It’s the smile of a child…

that makes Christmas so amazing. Here are some pictures from our Christmas Celebration in Stroiesti.  Thank you to everyone who sent stickers, stamps, and craft projects for the kids.  They had a great time! 

Singing Carols

Singing Carols

 

Showing off the finished product.

Showing off the finished product.

 

Danut shows off the card for his parents and his snowman ornament.

Danut shows off the card for his parents and his snowman ornament.

 

Ok, so some of the kids don't understand that sometimes, less is more.

Ok, so some of the kids don't understand that sometimes, less is more.

 

Presents, presents, presents!

Presents, presents, presents!

 

In Romania, it is customary not to open a gift in front of the person who gave it to you.  The reason, explained to me, was that during communism people didn’t have a lot of money,  so you did not want to embarrass people if their gift was smaller than another person’s gift.  Also,  you would not have to pretend to like the gift if it wasn’t something you liked.   In our case, we didn’t want the kids to throw the paper around the room or argue over the contents of their boxes.  As it was, we found wrapping paper throughout the village where the kids opened their packages on the way home.  We saw one group of kids stuffing their pockets with candy and such to prevent older siblings  from taking it.  For many of the children these boxes are the only Christmas gift they will get this year.  They were so excited to get the boxes!  I hope your Christmas had just as many smiles as mine.

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More Christmas…

After the last posting, I felt inspired to take my camera out into the city.  I want to show you the entire city, but here are some highlights  instead.  I took Mihaela’s littlest brother to the park and then to the city center were we took some pictures of the Christmas lights. Enjoy!

Christmas Tree at the Children's Park

Christmas Tree at the Children's Park

 

Hot Gogosi or donuts at the park

Hot Gogosi or donuts at the park

 

Eating gogosi with rasberry sauce. yummm

Eating gogosi with raspberry sauce. yummm

Notice the Romanian flags from Dec. 1 along with the Lights.  Do you see the snow, too??

Notice the Romanian flags from Dec. 1 along with the Lights. Do you see the snow, too??

Happy New Year written in Romanian and Hungarian at City Hall.

Happy New Year written in Romanian and Hungarian at City Hall.

A large Nativity is set up in front of City Hall!!  A wonderful reminder to everyone why we have CHRISTmas.

A large Nativity is set up in front of City Hall!! A wonderful reminder to everyone why we have CHRISTmas.

Christmas

Christmas is so different here, but at the same time its very similar to Christmas in the States.  People are friendlier and more generous.  For the past week or so, the Gypsy street children have been getting on the trams and singing carols then collecting money.  They usually have a stick with them wrapped with garlandwith a bell or two on it.  I was able to snap this shot and then the smaller boy came directly to me to get his “payment” for taking his picture.  I had 2 croissants with hazelnut filling, I had planned to give to the carolers, so it worked out perfect.

Gypsy boys singing carols on the tram.

Gypsy boys singing carols on the tram.

 

Another tradition is cozonac–sweet bread.  Ramona’s (my language tutor) mother made this one for me.  She will make over 30 this Christmas, to fulfill all the orders she has gotten from friends and neighbors. I was honored she would make one just for me.  Ramona and I were able to have a piece right out of the oven. Yummmm. So good. The black filling is poppy seed with sugar.

Cozonac

Cozonac

 

Finally, I want to show you a traditional Romanian Christmas tree.  This pictures is actually from last year, but that’s ok.  There are trees and all the trimmings for sale on the sidewalks out side of the markets.  People will carry their trees on to the tram to transport them home.  Then you see them walking on the sidewalk with a tree tucked under their arm.  I love it!

Brad de Craciun

Brad de Craciun

Prayer Requests!!

When I go to the village I see so much need.  The greatest need the people have is for the Salvation that only God can offer through His Son, Jesus Christ.  This should always be our first prayer for the people in Stroiesti,  all over Romania and around the world.  Below is a list of additional prayer requests from Stroiesti.

1.       You may remember that Olga broke her leg in September.  She recently got her cast off and unexpectantly needs another surgery.  She is in much pain and cannot walk.  Currently, she is using a walker.  She is only 34 years old and is pretty much confined to one room. Please pray for healing, as well as the means for the family to pay for the surgery.

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2.       Olga’s son, Bogdan has crossed eyes.  A donation was made to have his eyes corrected and the surgery was planned for the first of January.  He is so excited about this, unfortunately, because Olga cannot walk; she is unable to take him for the surgery.  His father cannot take him because then there would be no one to care for the animals on their small farm.  We looked at me taking him alone and I would need power attorney, this cannot be done before I leave in January.  Also, although, my Romanian is much better than it was in October, I still do not know enough to discuss such serious things with the doctors. Please pray Olga will be able to walk by June, so that Bogdan can have the surgery.  Also, pray that the surgery will be successful and that Bogdan will have patience until June. 

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3.       Please pray for Liuvu (Lee-view) who has tape worm.

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4.       Please pray for baby Denisa’s continued recovery from pneumonia.

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5.       Pray for a successful Christmas celebration on Dec. 27.

6.       Please pray for my continued improvement in Romanian and the ability to retain during time in the States.

7.       Finally, as many of you know, it is my heart’s desire to have a children’s center and live in Stroiesti and not have to commute from the city of Suceava. This would be place for the children to come after school for a warm meal, to do homework, bible studies, English lessons, computer lessons and a safe, warm place to play especially in the winter.  This will also be a place for teams to stay on short term mission trips.  This desire has been confirmed by others who want a Christian presence in the village. Recently, we found out that there is a piece of land about the size of a soccer field near the village center for sale.  The cost is about $40K (based on the exchange rate).  Once the land is bought, we will be able to apply for grants from the EU to build the center, playground, etc.  Currently, the only things on the land are a well and the basement from the previous home.  We pray that God will provide the funds for the land if He wants us to have it.  Please pray for God’s wisdom and guidance on this issue for all of us.

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Getting ready for Christmas in Stroiesti!

This weekend was such a blessing to me.  I got to see so many of the children in Stroiesti.  On Saturday, we went on some home visit.  We brought new baby clothes to Baby Maria (4 months) and Baby Denisa (5 month, just got out of hospital with pneumonia).  Of course, I went to see my sweet Bogdan and my beautiful Diana. 

Sunday, we joined 2 couples who are doing children’s church in the village most Sundays.  Its so great to see other people who are so in love with these children and who have a desire to not only help them physically,but to share the message of Jesus Christ with them. Andreea, Raluka (Mihaela’s sisters) and I presented the Christmas story to the children and had the kids act it out for us.  And we taught them Away in a Manger in Romanian. NONE of the kids knew it!!  I could have used the worship team, but I settled for a cd player.  The kids then colored pictures from the story.  At the end of church they each received an orange and a Kinder-egg, which has a toy in one half and chocolate in the other.  Thirty-four kids came.  We told them about the Christmas celebration on Dec 27. Fourteen year old Cristi took the pictures at church; he getting really good at photography.  Enjoy the pictures. 

 
Vasic and Ioana in their new sweaters! So warm!

Vasic and Ioana in their new sweaters! So warm!

 

Baby Maria was surprised at the flash. What a cuddle bug.

Baby Maria was surprised at the flash. What a cuddle bug.

 

Sweet Mihaela, always smiling.

Sweet Mihaela, always smiling.

Gabi and Ana, who have been watching over Baby Denisa.

Gabi and Ana, who have been watching over Baby Denisa.

 

Learning "Away in a Manger"

Learning "Away in a Manger"

 If Maria is Mary, Andreea is the narrator and little Alex is the Angel Gabriel, does that make me Angel wings?

 
If Maria is Mary, Andreea is the narrator and little Alex is the Angel Gabriel, does that make me Angel wings?

 Mary and Joseph with Baby Jesus

Mary and Joseph with Baby Jesus.

A very mean King Herod

A very mean King Herod

Angel Diana and the (unruly) Shepards!

Angel Diana and the (unruly) Shepards!

The Wise Men

The Wise Men

 

Alina showes off her finished pictures

Alina shows off her finished pictures

Walking home in the snow! Good Night!

Walking home in the snow! Good Night!

To Suceava/Stroiesti

Tomorrow, I’m off to Suceava on the much loved 10 hour train.  Its a great excuse to spend hours reading a book , after I complete my homework and learn my words, of course :-).  The plan,  subject to change, is to go to the village on Saturday.  I have 2 packs of baby supplies for the 2 baby girls I saw last trip. These packs were made up by the ladies at the PULS center.  I also found some toddler socks and sweaters and will give those to one of the brothers.  I will also be inviting the children to come to church the next day and to a Christmas celebration on Dec 27.  Sunday, the plan is to teach the children “Away in a Manger” in Romanian. I was going to explain to them that “Little Lord Jesus” is not so little, but that line isn’t in the Romanian version; but I hope to still get the message across.   We will also start the Christmas story.  I have a Romanian Bible for the kids to read from and some work sheets for them. 

I looked at the weather report and the high is 33′ all weekend.  Please pray for warm houses for all the people in the village who rely on wood stoves. 

Please pray for safe travels,  good visits, and wise words to speak to the children! I hope you have a great weekend, and I look forward to posting new pictures next week.

Two Holidays in One Week

Last Monday was Ziua Nationala or National Day here in Romania.  Romanians celebrate the day in 1918 ,when the country was united as one.  Here is a link for those of you who want more information: http://www.roconsulboston.com/Pages/InfoPages/History/December1.html .  During Communist times, National Day was celebrated on Aug 23, remembering the day Romania was liberated from the Nazis.  Its has since been changed (back?) to Dec. 1.

In Oradea, there was a parade, but I missed it.  I did hear from a very reliable 2 year old that there were soldiers and horses, so it must have been great.  There were Romanian flags everywhere around town.  The day was actually warmish and it was very pretty out.  I met with a friend from church and we wandered around the 1 decembrie park. I will try to remember to take my camera into town to take some pictures.  In the mean time, here is a picture I found on line of wreaths being laid at the statue in the city center.

IMG_4314 by presalibera.

Friday, December 5, the children of Romania and much of Europe put their shoes out before going to bed. December 6 is Mos Nicolae day or St. Nicholas Day.  St. Nicholas puts gifts in the children’s shoes, usually sweets to the good children and sticks to the bad children. (St. Nicholas is not the same as Santa Clause/Mos Craciun who comes for Christmas). Now everyone gets beautifully decorated sticks.  I went to get a stick on Saturday morning, but it was raining and I couldn’t find anyone selling them; the night before everyone was selling them.  I learned my lesson (I hope!) Here is a web site with some traditional Romanian Icons of St. Nicholas: http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=94

Here is a picture of a very cute 2 year old (the same one mentioned above) with his stick from Mos Nicolae!

mos nicolae

And here is a clearer picture of the stick.  There were all sorts of different ones, including ones with bells and Santa heads.  They were really neat.  I’ll have to get some next year!

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As far as I know, there are no holidays this week.   But please pray for wisdom and guidance as we prepare for Christmas.  Lord willing, I will travel on Friday to Stroiesti village to meet with the children and follow up on some things from last time.  I will also have the opportunity to work with a local couple who have been doing some outreach in the village. Please pray for God’s glory to be revealed this weekend.