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Visitirs • Team ASL "A Spanish Life"
We started to get people from other groups coming to see us who had heard of what we were doing, and were interested in having a look for them. Our role started to change and we became more like guides to Moldova. We would collect them from the airport accommodate them and show them around the various projects that we felt needed support whether this be a family that needed regular help to an orphanage that could not afford to heat the home in the winter or clothe the children. Of course there were some projects that we did not get involved with, one being the building of new churches. This seemed to be the in thing in Moldova. Religion had gone underground for many years in Russia and now the people were free to believe in whom they liked, this opened the doors to all the God bothers the West had to offer. They came in there hundreds all trying to establish their own ideas before anyone else. We had Mormons, Jehovah Witness, and Born again, and Lay Preachers, you name them and we got them. One group I met when I was asked to come to a meeting they were having in Belti one evening after a day of giving. I turned up to the meal as asked, before they started a few of the twenty five strong group of Americans felt the needed to stand up as they wanted to share with the others some fantastic religious revelation they had experienced that day. The first person was a girl in her early twenties who told how she was in the street and had seen a man without legs, she had offered him 700 lei (About £35) and asked if he would take God as his saviour. He had done so in a flash. The whole group held hands and shouted halleluiah praise be to God. I think I must have lost the plot. You offer a beggar the equivalent of fourteen months pension if he takes God as his saviour, he does so, and you are happy because you think you have another convert. The next person got up he had been in a village where he had stumbled upon a family living in the most appalling conditions, they had no indoor water (no one did in the villages) they had no indoor toilet (no one did in the village) and the electric only worked for a few hours per day. (Guess what) inside the house lived an old man and his wife, they were offered food if they took God into their hearts, (guess what). Again the hand holding and thanks to God, I am sorry but they were in my eyes, mad, they lived in a dream world. Needless to say this group and others like it did not get our support. Once we started to work with a group we simply became their people on the ground, we would spend the money they sent where they wanted it spent, we would report back and send photos and reports and accounts, and when they came over we looked after them. One such group was from Taunton a normal church that had done some work in Romania asked to send a representative over in the form of Pat Derrick. They like others were starting to hear about Moldova and wanted to help. I collected Pat on the bus and over the three hour trip to home I fell in love with this sixty year old grandmother who was on a low income, a none believer and wanted to take on all the problems of the world. She had in fact arrived with her son Richard fresh out of the army after twenty-two years service and looking for another mission, but it was Pat that was the driving force she would decide for her son and the group back in England what they were going to do. We were still living in our two-bed apartment at the time so we all dossed down there for the four-day visit. First on the agenda was to take them round for the next day and a half on what had become our normal tourist route. We always showed a cross section of what Moldova had to offer never too bad and never too nice the families who had lived without water and electricity for the last two years. (Imagine the toilet) then to the old woman who had been blind since 1951. Then on to the girl without a face.