alina and Sarah’s experiences. Here is Alina’s story:
FROM MOLDOVA TO THE AMAZONI have been working with JMI for over 10 years. And almost all of these years I have heard about the work that is being done in the Amazon. I have seen hundreds of pictures and have heard numerous stories. To me it seemed like a very distant place, the end of the world. I could not even imagine what the weather would be like, what the food would be like and what the people would be like. I have heard stories about their need and their struggle for survival. But until you see it, you cannot understand it.
This year God blessed my husband Vlad and me with the opportunity to visit Brazil and see what JMI is doing there. We didn’t know what to expect, what to pack and how to behave. So I looked at lots of pictures from pastor’s conferences to see what I needed to be ready for. It looked like a lot of fun to me. From what I knew, Brazilian culture was very different from Moldovan culture where people are more reserved. Some of our friends cautioned us against going because they were worried about us going so far away, but I knew that God was in control.
The trip was long and we were exhausted when we got there. But from the very first minute of being in Brazil we loved it. The weather was much hotter than in Moldova and very humid. But this is such a small thing! The conference started and the cultural difference was not too evident. The pastors and their wives were shy just like Moldovan pastors when we had our conference. But a couple of days later something happened that made me fall in love with the people.
During the afternoon activity when the American team had their personal discussions with pastors/couples, some of the pastors played soccer. Soccer is the favorite sport in Brazil, just like in Moldova. So Vlad, of course, joined one of the teams. For a Moldovan he plays well, but watching him play with Brazilians was a lot of fun. The grass was slippery, it started raining and he kept falling. The wives of the pastors cheered for their husbands and team. They looked at my reaction when they laughed at Vlad falling and because I was not upset about it, they started cheering him as well. I tried to repeat what they screamed and they laughed at me. But at the same moment I did not see distant pastors and wives next to me. I saw brothers and sisters in Christ, who are also loved by God. And it just overwhelmed me how Great our God is!!! He loves abandoned children in Moldova and He loves pastors and their wives in the Amazon. I suddenly felt that unity with them and my heart was filled with peace!
They were still cheering for Vlad and I was still the same…. But different. This moment changed my attitude towards these people. In Moldova we have 64 young adults that we care for in Transitional Living Programs and over 550 kids that we help in the villages. And I thought my heart was full. I thought that was it, and my heart could not fit anyone else. But at that moment I realized that God showed me something different. There was a place for these pastors and their wives in my heart, and for many more. For the wonderful people who cooked for us, for the wonderful translators that we got to know a little, for the people who cared for the John Pac Center, for all the brothers and sisters across the world. Now it was easier for me to see their struggles and hurts, to feel their need for support and appreciation, to understand what they have been going through.
It was not the end of the world anymore. It was a place full of dear people, the children of God. The world has changed for me. It became smaller, but nicer and warmer.
When the pastors and their wives were leaving, they tried to cry out Vlad’s name and I knew they felt the same. Many of them said they would pray for Moldova and for our children, and I know these prayer warriors will take good care of “our” Moldovan children.
It was an eye-opening experience for me. I once again saw how great and wonderful our Lord is.
– Alina Magdaliuc, National Director Moldova