Announcement: Appointment Scheduling

Upon arriving home, I sifted through and answered my 345 emails and as I did so, I finished filling up my October schedule. I am once again attempting to take November and December off for the holidays, so I can relax and spend more time with my family. This works out well since I really prefer to take pictures outdoors anyways, and snowy weather just makes me want to curl up in blankets and read stories to my boys. So this announcement is to say that I will not be accepting any new appointments for the rest of the year. If you have discussed a possible appointment with me, but it’s not scheduled, please bring it up again with me SOON so we can get that taken care of. And of course, if you are enrolled in the Baby Steps program, you will still be able to get in for 3,6,9, or 12 month baby pictures, but I will not be accepting any new Baby Steps customers until January.

If you’d like to schedule something for January, or senior pictures for the Spring, PLEASE, call soon so I can get you on the calendar!! Thank you!

Romania: Day 9-10 (Wrapping Things Up)

I rarely post unprocessed images, but I have to wrap up my trip coverage quickly so I can move on with life back home! I came home with such a new mindset and focus! Things I used to think were necessary are seeming so frivolous, and little things that seemed cumbersome are looking quite a bit more important and worth while. Right now I want to spend time with my kids, and that’s more important than perfect looking pictures, so you’ll have to forgive the lack of zing in these shots!

Here’s some Romanian countryside, and a few of the sunflowers we saw in fields and bunches everywhere.

This is a picture I took of Chila before we left. She’s SUCH a sweetie. I will miss her.
Chrissy gets a little more TLC from Maria before we take off.
Our group
In Budapest we saw some impressive and historical sites.

Kari and Sarah in Budapest.
Sam, Sarah, Kari, Jonathan, and Matt (the Missionary Apprentice)
This is the Baptist guest house we stayed in for one night.
It was set up much like a dorm, with sitting areas and rooms with multiple single beds.
It had beautiful courtyards, but we were wishing it had an ELEVATOR! lol
We climbed these stairs a few more times than we cared to. Some of us were on the top floor, which I think was 5 or 6 stories up. Not sure.
Homeless guy sleeping in his car…

For dinner we ate at a fabulous restaurant called Rustico. They had a gourmet Italian and Hungarian menu. Jonathan really got into his goose leg.

This was Pastor Pete’s meal, with a hot pepper on top. He shared this hot pepper with James…
This was Bethany’s food…green Ravioli. It was AWESOME (I got to sneak a bite)
James (my James) goose leg dinner.
My own meal: duck in walnut raisin sauce. YUMMY.
Beautiful food…love the colors!
Cody polished off his HUGE personal pizza.

If it says ANYTHING about how huge it was, James couldn’t finish it!
Matt and Sarah in their fedoras.

Rich got tired of walking so he called upon his two slave boys for assistance.
This street performer looked like an interesting picture until he asked me for money when I was done. I was a little befuddled…I don’t often have to pay my subjects to take their pictures. lol

James being…James.

We walked down the banks of the Danube looking for our tour boat. We were hoping this wasn’t it!
Thankfully, THIS was our tour boat station and the boat was quite nice.
The view was incredible. The bridge and the buildings were all lit up.
This is the Citadel, way up on the hill

The water reflected the lights from all the huge, century-old buildings. Amazing.

This is the royal palace.
Several beautiful bridges spanned the Danube.

This is the Parliament. The building itself is as old, if not older, than our country.

On our walk home we saw this gorgeous church.

I wish I’d had a tripod on me for this shot. It’s not bad for a 1 second hand held exposure, but I had visions of it being a lot better.

A little of the diversity in the city.

This is what James and I had for breakfast. It was SO yummy.

Had to take a picture of the money before we changed it and left.

I can’t wrap this up without adding some personal thoughts about our trip. My mind is still reeling with all that we saw and experienced. Coming home feels so strange. We had no idea how blessed we were to live in such a free country, where freedom has been our motto for such a long time! We don’t realize how quickly and easily it can be snatched away from us. Other countries of the world have a much better understanding of it’s fragility.

Materialistically, we are gluttons. It makes me want to come home and open the doors of my house and allow my house to just VOMIT STUFF. Sorry to be so graphic, but that’s exactly how I feel. We spend so much of our lives rearranging stuff, managing stuff, earning stuff, buying stuff, selling stuff, organizing stuff, rotating our stocks of stuff, displaying stuff…it’s all just so overwhelming. I want to live more freely, less addicted to my stuff. And I want to put my entire focus where it should be…on a personal relationship with Jesus because that’s the only thing that matters.

I hope that each and every one of you has the chance to someday expand your world view and experience what I did. It will truly change your life.

Romania: Day 8 (Short and Sweet)

First of all, good answer Julie! 🙂 I love it. I’ll pass that along to Jonathan as soon as he gets home from the morning service. We were all given the option to stay home this morning and most of us took advantage of that, but he was up at 7am so he could go. He really does love it here. That’s the part we’re not joking about. And Pastor Tim has encouraged him that he needs some young help. Not THAT young, but young. He should probably finish school first. lol

Pastor Pete is concerned that some may get the impression that there’s a lot of flirting going on. Let me clarify the humor in all of this. The gypsies are very flirtatious with us Americans. I’ve had to pull women away from my husband a number of times. We flash our rings and indicate WE’RE MARRIED. Everyone is being responsible in their behaviour, trying to remain friendly while being firmly understood. There’s just a lot of teasing because certain gypsy individuals have gravitated to certain team members. In some cases, there’s not too much argument, but we’re all making a group effort not to ENCOURAGE this behaviour. In the slideshows we’re doing today, we’re specifically excluding pictures of gypsy girls with our guys, and visa versa, so they don’t get any wrong ideas.

We had a beautiful day yesterday for the baptism. Martzihaz is a brand new church so they still meet in someone’s home. This is the family’s back yard. They set up a swimming pool and filled it with water by repeatedly carrying LARGE jars of water back and forth from the pump. Our guys helped with that and were QUITE worn out.

The ones in white are the people who got baptized.
Pastor Tim preached and Pastor Pete gave a few words of encouragement as well.
This little kid was PICTURE PERFECT sitting off to the side watching the service. The lighting was awesome, everything was just perfect, I couldn’t have posed it better if I had tried.
Each person gave their testimony. Several of them cried, one wailed. It was very emotional for them.

Pastor Pete and Pastor Tim dunked them. The first time down, Pastor Pete hit his teeth on Pastor Tim’s head. 🙂 We’re going to check Tim’s head for teeth marks later. lol

I won’t take the time to post each of the baptisms, but here’s a couple more shots, chosen at random.

Afterwards, they greeted each other with kisses, hugs, and tears.

Each person was given a Bible and prayed for.

Tomorrow we leave here and head to Budapest for a day of tourism, including a boat ride down the Danube, I believe. We’re all a little sad to leave. Tonight we’ll be saying goodbye at the church services and for some of us, that will be the last time we see these people until heaven. I believe others will meet again, and maybe soon. 🙂

I may not be able to blog tomorrow…don’t know if our hotel room in Budapest will have an internet connection. This may be the last post of the trip. If so, lots of love to everyone. We’ll see you soon! I can’t wait to hug my boys! I miss you SO much!

Romania: Day 8 (Running on fumes)

OH SO TIRED! This morning we did pretty much nothing, which felt really good. Tonight we had the baptism at Martzihaz which we JUST got back from (it’s 11:30pm). It was a wonderful experience, but there’s not much of a point in explaining it without the pictures, so I will blog that tomorrow. Wanted to just say hello to everyone and thanks so much for all your encouraging comments. Jonathan would still like to hear from his Mommy. lol. Hope everyone knows we’re just (half) joking about all that.

Quick Question for Julie R.

We’re all gathered around the blog this morning, reading comments and looking at the pictures together before we move on to the activities of the day. We have a quick question for Julie…can Jonathan stay here and be a missionary intern? He feels like he has finally found his calling in life, caring for the gypsy children and finding a future “esposa” who is using her talents to serve the Lord. She’s 14 and is one of the most responsible individuals (including adults) that lives in this village. He has Chrissy’s blessing (and encouragement, and maybe forceful implementation). We just need you to say yes, to agree to all this, and we’ll be leaving him here. Chrissy is going to take on his full support, so you don’t need to worry about that. Really. We’re serious. Ciao.

Big bro James is excited about this. He thinks he needs extra room at home for friends to come over more often. LOL.

Romania: Day 7 (Last day of VBS)

This morning was rainy, but once again we were blessed with dry weather once we arrived at VBS. The team occupied the kids outside while others set stuff up inside. Each person has a different method of entertaining children…

Jonathan spins them.

Cody throws them…

(normally I wouldn’t save a picture that’s so out of focus, but this one makes me LAUGH OUT LOUD!)

…Martha hugs them…

…Sam and James make them run till they can’t run anymore (by CAN’T I mean Sam and James).

Kara, Lena, and Martha did face painting this morning, which was a huge hit.

These children’s eyes are amaaaazing. I love them.
Sack races were demonstrated by James and Jonathan.

Pastor Pete helping out one of the smaller kids who couldn’t figure it out…

Then we did the Limbo…
Meanwhile, behind us these little teeny tiny kids were pushing a cart up and down the street. It was positively adorable. I won’t post my FAVORITE shot because I don’t want to offend anyone, but the little guy with the saggy drawers was losing them at one point…it was SO funny. He had to keep stopping to hike them up. Those are actually bright green tights!

Cody has become particularly attached to a little guy named David (Da-VEED!). They are just inseperable. Today David couldn’t be at VBS for some reason, but afterwards, he saw Cody and just RAN up to him yelling and screaming. I think a few tears will be shed over this one when we have to leave. We’re all calling our bets.

This little scene made me think of the Little Rascals. The little girl’s pants needed to be held up, but she was so serious while she was talking to her friends. It made me laugh.

It’s always crowded when it’s time to leave…

And here we are at Cheriu for the 2nd half of our day…

James is holding this sweet little blind girl.

It’s laundry day at this house!

At Cheriu we did relay races with the big balls.

Everything these kids do is interesting…I think it amuses them that I want to take their pictures even when they’re being silly.
One of my favorite shots of the day.
Tomorrow, I’m not sure what all is planned for us…all I know is I get to sleep in a little, HALLELJAH! I know we are having a baptism in Martihaz. Unfortunately, we just found out this evening that one of the people wantint to be baptized passed away. He had cancer and it was expected. At this very moment, actually, Pastor Tim and half of our team are at a short impromptu funeral service for him that they held after the church service.
We have had a couple people sick, but nothing serious. Kari and Chrissy stayed home today, Kara and Martha were feeling a little under the weather, but carried on. I’m noticing a sore throat coming on…but I don’t think it will slow me down much.
A few personal comments:
Corban and Jadon we LOOOOVE you and miss you SOOOO much! Can’t wait to hear all about your week. Mom and Dad, thanks for spoiling them this week.
Isaac…I love you. Hope you’re not too lonely. No, you may NOT. Don’t even think about it.
Katie…I’m seeing a lot of horses, but no cows on hills. It’s just not the same.
Marka: I’m still waiting for my shipment! Would you put a rush on that please?
Parents of all our teens: Do you have dowry’s? That info would be handy…email me with figures. lol

Romania: Day 6 (the REAL post)

It’s incredible. I keep saying I’m going to post FEWER pictures tomorrow, and yet it always ends up that I post MORE. This is crazy long. Lest you think I’m just insane, I am trying to post pictures of as many team members as possible, in addition to artistic pictures and pictures that explain what we’re doing. Temporarily, this is a multi-purpose blog.
I already wrote a little about yesterday, so I’m just going to quickly caption each of these pictures. I have to make a disclaimer…I process pictures on my own computer and I post them on the Fink’s, so now that I’m here on theirs I’m noticing some of the pictures look a little dark. I am in a huge hurry so I’m not going to go back and fix them. Too much work. Right now it’s quantity over quality.
Children watching us through the window as we get set up for VBS.
The view of the village of Oserhei from the church (the gypsy camp is outside the village)
This little girl was soundly beaten by her mother for disobeying. In this picture she’s happy, but later on I found her looking a little swollen in the face and very sad. Laurie told me that she had brought her baby brother or sister back to Mom so she could color during craft time, but Mom told her to keep the baby with her. She walked away so Mom came over, pulled her out of the church and hit her in the head a few times, so hard that her headband went flying. I was so sad for her.
A few of the kids are barefoot and on these cold mornings, it just breaks my heart. We are all bundled up in sweatshirts and sweaters but being barefoot doesn’t phase them.
Also of interest…these are the feet of a little boy.
This kid has earned the nickname “cowboy” because that was his English word that he kept repeating when we first arrived. We think he really likes cowboys and was calling our guys American cowboys, or something. But it stuck, and he’s a favorite. He’s the son of the church deacon.
A face I will not soon forget.
Tug of war.

I asked Lena if she made them cry or if she just attracted screaming kids. 🙂 2nd day in a row that poor Lena gets a naughty one. But look at her handling it with grace and dignity. 🙂
Chrissy has a Little House on the Prairie moment. Matt (the MAP’er staying with the Finks right now) found his gypsy double.
Some interesting variation of Red Rover.
Red Rover, Red Rover, send ALL the gypsy kids back over!

Pastor Pete watches from a safe distance. 🙂
Here’s one for the National Geographic collection.
Cody led games. He who has the whistle rules the world here.

Some beautiful faces…

Sam hands out crayons…
Darrin puts his talents to good use and designs church pews that the guys will hopefully have a chance to build before they leave. They found out that lumber for the project was EXHORBITANTLY priced (like $15/board!!!) so we may just make enough for the new church in Martihaz.
Rich doing what Rich does best.

The school teacher in Chrissy definitely comes in handy.

Cody shares his Dad’s gift for loving children.

A cute Lena/Bethany moment.

The kids have figured out that I can turn the camera around now, so I may appear a little more frequently.
Chrissy teaching a little girl to fold her hands during prayer. Me teaching her that it’s cute to have her eyes open for a picture. WOOPS!
Several of the kids have learned our names, but Sam is one that we hear a lot. They like Sam.
A few other team member portraits

We went to Cowboy’s house today. They have a TV and their house seems to be one of the nicer ones in the village.

The man looking at the camera is Joseif, Cowboy’s dad, the deacon. I really like him…he seems so kind and faithful.
The house from the outside.
Cowboy says that Josh is Superman and that he is the Hulk.
Classic cuteness.

Things we would never get used to seeing no matter how long we were here…
This is a closeup of the previous picture so you can see the little girl playing in this courtyard all by herself.
The “playdoh.”
The kids never want us to leave. I can’t remember the word for “Be CAREFUL” but we scream it out the windows as we pull away every day.

Driving over to Cheriu, I saw this gypsy woman walking past a Romanian man. It’s such a mix of worlds, all in such close proximity.

I love this picture. It just looks so quaint.
The response when I told this girl to say “Funk-ay!”

Darrin the architect still working hard on the bench designs.
Chrissy’s voice was gone from laryngitis, so Martha told the lesson and Chrissy did the flannelgraf and sideshow theatrics.

They come to him like the pied piper…
Just to prove, our feet get just as dirty as the gypsies!
Not all the work is exciting, but somebody’s got to do it.
Bethany gives a little girl a cracker.
I don’t believe this needs any explanation…

Ok, THIS one does…if you click on this picture to enlarge it, you’ll see the kid way off in the distance. He’s walking down the road with a blanket over his head. I couldn’t get out there fast enough to get a direct shot, but I really love it this way anyways…one of my favorites.
Another fav…
Lena stealing Rich’s job…
Staying in line…or trying anyways…

Guys against girls tug of war.
The human wall…if they didn’t do this, the kids would root for their team by running to the end of the rope, grabbing on and joining in.
Cody and Jonathan against all the girls…the boys won.

…and the girls went sprawling all over.

Pastor Tim, however, was not so lucky. He lost his footing right away and the girls totally won.
Pastor Tim’s hat for the day.
Jail time.
Jump rope didn’t go over so well. Surprisingly, none of them knew how to do it.
So Rich tried to show them how it was done. He doesn’t know how either.

Sour grapes, sweet faces.
This man is crippled and gets around very slowly. We found him in the church playing the keyboard after VBS and went in to hear for awhile.
He asked Kara to play, so she shared a song with him for a few minutes.
Mihiala is one of the girls who helps us out with crowd control and translation. She’s enjoys trying out her english with us.
A gypsy wagon

The Fink’s neighborhood is under major road construction so every day when we wake up, we have no idea if we’ll be able to get through or not. We often experience major delays, but so far we’ve been able to get through. Thankfully the gypsy’s really have no sense of time, so if we’re late, OH WELL. This is one element in yesterday’s obstacle course…a huge pile of dirt in the middle of the road. That’s Pastor Pete’s van navigating in front of us.
The evening service musical team. The guy on the accordian is the gypsy pastor.
The middle of the street…yep, that’s where we all were.
During the service, a wagon came through, and just drove right through our service. Kinda funny.

Pastor Tim is a dynamic preacher and I couldn’t help thinking it’s just PERFECT for the gypsies. He really speaks to them and relates to them.

Darrin soooo wants to bring this one home. We’re going to check his luggage before we leave for stray children.

Romania: Day 7 (no posers, pardon)

Well, this is going to be brief. It’s 10:30 and I’m in a hurry! We had an evening service tonight, that was amazing, but our day was one thing to the next, to the next until this very moment. In fact, we came home and the rest of the team is packing candy bags for all the kids, so I’m skipping out of the “next thing” to give you this brief update. Pastor Tim needs the internet tonight for important business, so I want to make sure I’m off the computer early enough that he’s not up later than necessary. I will post pictures tomorrow for both days. Tomorrow night some are going to the service but others are staying home…I’m planning to stay home and work on my projects. I’m having a hard time keeping up! I’ve already taken almost 3000 pictures, about 2000 of which are “good.” It takes several hours a day to load them, go through them, tweak them, save them, shrink them, and blog them! And I’m at about 5 hours of video footage as well. I’m going to join the gypsy circus with my juggling act!

Hightlights: No rain today! YAY! VBS in Oserhei went well. Chrissy and Martha gave the lesson, Cody did games, Rich handled babies and behaviour issues…as usual. Today the kids at Oserhei were a little more wild than normal. Usually they’re the more well behaved village. They weren’t bad, just tired us out a little more than usual and we were tired to start with! As much as I love taking pictures of them, I am getting a little tired of taking the SAME children’s pictures for the zillionth time. I usually delete what I don’t want as I go so I don’t use up memory space that I don’t need. My camera has become part of the activity time…I have a herd of children around me at all times yelling “Poser, Poser!” which means “Picture, Picture!” I have to eventually yell “GATTA! GATTA!” which means “Enough! Enough!” They’re quick learners, though, and they’ll go grab a team member and say, “Poser, Poser” and of course, how can I turn down a picture of THAT? lol. They bring me their baby brothers and sisters in an attempt to get me to take more pictures. As we are all packed in the van, they are still up against the windows, some still asking for posers. I got tired of hearing “poser” after awhile and started telling them to say “Schnazzy” or “Funky” instead. We’re quite amused because now they think those words have something to do with pictures. The next Americans to visit will wonder why these kids are running around yelling, “Schnazzy, schnazzy! Funky, Funky!” lol

While we’re on the topic of language, it’s funny when the kids pull out some English from time to time. One boy told us he was Michael Jackson. Another child said, “I love you, baby.” One little girl sweetly told Martha, “I love you, in the Lord.” Occasionally they’ll say “hi” or “bye bye” or “Thank you.” And they’re so proud of themselves. It’s adorable. But I think my favorite will still be schnazzy and funky. You’ll have to see the video footage to appreciate it…they sound like little birds chirping out the words…hilarious.

Cheriu VBS was once again out of hand for game time. We had to send a number of kids “CASA” (home) because they would not listen. Cody and James had to hold a couple children captive so they wouldn’t interfere with the games. We were attempting tug of war and jump rope. And there was a loose form of Red Rover at one point too…which basically consisted of lining up the men with their arms linked and sending the kids running down the hill to see if they could break through in masses. It was amusing. And wore them out for a few minutes.

After VBS today, the children in Oserhei decided it was playdoh day! And yes, you can just imagine what their playdoh is made of. Very thick mud, which is not always just dirt! Mmmmm. They take it and make little bowl shaped objects out of it and then throw it down on the road so that the air pocket makes a loud popping noise. I love the creativity of it and that they amuse themselves, but I still had a difficult time stomaching the concept in general.

We were invited into another home tonight, I have pictures I will share tomorrow.

The service tonight was really cool. We were back at Cheriu and Pastor Tim’s good friend, a gypsy pastor, visted and his team gave a musical presentation (he invited our girls to give an impromptu musical number, which they did quite nicely). The church members brought out their church pews and set them in the street. Others stood outside their front gates and watched. A few horse drawn wagons came during the service, one went right through the middle, the other was polite and went around. I loved hearing the authentic gypsy music…so beautiful and moving.

As promised, Leevu was not around today, but we DID see him in town, driving his horse drawn wagon on his way home from wherever he was. He waived. We tease Sarah mercilessly. But she would like everyone to know that the moment she found out that he may have misconstrued her friendliness (and that in their culture, things are taken much more seriously), she made it quite clear that she is not interested. That’s her story and she’s stickin’ to it. lol

Well, time for me to go to bed. I was falling asleep standing up. Time to get one good night’s rest before our last day of VBS tomorrow. Thanks for all your prayers and your comments…the team enjoyed hearing. It was a topic of discussion at lunch…Who left comments? What did they say? Did so and so comment on this picture? 🙂 GATTA! GATTA!

Romania: Day 5 (Getting into the groove)

First of all, I’d like to REALLY thank everyone who’s leaving comments! We love to read them and know that people are praying for us! If any of you parents are reading, feel free to leave a note…I’ll pass it along to the kids! Every night at and after dinner, they all want to see the pictures I took and find out (and vote on) which ones I’ll be blogging. They’d love to hear what you think of what they’re doing.
Our day this morning started out COLD and RAINY. This was a direct answer to prayer. I smile as I type this. We prayed that it would not rain today because the rain makes EVERYTHING ten times harder (read: muddier), especially for our VBS in Cheriu because the church building is SOOOO small (imagine your master bedroom with 65 dirty little children in it). And yet, the rain today WAS an answer to prayer because, as Pastor Tim pointed out, sometimes God says yes, sometimes he says no, and sometimes he says wait. Today, we were relieved to find out that he didn’t say no, he said wait. By the time we arrived at our first VBS, the rain had slowed to a drizzle and by the time we got to Cheriu in the afternoon, the sun was out. We may face more rain in the next couple of days, but if we do, we know God has a purpose for it and our job is to do the best with what we’re given. But today we were grateful!
So even though we packed for sunshine and 80 degrees, we pulled out and shared what long sleeved shirts, hoodies, and jackets we had between the team and the missionaries and bundled up for rainy and 65…here’s Kara braving the elements with a grin…

Here’s Sam, carrying on in his steady, happy way. Rich picked up right where he left off at home…holding anyone’s baby that a Mama would hand over. We’re all quite used to seeing Rich with a baby in his arms, but it was still cute, photo- worthy, and above all, INTERESTING. Because Rich = INTERESTING.

Some adorable moments from the Oserhei craft time…

One not so adorable moment from the Oserhei craft time…
(this child was trying to run off with a whole cup full of crayons and was throwing a temper tantrum. Poor Lena couldn’t contain him, so finally one of the men had to come along and help her out. We were laughing at her because sweet Lena WOULD be the one to get the ONLY out of control child).

During prayer time (and story time, and craft time, and game time, for that matter) the kids are usually really chatty and distracted. But I caught this little boy intently praying today and my heart just melted. I can’t even tell which boy it is from this picture, and I don’t remember, but tonight before I go to bed, I’m going to pray that God keeps his heart focused and tender.

Ok, HERE’S a story for you. Remember Leevu? Well, yesterday Sarah told Leevu that she could have beat him in that race if she didn’t have a skirt (she quickly rephrased that before the translator threw that out there…LOL!). Seeing as THAT was not an option, she decided to even things up by bringing HIM a skirt today. Chrissy delivered the challenge and Leevu decided making a complete idiot of himself was worth it for the attention of the lovely Sarah.

He even colored her a picture during craft time. Of course, he doesn’t write english, so the writing is all compliments of Chrissy. That does not, however, make it any less true.

I have to say that the skirt didn’t affect the outcome of the race, even after several attempts. No pictures, just video footage. Sarah, if you’d like to watch Leevu LEAVE YOU in his dust, catch me later.

Sarah is quite relieved that Leevu will most likely NOT be around for the rest of our stay. It’s been fun joking around with him, but the cultural differences suggest that maybe they’re on different pages and a proposal of marriage might just freak her out a little. lol

Jonathan being attached by gypsy kids…and loving it. Ok, this is just WEIRD. This was not planned…this was something I noticed after the last of these shots was taken. Several of us are discovering our “gypsy mini-me’s” over here. And oddly, they are specific children that are gravitating to us. I use “us” loosely…I haven’t found mine yet, but I know she’s out there. Check this out…and tell me these kids don’t look JUST like our team members!!! I can’t stop laughing.

Ok, this is not a mini-me picture. This is just Martha cuz she hasn’t gotten much face time on the blog lately. 🙂

We are really putting our hearts out there…these kids are so lovable. Sentiments have already been shared that it’s going to be gut wrenching leaving them.

This is just a cool picture that I happened to catch in Oserhei this morning. The weird thing is, I feel like this is a classic third world photo, but I’m seeing these things every day, every time I turn around. When I look at this picture, I FEEL like I’m back in the states still wondering what the rest of the story is. But I’m HERE and I know the rest of the story and it feels so different than I thought it would. It’s not ominous. It’s not devastatingly sad. It’s real life, just like it is for us. Just on the other side of the world.

We ate lunch and transitioned to Cheriu for the afternoon. The two-VBS per day schedule is rigorous, but so far we’re holding up alright. Two days down, two to go. Here’s some shots from Cheriu. It’s harder to get pictures and video during the actual program because the building is (and again I emphasize) SOOOOO small for this size group. Usually most of us stand outside and visit with the adults who come down to see the Americans while those doing their part of the VBS take turns going inside. But I did catch some pictures before it started, while there was still some walking room:

This little boy stood outside. We couldn’t get him to go in and we couldn’t tell what he was saying. Some kids come and want to play games but not sit for the craft and lesson. We don’t allow this, but it’s hard to get that through to them without a translator, and at this exact moment the translators were busy doing the lesson…SO…we do our best.

Darrin and Chrissy playing with this ADORABLE baby. About 30 minutes later, halfway jokingly, some of the adults offered the baby to Chrissy to take home for 12 million dollars. We brushed it off until later…read on…more on that towards the end… Game time in Cheriu:

When it came time to jump through the hoop, the guys get props for creativity. But the girls beat them by just doing things the normal way.

Two children were watching the games from a distance, behind a fence. We couldn’t get to them to ask them to come over (they’re farther than they look, I have an uber zoom lens).

Pastor Tim’s Wednesday hat.

The outhouse, which I was surprised to see some of the children actually USE, was right in our game field. Usually after VBS is over, it’s not unusual to see 5 or 6 of them all out squatting in the field…the SAME field that we just used to play games in. The same field Cody face planted in. Hmmmm. Hand sanitizer bathing is gaining popularity here and supplies are getting low.

Josh ran the games today and did a great job. We were able to move on from pre-school level games to elementary games…a nice step up from yesterday at Cheriu. This had nothing to do with the switch from James to Josh. HAHAHA. Actually, it really didn’t…the Cheriu kids just responded better today and seemed to get the idea of following directions and taking turns. They’re learning fast. Tomorrow we’re thinking we’ll try chess, and maybe Trivial Pursuit on Friday. 🙂 The illusive straight line: “LINEA! LINEA!”

Hey WAIT, is it another mini-me? I think it’s kinda close!

After VBS, we were invited to two of the women’s homes. As we traveled down the street, I was just going absolutely crazy with the camera. New sights, new people! This photo-op was particularly cool to me. This boy was running ahead, I think to sit in front of his house to kind of “claim” it…I’m not sure. He jumped over a puddle and I knew I caught it right at the perfect moment. Awesome. He’s in the next picture, sitting and watching us go by. I wondered if he wanted us to go to his house. It seems that having us in their homes is an honor to them. But it feels strange to act that way and “honor” them by asking if we can see their private dwellings. So strange. As we passed this woman, I couldn’t help taking another shot. Another classic third world picture, and yet, I was standing there, looking right at it before my very eyes. Such a strange feeling when things that you could only imagine become reality for the first time.

Ok, now THIS just cracked us up. If you can’t read this guy’s shirt, click on the picture to enlarge it. It’s so worth it!

As we walked down the street, people stood in front of their homes and watched us. It was like we were on parade. Kinda funny. Everyone wanted pictures. People have started asking me when they’re going to get copies! UH OH! lol. We have a solution for Sunday that hopefully will work best for everyone…I’ve been brainstorming.

This is one of the houses we visited. I felt guilty being there. Most of my friends wouldn’t let me come over if their dishes weren’t done, but these people were proud to have us see this. It sure changes the way I am going to think about things when I get back home. Don’t worry…it won’t change THIS much. 🙂

Ok, here’s the rest of the story I started above. This picture was taken inside this 16-year old girl’s home, just one moment after she very seriously offered her baby girl to Chrissy to take home to America. Both women are looking at Steve for translation help, although Chrissy understood full well what had just been said. It was a very awkward moment. Steve told her no thank you and told Chrissy not to respond at all. Our hearts just broke. Of COURSE all of us would take ANY of these children in a mili-second! We’d take ALL of them, if we could. My first thought was whether this child was truly unwanted, or if her mother just wanted money, or a better life for her? We couldn’t grasp the motive, first of all. And then to be given the mind numbing thought that the child in your very arms, one that you have already connected with and held and adored, was being offered a better future and all parties were willing, but there was nothing you could do but leave her behind…just gut wrenching.

As we left the camp, we saw this gypsy woman dressed in black. We couldn’t see her face, but

for some reason I didn’t want to. The spirit of mourning needs no face, and I kind of claimed it for myself as we left those tiny helpless babies behind. Today I spent QUITE a bit of time capturing the faces of the people we’re working with. My project for Sunday is a slideshow for each camp so that they can see their pictures. I show them all what I take as soon as I shoot it, but it’s on such a small screen and only for a split second. Of course, they all want copies, but there are SO many problems with that. First of all there’s the expense. If I printed them ALL, I’d probably be printing over 1000 pictures and shipping them over seas. If I narrowed it down so there was just one of each person, oh my, that would take hours to sort out! Nevertheless, I was willing to do either, but the Finks said that if we start handing out prints, then they’ll begin to expect things like that every time American’s come, and inevitably there would be arguments about who had more pictures than another…OUI! So, to remedy this, we thought we would put all the images on DVD’s for those who have DVD players (about 20 households have them…isn’t that crazy?) so that those households can invite others over to see the pictures on their TV’s. No one’s going to stop and count who’s got more pictures because when you can only see one at a time, that would be crazy hard. It should be inexpensive and they won’t feel like we took their pictures and gave them nothing. I’m excited that we have a solution, and now I’m working hard to TRY to get pictures of everyone so no one feels left out!
Here are some of the beautiful faces I’m seeing…

Among other activities not pictured, but video taped is “Duck Time.” Apparently some of our teenage guys have been blessed(?) with the gift(?) of being able to talk like Donald Duck. Throw that in next to Pastor Pete’s Middle Eastern Kermit impression, and we have our ab workout for the evening. If laughter is the best medicine, don’t worry…we’re immune to EVERYTHING now!

So many more stories I want to share, but it’s after midnight here and our days start early.
I’ll “Leevu” with a photo of me with some of the kids. I do have to be able to prove I actually WENT on this trip. lol.

Romania: Day 4 (It has begun)

First day of VBS! Wheewwww! I didn’t have the best day (we’re all allowed one lousy day, and I’m going to count this as mine). I didn’t get much sleep because I was up till 1:30 brainstorming this cool idea for Sunday (more on that later), I woke up late and didn’t get a shower before we left, my headband (which I found out I DIDN’T have to wear) kept squeezing my head, it rained all day long so I had to juggle two cameras and a video camera as well as an UMBRELLA, and to top it all off, I fell not once, not twice, but THREE times today. Yes, I know, if you know me, you’re laughing so hard your stomach hurts right now. Thankfully this time I did NOT break any bones. I’m all in one piece and my equipment that I was holding all three times did not break either. God is good. And I am humbled…if I admit that, Lord, can you please stop putting slippery rugs and wet stairs under my feet for the rest of the trip?
Here’s the team, dutifully cutting out pieces for kids crafts last night.

The Romanian sunset was dramatic…here’s the view from the rooftop.
This morning began bright and early. We headed to Oserhei first (I know I’m probably spelling it different every time…lol…I can’t look back to see how I spelled it the first time, which is the correct way). A few members of the team kept the kids entertained outside while others prepared everything insides. We pulled out puppets, bubbles, magic tricks, sidewalk chalk, jump ropes, and of course just some good old fashion TLC. The kids soaked it all up, especially the TLC!
Kids came on their own from all up and down the street. Small children came with older children, all seemed very comfortable being completely on their own. I loved looking at the outfits. Most of them didn’t match, but were kSO endearing. Sweaters were tucked into sweat pants. Scarves came wrapped around heads and tucked into collars. During the lesson time, kids came and went freely, most of the time to go outside and squat anywhere in the yard that seemed to suit them.
Right next to the church is a field where horses roam freely. And stray dogs are everywhere. I felt sorry for this horse, but he seemed pretty used to it.

I simply can’t stop taking pictures of the beautiful children. They are stunning and precious.
This is the group we had this morning. There would have been more, but we found out that there was another VBS being held in another village and to draw people in they were giving away lots of stuff. The gypsies are very materialistic people so this appealed to them. Most of the older kids were gone before we got there. We’re not discouraged by this. We had a good size group and the Finks told us it was the quietest, most well behaved VBS they’d had. The kids really listened as we covered the story of creation and told them about God’s love.

Crowd control was definitely different than VBS at home! The gypsy kids have no idea how to form a straight line, even after being told several times. It is a foreign concept to them. I have pictures to prove that it was accomplished, but it was very hard work! EVERY TIME. lol. Here Pastor Pete and Rich made a “human door” to keep the kids on the porch for snack time. It worked for a little while until little ones started to “leak” out underneath the railings. 🙂
James and Cody taught the kids how to be tough.
And then they were challenged to an arm wrestling match.

Kari illustrates how to play one of the games.
I am impressed with how much the kids seem to love life. I don’t know about their home lives, but when they’re playing together, they really cut loose and enjoy themselves! Their smiles are so bright, and they laugh. Loudly.
Kari and Sarah cheer their team on in the bean bag relay race.
James ran the games. He was almost as amusing as the kids. He gets a little crazy with the whistle and his newly acquired gypsy vocabulary. 😉
One of the little girls in this camp is blind. It looks as if one of her eyes was lost in an accident, and I don’t think she can see out of the one that remains. Here’s a picture of Eileen helping her with the bean bag race. I loved the smile on the girl’s face. She’s such a sweetheart.

The frisbeen relay went over really well too. The kids all did well taking turns. However, it turned into a bit of a contest to see who could make the craziest toss and make the guys run to catch it.
Cody, trying to catch one of the wild tosses…and the kids laughing at him in the background.

I love this free smile. I caught so many of them during game time!
This kid tossed with style. I love how the whole group gathered around to watch and how the kid way over to the left is leaning in to see just how cool it was.

Two of our schnazzy, stellar leaders, with a very straight LINE of children next to them! PROOF that it is possible!

Pastor Tim wears a new hat for every day of VBS…stay tuned for tomorrow’s surprise.
Sam better not get too dirty during game time…he might just get left behind one of these days.

Rich sat in the back for awhile with our little blind girl (I need to find out her name). They played a game where he would tap on her hand and count the number of times and she would have to tap back the same number. It was so awesome to see her enjoy this interactive learning experience and the one on one attention.
Precious faces look at us from every direction. My heart just breaks for them. They need to know how much Jesus loves them.
The older Oserhei boys have challenged our guys to a soccer game on Saturday. We’re pretty sure our guys are going to get schooled. 🙂 One of the boys, Leivu (sp?) was there and asked the girls to race him. Kari and Sarah both came really close to beating him (I have video footage instead of still shots, so if you want to see how that went, you’ll have to get with me later). We think he has a slight crush on Sarah, but I told her she should never marry a man named Leave-you…it’s a sure recipe for disaster. lol

After VBS we ate lunch and hung out with the kids for awhile. The boys played in the street…
but we girls decided to ask one of the girls if we could visit her home. We were told this was safe and that they would be honored to have us. The inside of their homes are decorated with tapestries on the walls and bright colors, but they are very dark. This home had two rooms. They offered us drinks, very graciously…I could not have felt more gratitude for their hospitality. They have so little, but they love to give.

This is the woman’s home. She has six children. She was able to communicate to us that she has five girls and one boy.
Lena outside the house.
We moved over to VBS at Cheriu, which was a completely different experience. There aren’t as many pictures because the church is small and by that time it was pouring rain outside.
James worked his magic with the ladies outside the church. This resulted in one girl declaring that he was a witch. He had to give up his trade secret. Then she decided she wanted to learn English so she could marry him.

The happy couple.
Lena got some quality time with one of the sleeping children. Lucky girl!

It was pouring rain at this point, but we all stood outside for an attempted game of duck-duck-goose. These children have not been exposed to as much structure as the Oserhei children, so any games were challenging.
The grown ups helped the small kids with the running…

And ran as fast as they could from the ones who needed no help at all!
This is how small the room was…we were shoulder to shoulder! It was so hot and smelly. The kids were a little wound up after games and wouldn’t calm down for crafts, so after being told several to be quiet and listen, we finally had to pack up our things early and leave to show them we were serious. We stepped outside as they were given a stern talking-to, and they walked out between our team members, they apologized. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll have better behaviour.

A beautiful face from across the street…