Sunday, December 29, 2013

On a Weekend in Romania

Saturday was our first full day in Romania. Mom had orientation in the morning so I helped cook lunch. After lunch we went out to Peris. This is the orphanage where my boys live. Iulian and George had gone home for Christmas break (as you will recall) but Ionut was there and Mom got to meet him.
Mom and Ionut
Because Iulian and George were not there some of the other kids who don't usually get the chance to hang out with me spent much of the day sitting on my lap and chatting with me. Alina grabbed me first thing and began talking with me and showing me everything.
Alina and I
But of course I did spend some time with my boy :)
Love him!

Sunday marked our second full day in Romania. We started by heading to the baby hospital after breakfast. I don't usually go to the baby hospital because I'm out at the other orphanages but we had the time and I was glad to go and see the littlest ones. It was very hot in the hospital (not a surprise there) but the nurses were nice and the kids seemed to be doing well. There were only 8 kids there and we had 5 volunteers (plus another lady from another organization was there) so there was almost one on one contact with the babies. They appeared to be doing well with all the attention :) No pictures allowed in the hospital so just imagine me holding a baby while sweating.

After the baby hospital we went to church and then the mall for lunch. Mom got to try her first taste of shawarma.
Best picture of shawarma I could find on the web. [source]
After lunch we went back to the team house and wrote emails, played games with the transition house boys who are staying in the area during Christmas break, and played with one of the "grandbabies" Ruthie. Before we got back, mom, Cherrie, Jen, and I may have made an impromptu trip into the city to look at Christmas lights and find a Starbucks. I can neither confirm nor deny this story :)

Ok, that's all for now. Hopefully I will have some time in the next few days to give a little processing and personal insight into how everything is going.

Friday, December 27, 2013

We Made It

12 hours of flying, 6 pieces of luggage, 3 countries, 2 connecting flights, and a partridge in a pear tree...Yes, mom and I made it to Romania! I'm suffering the full effects of getting a grand total of 2, very poor quality, hours of sleep on the multiple plan rides we took. My mom, thankfully, got much more sleep than I did. And, I'm glad to say, we both made it to 10:00 p.m. Romania time before we decided to call it a night. I have had a nice hot shower and will be taking some meds to help me relax and then get some shut eye myself.

It has already been great being back and seeing so many people who I know and love! And, my sweet Iulian wrote me a very thoughtful letter telling me he was sorry that he might not be able to see me this year.
The outside of the card/letter.
I also got a very nice surprise from my friend, Lexi, who came on the holiday trip last year when I was arm knitted scarf! Very cool and super thoughtful!
Pardon my horrible, plane-ride-flattened hair and lack of make up. Just focus on the scarf.
Alright, well, that's the update from day one here! Hopefully I'll be able to check in again soon!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope that your holiday is merry and bright and that you remember the true reason for the season!
Yesterday we had Christmas with my maternal grandparents and my maternal aunts and uncles. Today we opened presents from "Santa" and we'll be with my dad's family this evening.
A very sweet moment from last night: My cousin Jake helping my grandfather with his presents.
My uncle Rick and my dad "helping" my cousin Brianna model her new scarves.
Baby Bennett ("B.B.") playing with his new truck.
My cousin's little girl, Ryleigh, opening her gifts.
Be safe and have a wonderful holiday! Mom and I leave tomorrow for Romania! I can't believe it's time to go again!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Choosing the Bright Side

I found out this morning (at 12:25 a.m. to be exact) that 2 of my boys and their little brother went home with their bio mom for Christmas break. This means that I may or may not see them when I go to Romania later this week.
George and Iulian (on the far left and far right of the picture above) are 2 of the kids I've been closest to for years. Iuli especially. He's my "baby" :) My heart is grieving and I'm definitely a but stressed. They have promised to call but will they be able? Will they get anything for Christmas? Will they have enough food? Will they be safe? This is the first time since they came to the orphanage about 4 years ago that I have heard of their mother taking them home. Of course I'm worried! And sad. And hopeful. I don't want my kids to be orphans but selfishly I want them to be my sons. Oh man, this is definitely one of those "faith testing moments." Thanks, God. Happy holidays indeed.

But I'm choosing to look at the bright side in all of this. I'm choosing peace. I'm choosing belief in a God who is greater than everything. Maybe if I keep repeating this mantra all day then it will actually stick because, honestly, choosing to be calm and peaceful about this is hard.

However, I was reminded of something else that is making this easier. I was reminded of Ionut (in the center of the picture above) and Nicu
and Albina
and Marian, and Marius, and Diana, and...the list could go on and on. Of course I never forgot about them. I just didn't think about how God might need me to be with them this year. Maybe they need me now in a way that if George and Iulian and Florin were there I might miss. Yes, I'm excited to go and see them and see how God will use me on this trip. I remember that after my first trip years ago I prayed that when I returned I might get even just 1 day with Iulian again. I would travel halfway around the world just to spend an hour with that kid. I'm still praying that prayer for this trip. Lord, just give me 1 day with him and George. Just 1. But it's true for the others too. I would travel halfway around the world just for 1 day with Ionut, Nicu, Albina, Marian, Marius, Diana...especially if I knew they needed me.

I know it's selfish but would you please pray that I will get to see George and Iulian at least once while I'm in Romania? I want to know that they are safe and ok. And pray that I will keep choosing to see the bright side so that I'm emotionally available for the other kids. Thanks!

New Beginnings

I just couldn't stay away...despite having moved all my old blogs to the official Walking With Orphans website I still felt the need for something else. Something more personal. I need to blog about life, not just how many boxes of donations we sent off in the last month or the latest update on our sponsor children. Those are all great things but I need an outlet for me. A place where I say stupid stuff and get really raw and ugly cry from time to time. But also a place where I say stupid stuff because I'm deliriously happy and where I can talk too much about my cat and knitting.

So, that's why I'm here. For those of you just joining me in this wild and crazy journey here's some background:

I'm 30 years old.
I live with my parents.
I moved in with them in 2012 so I could finish my master's degree in psychology.
I like living here and it's cheap so don't judge.
I got my undergraduate degree in 2005 from the University of Georgia in music education.
I taught middle school band for 3 years.
Then I taught 1st grade general education for 3 years.
Then I got my masters from Capella University in 2012 in clinical and counseling psychology.
Now I work at a community based child and adolescent mental health counseling center.
I do initial assessments, treatment planning, and therapy.
I deal with insurance companies A LOT.
My research interests are in attachment and adoption issues, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, PTSD and early childhood trauma, and family systems.
I do not have any biological children.
I have several "adopted" children in Romania.
Since Romania is closed to international adoption and my kids can't come to me, I go to them.
Hence the name "Missionary Mama."
My grandmother gave me that title.
I have been visiting Romania every 6 months for the last 3 years.
I started a nonprofit in 2010 to provide holistic relief aid to orphans and vulnerable children in Eastern Europe and Russia.
I have been blogging since Xanga but you can find my most recent blog experience here and my "educational and informative" blog here.

Welcome! It's good to be back.