I had the privilege of sharing the eulogy at my father-in-law’s funeral. The word “eulogy” comes to us via the Greek language and it means “a blessing“. I want to share with you how Andrei Bivol was a blessing to my life, and to many others’ lives.
Andrei Bivol was born in 1948 in Costești, Ialoveni, the Republic of Moldova the year of the terrible famine in Moldova, part of the former Soviet Union. Andrei was the oldest of 8 children, and at the age of 20, he lost his own father. Andrei’s dreams of continuing his education were shattered as he had to step up to help raise his younger siblings, the youngest one being 1 yr. old. Those were difficult times, times of severe poverty and suffering. In 1973 he married Maria Levinte, a nurse, also of Costești, Moldova, and together they raised four daughters and celebrated their 49th anniversary this year.
I met Andrei, or as I called him “Tata” in the summer of 2001 on a Christian mission trip to the country of Moldova. A man whom I barely knew, opened his home to me and to another “foreigner” showing tremendous “Moldovan hospitality”. Partly due to his example, my wife and I have always opened our home to guests, especially immigrants, attempting to show the same hospitality to them that Andrei showed to me all of those years ago. I was 20 years old when I met him and I have known him for 21 years. I am married to his second child, Elena Bivol Brewer. Andrei and I communicated mostly through pointing and asking Lenuta, “please tell him what I am saying” for the first 4 years that we knew each other. In 2005, Andrei and Elena were talking about me, in Romanian, and Elena said, “ai grija, el intelege ce spui” (be careful, he understands what you are saying). His response was, “nu, el nu intelege” (nah, he doesn’t understand). I responded with, “eu va inteleg foarte bine” (I understand you very well). After that moment, he wanted to talk with me for hours. He showed me how to grow grapes and make wine. Then, when my kids were born, I saw the spirit of a “bunelul” (grandpa) come alive in him. My favorite memory was the afternoon when he volunteered to take Abigail and put her to sleep for a nap. 15 minutes into the nap, I peeked in the bedroom and Abigail was jumping on the bed while bunelul was snoring like a bear. It was quite a sight.
Whenever Andrei and I would run errands in Chisinau, I would drive and he would “instruct”. I had a sermon series based on Jesus Christ’s most famous sermon, “the Sermon on the Mount” preached by Costel Oglice. In between the phrases, “incet” (slowdown/careful) and “mai la dreapta” (a little more to the right) he and I would discuss the teachings of Jesus Christ. I did not think much on it then, but today, those errand running sessions are some of the most fond memories that I have “cu socrul meu” (with my father-in-law).
The last time I saw him was in February of this year. In fact, he was visiting us and it happened to be on my birthday. This was after a terrible battle with Covid 19 that kept him in the hospital for an extended period of time. Elena had stayed with him each day, reading the Bible to him, praying for him, and praying with him. He heard those prayers. God heard those prayers and intervened. Andrei, contrary to all that medical science stated at the time, got out of that bed and went home. It was a miracle. I asked him, when he visited us, “have you made peace with God”? Over the 20 years that I had known him, I had asked that question many times. He had never given me a direct answer. This time, though, he did, He said, “yes, I have made peace with God”. I thanked God then and there and I still thank Him today knowing that socrul meu (my father-in-law) made peace with God. I want to read a verse from the Bible for you, “Da, suntem plini de încredere, şi ne place mult mai mult să părăsim trupul acesta, ca să fim acasă, la Domnul.” (2 Corinteni 5:8) Andrei este acasa la Domnul (Andrei is at home with the Lord). We all grieve at the moment because we all loved him but we do not grieve as those without hope. We know that Andrei is in the presence of the Lord and one day, we will see him again face to face, according to the Scriptures. Family and friends, I encourage you to hold on to the good memories that you have and share those memories with the next generation so that they can get to know Andrei Bivol through your eyes. By impacting your life, through you, he will impact generations that he never had a chance to meet.
A very touching blessing.
Thank you for your kind words.