Monday, July 17, 2006

Camp Living Water takes shape

This weekend I rejoined the missionaries of Stepping Forward to help work on the camp in the Romanian countryside. Missionaries Steve & Cammy Mather and Scott & Noami DeWeerd were making final preparations for the first group of orphans coming in August.
"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind
They shall build houses and inhabit them;They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit."
(Isaiah 65 verses 17, 21)

The pic above shows vineyards which cover the hills near the town of Panciu.

On this trip, there was additional help from Jessica (a college intern working with the missionaries) as well as missionary kids Andre and Steve (yes, there were 5 guys at camp this weekend and 3 of us were Steves) at camp this weekend. Andre is from Brazil and is a recent graduate of Bucharest Christian Academy. His parents left Brazil in 1995 to serve in Romania and Moldova. Steve (called Stevie) will graduate next year. He is from Florida and his parents are also missionaries here, working just outside Bucharest as church planters.

(Front: Scott, Noami, Jessica, Cammy, Mid: Steve, Renee, McKenna, Me, Back: Andre, Stevie). The extra hands really helped as you will soon see.

The group (except for me) arrived on Thursday afternoon. They made good progress in getting the first dining platform done. I arrived on Friday as they were quitting work for the day and getting ready for supper - my timing was perfect. The photo on the left shows the first platform constructed on Friday.

Engineers camping with laptops - Be Afraid, be very afraid...

As we ate supper, Steve M. (missionary Steve) was mulling over a design for a picnic table using the lumber he still had. Steve M(a former engineer) was hoping to draw it first on his home computer but hadn't had the chance yet. I told him I had a CAD program on my PC from work that could draw it and measure angles and stuff, so we got to work. I (Steve #1) booted up my laptop and started doing the drafting while Steve M (Steve #2) and the younger Stevie (Steve #3) gave me input. Here's the sketch we put together, and the results on the following day!
We spent the rest of the evening playing a fun card game called "Heck of a Game".

Visitors and Critters

Despite all the hard work going on, we still got to enjoy the fun parts of camping. Well, you don't go camping without seeing critters, and Romania is no exception. I spotted this guy sneaking under the deck, and with Jessica, Andre, and Mckenna's help we caught him (credit Jessica with the catch - any 20 year old girl who will catch a lizard for us "kids" will make a fine wife to some lucky guy as far as I'm concerned - heh heh heh - I know, I'm just terrible)

Like the last trip, we also had several vistors from the nearby village of Fitionesti (FEE-TEE-OH-NESHT). Not surprisingly, several men commented on the spectactular picnic table design. However, Mckenna's favorite was no doubt Andre the shepherd and his herd:

Progress is made

Saturday was a very productive day. It did rain a little, but the cool temperatures and nice breeze made it a perfect day to work outside. While the 3 Steve's got to work on the picnic tables, the remainder of the team started work on the 2nd dining platform, the cooking platform and the fire ring. Here is what we got done.

On Sunday we added a couple of braces to the picnic tables, added steps to platforms and finished up the really big but really cool fire ring - check it out:
Shortly after lunch, we had a mini-church service with Noami leading a devotion and Andre leading the music playing the guitar. Andre offered to keep me company on the ride home, so that was a nice time of fellowship. The drive home was much longer thanks to a massive traffic jam so having company was a good thing.

I hope you enjoyed my 2nd Camp Living Water post. I have great news too. I have enough photo material for an additional post on my Romanian countryside experience including a couple of real gems on country "transportation". Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Visiting the local Piaţa

Back in Bucharest

Hey everyone. After a mid-summer re-uniting with Dana and Maria and a nice visit with my side of the family in Schenectady, NY, I'm back in Romania for the 2nd leg of my "Bachelor" summer. Seeing Dana and Maria was definitely a shot-in-the-arm for me, but Dana and I decided that even 4 weeks is too much. We're going to try to make our future travel separations shorter.

Ok, So what's a Piaţa?

In Bucharest, the word "piaţa" (pronounced PEE-AH-TSA) literally translates to "square". It is used for two things. First, it is used for major intersections in the city (Piaţa Victorie, Piaţa Unirii, etc.). However, it is also used for what Dana and I call the local farmers market. Especially with Dana and Maria gone, I visit our local Piaţa almost every day.

Not your average farmers' market.

Although the piaţa is the best place for fresh fruit and veggies, calling it a farmer's market doesn't quite do it justice. You can by all sorts of stuff here. Let's take a quick tour. I'll start with the fruits and veggie area. This pic shows the indoor section, although it spills outside on 2 sides.

Summer, as you might expect, is a great time to get all kinds of homegrown stuff. How are the prices? Cheap! Right now, the Romanian peach crop is coming in. I bought some at 40,000 lei/kg (about 60 cents per pound for you Americans, heh heh). I also bought grapefruit for about 30 cents each. Above right, there are farm fresh eggs going for about 8 cents each. As more stuff is harvested, the cheaper it gets. Cherries had dropped to less than 1.50 per pound last time I checked. The quality is good too, with much less chemicals used during growing as compared to the US.

Besides the produce section, there are different alleyways the lead to many different Mom and Pop specialty and convienence stores.

There's a butcher, a baker, and a can....sorry got carried away. You get the idea. You can buy shoes, go to the post office (the one that doesn't let you mail packages but you can pay your phone bill there), the pharmacy, coffee beans, etc etc.

This place is also a hub of neighborhood social activities. The next photo shows several older guys playing chess (left) and backgammon (right). As more guys get home from work, this area will have several games going on at once until dark. The terrace bars, like the one below, will also fill up after working hours. In addition to Beer and Wine, you can dine on sausages called Mici (pronounced MEECH) which are very common here. They are served with mustard and fresh bread. They're greasy, but good, so you need a strong stomach with you when you try them.

In Bucharest (as well as other low income countries), there is always people selling stuff on the sidewalks in busy areas. In Bucharest, there is no rhyme or reason to what some of these people will sell.

This old guy here (he's behind the tree) is selling all sorts of things. Today's fare included framed art, classical music records, figurines, books on poetry and foreign languages. Thankfully his usual assortment of XXX magazines was not there today. This other guy is selling scissors. I was in my car earlier today stopped at an intersection. A guy walked by selling bullhorns (as in the loud speaker, not the animal). Near our metro (subway) entrance, I've seen people selling underwear, nail clippers and making keys.

Shopping at the piaţa is always fun, but you have to work on the language skills before you go. Many of the stores are run by the older set, which speaks less english than the younger Romanians that you find in the larger western type grocery stores. For me, its nice to avoid the crowds (and the always hazardous driving that's required) at the new larger western grocery chains, especially when you only need a few things.

Over the river and through the woods...

Well, that's all for now. Next up for me is another weekend trip to Camp Living Water to try to assist the Stepping Forward missionaries in getting the camp ready for its first group of orphans next month. I'll have the camera ready for all the building action!