Thursday, February 23, 2006

Quail eggs for Breakfast

Good Morning everyone!

Maria and I had a Romanian specialty this morning for breakfast...quail eggs. You can use them just like chicken eggs. They are supposedly very nutritionally dense.

Maria and I both liked the taste which was similar to chicken eggs but stronger. They are small and spotted. I cooked 8 for the two of us.

I found it a little tough to crack such tiny eggs.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A good day

Hello all,

Maria and I had a wonderful day today. We went to the little farmer's market down the street from our apartment. I ordered two loaves of fresh bread, paid for them, and told the lady thank you, all in Romanian. And most impressively - without her laughing this time!

Then we went to the park for lunch and I ordered fornetti in Romanian and I'm not sure if the lady even realized that I wasn't Romanian. I least I like to think that.

This was our third day in a row with sunshine and mid to upper 50s. Maria and I took full advantage of the weather and spent about 2 hours in the big park playing and eating lunch.

Maria even attempted to talk to and play with some of the Romanian children that were there as well.

They really take advantage of their parks and get outside a lot more than we seem to in America. We are still amazed at how much the Romanians bundle up even when its warm out. Yesterday was over 60 and lots of people were still walking around in parkas and hats with ear flaps. We certainly looked American in our simple long sleeve tshirts, jeans and nothing else!

Maria tried a gymnastics class yesterday. We liked the coach but it would take us an hour to get there and another hour to get home. We want to keep looking for something closer to us since we will be walking or taking the public transportation to the gym.

More later!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Yahweh Yireh - The LORD will provide

I had been concerned and praying over an issue for less than two weeks when the Lord graciously gave me His answer yesterday at church. Steve and I just exchanged looks as we realized that the entire message at church was sent especially for us!

Pastor Adi, our Romanian Pastor, was bringing the message and his wife was translating. He preached out of Judges concerning Gideon's, our should I say Our Lord's, victory over the Midianites. The statement that brought me to my knees in my heart was, "sometimes, what we are called to do doesn't make sense with man's logic, but in God's logic it is perfect". So here I was trying to "figure" out what I should do, what I should say, how I should "fix" this issue.

Through Pastor Adi the Lord asked me to do three things: 1 - Obey in all situations, always and 2 - Dedicate myself to Him and Him alone and 3 - Learn to be dependent on Him.

That is what this trip is designed to teach me. I have been ripped out of my comfort zone. In the states I go from my family, to my church, to my homeschool group, and that's about it! Not much strain there! :) Here I am surrounded by people who do not share my background, my opinions, my anything. Here I have the Lord and He has graciously allowed my immediate family to journey with me. Thank you Lord, for not allowing me to journey this without You and them.

We have learned first hand that the Lord is Yahweh Yireh meaning he is the God who provides. He goes before us to ensure His victory. He went before Gideon into that enemy camp to provide the victory. All Gideon had to do was let his light shine and make some noise. That is what we want to do here in Romania. We want to rest in the knowledge that the Lord is going before us. Then when He is ready we want to be listening. Then we will let His light shine and make some "noise" proclaiming that the Lord is great and greatly to be praised!

I know this isn't about Romania or our adventures in a new country but some things are just so exciting you have to make some noise! I am sitting here in a new home watching the sunrise and rejoicing that my Lord knows me well. In this area it is hard for me to wait. I am so thankful the Lord supplied my answer quickly and completely. I am so thankful that He has gone before us and already knows every experience we will encounter. I am thankful that even on the other side of the ocean from where I have always called home, He is here. And that is enough.


Saturday, February 18, 2006

Our Romanian Meal

After our trek to the mall, we were invited over to our Landlady's house for a meal that started at 2pm. As you can tell from the picture, she LOVES Maria. I believe she prepared every Romanian specialty! I lost count of the number of courses that we had. At one point we even took a break from eating and went to the den to "rest" between courses.

We started with a salad of sorts (red bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers in a dressing of mayo, mustard and eggs) also an egg dish. Sort of like a quiche without the crust that had beef, mushrooms with the eggs. Also served with this course was a sour cream sauce, a mustard based sauce and fresh feta and mozzarella cheese. Next was meatball soup. Outstanding!!! Meatballs and chunks of potatoes in a thin broth with lots of seasonings. Next was a meat dish with beef and seasonings wrapped in cabbage and chunks of sausage in a tomato based sauce. It was served with polenta which is a side dish made with corn meal, butter and water. Then we took our "break". Next was grilled sausages and baked chicken served with pickled vegetables. The vegetables included red bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, and green tomatoes.

We had dessert (or should I say 4 desserts) in the den with coffee. Tiramisu, a chocolate and coconut concoction, cake with cheese and raisins, and a wafer cookie with molasses and nuts. The picture is all the desserts and the friends that prepared this feast for us.

The mom had trouble understanding that I'm full means I really don't want to try more. Everything was so good that I managed to at least try a few bites of each dish. We enjoyed both the food and the fellowship and stayed until after 6pm. We had planned to shop afterwards but that had to wait until tomorrow.

Our Anniversary

Today is our 11th anniversary!

We spent this morning going the the Bucharesti Mall. Very American. This is a photo of the metro that is the stop closest to our apartment. I counted and there are 71 steps down to the platform. That is about the average for all the stops we use! Quite a workout.

After the metro we had to get on the tram. The picture is of Stephen looking for the right one to take us to the mall. It is another form of public transportation. It runs on electric cables in the middle of the road. And yes you have to literally stand in the middle of the road on a raised section of concrete to catch it. Motorists also use this lane as a passing/turning/all-purpose lane! At times we have cars 6 across turning left to merge down to one lane. I just close my eyes at times!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Our lifeline in Romania

These are pictures of Flavius, Anca and Georgia. They have been a tremendous help to us in this transition. They were over tonight to help install new kitchen cabinets.

As you can see Georgia and Maria got along great!

Anca has been super about going with us to set up appointments and schedule deliveries. I don't know what we would have done without them! Georgia even read the Romanian directions for a new game Maria bought so we could play it.

On Our Own

Well Stephen returned to work yesterday.

Yesterday Maria and I managed to walk to the Farmer's Market and even ordered fresh bread. The girls behind the counter found my pronunciation very amusing. Of course when Maria said "mulţumesc", which means thank you, she got big smiles not laughter!

After lunch we walked to the Mega Image, which is the small store that is local. We did well there as well.

Today we grew even bolder and ventured out to the metro and went to the big store, Cora (similar to Walmart). We found all the items on our list and rewarded ourselves with a snack before going back to the metro and home.

Cooking here is still experimental. Lots of the ingredients I use for our usual meals are not available or else I just haven't found them yet! I made a chicken pot pie last night. I used a chicken marinade to make a homemade sauce to mix all the ingredients into then topped it with a puff pastry instead of a plain crust. It was good, just different from what we normally have at home. I also used the puff pastry to make a small dessert. I topped it with cinnamon and sugar and baked it. We were all pleasantly surprised with the results.

They seem to have a wide selection of salamis and cheese. Lots of yogurt. I have been searching for new recipes to use the things that are readily available.

We should be getting new kitchen cabinets tonight to increase my storage space and counter top area. The new bed is hopefully coming this weekend.

Nothing else new is going if a whole new world isn't enough!

We love all of you,

Monday, February 13, 2006

Our first days

Hello all!

We are starting day 3 in Romania. We spent all day Saturday shopping and getting settled in the apartment. First priority was Maria's room. We have her room almost ready. We still need to move some of the Landlord's things out to make room for the stuff we need. As you can see in the picture, we managed to find a pink bedspread!

The only big piece of furniture needed is our bed. We have one now but we want one slightly larger and a new mattress that allows you to remain on your side and not roll to the middle!

Three different times while we were shopping I was approached by Romanians and asked long questions. They looked very surprised when I would say, "I am so sorry". Evidentally we look very Romanian even to the people themselves!

We went to church on Sunday. Maria went to the children's class which meets during the worship service (which lasted around an hour and a half). She seemed to really enjoy the group and made several new friends. We observed the Lord's Supper during the service. They used an actual loaf of bread that was passed and you pulled your piece off yourself. I liked that. It seemed more authenic or something. We met some of the American families that are here. Some of them also homeschool so we talked about getting together after we settle in a little more. After church we went to eat with Whitney and her friend Luke who is visiting from Britain. The rest of the day was spent in the apartment resting and organizing.

Our landlady and her daughter came last night to get the new stove hooked up. The Mom, who doesn't speak English, just fell in love with Maria. She would just talk to her with her hands on her cheeks and smile. You can tell she really loves kids!

We are going with Anca today to get some odds and ends. Hopefully we can find a gym for Maria to take gymnastics too. We'll see if we get to that.

Tomorrow Maria and I will be on our own as Steve will go back to work. We'll see if we're brave enough to venture out on our own!


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Good Morning from Romania!

Our flights over were all smooth and on time. We managed to pass the 5+ hour layover in Philly. We ate supper on the flight to London, it was good but Maria chose to eat the tuna I packed in my carryon. She did decide to try the chocolate dessert AND the chocolate bar on her tray! The only negative was the American in front of me who took FULL advantage of the free red wine with supper. I don't think he was used to drinking that amount on an airplane. He had to leave the plane in London in his PJs and socks with his other clothes in a plastic bag - YUCK!

The London airport was truly not what I expected. I thought London - ok big, nice airport. No, actually it was a little run down and confusing. We had to board a bus to take us to terminal 1 from terminal 4 where we landed. I was concerned at one point because it seemed we were completely leaving the airport. We pulled up to terminal one and Maria and I hopped off and headed back inside to find our gate. What we discovered is that London doesn't like to post gate numbers until 30-40 minutes before departure time. So we got close to the international departure gates and sat down in this huge common area. Basically everyone was sitting and staring at this big board waiting for their gate to be posted. The Bucharest gate posted at 9:12am for the 9:40 departure. Even though we were on 5 hours of sleep at this point and it was 4am our time at home we took off for the gate. I had told Maria that we would need to move quickly to our gate. It was all I could do to keep up with her! Talk about a girl on a mission to get to her Daddy. :0)

Maria and I arrived in Romania yesterday to hear Daddy calling our names over the noise as we cleared customs. I can't tell you how great it was to hear his voice!

We came to the apartment dropped off our bags (minus one that was left in London - it'll arrive today) and jumped on the metro. The older gentleman at the ticket counter fussed at me for not having a hat on Maria (it was around 30 degrees F and windy). I told him I was working on it - we had just arrived. After we walked down to the metro this young guy came chasing us down. The worker was concerned we would take the wrong train and had sent the younger man, who spoke english, to help us. After getting to Cora, the big grocery store, we ate at McDonalds. Talk about culture shock. We never eat there in the states! ;) We also got some fornetti. This is a romanian food - a croissant type pastry with all types of stuff inside. We tried apple and sweet cheese last night. By this point I was fading fast so we headed back to the apartment.

We were in bed by 8pm exhausted. We actually slept until 6:30am and feel good this morning. Hopefully we'll be busy today and sleep good again tonight as we make this adjustment. It's 7am now here and midnight in the SC. Heh heh, I haven't been up this late in a while! :)

I made my list last night of things we need to make the apartment feel more like home for the year. Steve was excited to see me making a list when he got in with the milk and water late last night. We'll head out today in the car to get some of the things I want.

Thanks to those of you that prayed us over the ocean and into Daddy's arms! We could feel your words paving our path and it felt great!

We'll post again later with photos. I haven't dug out our camera - I did good to find PJs last night!

We love you all!!!


Friday, February 03, 2006

Yo, What's up DOG?

Hey all!
Its Steve here and uh... no...I'm not practicing my inner city street slang. I'm posting about one of the first things you will notice when you arrive in Bucharest. Yeah, that's it - Dogs!

There are stray dogs loose all over the city. Everywhere, and I mean everywhere. The following pictures I took at work, INSIDE the gates of the facility where I work at Baneassa Airport. I've also seen them INSIDE the hangers where the planes are, and even in the hallway outside my office!

The little fella with his ears pinned back "attacked" my car on my way out. I really made him mad when I swerved towards him, heh heh heh. I got the camera and caught him in between barks. Trust me - he ain't happy with me.

Many of these strays have been in the city on their own for generations, making them somewhat wild city dogs. Well, they are not exactly on their own. Many kind hearted dog-lovers feed them regularly with table scraps and other culinary refuse.

Apparently, things were worse years ago until one Bucharest mayor took some heavy-handed action, rounding many of these dogs up, know - hasta la vista, doggies. On occasion, the aggressive ones have bitten people, so some people want them dog-gone at any cost.

On the opposite side are many animal lovers. Many people here love their animals, especially dogs. During communism, pets were the only "people" you could trust. So many people formed close relationships with their 4-legged (some may have less than 4, due to the traffic) friends. So you do have a sticky (or furry) situation here that puts people at odds with one another on the canine solution.

So how did it get this way? Like many problems here, the cause points back to decades of communist rule. The communists did two things which helped cause this: (1) They forced people out of their houses and yards (bulldozing most) and forced them to live in tiny apartments located in huge buildings (called blocs) like you saw in Dana's first post. (2) They impoverished the people, making it even more difficult to care for pets.