Monday, November 28, 2011

A month of giving THANKS

  We pray you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  A time with loved ones and memories of the blessings you have.  This month Josh and I stopped to give God thanks for so many fulfilled dreams that He has opened up and given us throughout this year especially.  We are so thankful to each of you that support and love on us through encouragement and prayers.  Your words help us to continue to strive through the hardships of missing home (family & friends) and the complexities of the Romanian language and culture.  Thank you for your sacrifices to which allows us to be here in Romania fulfilling God's plan.
  Although Thanksgiving is not a Romanian holiday, we do celebrate it with our family here.  It was a great, huge party of giving thanks with 70+ people in one place!  It was so great to see graduates that we had met over our internship and new family that we hope to get to know better over the years.  We had a small team from America that made it feel more like "home".  We had 3 turkeys, green bean casserole, salads galore, cheesy potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, bean dip and chips, rolls, LOTS of sliced bread (one thing you come to learn very quickly, Romanians LOVE their bread!!), pretzel/jello dessert, pecan pies, pumpkin rolls, pear/cinnamon pie...  The list could go on!  When you have seventy or eighty people, you HAVE to have plenty of food!  : )  Romanians are not used to eating turkey, however, the graduates from Heart2Heart's Transition Program have come to like it over the years.  Here are a few pictures from the festivities!
Look at all the food! The salads and desserts aren't even in the picture!

The pretty settings before everyone arrived.

Us eating Thanksgiving dinner with friends.

L to R; Marietta (graduate), Me, Mirela (graduate), Kirsteen (a.k.a. my Scottish twin as Josh says!)

  This month has marked our second complete month of language learning!  We are 1/3 of the way there.  Most of our time is spent learning and studying the language.  We do feel that we are continuing to understand more and more when we are with others and at church.  Some parts of the language learning have gotten a bit easier but it has gotten more difficult as we have felt like we have forgotten some of the vocabulary that we learned at the beginning of our lessons.  I am having more trouble as I am more afraid to speak and make mistakes, as well as learn differently than the others.  I am continuing to find what works better for me to study and remember what we have learned.  Learning another language definitely takes some time and patience!  : )
  As the holiday season is in full swing, we are definitely missing home (friends and family) more and more.  Thanksgiving didn't seem to be so bad for us as we celebrated it like 2 weeks early and with friends and family here.  I do think that Christmas will be a bit more difficult, however, we are trying to begin our own traditions.  We recently learned that Romanian's celebrate their union of Transylvania on December 1st.  They also must have a parade or celebration as they blocked off some roads while we were traveling to church on Sunday.  We thought they were possibly practicing for the parade on the 1st.  We are hoping we will be able to see this and celebrate with them as we learn more about their culture.
  As time goes on, we have become more involved in the ministries as well.  I have continued to visit the babies at the hospital and being a part of the Pre-K/K program at the orphanage.  In the program we finished Thanksgiving lessons with the kids completing "A Handful of Thanks" art project.  We helped them trace and cut out their hands, where we wrote down the things they told us they were thankful for.  The kids then created their faces and glued their hands around their face.  We even helped them make one hand tracing into a turkey.  It turned out very well!  I am very excited about helping out more with this group of kids and helping with the lessons.  Below are a few pictures of me at the baby hospital.  (We are not able to put pictures on the internet where the children are seen which is why you are unable to see us.) 
Baby cuddling with me, as we look out the window.
Showing the baby the trees, cars, birds, etc outside.

  This weekend we were able to go visit "Dracula's" (a.k.a. Vlad Tesps) tomb as a staff.  It was very cool to be able to learn the history of Vlad and the great things he did for Romania.  Although he is known most (from tourists) as Dracula, a vampire who sucked blood, he was a prince who helped this country become free.  He did have a very harsh way of making examples of people who fought against Romania, but even to this day he is known by the Romanian people to have been a great leader.  Here are a few pictures the beautiful church where his tomb is and of us all having a good time!
This church was built before the U.S. was EVEN DISCOVERED!  How crazy is that to think about!

Us in front of the church!

A picture of Vlad ("Dracula").

His tomb. With one candle lit for him, the dead.

Beautiful paintings covered the entire inside of the church!  All original, restored, but original!

Us all spending time together in the sun.

Josh and I.  It was chilly but decent in the sun.  : )

  Upcoming events include lots of Christmas parties for the kids.  We have begun to help with ideas for games, making decorations and practicing for our short program for the kids.  We have decided to sing a couple of songs for this kids, then sing carols along with them and a grand finale of a "rap" version of Jingle Bells with choreography and all!  : )  It should be fun and the kids will NOT expect it in the least!  : )  It will be a great time for sure!
  We have begun to really see the needs within this country as it has gotten much colder.  One week during this month alone, we saw several disheartening things that we were shocked to experience ourselves.  One day after language lessons we stopped at the market for a few things.  When we came out and began walking to the metro (subway station) we witnessed a lady and a man with a couple bags open a sewer cover and proceed to go down.  We were almost shocked at the sight, we both felt heaviness in our hearts for these people.  We discussed this as we were walking about how we see homeless people about every day but never really thought about where they lived or slept.  We were on our way to the maxi taxi station to go home when we got on the bus and there was this older man who was clearly homeless.  He only had with him a small grocery bag of, all I saw, had bread and another bag of an alcohol bottle.  He seemed to be "traveling" only to have a warm place to rest for a while, as more than half the time we were on the bus he was resting his eyes.  My heart breaks for these people over and over when I come into contact with them.  All I want to do is empty my pockets and lunch box for them!  These are some things that we have become familiar with seeing day in and day out.  However, we are always challenged to continually pray for them, as we know some of "our kids" may end up like this one day.  We challenge you to really pray about these people and those that may even be in your community, especially as it begins to get colder and wet out.  Look for ways to lend a helping hand and be God's love to these people.

- So much to be thankful for this holiday season!
- For technology of Skype, Facebook, e-mail, etc so we can stay in touch with loved ones in the U.S.
- For the Skype session with our family at CCC!  : )  It was so great to see you all and be able to worship with you all again!
- It seems like we have been sick since we have gotten here, but feeling so much better now.
- For the cold air but the shining sun.
- For our H2H team and being a part by helping where we can.
- Encouraging notes we have received from friends and family.
- For our language professor and others on H2H staff that help us learn the language.

Prayer Requests:
- That Christmas parties will come together quickly as we have a lot to do and that they are a success!
- That the container (from the States) will arrive on time for Christmas.
- That we may stay healthy and strong.
- For God to keep our kids and the lost and homeless in His arms throughout the night and as it gets colder outside
- For God to show you ways that you can be His hands and feet in your community or around the world

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