Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Today I was talking with one of the summer team members, Ruth, about our kids. We were discussing who has grabbed our hearts and how much we like working with the kids. Then Ruth mentioned a new kid who arrived just days before we started camp this week. He's an older boy, maybe 15 or 16, and we were speculating on what this transition could be like for him. After a minute Ruth says, "Do you think he just goes, 'Well, this is life now'?".

What a kicker.

Imagine you are unceremoniously dropped off at a gated compound holding 75+ other children. You have spent the majority of your life somewhere other than here. Maybe it was with your parents, maybe it was in foster care, maybe it was another orphanage...don't know this particular child's story but wherever he was it was not the PeriČ™ orphanage (and understand that even if he was at another orphanage the quality of care can be vastly different between them). So, you have just left any life, however good or bad it was, and been thrust into a totally different life. You have to figure out your place in the hierarchy and you better figure it out quick. Then, a few days after you arrive, this group of Americans rolls up in their big, slightly sketchy looking van, try to befriend you, and then drag you along to their camp about Jesus.

Yep, Jesus loves you! Sorry about everything else!

I'm not saying this may not turn out to be the best thing that has ever happened in this kid's life. In fact, I hope it is. I hope that he learns that he is welcomed by us, no matter how long he has been at the orphanage, and that he is loved, not just by us, but by God. I hope he keeps the sweet, calm demeanor he has (so far) displayed. I hope he makes some great friends. I hope he is safe. I hope that he realizes his potential in life.

I'm praying that if he is thinking, Well, this is life now, that it's with a positive and hopeful tone.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Almost a Month

This week I will hit the 1 month mark since moving to Romania. I have done so much in this short period of time that I feel like I have been here for a year. The breakneck pace of the summer is starting to take it's toll on me and I'm feeling more run down at the end of the day but we're pushing through for 2 more weeks and then I may be able to take a little breather.

Not that going full speed is all bad. We have accomplished *a lot*. The Tween Camp this last week was a great success. We had two mornings of obstacle courses and team building activities and then a scavenger hunt in the park the last morning. Every afternoon was a chance for the kids to go swimming in the pool.
Morning lesson at Snagov.

Team building
Pool time

Making some crafts.
More pool time.

Our kids are totally fearless.
More team building.
Scavenger hunt in the park.
The kids had to find team members hidden all over and get something special from them.

I think they had a good time.
Thursday we had a day to hang out with the kids from Voluntari and just have a play day.
My sweet Albina (who is growing up way to fast).
The kids singing for us.
With my Elvis.
On Saturday we went to Peris and had a water day with the kids. A lot of the older ones will go to the local pond to swim but some of the younger (more rambunctious) ones end up having to stay behind. Haley, Talitha, and Jenna made some water balloons for them and then gave them bottles and let them go wild dousing the (willing) team members (read: not me).

After spending the day with the kids, Talitha and I went into the city to a meeting with some members from alphAOmega (the church with both attend). There was a missionary from the Philippines there speaking. She gave her whole speech in Romanian but I was able to get a lot of what she said which was a really good feeling. I stayed with Talitha at her house in Snagov (where we had camps earlier in the week) and we went to church together this morning. It was good to spend some time with my friend and someone else who understands the struggle of adjusting to life overseas (and who shares my first language!).

This week is Teen Camp with the kids from Voluntari and Peris. We have a new team here for the next two weeks so there is a little adjustment period for all of us. I'm hoping for another smooth week of camps and great time with the kids!

Prayer Requests/Praises:
  • Pray for our camp this week with the older teens.
  • Pray for my Iuli. He cut his foot during our water day and they were debating about giving him stitches. He's a trooper but I have definitely worried about him all weekend.
  • Continue to pray for my documents that have to be reviewed by the professional licensing board in Georgia. I still have not heard back from them yet but pray that I will be able to continue to pursue my license while living and working in Romania.
  • Pray for the staff and team members as we head into another busy week. We have been going non-stop since the beginning of July and we are all starting to feel it.
  • Praise God for allowing me to spend some time with my friend Talitha this weekend.
  • Praise God for allowing me to share a bit of my testimony with the kids last week.
  • Praise God for continuing to grow my relationships with the kids, the staff, and the team members.
  • Praise God that He answered some prayers for my family last week!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Highlights from the Last Week

Things can get so busy sometimes that you look around and realize you don't know what day of the week it is or even what the date is (for the record, it is currently Sunday 19 July 2015, but I definitely had to look it up). My days have been so packed lately and they show no sign of slowing up.
This is my real life calendar.
This past week we wrapped up day camps with the little kids from Voluntari. I have a few pictures but not many because I spent most mornings at Voluntari doing playtime with the kids who were not at camp. I did get lots of pool time with the little ones though. One afternoon it rained so there were some indoor games. Most of the pictures I did manage to take turned out blurry because these kids *never* sit still.

I got to spend a little bit of one afternoon with Darius who refused to follow the rules and play fair. He has so. much. energy. I was able to distract him with a puzzle for a little bit before he moved on to coloring, playing soccer, and trying to jump in the swimming pool.
My friend Kirsteen from Scotland was here serving this week. She was a full time staff member for 5 years and has a great relationship with a lot of the kids. On her last day we went out to Peris so she could say goodbye to everyone there. It was nice just getting to hang out and talk for a little while with some of the kids.
Me and Marian
I got to spend quite a bit of time talking to my oldest, George, and catching up on his life.
Even my Ionut was there!
Group picture with Kirsteen and the kids.
Yesterday I helped with shopping and went back out to Peris for some soccer. It was super hot and I'm not a very good soccer player but the kids were nice enough to let me practice a bit and get better.
Getting to see sweet Marius.
Denisa, she is relatively new to the orphanage so I am just getting to know her but she is quite a beautiful and sweet young lady.
After dinner with the team, we all headed to Old Town Bucharest (Lipscani) for some ice cream at Emelia's. This quickly becoming one of my favorite places in Bucharest; the ice cream is delicious and the scenery is beautiful.

Today I have church and then a pool party/graduation ceremony for the boy who just completed the transition program. This coming week is "Tween Camp" which promises to be busy (but fun).

Prayer Requests/Praises:
  • Pray for the upcoming weeks of camps that we have with our teenagers and pre-teens.
  • Pray for us as we deal with kids who continually test us to see if we really do care about them.
  • Pray for our kids who are away with family during the summer or who have family members promising to come get them soon. That is always a very difficult thing for us to deal with, especially when there are broken promises, difficult transition periods, and hurting hearts.
  • Pray for me as I deal with a true Romanian summer without central A.C.!
  • Pray for my family and friends back home. As life goes on for all of us there are always difficult moments.
  • Continue to pray for my documents that have to be reviewed by the professional licensing board in Georgia. I have not heard back from them yet but pray that I will be able to continue to pursue my license while living and working in Romania.
  • Praise God for the sweet moments we have had with the kids this past week.
  • Praise God for continuing to grow my relationship with the kids, the team members, and the other staff.
  • Praise God for continuing to make this feel like my home.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Getting Back on the Horse That Threw Me

Sometimes you get thrown from the horse. I saw that happen once, to my mother in fact, and it's not a pretty sight. However, the first rule of riding is: If you get thrown, get up, and get back on the horse. If you don't then you will probably never ride again.

Sometimes, though, the horse isn't a horse. Sometimes it's a room of rambunctious children who don't want to listen. Sometimes it's hearing something the hurts your feelings. Sometimes it's seeing an old guy trip and fall and not having anything to help him with. Sometimes it's hearing a sad song. And sometimes it is all these things.

When this happens maybe you think, "I didn't sign up for this. This isn't the missions experience I agreed to. I mean, I'll clean a toilet but feel ineffective and frustrated? No way! Not my bag!" And you have a choice: you can throw in the towel and give up or you can get right back in there and try again.

You can stay up planning games and activities and quiet signals for the kids so that they won't be bored or crazy and so that you don't have to yell over them (or at them). You remind yourself that people are people and they will say things that hurt. You remind yourself that feelings aren't facts and just because someone said something hurtful that does not make it true. You put some Kleenex in your purse in case you encounter someone else who has tripped. Then you throw in some band-aids just to make double sure you are covered. You put on some Iggy Azalea and Miley Cyrus and rock out to some feel good girl anthems. You pray. A lot. You talk it over with your friends and then you pray some more. And then you dive back in. Because, really, giving up was never an option.

And maybe, just maybe, something will happen...

The kids will still be kids but suddenly they want you to catch them being good. They want to lavish you with love. Someone will want to make you three loom band bracelets and bring them proudly to you, one by one, so that you can exclaim how beautiful they are and how sweet the child is who took the time to create this masterpiece for you.

Playtime will go exceptionally well, even the silly things like putting stickers on your forehead for good behavior will go well. Your friends will speak your love language directly to your heart and thank you for organizing the activities. No elderly people will fall on your walk home. And you will feel like maybe, just maybe, with God's help, you might just be able to do this thing called "missions."
I can promise that not every day will end with a smile. I can promise that this is tough stuff. I can promise that there will be tears. But there are the days that end with a smile, a hug, and a kiss. There are times when everything clicks and it starts to feel right. There will be laughter so intense your sides will hurt. And there will be days that are somewhere in between. But the smiles, hugs, kisses, laughter, and confirmation make it all worth it. So totally worth it.

Thursday, July 9, 2015


Today was another day of camps with the kids. It started out pretty much like any other day with Bible stories, snacks, games, and singing. And then, as we usually do, we let the kids go swimming in the pool. As I was floating around on a pool noodle in the "apa mare" (deep end), I took a minute to look around. As I did I had an overwhelming sense of joy in my heart and I realized: I really love these kids.

I don't have a "special connection" with all of them. Some of them can't remember my name, have never met me, and/or call me by the wrong name on a fairly consistent basis. But I still love them.

I love them for being them. I love them for their smiles. I love them for their courage. I love them for using me as a floatation device (thus nearly drowning both of us in the process).

I love when they leap into our arms with confidence. I love when they light things on fire. I love when they kiss our cheeks. I love when they pinch our arms until they bruise. I love them when they are being good. I love them when they are being bad. I love them.

I love that I get the opportunity to work with these kids. To be a part of their lives. To be the parent that they need...even if just for a few minutes in the pool on a hot summer afternoon.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Week 1

I can't believe I have been in Romania for a full week already! So much has already happened...I moved into my apartment, went grocery shopping on my own, learned how to take the Metro (subway) around the city, had four full days of day camp, and bailed out a flooded basement. Never a dull moment.

Right now day camps are the biggest focus of our ministry. We had the Peris camps last week, the Voluntari camps this week, and preschool camps next week. Every morning we have time for Bible stories, skits, crafts, team building activities, and obstacle courses. In the afternoon we bring the kids to the team house at Pipera, feed them lunch, and then go swimming in the pool. It rained almost every afternoon last week so the pool was *freezing*. The kids still wanted to get in as much as they could. The very last day of camps, though, it was raining so hard we couldn't go swimming so the kids watched a movie instead. That was the day of the Great Basement Flood of 2015. It was only rainwater (we think) unlike the Great Basement Flood of 2012 which was most definitely sewage.

Swimming at camp
Running the obstacle course
The theme of camps is about overcoming obstacles by having faith, hope, love, and perseverance. This is such an important lesson for the kids. They are all familiar with the gospel but they have trouble living it out. In the orphanage setting the knee jerk reaction is to fight, argue, curse, and hold grudges. What we are trying to share with the kids is so counter to what they live with day to day.

Snack time
Another fun but cold day in the pool!
Final obstacle course
As I mentioned above, this week will be day camps with the kids from the Voluntari orphanage. We are having to bring them to the team house in the morning because all their outside area has been turned into a giant sandbox (I'm assuming they are in the process of re-doing it but we shall see...). Praying that it will be a good time with the kids!

Prayer Requests/Praises:
  • Pray for good weather this week for camps so the kids can go swimming.
  • Pray that everything we share with the kids will take root in their hearts.
  • Pray for some important licensure paperwork that will go before the Georgia professional board either this week or next week. This paperwork will determine if I will be able to become fully licensed in a year or not.
  • Pray that I will continue to gain ground with my language.
  • Praise God that I was able to move into my apartment and begin to feel like Romania is now my home.
  • Praise God that I was able to renew my teaching license from the States!
  • Praise God that we had a good week of camps last week with the kids from Peris.
  • Praise God that the basement was not flooded with sewage and that we were able to get it cleaned up quickly.
Remember to email or message me if you want to be added to my secret Facebook group to get updates about my time in Romania.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


I wrote this yesterday before I went to bed but the pictures wouldn't upload so I'm posting today.

It feels a little surreal, like I'm not really sure that this is happening to me...

Today is my 3rd official day living in Romania. Today I moved into the apartment that will be my home for 6 mo. It's so weird unpacking all my things in some place else and trying to come to grips with the fact that this is home now. There are so many unfamiliar things. I went to the grocery store today to buy breakfast items and I realized I don't even know all the types of yogurt they sell because I can't read the labels. It was a little intimidating.

Despite the occasional feeling of terror because I didn't understand a question someone just asked me I feel like my language skills are coming along. I wish that I could live in a little vacuum for awhile where it's just me and a few patient friends to walk me through everything. As an introvert in a totally new culture there is nothing more sweat inducing than walking into a tiny crowded grocery store and not even being sure of what type of yogurt you want for breakfast. Part of me just wants to take a few hours to wander silently around taking in all my surroundings.

It was good seeing the kids because that reminded me of why I'm here. They are really what grounds me. When I look at them then I forget about all the struggles I'm facing for just a little while.