Monday, April 30, 2007

Second Camping Trip

We headed out to the camp again this weekend. This time there was a total of 17 people there.

We had the two missionary families that are running the camp. Steve and Cami Mather with all four of their girls and Scott and Noemi DeWeerd.

Then we had another missionary family Dewayne and Donna with their two kids, the three of us, and another "MK" that goes to school with all the other kids. There was also a interim missionary, just out of college, that came with the Mathers for the weekend.

By the time we arrived on Friday, with two of the Mather girls, the floor was already down on the shed. The men worked for a short while sawing more logs and then we had supper. The van with the rest of the kids arrived late (they stayed for the full school day). Steve had been to the embassy to renew his passport and had bought REAL graham crackers for the s'mores. Everyone raved on them!

All 7 of the unmarried females slept in one tent. It was wall to wall sleeping bags. Maria loved it!

The next morning the men went to work and built the walls and roof. They even had the siding up by supper! Then after supper they decided to go ahead and work until dark and get the shingles up too.

During the day the girls played in the woods and built a little fort, waded in the creek and ran with Abby, the DeWeerd's beagle.

After lunch on Sunday, we were sitting in the blazing sun discussing what still needed to be packed up when a very dark cloud rolled over the mountain. Following it was a very cold breeze. Then a little thunder in the distance! We quickly decided to fore go the volleyball game and pack up...quick! People scattered and we managed to get everything in the metal building and locked up before the real rain started.

Steve Mather had been staying at the camp for the past 37 days since they had no way to lock up the sawmill. Thankfully, with the shed that was completed this weekend he got to come home and spend the week with his family.

Monday, April 23, 2007

We are an oddity

I still find it amusing how people in our area react to the fact that we are Americans. Most have never met someone that was actually born in America. Most know someone who has moved there.

When we first started at gymnastics, everyone would fall silent when we walked into the locker room. They would even quit talking to each other! Now they greet us (usually in both languages) and some of the older ones will even start conversations with me. I love it!

Today, though, I had to go to the post office. While in line, the older gentleman behind me noticed that my passport wasn't maroon like the Romanian ones. He tapped it and asked me something I didn't understand. I told him I didn't understand (in Romanian). He then asked if I spoke Romanian. I told him a small bit. So he asked where I was from. I answered in Romanian. I was very pleased with my ability and thought this would end the conversation. I smiled and looked away.

Not so quick lady, this may be my only chance to talk to a native American.

So we went on to discuss the tragedy in VA. The professor who blocked his classroom was from Romania originally. He told me that and I agreed. He must have thought that we couldn't get English news here. Then he told me that things like that don't happen in Romania.

He mentioned President Bush and former President Clinton. I think he liked Clinton better but I'm not sure.

He knew about New York City. No facts just the name. I nodded and expressed that I had heard of it too.

Several things he said I didn't understand. When I would shake my head he just said them louder and leaned closer. I would nod and say yes!

Then he wanted to help me, so when it was my turn he maneuvered me into position and nodded toward the clerk. I smiled and handed her my notice and passport. He then asked me if I needed money for my package. I told him no, I was good. It was like standing there with my grandfather.

He also told me he learned Russian in school but now they learn English. And he has 9 children.

When I got my package I told him goodbye and left. For all I know he may be blogging about our encounter right now too!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Camping with the Missionaries

We left Bucharest on Friday after lunch and headed out to the camp with our missionary friends. We were planning on helping cut lumber to build a shed. They have a new sawmill and the logs were waiting for us.

The camp is in a beautiful setting. We reached the end of the paved road, the electrical lines, the cell towers, the water and sewer pipes and drove another 10 minutes into the country before coming to the camp!

It was great! They already have tents set up on platforms and an entire cooking area. We checked out everything and threw our stuff in one of the tents.

This is the outhouse. It actually has a seat that is over the hole in the ground. The smell wasn't bad at all!

The first night was just us and Steve Mather. His wife, two of his girls, and Scott came up early on Saturday morning. They had a concert at school Friday night.

After breakfast on Saturday we all headed down to the sawmill and the 5 adults rolled a 2000 pound log up onto the mill!

The girls went to play in the mud. They had so much fun hiking and playing in the creek and poking the fire and catching frogs and lizards!

This was the only bath any of us took for the weekend!

It was so much fun we plan to go back next weekend and help build the shed with the lumber we sawed this weekend.

Don't let the pictures fool you! The sunshine was warm, if fact we all have rosy cheeks. However the temperature last night was below freezing. I slept in 4 layers on my top half and added another one when I got out of bed. I was probably the coldest. Everyone else either grew up out west, the north or Romania! I have no clue how Maria was running around barefoot in stream water. Although we've always called her our "little Yankee baby"!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Paperdoll Community

We have to limit the amount of toys and dolls that we bring since we have to get EVERYTHING home within 400 lbs. Sounds like a lot until you start packing.

So Maria has taken to making new dolls. She now has over 175 paper dolls. They range from about 1cm for the babies to 9cm for the adults. Now these aren't random dolls. They have names and ages written on the backs of their heads. They have families. There are twins, triplets and quadruplets. There are different nationalities with appropriate names. There are complicated stories associated with each family. And she knows when one if missing and asks me, "Mama, have you seen Kitia?".

Monday, April 16, 2007


Birthday goodies for Maria...costs less than $35
Box to ship them from our basement (I'm assuming this!)
Gas to drive to the PO...$1
Shipping to Romania...$35
Time to Arrive....4 weeks
Bus ticket to PO in Romania...30 cents
Tax on package...15 lei or $5

The Smile on my Sweet Girl's face....PRICELESS!

Thanks, Granny and Papa - you're awesome!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Day Two at the Irina Deleanu Cup

We spent most of the afternoon at the Irina Deleanu Cup. The gymnasts did their last two events today. We had lots of fun.

Before the awards the Moldavian singer, Anna Lesko, performed a few songs. The girls really enjoyed it. I enjoy a different style of music but it was fun seeing the gymnasts laugh and cut up!

Our Romanian girls took 1st and 2nd in the Junior division. They are really coming on strong. I would love to see them perform well at the 2008 Olympics!

I took a few pictures today!

Stay tuned - we're heading to the orphan camp to work with our missionary friends this weekend. Hopefully the "Jutton rain curse" won't rear it's ugly, wet head!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Irina Deleanu Cup in Romania

Oh. My. Word.

We saw some amazing gymnasts today at the Irina Deleanu Cup.

Filipa Siderova from Bulgaria was one of my favorites to watch. Of course we love our Romanian girls since we feel like we "know" them.

The groups competed 5 sets of clubs and they were breath-taking! Especially the Bulgarian group. It was like watching a magic show! You couldn't keep up with where all 10 clubs were. One minute I would think, "that gymnast doesn't have any clubs" and then all of a sudden one gymnast would toss about 6 clubs in the air from ONE hand!

Lots of fun. I didn't try to take pictures since I just wanted to enjoy watching. I did make a picture of our group in the stands!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Amsterdam on Tuesday

We crossed the border over into the Netherlands today. It was almost three hours on the train but they're comfortable and fairly inexpensive.

Our first stop was to the secret annex, where Anne Frank hid during the Nazi occupation. You couldn't take pictures inside but we took a few outside. We literally stepped through the opening behind the bookcase and into the secret annex! I had already figuratively stepped through, with Anne holding my hand, as a child. It was amazing to share this experience with Maria. I kept getting teary eyed thinking about those 8 people living there for so long! They had the black out curtains up and even Maria said, "I would have missed the sunshine and being outside". This is probably my favorite experience, since I had already been there while reading.

We headed to the flower market and oohed and aahed over the huge flowers and bulbs. They were amazing.

There were bicycles everywhere. They even had a parking garage for bicycles at the train station.

Then we went to a new museum called the NEMO. It is an interactive science museum and we ALL had a blast.

We caught the 5:23pm train headed back to Brussels and ate our supper out of a paper bag.

Back to Bucharest tomorrow.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Monday in Bruges, Belgium

After a lazy start to the day this morning, we headed out to Bruges. For those that don't know us, that means we had a hot breakfast and were out the door to the train station by 8am!

We arrived in Bruges and took a bus to the old city center. It is a beautiful area with cobblestone streets and horse-drawn carriages. We took the canal tour. It lasted about 30 minutes and gave us a quick overview of the city.

We could see this dog looking out his window and watching the boats go by in the canal. I thought he was hilarious. We laughed and wondered how many times a day he gets his picture taken since most of the people on the tour with us took his picture too. I'm posting it especially for Gramma since we talked about her when we saw the dog!

We walked to the edge of town and climbed the hill to view the windmills. Maria loved this since she has been reading The Winged Watchman, by Hilda van Stokum. It is set during WW2, during the Nazi occupation of Holland. The family in the book lived in a windmill. This trip has really brought the book "to life"!

As we were walking, we came across a playground and Maria took a "break" to play. The park the playground was in was beautiful and there were lots of people taking advantage of the sunshine and the holiday.

We ate a late lunch and wandered the streets some more then headed back to Brussels on the train.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Sunday in Brussels

We started out our day worshiping our risen Lord at the International Baptist Church. Maria went to Sunday School and we all attended the worship service. They had a baptism of 5 people. Before they were baptised, they gave their testimony from the baptismal pool. It was an awesome start to the day!

We made a brief stop back at our apartment to change into "tourist" shoes then headed out again. We went toward the Grote Market where the Manneken Pis is located. We have dubbed this particular European landmark the "tinkle boy".

After seeing the little Belgian boy, we went in the Chocolate Museum. It was amazing to see them make the chocolates by hand and to read the history of chocolate. And yes we got samples!

While on the streets we tried the Belgian waffles, the last specialty food we needed to taste before leaving. Maria had the plain and we had the one with chocolate and almonds. It was yummy!

Then we went to the Brupark area across town. We saw the Atomium. It is a giant molecule built for the 1958 World Expo. The height is 100 meters.

While there, we toured "Mini Europe". There is a display for all the countries in the EU and they have some of the famous monuments in miniature on display. It was cool to walk through Europe in about an hour.

Tomorrow is another day trip so stay tuned for a new city!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Brussels - Saturday

We were up this morning around 6am. I grabbed a quick shower then cooked our breakfast. Just scrambled eggs and strawberries. Steve had read about lots of Belgian specialities he wanted to try during the day! He went to work figuring out yet another coffee pot.

After breakfast we headed to the train station to go to Antwerp. The station was beautiful and the scenery on the 40 minutes train trip was great.

When we arrived at Antwerp, we headed to a coffee shop for pastries and coffee. Steve had to get a picture of me and Maria with our much anticipated treats!

We wanted to see the zoo since it is the oldest in Europe. It was very compact, but you could tell that they have spent time and money on modernizing the exhibits and on the landscaping. Oh my goodness, the landscaping in the zoo was fabulous!

Last week Maria was re-reading Dr. Doolittle and the book mentioned the Okapi, at the Antwerp Zoo. She was determined to find this animal. Of course she did. The whole time I was saying, "it might not even be here anymore, it might not be a real animal". Here it is with it's sign!

We grabbed sandwiches for lunch and then went in search of the guild houses. Each guild, or craft, had it's own house in the square. To show the prestige of their craft they decorated them very fancy.

We took the train back to Brussels and went in search of chocolate and fries. Most people know about Belgian Chocolate so we bought some to try and some for gifts! The fries are in stalls on the street. We had read about how good they were and all the sauces you can get to dip them in. Steve had to try them with the garlic sauce. They were by far the BEST fries I have ever eaten!

We went back to the apartment to rest and end our day with a supper of tortellini, salami, and broccoli sauteed in olive oil, garlic, and basil. It was actually pretty tasty.