My Moldovan Misadventure 2017

Last month, I took a trip to Moldova.

Moldova is a third-world, landlocked nation wedged between Romania and Urkaine. I had only heard of it in one movie, had a vague idea of it being close to Russia, and otherwise knew nothing.

I’ve debated posting about it.

I have a great many conflicting feelings about the trip.

The people I stayed with were wonderful. I went as part of a mission trip from my church, but I didn’t feel I brought anything to the group.

Aren’t people supposed to come back from mission trips reaffirmed and gushing about all the good they did and spiritual transformation?

Did I make meaningful connections and experience revelations? In some ways. I was mostly the awkward American who smiled too much.

In the middle of the trip, I got so dehydrated I ended up in the hospital. That meant a two-hour trip to Chisinau, the capitol, to find and ER with English-speaking doctors.

(I’m fine, just mad at myself for not drinking water like a moron.)

I don’t feel I brought anything positive, just a drain on resources. I didn’t really help and I don’t make friends easily even without language barriers.

But like I said, the Moldovans were all very kind to me at the church, the camp, and everyone with the local ministry, KBC Ministries.

As for the country itself…everywhere we went felt bleached, worn out. There’s a tiredness and a heaviness to most the population. Hopelessness. I don’t know how else to describe the feeling.

I was told by one young man that everyone in the countryside wants to go to Chisinau, and everyone in Chisinau wants to go to America or Western Europe.

I spoke to one young woman just a few years older than me who remembers the Soviet Union.

Right after the Iron Curtain fell and nationalist anti-Russian fervor swept the country, hundreds of people were murdered just for speaking Russian. It’s something you don’t hear about in the US.

The Moldovan people my age I was able to talk with worry about the same things as American people my age: what will I do with my life, how will I get a good job, will I be happy?

From what I gathered, older Moldovan people complain about the same things I’ve heard from American seniors, mainly: why isn’t the government paying for my healthcare? (Regardless of how one feels about that.)

Moldovans bag their sour cream, their government makes mine look reputable, and their traffic lights are on posts. I still don’t believe they’re as different from us as we or they think.

I think I do want to go back someday. I met some lovely people and have some new Facebook friends I’d like to see again. I’m just waiting to see when the right time will be.

  1. I agree– we have this strange tendency to think in terms of “otherness” with different cultures. Third-world countries must be SO different from the United States. Asian countries have REALLY strange customs. Historically, of course, “otherness” thinking has led to genocide, slavery, and all sorts of horrible things.
    It’s so important to remember that all share “humanness.” It’s not about the differences between cultures. Those are minimal compared to the similarities. We all want to live healthy, full lives, to provide for our families, to have a sense of purpose, and to make an impact on our community. We all want good food, shelter and water, the ability to shower, and the freedom to ask questions of the world.

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