Photo above: Students holding their English certificates

In May 2019, Nick Clarke had the privilege to visit the City of Cahul in Moldova, for a short-term voluntary solo placement with TEN’s partner church, Biserica Emanuel. He claimed that he had no particular knowledge or skills to offer, other than a willingness to serve in any way that I could be useful. Here’s his story…

“I travelled to Cahul by bus from the capital, Chisinau. Cahul is about 200 km south of the capital and the journey took about five hours. This involved three buses at a total cost of around £4.00. There was no train service between the two cities. It would have been possible to catch a taxi from the airport, which would take about two and a half hours, and cost about £80. As a self-financing volunteer, the buses were the most cost-effective option, and on reflection, were probably a more interesting way to travel; which I would choose again.

Biserica Emanuel is an evangelical Baptist Church, based in the city centre. The pastor, Anatol, speaks English, as do many of the congregation, so although I don’t speak either Romanian or Russian, there were a lot of people I could still talk with.

Apart from the Sunday morning services and other regular activities such as young people and youth groups etc, the church is involved in outreach to the local community by providing English classes. These are very well structured and take place between 2.00pm and 8.00pm most days other than Sunday. Several hundred people from Cahul and the surrounding villages have attended these classes. As a native English speaker, I was able to assist with this during my stay.

Students help to assemble the flat-pack furniture

The Church is also involved in outreach to schools in the city and surrounding villages. At one village school, I was asked to give my testimony to the children as part of an English Comprehension exercise. The children then asked me questions to show they had understood what I had said. What a fantastic opportunity!

This project is progressing well, but there is still much work to be done. When not assisting with English classes or school outreach, a lot of my time was spent assisting with the project, mainly building flat packed furniture.

New campsite and conference facility in Cahul

Emanuel Church also has an ambitious campsite project at an outlying village. They are building several permanent properties some of which can be used as foster homes for vulnerable or orphaned children, others can be used for summer camps and as conference facilities.

Apart from the many lovely people I met, for myself personally I think the most valuable thing was being reminded that even if we face challenging tasks or situations over which we have no control, our God is in total control. I am reminded of Jesus calming the storm in Matthew 8 v 23-27. Although the disciples were unable to control the situation and were fearful of drowning, they spoke with Jesus and he calmed the storm and gave them peace, and so he too can with us.

I am hoping to return to Cahul in the Autumn to assist further in the work of the Church. If anyone reading this would be interested in joining with me for a week or more, then please do contact Melanie at the TEN office to chat further. All volunteers are required to have references and meet TEN’s basic requirements.”