Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

We woke up to snow this morning. If it had been in Waco everything would be closed! There was a sprinkling of snow yesterday morning and this snow there was more. One of the boys in the family we are staying with was out removing it from the walkways when we went to breakfast. The car doors were so frozen closed that it took quite a while to get them open.

The temperature this morning was 17 degrees but it didn’t feel as cold as it does at home because there isn’t any wind. The natives are complaining about how cold it is but with all the clothes we have on and no wind it really doesn’t feel terribly cold.

We are learning what it means to layer clothes. Sometimes we feel smothered with all we have on. But we are glad not to be cold so we keep wearing one thing on top of another! We also have to wear our money belts all the time with our money, passports, and credit cards in them. That adds to the bulk we feel. The wool socks that Alice gave Genie and Sam sent Preston have been very welcome articles of clothing. We wear them all the time—even to bed! They do not wear shoes in the house so warm socks are needed. One problem in dressing is that it is cold outside but very warm in the classroom. We have opened the window everyday because it has been so warm.

The information we had about having to always wear skirts was not true. Many of the women are wearing pants, even jeans, and in this cold weather it makes lots of sense. I have worn skirts everyday so far but tomorrow if it is still cold I think I will bring out my wool pants. However, it is true that they do not wear jewelry. There is only one woman in the class who has on earrings. Several do have on wedding rings but some of the married students do not even wear those.

Genie is surprised about how many people wear the same clothes for several days. (Of course Preston had not noticed!) Several of the class members have worn the same clothes for two days and others have worn the same thing everyday.

Yesterday one of the women we met in 2005 came to our classroom and asked us to come to her house sometime next week. She is from central Asia and she wants to talk about how she can take the social work profession back to her country. She said she could not talk about Jesus in her country because it was Muslim, but could show Jesus’ love by serving others through social work. We are looking forward to being in her home.

One of the frustrations in class is that we don’t always know what they are talking about. They may start a discussion and the interpreter will start to tell us what they are saying but then several people start talking and he just can’t keep up with all the discussion.

Another language issue is that when they don’t want us to know what they are saying they speak in Russian or Romanian but if we want to make a comment to each other there are so many of them that understand English that we don’t have that privacy.

The word for social work in Romanian is asistenta sociala or literally social assistant. One student looked at one of the plants in the classroom and said, “This plant needs social assistance” and grabbed a watering can and brought back water for the plant.

We have been teaching values and ethics and have had some exciting discussions. Just like the USA abortion and homosexuality are hot topics. We learned that until 2002, one could be jailed for practicing homosexuality. Actually the discussions were not that different from those we have with Baylor students.

We are really impressed with our students. They really get involved in the discussion and contribute great examples. We ask for examples often to check out if they understand the concepts and so far they seem to be.

One fear was that they would already know everything we were teaching, but that simply is not true even though they all have undergraduate degrees in social work.

Genie is always glad to see the Baylor page come up on the computer. It seems like we are not so far away if we can see that! It is also great to hear from you. Thanks for all your messages and keep them coming!

Monday, January 29, 2007

January 29, 2007

We made it through the first day as did the students! It was a long day, 8-1:30 and 2:30-4. We first met with the dean and had a very satisfying conversation, through an interpretor as he does not speak English. The class has 10 students and much as in the U.S. there are 8 women and 2 men. Several of the students are social workers that we met during our visit in 2005. Four of them teach at the college and the rest work in Chisinau or villages close by. They were all very responsive and excited about being in the class.

The class was rather noisy as we had an interpretor translating from English to Romanian and at the same time a student translating to Russian for another student. So it seemed people were talking all around you! It did not seem to bother the students as I expect they are use to this in their classes.

Yesterday we stayed at the house and tried to get over our jetlag. I had trouble sleeping the first night so I was tired. After lunch we spent a long time visitng with the family we are staying with.
the mother and father were there and various children came and went during the conversation. Alex talked about how he does not like to eat chicken. As we talked about that he said actually he did not like American chicken but he liked Russian chicken. As we explored what the difference was we discovered he likes what we call range-fed chicken and that was what he called Russian chicken. He was surprised to hear we have range-fed in America too.

The weather has not very cold at all. It is in the 30's and 40's and no wind. Of course doesn't make it feels as cold without the wind. Tomorrow they are predicting colder weather with perhaps some snow or ice. The school is very warm. In fact we dressed thinking it might be cold in the classroom but we actually opened the window because it got hot and stuffy. So we are pleased to have warmer weather than we expected. But I don't know how long this will last.

Our room is comfortable but is not very condusive to working. There is no where to put the computer, no chairs in our room, and the lighting is rather poor. We are typing on the bed which not very good for the back! I had thought about bringing some scrapbook pages to finish but am glad I didn't since I wouldn't have a place to work on them. I don't know where the children do their homework as there is no desk or quiet place for them to study. I suppose they use their beds as well but there are three children in each room. They do spend a lot of time at their computer which is on a very small table in the living room.

All in all things are going very well, we are not cold, and the company is good.
More as the adventure continues!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunday, January 28, 2007

We arrived safely in Chisinau, Moldova yesterday at 4:30 pm. We had been traveling for 24 hours! There is an eight-hour difference in time from central standard time. Our trip was good with every plane right on schedule. We had enough time between planes that we could walk around before getting on another plane to sit again for a while! The longest flight was from Wahington Dulles to Vienna which was a little over 8 hours.

We were met at the airport by Oleg and Vitali Turlac. Oleg is our contact at the college where we will be teaching. They brought us to the house where we are staying with the same family we stayed with on our previous visit. It was good to see all of them again. Alex and Lucia are the parents of six children from 20 to 4 years old. It is a very busy house!

We are very comfortable in a private room with a bath. The house is relatively warm (we have on sweaters and sweatshirts) and there is plenty of hot water for showers. We were concerned if they would have enough heat and hot water. Alex says since it has been warmer this winter than usual that there is enough heat in Chisinau. They get their gas from Russia and if the winter is very cold Moldova sometimes doesn't get enough to keep the houses very warm.

We are resting today and will put finishing touches on our lecture for tomorrow. We will begin with a meeting with the dean of social work, Vadym Burlac. This meeting is very crucial to our visit since we will determining exactly what they expect from us. As Vitali says, Moldovans are not use to planning ahead. So as we have tried to plan with them before we came it was hard to know exactly what they want us to do.

When we were here in 2005 the president and academic dean of the College of Theology and Education said the best way to help them was to provide the opportunity of their faculy members to get masters of social work degrees. At the present time none of the social work faculty have any social work degree. Their degrees are primarily in theoloy and psychology. We plan to teach the first courses in the masters program while we are here. If this plan goes well, we would like to plan for other courses to be taught once or twice a year. The long term goal is to provide them with an MSW.

We will keep you posted on the progress of this adventure! We would love to hear from you. You can respond to our blog or send us e-mail at and

Please remember us in your thoughts and prayers! Genie

Sunday, January 21, 2007

We're Returning to Moldova Soon

We will leave for the Republic of Moldova January 26 and return March 2. We will teach graduate social work courses at the Baptist College of Theology and Education in Chisinau, the capitol of Moldova. Formerly a part of the Soviet Union, Moldova is one of the smallest and poorest countries in Europe.

Our first visit to Moldova was in 2005. Above, you'll see a picture of our social work students at the Baptist College of Theology and Education from that earlier visit.

We appreciate the support and prayers of our family and friends, and support from the faculty and staff at the Baylor School of Social Work, who are helping us to purchase social work textbooks in the Russian and Romanian languages and to support the social ministries of our Moldovan students.