FARMS Visit to Moldova in 2016

My wife Pat and I (Joe) had the privilege of visiting our program in Moldova this past spring. It was a fascinating trip. Our missionary liaisons, Ghiorghi and Cristiana Cazacu took us from northern Moldova to the southern border of the country. It is a beautiful country with rolling hills and rich farmland. Along the way we visited several of the families with existing FARMS projects and other families that need our assistance.
A Baptist pastor gathering feed for his goats
Moldova and Albania rank together as the poorest countries in Europe. Life in Moldova is extremely difficult, and signs of poverty are abundant. It is a common sight to see rows of men and women cultivating large fields with hand hoes; reminiscent of farming in America over a century ago! Good jobs are nearly non-existent, forcing many of the young and educated to leave the country. The costs of basic necessities are high and fuel is extremely costly. Horse drawn carts are a common sight. The average wage of a schoolteacher is about $100 a month! Couple this with winter heating costs of $300 a month, one wonders how people survive.

A widow who shared her strawberries with us
Pat Richter at a well in Moldova

Radu and Gheorghe Tardea, Ghiorghi, and Joe Richter in their green house for tomatoes. Plants were grown in bags and buckets due to a disease in the soil. Greenhouses extend the growing season and the crops command a greater price, increasing their profits.
Pat, Cristina, Mr. & Mrs. Ion Leca, and Ghiorghi in front of their
homemade greenhouse. This couple has a children’s ministry.

When we asked families how they cope, the common answer was that one could not depend on just their wages for all their needs, other sources of income were needed. They shared that some families have relatives out of the country that send some money home as they can, others take side jobs to make ends meet. Otherwise, everyone seems to have a garden in their yard and some animals. Fruits and vegetables are canned out of necessity. Very little land, even around their homes, is wasted. Pruned grape vines were saved for firewood. We saw strawberries growing under the grape arbors, and each home had several kinds of fruit trees. Many have turned to agriculture as a source of income, even though this means long hours of hard labor. The elderly are especially destitute, depending on children and relatives to meet their needs.

Most pastors we met were also farmers, because tithing in the churches is minimal. Our hope and trust is to see the FARMS program helping many families to prosper enabling them to give generously to their churches. We believe this will be an example to others that the church in Moldova can prosper and be self-supported through the generosity of their members.

Christina, Ghiorghi, Pat and Tamara Bucur. Tamara works with Operation Mobilization and has been sent as a missionary to her home village. She has been instrumental in evangelizing many and a new church has been planted in her village. Tamara is on the FARMS loan committee. We are in front of her greenhouse. She grows specialty crops of high value, like red and yellow peppers for a local pizzeria to support her ministry.
Ion with his honey bees
An example of the donated greenhouses
Special Update: Through the generosity of a Christian businessman in Michigan, 18 greenhouses, sized 26 x 48 feet, are in the process of being donated to our program in Moldova. The donor would like to see a matching fund challenge for the cost of shipping. These funds would be used to provide loans to those receiving the greenhouses. This is a great opportunity really to impact many families with a very profitable enterprise. Please be in prayer as we work out the logistics of shipping a container of these beautiful greenhouses to Moldova. Interested? Contact us for more details.

- FARMS Executive Director Joe Richter


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