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'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 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 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.

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