Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!



We had Kenzie staying with us for a bit, and we just spent a lazy day at home opening presents and playing around. Riley got a new camera, Regan got a Pillow Pet and Fazoodles, they both got new PJ's and socks and undies, the fun stuff. Kenzie got baby clothes for Eli!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve



We had Christmas Eve dinner at Pam and Dave's, with Walt and Linda and Uncle James and Tia Lola and all the kids. It's hard for me to remember that far back now, but I know we had a lot of good food and desserts, and David and I had served at church so we came late and just enjoyed a quiet(ish) evening with the whole family.

Regan and Riley got iPads from Mimi and Papa, and it was funny, they took the iPads out and replaced them with good old Christian books on blood covenant and the power of healing. Riley seemed bothered that his gift wasn't what he thought it was, but it was just funny to watch their expressions as they tried so hard to be grateful!

Tia Lola got the kids Brazilian jewelry and she gave David and I a wooden carved saint, St. Francis of Assisi that has birds on him, he's adorable! And then Walt and Linda gave us the most awesome hand carved wooden cutting board that he made himself! We love it and have used it TONS! He signed the back of it for us, and I just love seeing that in my kitchen everyday and know that it was made just for me.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Grandma and Grandpa!





Walt and Linda came down from Ohio, and the kids got to swim in their indoor hotel pool! They were excited about that, and super excited to see Grandma and Grandpa after so long! They really enjoyed the short time they got to spend with them. Can't wait to see them again soon.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Piano Recital



Here are some pictures and videos of the Christmas Piano recital! They are getting much better.





Christmas at Church




We had the living nativity, which Regan loves! There was a "mini" camel, although he didn't look too mini to me! And of course, pics by the church's big tree, and they actually (upon threat of death) will act like they can stand each other long enough for a photo!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Our Christmas Card

I'm taking the easy way out this year. I always love to send out Christmas cards, but it's just not gonna happen this year! My camera has not been working, and I finally got the part to get it to work, but now I'm having computer issues, so I just decided to do this instead. Next year I will be back on top of my game. I hope! Until then, Merry Christmas everyone, and I hope you enjoy:

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bowling and Phil's




There is a home school bowling group that we try to meet up with once a month, but it's been a few months since we've gone. This time, there were kids wearing the same Upward Basketball shirt that Regan just got (she's playing basketball for church in the new year) and come to find out, they go to our church, same service, and they home school, small world! My friend Tammy just started to home school, so she met us to bowl with Angie and Abby, and then we met David for lunch after at our favorite burger place, Phil's. It turned out to be a nice day, so the kids had fun playing on the playground too.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Skating




There's a new skating rink in Round Rock, and they have a home school day where the kids get to play sports for an hour on the sport court, then skate for 2 hours, then another hour of sports. The only problem is, it's on Wednesday which is when Riley and Regan are at their one day schools. But then I heard that the skate program was going so well, they decided to open it up to another day, Friday, so we were excited to go try it out. We set up our home school small group to go, and we were the only ones that showed up! We had a pretty good sized group though, and it was fun to have the whole rink to ourselves. Regan tried out rollerblades for the first time ever and Santa may have to bring her some this year!! The owner came out and played dodge ball with the kids, then gave the boys hockey sticks and pucks and let them play roller hockey on half the court while the girls skated on the other half. It was a lot of fun. The kids were worn out by the time we left!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Gingerbread House


A favorite family tradition! One of our Girl Scout leaders organizes this at her church every year, and this was our 3rd year to go. It's so much fun too, the kids love it! The church provides dinner and a pre-built Gingerbread House, and a bag of icing. We bring 2 bags of candy to share, and spend the evening decorating our very own house. It's so fun to see other people's houses, you can tell the families where mom and dad get a little too into it, and the ones (like us) that just sit back and let the kids take over. Our house won't win any beauty awards, because we split it down the center so each kid gets to decorate half a house. But it's fun, and a good way to kick off the holiday season!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Homecoming


Riley's homecoming game was the day before I left for Romania, and I didn't get to see him play or take any pictures, but they took one of each player at half time with their "escort" and I felt bad that I missed it. But dad was there, and here's the picture, finally!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Cold Little Princess

Think she's spoiled? Nah!

Sent from my G1 phone

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I haven't posted in a while since I've updated my blog from my trip. But not much to update on this end. I got home and got right back into the groove of things. We had a small group the night I got home, Single Mom's Oil Change the day after that, and then back into daily lessons, tutoring, piano, school, church, etc.

And to top it off, my camera is still broken, so I have no pictures to report anyway! But, we had a good thanksgiving. I went to pick Kenzie up on Wednesday, so she spent the weekend with us, and it was good to have her here. We went to Pam and Dave's with David's whole family and had fried turkey, sweet potato casserole, sausage stuffed stuffing balls, pumpkin pies, toffee butter bars, mashed potatoes, brussell sprouts, ham, and prime rib. Yum. Then we just hung out around the house and watched movies and enjoyed being lazy. Exciting, I know.

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bran and Brasov

Bran and Brasov

Our last full day in Romania was spent driving and sightseeing. We woke up early (too early for hot water, so no shower for me, yuck!) and packed up the cars and headed towards Brasov. We stopped a lot along the way to see the sights, it was one of the most beautiful drive's in Europe so I'm told. It was majestic. We drove over mountains and saw some of the most beautiful countryside. The houses built on the sides of hills, tall mountains with whole little towns nestled into the valleys, shepherds watching their flocks of sheep along the sides of the road, and occasionally having to swerve to miss a couple of cows making their way around town.

We stopped at a roadside stand (they are everywhere there) and the guy was so nice, he showed us around, he had deer and peacocks and other strange animals in his pen in the back of his house. He took us to his storage cellar and it was so nice, and organized! He had tons of cheeses lined up, and herbs hanging upside down, it was very rustic and very charming. He even let me use his toilet so I felt obligated to buy something from him. I bought something pink in a jar that he called "sherbet" but I knew it wasn't the same thing we call "sherbet" (we cracked it open to try it that night at Ana's and I left it there for her to enjoy! blech)

Then we stopped at another stand to get breakfast and this little old lady was happily giving us samples of what I thought was her beef jerky and sheep cheese. We bought several links of sausage and a chunk of cheese and ate on the road. It was actually BEAR sausage and BUFFALO cheese! That was so awesome! We were eating bear for breakfast. I can now actually say I was so hungry I ate the hind end of a running grizzly bear :)

After a few more scenery stops, and a quick run up a hill, we arrived in Bran. This is home of Dracula's castle. Or, Vlad Tepes, Vlad the Impaler. I hit the market and bought presents for the family. I got the kids a wooden carved flute, Regan a set of nesting dolls, a scarf for myself, and a cool coffee mug for Riley that's clear and has Vlad Tepes and the castle on it. We got this circle bread too that is roasted on this stick and rolled in nuts and caramel and just melts in your mouth it was so good.

We kept going to Brasov, which is a ski resort town, and so quaint, exactly what I pictured most of Europe to look like. Cobble stone streets, a plaza with pigeons and musicians. It was picturesque. We ate a quick lunch at McDonald's and then walked around the town. Kevin and I were competing for how many pictures we could take it seemed! We finally made it down to the end of the main road and took a tour of the Black Church, one of the more famous churches in Europe. It was beautiful inside. We weren't supposed to take pictures, but we took a couple secretly anyway. I couldn't help it, it was very nice inside!

Bought a few more gifts in Brasov, and then headed back to the car for the long ride back to Bucharest. We made it in just in time for a meeting with some local area pastors. They had a ton of questions about our church, and ministry, and it was a good several hours spent with them helping them with their questions. I slipped out for a bit and logged online to chat with David and the kids, a week without email access and cell service, we were missing each other big time!

We went back to Ana's for our last night, and it was a little like coming home. We had really fallen in love with Ana and it was so good to see her, and everyone at Campus Crusades! We had her give us her presentation and talked about what she needs to be in ministry full time now. I just love her and plan on supporting her in her ministry. She took very good care of us! She also gave us all presents for our kids, and made our last night in Bucharest the best.

We got up bright and early (well, not bright, it was still dark at 6am) and headed to the airport. It was much easier going home, we combined a lot of suitcases so I only had 2 to deal with instead of 4. But the flight home seemed so much longer. We were trying to stay awake so we would be on the right schedule when we got home, but it didn't work very well. David picked us up at the airport in Houston at 9pm and we still had to drive back to Austin, drop off the church van, and drive to Pam and Dave's to get the kids! It was a very late night, but I was up bright and early at 5am, ready to go!

Last Night in Bucharest

That sounds like a movie title. I can't even begin to tell you how amazing this trip has been. I am already planning to come back next year, and hopefully David can come too! When I get home and get more time, I will upload pictures and tell you about every last detail (I know you can't wait!!) but we have over 60 gigs of video and pictures to sort through so it might be a little while!! My camera broke right before we got to the Romanian orphanage, I was so bummed, but then I became the official church photographer, and their camera is nicer than mine, so I got over it real quick! The food here is amazing, the people are the nicest I have ever met in my life and the scenery is simply breathtaking. Today we left Cumpalung and went through Bran to see Dracula's castle, then to Brasov to walk through the town where the buildings were built in the 1300's! Then back here to Bucharest for our last night of meetings and then we leave bright and early in the morning. I miss my kids and can't wait to see them, but I wouldn't trade this experience for the world! Thanks to all of you who helped get me here!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Gypsy Village

Gypsy Village

I have to say it was one of the things I was most looking forward to on this trip, visiting a Gypsy village. We started our day spending some time with Estera and finding out how we could help her. This woman, I can't tell you how amazing I think she is. Just one week of her life wore us out, and it was a slow week. She has stamina like you wouldn't believe, and such dedication to her calling. She and her husband Vio often split up to go to villages, but they only have one car, so one of them will hitchhike to a village to do a Bible club. She goes to the Gypsy village every Tuesday night, alone, and walks. And let me tell you from experience, it is dark on the way home. I mean, can't see your hand in front of your face dark. I don't know how she does it but by the grace of God. She is forever in my daily prayers for the work that she does there.

So we started off by helping her with crafts. She sees over 600 kids a week in different schools and villages. For 250 of them, she has a craft. Some places she either can't or isn't allowed to do crafts. So Shawn, Amanda and I sat down with her lesson book and planned out the next 13 weeks of crafts for her. We then had the boys come and cut, count and sort hundreds of beads, cotton balls, paper bags, paper plates and pom pom balls! It took the better part of the day to get it all done, and we sorted her cabinets and got her all set up for the next few months. I wish I could go back and do it for her every few months to lighten her load, but one thing I am hoping for is a chance to go back next year and plan out the entire year for her. I hope it helps her have more time to spend with her amazing family. She gets up in the mornings around 4:30am just to read her Bible and pray while the house is quiet and then goes back to bed for a bit. See? Complete dedication! I could go on and on about her, she's my new hero.

A little while into the counting, Scott, Kevin and I took a mental health break and went for a walk down the main road. A photographers dream, this place. I took pictures of cows, haystacks, blades of grass, apple trees, everything there is so lush and beautiful. Then it was time to hit the crafts again before church.

Finally, we got ready and headed up the road to the Gypsy village. The kids were amazing. Some of the girls are married at 12, and have babies! They were so beautiful, and so friendly. Just walking up the road we were surrounded by a throng of kids, wanting me to take their picture, and then wanting me to show them on the screen. If they didn't like it, they would make me take it again. It was hard to just keep walking, but the others didn't want to leave me behind and so I kept headed to the church, and they kept following me. I just could not take enough pictures. The kids were gorgeous!

The church is experiencing massive growth too! They recently doubled in size, they had around 20 people regularly, and Gigi (Estera's neighbor) walks to the village every night to preach the Gospel to them. They now have 43 people and had to add on to the church building! I had a bag of candy in my hands so I was like a pied piper and the kids followed me everywhere I went.

So when it was time for the kids church to start, Estera sang some songs with them, and did her Bible lesson, and asked me to teach them the "Who's the King of the Jungle" song, which they loved, and then we played games with them. We played hand slapping games, balloon bouncing games, and we gave out more Silly Bands, and we gave out the candy as they left to walk home. It was all over too soon for me.

These kids were a lot like the kids at home, much more free than some of the kids we saw in the villages. They were outgoing, not too shy, jumped around and laughed a lot. It was like being at Celebration Kids, without the English! Then we walked home in the dark and went back to our crafting and packing up to head back to Bucharest. It was a nice, relaxing day, and the Gypsies were just so much fun. A great way to end the week in Campulung.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tia's House

Tia's House

After the day camp, Scott started pouring the kid's leftovers into a big pot. And by leftovers, I mean any leftover soup, potatoes, hot dogs, bread crumbs, it all went into a giant pot. I thought it would be for pigs or something, but he said no, we were going to bring it to Tia's house. I was somewhat disturbed by that, thinking poor old lady. She is 78 and her husband is 98. No one knows his name so we started calling him Mr. Tia. Tia is the strongest, toughest lady you would ever meet! One morning we saw her hauling buckets and 90 pound bags of apples up the hill to her house and sent Chad out to help her (Chad was the muscle on our trip) and he came in sweating buckets and said Tia laughed at him for sweating! That is one tough broad.

So we carried our big pot of nasty leftover soup to Tia. She was very excited to get the soup, and grabbed two buckets that had been sitting outside and looked very dirty. As Kevin said, it looked like she washed a boot in the bucket. She asked us to pour the soup in the dirty bucket. At this point I thought for sure the food would be for the pigs. She took us out back to see her pigs (they were cute) and then we noticed a bunch of kittens climbing into the soup bucket and eating their hearts out. I tried to shoo them away but Tia told Estera to let them be, the cats need to eat too. Then she carried the bucket inside so they could eat it for dinner. I almost gagged just thinking about it, until I saw the pot of food that they had been eating. It looked like it had been made with rain water. It was a soup of apple pieces and potato peels and muddy looking water. They have no teeth so they can only eat soup made with mushy things.

Then Tia took us inside to meet her husband and see her house (which was about the size of master closet, no joke). There was a twin sized bed for Mr. Tia, and at the foot of that, in an L shape was her twin size bed, and across from that was their "kitchen" which was a heater that they cook food on. The bathroom was out back. It was so tiny and musty. Mr. Tia asked us if we would shave him, his daughter normally does it, but she hadn't been around in a while, so he had a nice little beard going.

He got up and rummaged through a drawer to find his razor which was almost as old as he was, and very dull. Kevin was nominated for the job, and he went back to camp and grabbed his electric razor that he brought with him. He was afraid he would cut him with a regular razor. So he shaved him, and you could tell Mr. Tia was enjoying it! He was smiling ear to ear, and was so sweet. He was so happy and he gave me a big hug and a kiss on each cheek. Tia had been hitting the Tuica before we got there, so she was pretty happy to see us too, and Amanda got a full on slobber kiss, twice. Lucky.

Then Tia asked us if we could pick some of her harder to reach apples, so Estera, Amanda and Kevin climbed the apple tree and picked a basket full of apples and would toss them down to Scott while Tia talked my ear off (in Romanian, she didn't seem to care that I couldn't understand a word she said!) She showed Amanda and I some of her old pictures and I thought they were OLD pictures, they were black and white with scalloped edges, looked like some my grandma has of her as a kid, but then on the back of them, they say they were taken in 1988 and 1989!

Then we headed back down to camp, and had dinner (more leftover chicken soup) and then Kevin and Scott made Tiramisu and Estera made us the best hot tea ever, from plants around the area. It was so good and I wanted so bad to bring some home, but I was afraid it wouldn't make it through customs. But, it was a great day, very interesting, but watching Kevin shave Mr. Tia and his huge smile, it was one of my favorite memories of the trip.

Day Camp

Day Camp

On Monday, Estera hosted a field trip at the camp. We had a "Bible Club" day camp. We spent a few hours on Sunday night decorating the upstairs room and laughing mostly, singing songs and goofing around. Scott has been leading trips to Romania for 20 years now, but I don't know if he's ever led a more fun one! We were always laughing and having so much fun.

So we got the "upper room" ready and planned out our activities and then on Monday morning, the bus pulled up and out came 21 kids (we were expecting 16) and their teachers, moms, grandmas and one grandpa. We had a station set up downstairs for the adults to make cards, get their nails done, and have some "grown-up" time, while the kids were upstairs having "kid time"!

We played a few games with them, took them outside to let them run around, and then we went back upstairs, Estera taught them a Bible story while we helped them with their butterfly craft. Then it was lunch time, and they ate the infamous chicken soup, and a side of hot dogs (that were like sausages) and mashed potatoes that were the best ones I had ever had. And they were just plain mashed potatoes. Yum. Anyway, while the kids were eating, the grandpa told Estera he was embarrassed about his granddaughter eating her food so fast, but this was the first time in her life she had ever had a second course, they were very poor and she had never eaten so much food before. Broke our hearts.

Right after the kids ate, we gave out the colored bead bracelets while Shawn told the "Wordless Book" story. The beads on each bracelet represent a scripture, the first is black (sin) red (the blood of Jesus) white (He washes us white as snow) gold (when we go to Heaven to be with Him) and green (grow in the knowledge of God).

The kids loved the bracelets and the teacher stood up and thanked us for coming, and told the moms and kids that you could tell that the love of Jesus was real by the way we served them that day. That if the country of Romania would embrace God and serve it's people like we had served them, their country would be a better country in no time. She went on, but by that time, we were all in tears. One of the mom's even gave Amanda and I a lace butterfly that she handmade and told Estera that she wanted to know more about God!

Then the kids loaded back up in the van and left and we were all on cloud nine!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Day the Chicken Died

The Day the Chicken Died

I'm a city girl. I know it, I accept it. However, I decided when I went to Romania, I would not say "no" to anything. As a result, I ate things I normally wouldn't like, did things I normally wouldn't do, and had a blast doing them! So when Estera said, "Hey, I'm going to Gigi's to have him kill a chicken for lunch tomorrow, you want to come and watch?" How could I say no to that?

We walked to Gigi's and it was evening chore time. We watched them milk the cow, scoop out the barn, feed the pigs, etc. Meanwhile, they were getting a pot of water boiling for the chicken. Shawn got to go pick out the lucky fella and Kevin and I decided that he would video and I would photograph. When in my lifetime will we see this again, right? (For us city folk anyway). Whack, it was all over before I knew it! The chopping part anyway, then literally, the chicken ran around with it's head cut off. No figure of speech there. Blood was squirting out and it was getting all muddy and bloody and it was really disgusting in a cool kind of way.

Then Gigi's wife, Lumenitsa, dunked the chicken in the boiling water and stuck her hands right in there and started ripping feathers off. That took a while and then she and Gigi started a fire to singe the last bits of feathers off. Then she gutted it, and that's when the cute cats came out for their snack. They grabbed the intestines and the gizzards and took off running. Then she handed the chicken over to Estera. It was all over before we knew it.

Talk about fresh! Estera made a chicken soup for the day camp we were having the next day, so that one chicken fed lunch to 50 hungry kids and parents, and there were leftovers for the neighbors. It was really good soup too. I don't think I will ever have chicken that fresh again! Not sure I want to either.

Church in Rucar

Church in Rucar

On Sunday we went to Vio and Estera's church in Rucar. It was about an hour away, and very traditional. The women sit on one side, the men on the other, we were told to wear dark colors and keep our head covered. It was definitely a different experience for me, who has grown up in very loud, non-traditional churches! The singing was beautiful (I'm including a video of it) and there was an English missionary there so we actually got to understand part of the service. Afterward we saw some of our new friends from the orphanage, Ionutz, Mehi and Magdalena, and then we were invited to lunch at the pastors house, Peter and Dafi. They lived only a mile or so away, so while Vio and our driver Eidi were giving rides to other people in the church, we walked. It was a beautiful day and we took picture of every house, gate, person and cow along the way!


The houses there are so beautiful, full of history and the details of the architecture are amazing! The wooden banisters that were hand carved, the additions to the house that may be in a complete different style, but somehow worked, the rooms in the back for the animals, it was all very interesting and unique and picturesque. I took a TON of pictures, and tried to just select the best ones, but it was so hard, everything there is just so incredibly beautiful.

We finally made it to Peter and Dafi's, and they laid out a feast fit for kings! I don't know what all we had, but it was all incredible. The first course was several things, one was an apple and carrot salad that was so good, the apples there taste nothing like the apples here, they were just so sweet and juicy. There were meatballs, eggplant salad, some type of pimento cheese salad thing, and of course fresh bread. Then the second course was homemade sarmale and mamaliga, the creamiest, gooiest mamaliga! It was like cornbread stuffed with butter and feta cheese. And then she made, hand-made, home-made chocolate eclairs. And these other things that I don't even know what they were but they were like chocolate layered bars that were just yummy.

They were so nice and took such great care of us. Their home was beautiful and built by Peter himself. They had 3 teenage boys that were delightful and they watched us log on to Facebook (yes, they had internet access!) and really got a kick out of seeing all of our pictures from home on FB.

Then we drove back home and had a leisurely Sunday afternoon. Until it came time to kill the chicken (dunh dunh DUNH!!!)...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Village Ministry

Village Ministry

After the market, we went to the mall in Pitesti (pronounced Pitesht) and had lunch at KFC. It was a real live mall, looked just like Lakeline Mall! After lunch we went to another village along a long, bumpy road. This lady opens her home up to Estera every week who goes there and teaches the kids about Jesus. We had 43 kids crammed into her living room, plus us, it was a tight squeeze! Vio went over a song that they've been learning, and then Shawn shared some of his testimony with them, I taught the kids a song, and then we did a craft that we brought with us. Estera told us a lot of the kids can't go to school because they don't even have supplies, and this craft was a pencil, and the kids all loved it. Normally it would have been something younger kids would appreciate more, but all the kids, of all ages, really enjoyed the craft. The people who lived in the home were so nice and we met the neighbors and checked out their yard, very interesting. Very different. I had to use the facilities that were WAY in the back of the yard, and as far as outhouses go, there's was quite nice, even had a "padded" seat!

Then we drove to another place and had a youth Bible club at a church. It was another small room, with kids just jammed in where they could fit, standing room only. It was amazing! The guys shared their testimonies, and then Chad thought he would beat them all in some arm wrestling but I think he under estimated how much these kids work out in the fields with their parents, and he wasn't winning like he thought he would!

Then we had a long drive back to the camp, we didn't get home until after 10 or so, but we were all pumped about what a great day it was.

The Market in Campulung

Campulung Market

On Saturday morning, we got up and headed out to the market in Campulung. We stopped by Estera's family store and got some homemade Zakouska for the trip. Once we got to the market, I think we sounded, and looked, like American Idiots. Everything was so bright, and colorful, and flavorful! I found an oblong shaped red onion, I was so amazed by it, the lady gave it to me! So of course, I bought a bunch of vine ripened tomatoes from her. They were the best tomatoes I've ever eaten in my life, and I love tomatoes! I went to the cheese market and it was like a light from heaven was shining on the cheese. There were so many different kinds of cheese to choose from, but I sampled several (a lot) and finally bought half a wheel of sheep cheese. I love sheep cheese. And it was like a little slice of heaven. There's another cheese there that they wrap tree bark around and put in a cave with a fire and smoke it for months, and it's pretty good too. Kevin bought that one, and we were all taking turns sampling our purchases, and oohing and aahing over everything, we looked like we haven't ever eaten a fruit in our lives! Amanda bought these peppers that we were eating raw like the Iron Chef guy, just taking bites out of them, and the fresh bread and honey, and Scott bought some Mici (like sausage) from a stand, and we had one of the best lunches of my life just standing there sampling everything! It was like a Romanian version of Costco right there. I've never seen such beautiful produce.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Romanian Orphanage

Romanian Orphanage


On Friday evening, we went to the orphanage. We bought the kids pizza, Pepsi and candy, and spent the evening with them. When we got there, we met the boys, they took us to their rooms to show us around. One of the boys has grown up in the orphanage, and he's a Christian, and really wants to start his own orphanage, but doesn't have the money to pay the bribe to start one. I think Scott said it's $500 for the bribe. He was so nice. They all were. The younger kids ate about a slice of pizza, I found out later it's because they will hide it to eat later, afraid they won't get more food the next day. But they were still so happy to see us, and after dinner they sang us a song, we taught them, "One Way, Jesus" and played some games with them. I did NOT want to leave. There was a little girl there that was Regan's age, but so small, she looked about 4 or 5. And one boy that was 11, just like Riley and he kept making silly faces into the camera, just like Riley! And Mehi, he's around 17, but so small from being neglected, but he was the sweetest kid. He just followed us around and hugged us a million times. The orphanage was very nice, a lot nicer than what I was expecting, but I will still sad for the kids. They were just so sweet, and had so much love to give.

Romania Day Five

Romania Day Five


Amanda and I woke up sick, and that was not good! I took some of Scott's medicine that he had, and they gave me a shot of Tuica (pronounced sweeka, and is basically like vodka made with plums) and that made me feel much better. It didn't help Amanda much, and she spent most of the day throwing up.

When I woke up, I looked out the window and there was frost on the ground! It was SO cold there in the mornings. We got up and walked around checking everything out. The camp was cool! The land went up the mountain, like everything there. The first level was the big house that we stayed in, there was the kitchen, a big windowed porch, two bedrooms with bunk beds, two bathrooms, and upstairs was a giant open room for games with the kids, and couches lining the room. Then there were other buildings on the property, one was a game room with ping pong table, more bathrooms, what will be a commercial kitchen, and rooms for helpers. On the next level up the hill was a huge gazebo, nice porch swing, and then farther up the hill was a big soccer field.

Then it was time to head into a village for a kindergarten Bible story. Estera drove us and it was wild! There were cows and gypsy wagons all over the place that we had to dodge, and the roads were so bad, with potholes, or the pavement would end, I don't know how people get around as fast as they do there. We went to this village that has no running water, way back off the main road, and there was the cutest school. It was like a Martha Stewart school. The teachers were so nice and the kids were so cute. We couldn't get them to smile for the life of us, and we tried HARD!!

But when we first arrived, the teachers had prepared a massive feast for us, only the 2nd group of American's to be in their village. They had the best cheese, tomatoes, bread with butter, baked apples (with homemade whittled sticks stuck in them!), apples with "teeth", boiled eggs that looked like spider eggs, coffee, lemonade, and more Tuica! And the cutest Halloween decorations. It was seriously like a Martha Stewart village Halloween! The kids had dressed in costumes and they asked us to judge their costume contest. They were so cute, they would just melt your heart. And the teachers were so sweet. We ate our snacks and then watched Estera do her Bible lesson on Zachias, which I recorded a part of here:


As part of her lesson, Estera handed out Silly Bands. Now, if you haven't heard about Silly Bands, you must not have kids! Our kids at church have been have a Silly Band offering in each service before we left. Kids don't always have money to give, but they had Silly Bands halfway up their arms! So a lot of the kids donated their Silly Bands to give to the kids in Romania, and it was so cute to see those kids with them. They had no idea what they were, and they would just hold them, like, okay, thanks. We had to show them that they are shapes, but they are also bracelets, and you can trade them and wear a bunch of them. Then they kind of caught on. They were so cute with them.

Then the kids sang some songs for us, and even did the bunny hop!



And they sang us a Good Bye song!


When it was time to go, I gave each of the teachers a gift from America, and they gave us a handful of wild flowers that the kids had gone and picked just for us. Talk about melt your heart, I was in tears. They were so sweet, and obviously very dedicated to their job, they make so little and they had that school looking so nice and they very obviously cared a lot for those kids.

Then we walked around the village some, Scott showed us the village well where most of the people get their water from. There was no running water there, so every day they would come to the well with their buckets and collect the water for the day.

Then we got back to the camp and decided to go meet the neighbors, Gigi and Lumanitsa. They were the cutest, sweetest couple! Gigi tells his testimony here:


They used to host Estera's Bible camp in their backyard before she had her own camp. Now Gigi goes every night to the gypsy village to preach the Gospel to the gypsies. He also makes his own honey that was to die for. It's bright orange and gritty, and sweet and delicious! He gave us some honey to take back, and offered a chicken to Estera to feed some kids that were coming on Monday (more on that little adventure later!)

And this is Gigi's animals. The pigs were awesome, and the chickens were great too! I loved their dogs and cats. Every animal there has a JOB, so I think they thought I was weird for loving and petting the animals, and talking to them. The cat loved me holding him, and he let me carry him around a while. He was so sweet.


And then we walked around some, here is a short video that just shows the scenery of the place. It's really one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. The hills look like there is carpet on them, the grass is so lush and green. And it's so funny to see cows just standing up there on the side of a mountain, it looks like any second he could come tumbling down.


That night we took pizza to the orphanage, but I don't have the pictures for that yet, my camera broke and so I switched to the church camera, and when I get those pictures, I will post all about that!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Romania Day Four

Romania Day Four

We started off the morning with a "quick" breakfast at Anne's house, the best breakfast ever, she had made scrambled eggs with a chunk of feta cheese, fresh bread, sausages, and fresh sliced tomatoes. Man the food there was just so good, and fresh! Then we rode the fun bus again back to Campus Crusade to do a Beth Moore Bible study with the staff ladies. Amanda and I were asked to share our testimonies, so that was interesting, and then we talked about faith. Then we had a staff chapel service that was amazing. It was so nice to get to know each other better, and pray for each other. We had pizza delivered for lunch, which was good, but different. They have the sauce on the side and you just pour it on top, and it's more like ketchup. But it was really tasty! The pepperoni was more like spicy sausage.

Then Amalia, Anne and I headed to the dorms at the University to meet some people and pass out flyers for the night's Bible Trek class that Scott was teaching. CCFC puts out a magazine called "Fitzuica" and there's a spot in the back for people who want more information about becoming a Christian, so we were going to those people to see what kind of questions they had. It was an interesting afternoon. On our way to the dorms, we passed these girls that were barefoot (and it was cold that day) and dirty and digging in the trash. My heart just broke for them, but they were so happy. All I had to give them was gum, and they were smacking away and smiling and laughing at the crazy American. As I turned to leave, I told them "Bye Bye!" and they laughed and kept repeating, "Bye Bye" all the way down the street! They were so cute.

We met some neat girls at the dorms, talked to them (I listened really, since they were NOT speaking American) and invited them to the Bible Trek seminar. Then we headed back to the office. I spent some time chatting with David and the kids online, and then went to the seminar which was very interesting and very intellectual!

After the seminar, we loaded up our bags into a van, said a temporary good-bye to our new best friends, and headed 3 hours away to the town of Campulung. We got in after midnight, the roads were crazy, and we went straight to the camp where we would be staying for the next week.

We met Estera who is one of the most amazing women I have ever met. I could take days just writing about how awesome she is, and I probably will, but not yet. She and her husband Vio run a camp on the outskirts of Campulung. They have summer camp there for kids, but she also goes to the neighboring villages and does Bible Clubs and she goes to Orphanages, Kindergartens, area churches, and people's backyards and hosts Bible Clubs.

We brought Vio and Estera several suitcases full of supplies. They are so far from Bucharest that they don't get there very often to buy supplies, and even when they are, they don't have the stuff that we have (imagine a life without Ziplock bags!) and the stuff they can get is super expensive. She does so much with what little she has. It was so amazing to unpack suitcase after suitcase and present her with all the stuff we brought for her. We brought puppets and crafts and glue sticks (that one kindergarten TEACHER had never seen before) and pencils, and peanut butter, and just all kinds of goodness. We even had a digital camera and a laptop that were donated to her. We were all so happy we didn't go to bed until around 3am!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Romania!

Romania Day One


Romania Day Two


Romania Day Three


Well, Im here and freezing! And there are no apostrophes on this Romanian keyboard. We left the church Sunday morning at 930, drove to Houston, got on a plane to London, 10 hour flight, had breakfast at Gordon Ramseys Plane Food (it was the best eggs I had ever had!) Very expensive but tasty breakfast, caught our plane to Romania, slept the whole way, got in here about 430, took a very scary ride to the Campus Crusades for Christ office, met the people there, they served us dinner and we talked about our schedule for the time we are in Bucharest. We sang, prayed, talked, had a great time! Then we went to our host home, Ana Maria, and we fell in love!! Shawn and Amanda Bouldin and I are staying with Ana, and she is so much fun. We stayed up late talking and laughing and having a great time.

I slept great, no jet lag (or not TOO much!) and other than the wild dogs that fight ALL NIGHT LONG I have been very comfortable! We got up Tuesday and went to the Campus office again, had a family meeting with staff, like how to balance ministry and family. Then we walked to the subway and headed to the University of Economics and had a seminar there on business and entrepreneurship. The way to do things here, is to teach the seminar, without being overtly religious, but let a few things slip about God, then hang around after and answer questions. We have talked to some amazing young people these past few days!!

Then after that seminar, we headed to the mall and parted ways with our other companions, then headed back to Anas house, she made us a typical Romanian feast of (and I know this isnt spelled right, but Im trying to spell it out phonetically) Sau Mauli (cabbage rolls made with fermented cabbage, sauce, and polenta on top with sour cream) then Mama Liga (fried egg, feta cheese, butter, and polenta on top) and a pastry with creamy cheese, and then Romanian pancakes with her moms homemade strawberry jelly.

Then today we went back to University for a sales seminar taught by Shawn, and then we went to lunch at KFC, which was much better than USA KFC. Then we went to some stores, and went sight seeing. We saw some amazing stuff, the Peoples Building, which is the 2nd largest building in the world, next to the Pentagon, we went to the top of the Omni Hotel so we could see the whole city. We saw some markets, a lot of really old, nice buildings, some not so nice, and then ended up at La Mama, a famous Romanian restaurant where we had Zakouska which I will have to figure out how to make, its and eggplant and pepper spread. And I had Schnitzil, Meach, Mousaka, sheep cheese, (that is made inside tree bark and smoked for months) and many other types of food!!

Here is a video of a violin tuner we saw while we were touring:


Tomorrow we have a womens Bible study and then dorm ministry, and then a Bible Trek class (no idea yet!) and then after that, at 830 at night, we head to Cumpulung, which is supposed to be super cold! It was warm yesterday so today I didnČ› bring my coat, and today it was FREEZING!! So, Im not sure how I will survive much colder weather!! Anyway, having a great time, taking a ton of pictures, and have seen some amazing things. There is one guy here, a Pastor of a church, his name is Romeo, and something about him just touches my heart. Hes tried 10 times to get a church started here, he found out about ARC (an organization our church belongs to) and found Celebration Church online and had a million questions for us about the childrens church and all the logistics of every little detail of church, he was like a sponge. I just could have talked to him all day. Its really amazing, to see the difference here between Christians and non Christians. Most everyone here is so sad and gray. We laugh, and people look at us like were crazy.

Anyway, I hope to type more later, but this is it for now. Keep praying, were headed to the mountains to do the Bible camps and work with the kids and thats what Im super excited about!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Springwoods Park




It was Celebration Home School Small Group day today so we went to Springwoods Park, one of our favorites! They have a ton of trees, which were dangerous today, any time there was a strong wind, one of us got knocked in the head by a falling acorn. But the kids love that park because there is so much to do there. And my Aunt Judy came with her baby grandson Joshua so we let Regan practice some babysitting skills! She got to swing Joshua and push him around in the stroller, and she even got to walk Alice May (the dog).

We have a great little group going, and one of the mom's went to Romania last year, so I asked a bunch of questions, she brought a care package for me to bring to some people there, and I got a lot more info and a lot more excited about leaving in less than TWO days!!

I'm trying not to panic, trying to make sure David has everything covered. Set up bills to be paid while I'm gone, renew library books online (I don't think David knows where the library is!) make sure he has a daily schedule, list of phone numbers and all that. At the very worst, they will just have a 2 week vacation from school, and we end up catching up over Christmas break, so I'm not too worried about it I guess. Trying not to any way!

And I still need $250 for the trip!! Again, I'm trying hard not to panic, God hasn't brought me this far to leave me hanging on a measly $250!! I know it's His plan for me to go, so I'm trusting He will work it all out.

And to top it all off, I checked the weather where we're going and it said 13 degrees, but "feels like" -8. Yes, negative eight. Yikes. I've never, ever experienced that kind of cold in my life! Should be a new and exciting experience!!

I'm hoping to blog some when I'm there, but not sure. I added international to my phone, but I'm worried about data charges, so I might just take Riley's phone so I can text. Incoming texts are free, so feel free to text me! But it's 35 cents for me to send a text, so don't expect a reply!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Geocaching at Mt. Bonnell





Riley's Geocaching class had a field trip to Mt. Bonnell. The only thing I remember about this place was we visited once right after I moved to Austin, so I was probably around Riley's age and I just remember about 2 million steps to the top! I dropped Riley and his friend Erik off, then Regan and I met David for lunch, while they did their Geocaching. Then we came back and Regan wanted to go up and see what everyone was doing, so we went up to the top. There weren't nearly as many steps as I remembered, and the view wasn't as great as I remembered either. You had to climb up a rock and lean WAY over to see water. You could barely even see the famous Pennybacker bridge. Anyway, Regan tripped and scraped her knee, then hurt her ankle going down the steps, so all in all it wasn't the best morning.

But on the way back, we passed this park that I have heard a lot about so we decided to stop and check it out. It's famous for it's peacocks and a great place for photographs. The kids tried to pet a peacock, but although they came close, they would jump away if you tried to touch them, usually with a very loud peacock, "OOOWWWW!"

Monday, October 11, 2010

Team Meeting

We had a Romania team meeting, and I'm getting more and more excited! We met at our team leaders house, he has been to Romania many, many times, so we got a lot of information from him on how to act, what to say, what NOT to say, etc. For instance, if you admire something of someone's, they will most likely give it to you, so be very careful when you tell someone you like their shirt, or they will take it off and give it to you! Also, don't eat everything on your plate unless you are very, very hungry because they will keep giving you more and more food. Also, hot water costs them around $4.00 per shower, so we might be taking some cold showers while we are there! Which could be interesting, since it's pretty cold there right now.

And then he told us to watch this video to prepare. I know we might not get a chance to visit an orphanage, they try to keep visitors out these days, but if we do get into one, it's good to be prepared. Although after watching this, not sure I could handle a visit to one like this.


So, it's just a few days away, I'm not packed, don't have all the stuff I need to pack yet either. But, I have plenty of time!! Not really, but if I put it off longer, I won't be so anxious to go maybe?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Princess Party



One of Regan's Girl Scout friends had a birthday party and it was Princess/Pirate themed. Regan of course wanted to be a pirate, and we found the most adorable princess dog costume for Princess! And she was the hit of the party. She looked so cute in her pink outfit with little pink faerie wings and pink puffy skirt! And the party was so much fun, they had a treasure chest FULL of popcorn that the girls could dig around in to find buried treasure, and Princess got to eat all the popcorn that fell overboard! She loved it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Kawaii Ice

Who's the best mom in the whole world right now?

Sent from my G1 phone

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Romania or Bust!

I know I have been pretty bad about keeping up with my blog lately, but we've been so busy now I don't know where to go back and try to catch up! But, I'll start with the big thing...Romania!!

It was funny, David and I have been spending some time lately talking about our goals in life and together and what we really want to do with ourselves. You know, grown up stuff. I have always had a heart for missions, specifically for working with kids in other countries, but after having kids of my own and settling down into our home school routine, I figured that was a dream that I had to give up for now. But, it's always been there, and in talking about our goals and dreams, I said it, I want to go to the mission field!

A pastor in our church recently moved his whole family to Xai Xai, Mozambique and I told David if they ever need assistant pastors, I would go tomorrow! Sadly, David does not share my love of the mission field (I think it's just because he hasn't gone on a missions trip yet). But anyway, I prayed for my opportunity to come, in God's time.

Well, it wasn't long, about a week or two later, that the children's pastor at our church asked me as I was picking up the kids from class, "Hey, you wouldn't happen to want to go on a missions trip to Romania to work with kids would you?" Uh, where do I sign?! So, that was the beginning. I applied and got my passport in less than a week. I was worried about the money because at this point, David and I didn't have the $1550 to go, but put it in God's hands. If he wanted me to go, he will provide. As Christine Caine recently said at church, "God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called!"

So here it is, I leave in 2 weeks, and most of my trip is now paid for! David has taken the time off from work and is excited to get to spend some quality time at home teaching the kids, and the kids are excited that I get to go follow my dream, and buy them presents from another country!

Here is the official letter that details exactly what all we will be doing there, and a list of websites for more information also. I just ask that you pray for me while I'm gone, and pray for my family, as much as I like to think I'm indispensable around here, I'm not, and I know they will be okay, but I'm mom, and I am a little worried!


Can you envision a land where 97% of the population is either atheist or agnostic?

We will be traveling Oct. 24 - Nov. 4th with a team from Celebration Church,
Georgetown, Texas, to Romania where there truly is less than 3% of the population
who profess to be Christian and less than 1% who would consider being a part
of a life giving church. Our 10 day trip will focus on bringing a life giving message
to students in local campuses and to children in small villages. We will literally
be in front of thousands of students during our time in Romania.
Our trip will include the following:

* Partnering with 'Campus Crusade for Christ' where we will provide leadership
and business seminars to students attending local universities, hosting student
Q&A nights, and 1-on-1 ministry in the dorms.

* Sharing Christ with young people at a local youth camp during a lock in with
'Child Evangelism Fellowship'
http://cefonline.com/, and 'God is Center Stage
Ministries'.

* Hosting marriage seminars in three villages, preaching in local churches to
Christians who are hungry for a fresh Word, ministering in the Gypsy villages
and visiting children in their local schools.

Please take a look at the following web sites for additional information.


http://www.celebrationchurchtx.com/mission-trips/
http://www.ccci.org/
http://www.patraders.info/missions.html
http://www.buckner.org/world-romania.shtml

If you would like to financially support our work in Romania, please make checks
payable to Celebration Church and return to me. Note that donations made to
Celebration Church are tax-deductible. Any funds raised above the base trip amount
will go towards covering other costs associated with the trip (i.e. bonus gifts
for the children).

While financial support is important, it comes in a distant second to my need for
your prayer support. Since prayer support is so important to the success of this
mission, I would like to know if I can count on you in that area as well. Please pray
daily for the areas listed above.


I'm sure you will hear more about it from me before, during and after my trip!!
I can't wait!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Happy 10th Birthday Celebration!

Watch this and I dare you not to cry! It makes me tear up every time I watch it!



So to celebrate the 10th birthday, we had a humongous Country Fair on top of the hill! It was off the hook!! I volunteered to work the first shift, strategically so I could get good parking, and having a husband on the parking staff, I thought for sure would insure me a free golf cart ride to the top! Of course, Regan brought friends, and I don't know how many people showed up, but that place was packed! I worked the "Super Slide" and the kids got to ride most things before it got too crowded (another advantage of working the early shift) and we got cotton candy, snow cones, and the best funnel cake ever (even if I did have to wait in line for almost an hour for it!)

I am just so honored to be a part of this church, and I know that it is making a difference in our lives, and the lives of our children, and hopefully in the lives of others that we serve.

ETA: I forgot to add the pictures! Oopsie!


Saturday, October 2, 2010

SERVE Team


We have joined a lot (LOT) of small groups this fall! I am loving every minute of all of them, even though I think we probably joined too many! But, how can you not love them when you get to do things this awesome?!

This sweet single mom in our church has recently had a lot of medical issues, so our Serve Team met at her house bright and early and got to work. I made the kids come too, I really want them to learn the importance of serving. She had some boards around the house that had rotted, and a lot of very overgrown plants and weeds. Some concrete pavers that were uneven and dangerous due to weeds, and some plastic pavers that were coming up in places, and the yard needed mowed and trimmed, trees needed pruning, etc.

So David and Riley mowed, there were guys on the roof taking down Christmas lights, one guy was working on the a/c and hot water heater, one guy replaced a lot of trim, and I even got to caulk! Regan helped me and the other ladies as we cut back plants, pulled weeds, took out the plastic trim and replaced it with real concrete trim, we took out some of the overgrown plants, moved stuff around, gave her a little area up front with a table and chairs to sit and have coffee in the mornings! But the real reason we served, the thing that makes me cry when I think about it, is her thank you e-mail to our team afterward. I am just so thankful that I could be a very small part in making someone feel the love of God in such a tangible way!

> I PRAISE GOD FOR "The bus being moved". I have thought so many times
> "Oh GOD I need to hear "MOVE THAT BUS" and see a wonderful
> blessing. Well Neal said "move that truck" for me to today. God's
> blessings are here and the bus has moved.
>
> I don't know how to PRAISE GOD ANY MORE. I will be at the Womens oil
> change again this year and won't have to run home and do a dialysis
> treatment at noon!!
>
> God through Celebration has blessed our family. I've been a
> member of the church for YEARS and never know just how much
> Celebration does for people. I praise God, for being a small part of
> such a wonderful family.
>
> I love u all!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday School


It's that rare time in Texas again, that small window of perfect weather!! Regan's school has park day after the 4th Wednesday of the month, and Riley has yearbook for an extra hour after school, so we spent some time at the playground by the Dell Diamond. They have a nice sized lake that we walked around and Regan played with her school friends a bit before we had to go get Riley. It was just nice to be outside!

And Riley's school does a community service project once a month. He had to write up a proposal on what to do with the funds they've raised so far (about $35.00) and pitch it to the class. One of his suggestions was chosen also! So they used the money to make sandwich bags for the homeless. He called me with the good news, and to ask if I would be available to help pass them out. I said sure, how can I say no after it was his choice, right? So they made up peanut butter sandwiches, bags of chips, candy and a water bottle, and they wrote on the bags, "God loves you" and "We're praying for you!" and we drove around and passed them out. We prayed that God would lead us to the people that needed them the most and one guy was so thankful, and he was eating his sandwich before we drove off!