A struggling family experience the joy of Christmas

“The best thing that happened to us”

Winter is the most challenging season for people living in poverty in Moldova. There is far less seasonal work available for the many people who don’t have stable employment. Roads can become impassable due to snow, and heating costs rise. Christmas becomes another burden on cash-strapped families who can barely afford to put food on the table, never mind paying for a big family dinner and presents.

The Rusu family lives in northern Moldova – and for them, celebrating Christmas is yet another thing they can’t afford. Both Ion, 40, and Ana, 32, are unemployed. Ana has epilepsy but takes care of the four children, aged three to ten. Although Ion takes on any jobs he can find in the village, they don’t pay well enough to meet all of his family’s needs.

When the Rusus first moved into their house, it was uninhabitable, fallen into disrepair, and full of rats. The local church helped them to repair two rooms – the entryway and the bedroom – but there is still no bathroom. The third room, which they use as a kitchen, is not in good condition.

As Christmas approaches, the Rusus’ desperate situation becomes more acute. They need to heat their home using a wood-burning stove, but firewood is very expensive.

Ion shares, “I collect dry wood from a nearby forest, but it’s not enough for the entire winter.”

Fortunately, the family has been enrolled in Mission Without Borders’ (MWB) family sponsorship programme and has started receiving regular support –food and hygiene parcels, emotional support, and academic help for their children.

Ana said, “One of the best things the Mission has done for us is help us with repairs and provide us with mattresses. Before that, we were sleeping on wooden boards.” 

It was the first time I had seen them so happy.


Ion Munteanu, the MWB family worker who journeys with them, said, “Indeed, the delivered mattresses were a great blessing for the Rusu family. It was the first time I had seen them so happy.”

Usually, the Rusu family can’t afford to do anything to celebrate Christmas. This year, however, is different. MWB’s Operation Christmas Love campaign delivers parcels of food, treats, and Christian literature explaining the real meaning of Christmas to families living in need in Eastern Europe.

The Rusu family was delighted to receive the Operation Christmas Love box – it arrived at a difficult time when they were worried about how to afford more food. The children were particularly excited about the biscuits they found inside.

Ion Rusu expressed, “The monthly food and hygiene parcels we receive as part of the sponsorship programme, mean so much to us. As I don’t have a stable job, it’s a huge help and blessing for us. The Mission’s help has been invaluable: we’ve received warm clothing, coats, and shoes, as well as some furniture. There are no words to describe our thanks and appreciation for your help.”

Ion Munteanu shares, “The Rusu family is working with the Mission, and that makes me happy. They’re trying to improve their lives as much as possible. I’m encouraged to keep supporting them to become a thriving family.”

Every year, thanks to the generosity of supporters, many families like the Rusus are able to experience the joy of Christmas. This year, we hope to deliver 42 000 OCL parcels to families, individuals, and the elderly during Christmas. Each box, weighing 12kg, contains much-needed food staples, some festive treats, and literature sharing the true meaning of Christmas. These parcels are so much more than a valuable gift – it conveys a message of hope and love.

With your support, we can share God’s love with those in need this Christmas. Will you join us?

42 000

Operation Christmas Love boxes are planned for distribution to families, individuals and the elderly across our six field countries, including 10 000 to those in war-torn Ukraine.

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Give hope and dignity.