We are not teaching this week but will be preparing for our classes for next week. So we have spent the day at the house. We enjoy being here with Alex and Lucia. They are so anxious to make us comfortable (comfort’able as he says) and be sure that we are happy.
They live a very simple life. The day begins very early with two of the children going to school at 7:00 a.m. Children get themselves up and have breakfast on their own. The oldest girl goes to work at 9 and the oldest son works with the youth at a church so he only goes to work a few times a week. Maria goes to school about 8 and Daniel, 4 years old, stays at home. Lucia spends her day cooking, washing clothes, and cleaning the house. She seems very content with her duties. Daniel loves to be with his mother and, as most little ones, says “Mama, Mama” about a thousand times to day! He is a very lovable child and gets lots of attention. Alex spends his day working on the house, always planning and adding to the house. He has had very interesting and varied jobs. He has had several businesses and says he is happiest and feels the best about himself when he has a business of some kind. Right now he is working on the possibility of selling medical supplies. He is very personable and seems to be a good salesman.
The house is two stories. Originally the first floor was a garage and the living quarters were upstairs. Through the years Alex has made the garage into living quarters to rent to missionaries or others who come to Moldova, usually to work in churches. When we came in 2005 that is where we stayed and the kitchen was upstairs. To get to the upstairs you have to go outside and up stairs on the side of the house. In 2005 the kitchen was upstairs so we went up there to eat. Now Alex has added to the downstairs and made a kitchen there and made a bedroom where the kitchen was upstairs. This time we are staying in a large bedroom upstairs and now we go outside and down stairs to eat. Four students are living in the bedrooms downstairs. They are here with Children’s Emergence International and will be here for a year.
Lucia loves to watch movies. Daniel asked today if we could have movie night again tonight and she immediately said she would like to. She said watching a movie is the only time she can relax. Otherwise she said she just sees things or thinks of things the need to be done and just keeps on working.
Alex and Lucia are in their early to middle 40’s. I think they think of us as parents. Their oldest children is Irina (pronounced Irene-a), 20 years old, and she works with an organization called “Travel and Work” that places students in the United States to work for several months and then have a month to travel. They usually work as housekeepers in hotels or in restaurants. Vadim is 18, Inna (E-na) is 14, Staska is 12 and Daniel, 4. Marie, 16, is a girl from one of the orphanages that they “adopted” last summer. I don’t know if it is a formal adoption but I think it is more like a foster child. All of the children are very good kids and very loving and caring.
One of Alex’s dreams is to develop a program for children at the orphanage to prepare them for life outside the institution. He plans to build a greenhouse and create other activities for them and have them stay at the house on the weekends. Remember that at age 16 they are put out of the orphanage usually with no real preparation for life. Lucia told us the other morning she found Maria crying and asked her what was wrong. She replied she had a bad dream and was back at the orphanage. She would be a good study in resilience. She is warm, cooperative and does well at school. Alex wants to send her to the states for college at a school in Pensacola, Fla.; this for a man who makes $12,000 a year and considers himself middle class.
Preston’s trip to the program for alcoholic and drug dependent people was a real adventure. Preston, Alex and Vatali went to a village just outside the city limits. The group has an attic that they are working on as they live in it. Eight men live there. Alex kept telling about the men who were there. “This man was in jail for two times.”; “this man was a thief;” “this one killed 2 people.” Eventually, the pastor of Alex’s church and his wife came in and Preston relaxed a little bit. He figured the pastor brought his wife, it must be OK. There were about 18 of us there. We don’t know how many were people in the program and how many were workers. Preston recognized several from the church we visited Sunday. He thinks it was sort of like an AA meeting but all that had happened by the time we left was a lot of passionate singing and the pastor’s sermon. Preston did not have to say anything and was glad. He had the feeing they knew a lot more about dependency than he did. They don’t call it a halfway house, but it functions a lot like Freeman Center or the Mission Waco half way house just with much less funding and no 12 step program.
On the way home we go stuck in the snow twice. Once Preston got real worried that they would spend the night in the car. He talked himself into believing it was just an adventure (cognitive restructuring, if any of his students are reading this) and anyway he knew that Gaynor and Rob were praying for us. They are colleagues at the SSW and the best prayers we know. We finally got home in one piece and early enough to participate in movie night. Daniel ate a whole lot of candy and was bouncing off the walls. I don’t know when he might go to sleep.
All is well here. We are well fed, warm, and loved. Van, “life is good.”