Thursday, November 30, 2006

Egypt - Thursday

We went back to the same restaurant for breakfast. The cab ride took alot longer since the driver couldn't speak English. While we were at the restaurant we had the waiter write the name and address in Arabic so we'll be ready next time.

From breakfast we went to the Egyptian Museum. There were tons of school groups there today. At first it was crazy and all the kids were looking at us and trying out their English. "Hello, hello, hello". We finally realized that we are attracting much of this attention due to Maria. There just aren't many Western children here. Most people don't bring their 7 year old to Egypt. And the westerns that are here and usually touring in a large group.

While in the museum, Maria and I were approached by three different groups of girls. This is the typical conversation:

Egyptian (usually the boldest in the group) - Hello, what is your name?

Me - My name is Dana, and this is Maria. What is your name?

Egyptian - Says her name that my Western ears have trouble understanding.

Me - I say the name back as a question and listen to their correction. Then I would say, Nice to meet you.

Egyptian - Thank you

Then the next boldest would start the whole process over again. I, no joke, was asked my name by at least 12 girls today. I think they liked hearing me try to say their names. I loved talking to them. They would touch our clothes and hair. Some even kissed Maria as they left. I would love to be able to hear and understand the conversations around their dinner tables tonight.

One actually said, "You are a very beautiful lady". Now, I consider myself attractive in a "clean cut" sorta way, but beautiful - not in appearance! Then I understood. I was standing there looking at them and thinking how exotic they looked in their colorful head dress and all. To them I was exotic! I have been "exotic" even less than beautiful in my life. They also asked me several times if I was Maria's mother. I must have seemed too young to be a mother. I think that is due to the "Western" dress being seen only on the teenagers here. I wish I could have taken Maria's picture with these girls but you had to leave your camera at security.

We also stood and looked eye to eye with the death mask of King Tut (shown above). All the treasures from this burial chamber were staggering. He was wearing 15 rings and lots of bracelets and necklaces. We saw mummies from around 2000 BC. Some still had hair and teeth and nails. It was very interesting.

We had Thai food for lunch then headed back to the hotel to rest up. All we plan on doing is napping and resting before supper. Maria has been fighting a sore throat/cold/ear infection thing for about 2 days. The Daddy has some big 13 hour surprise lined up for tomorrow and we want Maria to have the energy to enjoy it!

Egypt - Wednesday PM

After breakfast we headed to the hotel and had our Internet hooked up and I blogged, Maria played and Steve napped. While he was napping, Maria and I went to check out the pool. We had already felt the water so she wore a bathing suit and I wore jeans! She tried her hardest to swim but the water was simply too cold or maybe she's just growing up!

We woke Steve up at 1pm and told him we were getting hungry for lunch. So we went and visited the Cairo Tower for a panoramic view of Cairo. The taxi ride there was insane - evidently this is normal here, as all the rides were crazy in one way or another. I didn't get a picture of the tower since they were doing major construction all around it. I found this picture on the Internet so you can see what it looked like.

This a cool tree we saw while waiting for our taxi.

Lunch was at KFC - Maria's choice! Nothing exciting happened there. Then we walked the streets of Cairo. This is a very crowded city. It seems surreal to be here. You can't even sound out the signs since they use a different alphabet. I would say 95% of the women are in head dress, even the teenagers (with their Western bluejeans). We saw two ladies in the full outfit with only their eyes showing. We get alot of stares, especially from the "young hoodlum crowd". We have read that they believe Western women dress like they do because they want that attention. We were safe but it just grates on me after a while. Then we jumped in a cab and headed back to the hotel. Maria and I took short naps and then to the pyramids!

We attended the Sound and Light show at the pyramids. It was cool to be sitting there watching the pyramids and the sphinx! The show was in English. Maria was filling in the gaps with the history of the rulers for Daddy. Too cool! After the show we went to a little cafe there and had an awesome meal of Egyptian food. Steve was delighted because he loves to try out the local cuisine. Maria tried everything but stuck with rice and pita bread at the end. After another cab ride home we were in bed by a little after 9pm. Sorry the pictures from the light show are blurry but I wanted to include them!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Egypt - Wednesday AM

We arrived in Egypt this morning around 2:30am. We had to exchange money and purchase a visa before clearing customs. We had no problem figuring all this out and then we grabbed our bags and made our way to the door.

This is where the "fun" started. We were surrounded by very helpful, polite people who all wanted us to ride in their taxi. We finally picked a guy and Steve negotiated a price with him. This was extremely stressful in a VERY foreign country at 3am with about 30 minutes of sleep! Steve was amazing and I just stayed behind him and kept my eyes on our bags and my hand in Maria's!

We arrived at the hotel and were greeted by name! Evidently we were the last to arrive and it is extremely obvious here that we are tourists. We can just forget that "blend in" theory! When the escort took us to our room we were floored. This place is huge! I'll let the pictures tell the story!
The dining area and living room:

Maria's personal bedroom:

The Master Bedroom:

The view from the bedroom balconies (yes that is the Nile):

The Main Balcony seating area:

The view from that balcony:

This morning we jumped in a cab and held on while he zipped us through the morning commute to a little breakfast place Steve had found online.

It was outstanding!

Then we walked back to the hotel along the Nile. No fears for the Mama until it was time to cross the 6 lane road! Thankful there was a raised median and we got between two locals and ran when they did. Too close for my comfort, but otherwise I feel very safe. The locals are extremely polite while trying to take your money! We have been offered multiple tours and trips already. We just keep saying "no thank you", of course Steve says it in Arabic!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Could you hear us?

I wanted to post this on Sunday but I left my camera at church and we only got it back from Pastor Shane today!

We have two new instruments and the past two Sundays they have been awesome! You could probably have heard us in SC if you were up around 2:30am that morning. :)

One is a violin, but the lady plays it like a "fiddle", if you know what I mean! And then there is a drum set that looks like a speaker box. The man just plays different areas and different sounds are produced. It is so cool to watch him play it.

The musical worship time for the past two Sundays has been especially fired up!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Getting Ready

I have been busily marking off things on my "to do list". We leave for Egypt on Tuesday night at 11:30pm. It is less than a 3 hour flight! We will be in Egypt until early Sunday morning. Then Maria and I head to the states on Tuesday at 8:30am. So we only have 3 days left in Romania.

I don't have much to do for Egypt but I have lots to do before leaving Romania. I have to stock the fridge and figure out how to pack everything we need to bring back. We simply MUST bring back at LEAST 100 lbs. of books or we'll end up with too many here. I should wash the sheets before I head out too, because that's a full day's job so they dry in time for bed (no dryer). Lots of little things like that to make life easier for Stephen while I'm gone.

Maria has been preparing for our trip to Egypt too. She'll be better than a tour guide by the time we arrive!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Upside Down Bananas

First, some background about me. I tend to be fairly set in my ways about most things. Believe it or not there is a "correct" way to load my dishes into my dishwasher and if you do it incorrectly I will "reload" them. I knew what this "perfect" way was from the first time I opened the dishwasher.

On to the bananas...I have ALWAYS eaten a banana from the stem end first. I'm not as picky about apples but when I started thinking about it, I always have the stem end at my thumb!

So imagine my shock and amazement when this lady, sitting next to me on the bus, started eating her banana UPSIDE DOWN! I wanted to help her out and turn it around but I didn't know the Romanian translation for, "oh no, wait, that's upside down, the universe will crash if you eat it that way!".

I secretly watched her eat the entire thing, upside down. I couldn't take my eyes off her! But as I watched, I started really analyzing the logistics of banana eating. First, the things that "gripe" me are the last inch that I have to use my fingers for and carrying the peel to the trash. This upside down eating had eliminating these issues. She very neatly held that stem and ate all the banana and then carried the peel off the bus by that same stem. No banana yuck on her fingers. Very cool!

I will be trying out this new method next time I eat a banana! Maybe I'm not as "set in my ways" as we all thought. Ha!!!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

We celebrated our own little Thanksgiving tonight before language lessons. Our menu was Romanian turkey (chicken), dressing, green beans, and pumpkin pie.

The turkey (chicken) was yummy and as close to turkey as I could find. The dressing was a little "iffy" at first but in the end it came out good. Not quite like usual, since we have no corn meal, condense soup, or chicken broth but I adlibbed and it worked! The green beans were ok, not as fresh as last week. The pie was delicious!

Maybe I should have had Granny ship the whole meal to us but that would have cost us our entire moving allowance!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Beginning

These are quotes for Abraham Lincoln's address that made Thanksgiving a National Holiday in 1863.

"The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God."

"They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."

So as one of those "sojourning in foreign lands", let me say to each of you, Happy Thanksgiving. I will be remembering you before the throne, especially tomorrow. Each of you are blessings from my Lord. You have blessed our family this year especially, with prayers, calls, cards, packages, and blog comments. I pray I always remember the One who stirred your heart to these actions. Thank you.

Thanksgiving - step 1

It dawned on me about 3 weeks ago that I didn't have a "plan" for Thanksgiving. Now, we are currently living in a country that obviously will not be celebrating an American holiday. We are more than willing to celebrate on our own, however, this country doesn't have an abundance of turkeys, cornbread, condensed soup, canned pumpkin, or pie plates. Yikes! My first thought was, "Can I 'do' Thanksgiving without all the above?".

Enter the Granny! She shipped me the ingredients for a pie. This is, without a doubt, the most expensive pie ever when you add in the $25 shipping charge! (Talk about holding your breathe while something bakes!) I used a pie crust mix since I can't get homemade crust right even in America. I started looking for a pie plate. No luck. So what you see below is the ingredients for one pie baked in the tops of my casserole dishes.

They smell yummy and Maria said the batter tasted "just like Granny's". So I think our meal tomorrow will at least end good!

Tune in tomorrow for the outcome of the rest of the meal.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Running in Romania

Maria loves to run with her Daddy. They competed in a 5k (3.1 mile) race shortly before we left for Romania. This winter he has started doing a long run on Saturday and likes to "rebound" on Sunday with a shorter, easier run. So he takes Maria with him.

For those of you who read his blog, Steve J's Running Blog, you know that he ran around the People's Palace yesterday. He has quite a bit of history on it so check it out by clicking on the blog name in the previous sentence. He is also running a contest right now and you could win some jelly beans! Don't think this is strictly a "runners only" blog. Steve is actually quite funny and I think my mom is one of his most loyal readers! He tends to know more of the history of things than me.

When Maria heard that he ran to and around the palace she wanted to as well, so off they went this afternoon. This time they drove to the palace since the run around it is 1.75 miles. They finished it with a sprint finish and a time of 19 minutes, 19 seconds. Very impressive!

Steve made some pictures of her, just like the ones on his running magazine that always makes the runners look like conquering heroes. They seem to lay on the ground to take their pictures!

Here is our conquering hero:

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I have found heaven on earth!

We have a new shopping area close to our apartment called Auchon. I went today while Maria was in gymnastics since the grocery area opens at 8 am. As I was walking through to see if anything new had opened up I saw a bookstore. I was starting to walk on by, but the "reader" in me had to go in, even though I thought everything would be in Romanian.

I wandered around a little then on my way out I tried to ask if they had anything in English. After I gave up on trying to ask in Romanian and just said, "books in English?" the lady smiled and answered in PERFECT English, "yes, right over here". They had two whole shelves of Classics in English! I was so excited. English books within walking distance! If I ration them out they may last through the next year.

Now if I could just convince a family member to come visit us every other week I would lack for nothing!

UPDATE: Maria has already snagged one of MY new books! I guess she was feeling a little new book deprived too!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fresh Milk

When Maria and I are on our way to gymnastics early each morning we see these ladies on the streets selling what looks like milk. I have been threatening and contemplating stopping and buying this for over a month now. I was very nervous due to these facts: I'm not sure it really is milk, I had no idea how much it would cost, the ladies won't speak english, my romanian is not that great. So finally I decided to ask my friend Mihaela about the "street" milk.

Me - Will the milk on the street kill us?

Mihaela - No, it is milk from the morning milking.

Me - How much should I expect to pay?

Mihaela - You want the fresh milk?

Me - Yes, very much but I'm afraid to try.

Mihaela - I have a lady who brings milk to me every Monday morning, still warm from the cow. I will ask if she has enough for you.

Me - Oh thank you very much that would be great!

Then last Monday night at language lessons I got my milk. In an old Fanta bottle! Last night I got bottle #2, in a water bottle. Yummy! Maria says it tastes like a cow. It kinda does but I love it. Good old "Betty Cow" must have tasted the same. (For those that don't know - I grew up on a small family farm and that was the milk cow we had! And yes that's the same name as my Mother. My Dad had the cow first!)

It also makes the BEST cappucinos in the world! Never used Betty Cow's for that.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Why isn't the customer ever right here?

Grocery Shopping

I just returned from Mega Image, our smallish grocery store, it's like Bi-lo in the states but without the Starbucks (sorry Pastor!). I was delighted to see green beans in the produce section. They were small and dark green, looking a lot like the ones we grow at home. I picked up a pack (they were already in a bag) and noticed that they were grown in Egypt. I took them to my friend, the produce lady.

First she tried to talk me out of the red and yellow bell peppers I had picked. They were 2 lei EACH! This amounts to about 70 cents. I couldn't begin to tell her how expensive produce in America. She just shook her head and printed my sticker, pointing again to the 4 lei price. I just smiled and nodded.

Next came the green beans. She didn't know how much they cost so she had to look it up. This took awhile since she really just wanted me to put them back. Finally I left the produce section, with a nice little sticker on my green beans with the price clearly labeled, and headed to the check out.

The green beans happen to be the last thing scanned. Nothing popped up on the screen, she tried again and still nothing. She asked me something I didn't catch and I told her I didn't understand. Then she asked me if they were in the fruita section. That I understood and said yes. She went back there. I'm not sure why since the price was ON THE BEANS! She came back without my green beans, shaking her head. I paid and left.

I don't get it. I wanted green beans, they had green beans. I had money, they take money. I had the price printed on the green beans, they had a cashier to put the prices in the register. I left without my green beans, they still have an entire display of "unbuyable" green beans. Maybe we are just supposed to "look" at them?

Word of Advice

Do not buy chips from the vendors on the street.

Yesterday as Maria and I were walking through a park on our way to the Romanian Cup to watch some of her teammates compete, we passed several stray dogs and sidewalk vendors selling snacks.

As we approached one of these vendors, a stray dog begin to cross in front of us. I was watching him since all these dogs make me a little nervous. He walked up to the chip display and starting sniffing. I assumed he was going to take the chips. The owner starting yelling and as he did the dog hiked up his leg and "marked" the chips! Then he turned around and "marked" them again! Now, I don't know this for sure, but I have every confidence this is a regular occurrence and those chips are still there, or worse, sold to some unsuspecting customer! Double YUCK!!!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Romanian Bibles

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thought and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

Our church here in Romania is a bilingual congregation. There is a strong need for Bibles in the Romanian language.

Our homeschool group in the states is raising money to purchase as many Bibles, old and new testaments, in the Romanian language as we can. If you would like to participate you can donate to our group through paypal using this address: Just note on the message that it is for Romanian Bibles. Or you can send money directly to me at my home in SC.

The cost of a OT/NT Romanian Bible is only $6.

I sincerely hope that you and your family will consider joining us in putting the word of God in the hands of as many Romanian believers as we can.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Weekend


We started our weekend with homemade pancakes and hand-seasoned sausage. Yes, for those that don't know there is no pancake mix or bisquick here. I now make pancakes from flour, milk, a little sugar, an egg and oil. They are very good. We never found a "breakfast" sausage that I liked either, so I have been buying ground pork and seasoning it myself. Growing up on a farm has its advantages!

We then went to Selgross for the "mega-grocery" run. Selgross is the Romanian version of a Sam's Club in the states. As we were walking around we ran into Miheala's Dad. He recognized Maria from Halloween and was very excited to see us out. Then this lady tracked us down because she heard "the english". It was a friend from church, but she didn't know that when she started tracking us! We found these adorable socks and Maria wore them to church the next day. I just love socks!

We spent the afternoon tracking our friend Ashley as he competed in the Florida Ironman! Go Ashley! He made it in a "SMOKING time". (Direct quote from Steve) We stayed up until after 10:30pm so we could see him start the marathon.


This morning we picked up Florin, our church member who is in a wheelchair. He rides to church with us since the public transportation is hard on the handicapped. Church was good and the kids were excited since there was a new puppy hanging around in the parking lot.

After church I was craving Chinese food, so we went to the mall to the only Chinese restaurant we have found that's close. Yummy! We all agreed that it really hit the spot.

This afternoon, Steve and Maria went out for a run - in shorts. It was around 37 degrees Fahrenheit, I'm sure they were fussed out by some Romanian old lady!

Now we are watching the NY Marathon. It is such an international event that they are showing it live on EuroSport. The commentators are speaking Romanian though. When they were showing the pros starting, Steve and I looked at each other and we had the same thought, "I can read the signs!". For those of you that have never traveled outside the US, much less lived in another country, it feels very strange to be "home" again, or see "home" in this case. You get used to living in a "bubble" where most of the conversation and the signs are hard to understand. Then when you get back you are overwhelmed by the language. Maria and I spent over $100 in the grocery store for just the TWO of us! Everything looked good, and familiar, and the directions were in ENGLISH! (Sorry for getting off track!) When they "zoomed in" on the athletes we could hear all the conversation. Cool!

Overall, it was a great weekend and the week ahead looks busy with enough stuff to do that it should go by very fast!

Friday, November 03, 2006

There is Sunshine...

There is sunshine in my soul today!

But that's the only place. We woke up this morning to SNOW!!! What, what did she just say? Snow, on November 3rd? NO WAY! Yes way, that is what I said - Snow on November 3rd. The picture doesn't show it very well, but it's there.

So we dug out boots, hats, gloves and I tried to find my child-like excitement about the trek to gymnastics, in the wet, cold snow. It wasn't that hard since Maria was bubbling over with it! And thankfully the Lord provided a tune in my heart that I hummed the whole way and only realized the words as I was heading back up the steps to the apartment!

Since Jesus took my sin away, there is sunshine in my soul!

Don't you just love it when He pulls a song out of "no where" to fit your day and change your attitude.