Sunday, September 16, 2007

Those thieving missionaries!

Help! These stepping forward missionaries just showed up today and took all of our stuff! Look at 'em. There's Cami, Noemi and Noemi's 2 month old daughter Isabella. Don't they look like crooks?Our stuff was last seen inside (and on top of) a beat-up blue Dacia pickup.
Ok, you're not going to believe this...but I'm just kidding. The missionaries really didn't steal our extra stuff. We've been in Romania for almost 2 years and we acquired a lot of excess stuff that we already had at home. There was no point in shipping it back and besides, certain items like our tiny washing machine wouldn't be much use in the states. So we donated it all to the cause.

And now the apartment looks pretty much like it did when I first got here in January 2006. The only difference is nearly two years of time has gone by. Take a look at this before and after photo - focus on the rubber plant in the center.

Well, that's it for me. Dana has committed to a wrap-up post after we get settled in the states next week.
La Reverdere,

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Handicap Accessible

Big changes at the apartment bloc during this last full week for the remainder of the Jutton family (me) in Bucharest. I came home from work on Thursday to find all sorts of excitement outside the main entrance. Several men were in the process of pouring a handicap ramp. Both of our building administration ladies and several residents where on hand for the event.

I stayed a bit for some chit chat and watched the action. The ladies asked about my girls and said several times that they were very sorry to see us go.

Here's a picture of the finished product. It is actually the law in Bucharest that all apartment entrances must have these, but many still don't.

Ours came out pretty good. Roughly, I'd say it drops about 4.5 ft over it's 10 foot length. This may seem steep to us Americans but I've seen them much shorter and steeper in Bucharest. They even have a few pieces of re-bar stuck in there to help slow down and out-of-control wheel chair. I haven't seen any others with that added "safety" feature - ours is fancy!


Saturday, September 08, 2007

Visiting the Orphanage

First, a quick travel update:

Hello everyone! Just wanted to let you know that both of my "girls" made it home. According to Dana ,the flights were on time, and with the exception of the luggage transfer through customs at Dulles (apparently a good workout for the girls due to the lack of carts), it was a good travel day.

Steve's Orphanage Visit
So, the missionaries at Stepping Forward felt bad for me being alone after reading one of my desperate emails, ha ha ha. Cami Mather and Scott DeWeerd decided it was about time I visited the orphanage where the kids they take to the summer camp actually live. They picked me up near the Titan Metro at 10:00 this morning and we headed out to towards the edge of Bucharest. This area is definitely what you would call the "low rent" district. Many of the streets here are not paved, except for some recycled asphalt they dump out as gravel in the worst places. Many of the dwellings including large apartment blocs do not have basic services like indoor plumbing.

As soon as we pulled in to the facility, the kids came running out and were ALL OVER Scott and Cami. You can definitely tell immediately how starved they are for attention. I brought my camera and as soon as I took the first picture, they were all over me too. Every one of them wanted a picture. Mostly they wanted pictures of themselves alone, but it did get ugly when one kid would want a picture with this friend and NOT that friend. I'm glad I brought an extra set of batteries, because this went on throughout the entire visit.

After the lengthy greeting process outside, we went in to do a craft project with the kids. Cami had brought some stuff to make sock puppets. When I wasn't taking pictures, I was put in charge of holding the glue. Cami and Scott make the decision (a really good one) not to give out the glue bottles. I also had a chance help a small child (who was mute - picture on the right) make his puppet. Steve Mather (Cami's husband) showed up during the project. This was great, since we were overwhelmed and needed an extra hand (or 10). The only problem was that Steve shares my first name and as soon as he showed up the constant call of "Steve, Steve, Steve!" was out-of-control. The craft project, for some kids, went pretty well but it was total chaos in the room. A few of the smaller kids had their socks stolen since these cheap socks were better than what many of them had in their limited wardrobes.In this orphanage, there are about 80 kids and there are about 30 other similar places in Bucharest holding a few thousand kids total. According to Steve Mather, the bulk of Romania's (50,000+ range - estimates vary) orphan population is outside of Bucharest where the cost of keeping them is less. Most of the children here at his location are in the 10-14 age range with a few younger and a few older. One of the saddest things to me is that some of these kids actually have parents. Their parents just don't want them and turn them over to the state-run orphanage system. Some kids will run away from the orphanage only to return a few days later when they realize they weren't wanted back at home. Many of the kids are also "Roma" people (gypsy) and their chances of adoption here in Romania are slim. International adoptions have been banned in Romania since about 2001 due to concerns about human trafficking (some of those concerns were justified), but this has kept many more children from finding adoptive parents.After the crafts were done, the goodbyes took as long as the greetings. Even though the missionaries will be back next week, you would think they were leaving for good. Kids were literally hanging on the car as we pulled away.
If you want to find out more about this important ministry (to come here and help, or donate, or pray), you can go here to the Stepping Forward website. Cami & Steve and Scott & Noemi are really doing some great stuff here and can always use more help. As I was reflecting about the Stepping Forward ministry, this quote came to mind.....

Matthew 25 verses 35-40
Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

That's all for now. I may go back to the orphanage next week. I just might post again, but I won't be bringing the camera!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Things We Learned

All of life is a learning experience. The past two years has put us in situations and cultures that were outside our present realm of experience. So much to take in and apply in our lives. I imagine that more will come to us as time passes.

These are the things we learned:

1 - To appreciate the high standard of living we Americans enjoy.
2 - We can be happy, even in a small apartment in a crowded city.
3 - To appreciate the quality of our US government despite its flaws.

1 - I learned that we don't need all the "stuff" that we have in the states. It's nice, but I can be completely happy without it. What I missed most was Stephen when we were on opposite sides of the ocean at times.
2 - That missionaries are real, ordinary people. I grew up in mission friends, GAs, and Acteens. All missons awareness groups within the Baptist church. In my mind, missionaries were set up on a pedestal. Now that I have lived in a tent next to them, cooked over an open fire with them and for them, and listened to them debate the best way to solve a problem, I realize that they are just believers following God's will for their lives. It was great to really learn from them over these past months.
3 - I learned that I can parent without "the Granny" living next door. This isn't anything against her, she encourages my parenting and has never stepped over into my authority with Maria. When we decided to take this assignment both my Dad and Stephen questioned how I would be without my Mama living next door. And while Maria and I have both missed her terribly - we survived - and thrived. The nagging little doubt in the back of my head is silenced and now I can just enjoy the benefit of having a close relationship with my parents. **Jill on the other hand is spoiled rotten and will probably never be the same again!**

1 - You can do many of the same things in another country.
2 - Blogs are cool! (Thank you sweet girl)
3 - Small apartments are nice.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Things We'll Miss

Even while we are counting the days (we're down in 2!) and looking forward to returning to the states, there are things we'll miss about our time in Romania.

1 - Fornetti!
2 - Shoarma's
3 - Fresh Bread.
(yes, it's all about the food baby!)

1 - The forced time spent at home with just the three of us. We have no real commitments here. Even though I love our life in the states we have to guard our time there. We tend to be over-committed and over-scheduled. September is already filling up with great activities and people. This is fun but I want to remember to spend some time with just Stephen and Maria. I will be saying "no" more!
2 - Being able to walk to the grocery store and back in less than 20 minutes. It's nice to run out and get a forgotten item. In the states if I'm missing something and my Mama doesn't have it (they live next door) then I'm out of luck!
3 - Being able to easily travel to other countries. It's actually cheaper to go to another country from here than another state in America!

1 - Friends
2 - Fresh Produce
3 - Going to cool competitions

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Three Really Cool Things!

We saw so many different things during these two years. Here are the top three "cool" things we were able to see.

1 - Pyramids (Egypt)
2 - Sagrada Familia (Barcelona)
3 - Eiffel Tower at night. (Paris)

1 - The Pyramids
2 - The Anne Frank House
3 - The Roman Forum and Colosseum

1 - The Pyramids
2 - The Eiffel Tower
3 - The People's Palace and a fun one here.

Although, today we are looking forward to seeing some of your smiling faces in only a few days!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Three Ways God has Blessed and Provided

God blesses and provides for us everyday, no matter where we are living. Here are some of the ways that stand out in our minds:

1 - So many friends to assist my transition here, especially when I realized my first temporary apartment was in the SAME BUILDING as a friend we had just met before we left Greenville.
2 - Providing opportunities to help out and get to know some missionaries here, especially being able to meet the Mather family.
3 - Safety on the roads. Accidents were quite common on the team and traffic is just crazy here.

1 - Cristina, the lady who owns our stateside gym, is Romanian. She contacted her cousin who lives in Bucharest and Anca went everywhere with us when we first arrived. She and her family were so helpful in getting us set up and adjusted.
2 - A lady on my home school eloop knew a missionary from her church who was teaching at the Christian School here in Bucharest. We were able to meet her while she was home for Christmas. She let me know lots of things that I should pack. When Steve called her after moving in they were in the same building for the first two months! She was a great encouragement to him and also cooked for him some until I arrived.
3 - This whole experience has been a blessing. I believe that everything we experience in life the Lord will use to His glory. I can't wait to see why this experience was important for either Steve, me or Maria. I'm thinking Maria has something cool lying ahead of her that this experience will have prepared her perfectly.

1 - Friends at gymnastics
2 - A nice apartment
3 - A church with both English and Romanian speakers and teachers.

I am so impressed!

We have all had to work and live in a very different culture. This is a list of the things that impressed us the most about the other two members of our family.

I was impressed with Dana and her ability to adapt to the difficulties running a household here is amazing, especially finding ingredients and cooking stuff from scratch. Also, her ability to get things done here (riding the public, paying bills, etc) independently instead of sitting in the apartment and waiting for me to get home each day.

I was impressed with Maria's fearlessness in walking into her gymnastics class for the first time, not knowing the language, and with the high quality of talent all around her. Also, her ability to learn Romanian fast and willingness to converse with the Romanian kids and adults.

I was impressed with how well Stephen learned the language. He can carry on a conversation in Romanian for hours! It is amazing how many people in our building he knows and speaks with on a regular basis. It is also impressive how he can navigate around in another city when we travel. He has found and planned some amazing adventures for us!

The thing I was impressed with most with Maria was how she handled walking into a Romanian gym to practice. She has NEVER been in a gymnastics class without either me or her Granny there with her. She went from that, to a Romanian practice where the coaches didn't speak any English and the parents weren't even allowed to watch! I was also impressed with how well she handles long traveling days and is able to entertain herself sometimes with just her mind!

I was impressed with how Mama adjusted to Romania and her cooking.
I was impressed with Daddy's running and his desire to move to Romania.